Dan Wickett of Dzanc Books

 

 

DOES DAN WICKETT HAVE THE ANSWER?

 

Dan Wickett pic

In honor of my new book, I Have the Answer, I’m going to spend the next year or so asking writers, readers, and random folks some silly questions. Here’s my first interview with the mysterious co-founder of Dzanc Books, Dan Wickett:

***

Hi Dan, I’m just wondering if you have the answer?

I don’t believe I have the answer to nearly any questions I ever consider. I might search for them–yet they do a fine job of staying just out of (or sometimes quite far out of) reach.

That is very disappointing. 

Silence.

OK, um, Dan, given that you are clearly not going to lead us out of the abyss, what do you say to people who believe they have the answer?

To be succinct–I’m amazed by their confidence, or faith–whichever is the case.

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of the world right now?

>Sigh<

I know you visit the zoo frequently. Which is your favorite animal and why?

A seeming ever-changing answer to that one–right now, the pronghorns. They arrived a couple of months ago, seem quite young and so still interested in people. When they get moving they’re amazing–they’re basically created to not be able to be caught–able to jump sideways at near full speed and keep going. And their coloring of a light brown and white helps.

pronghorn

Picture of a Pronghorn by Dan Wickett, Detroit Zoo.

I’m assuming you bring books with you to the zoo and read aloud to the animals. If so, which ones have they enjoyed the most lately?

Ha! It IS indeed rare that I go out without some reading material. Not a ton of reading aloud to the animals, but the last book I took around with me and sat and read in view of more than one of the animals was Christina Kallery’s collection, Adult Night at Skate World.

adultskate_1024x1024

Were the animals scandalized?

I think they survived it pretty well.

Thanks so much, Dan Wickett. You are the first person who has failed to provide the answer, but I predict you will not be the last. 

***

If you want to see Dan Wickett in the real world you might try the Detroit Zoo or you might try Brain Candy events on the third Mondays of the month at Green Brain Comics in Dearborn where he hosts a poet, a prose writer, an artist, and a musician.

Dan Wickett founded the Emerging Writers Network in 2000, Co-Founded Dzanc Books in 2006, and Brain Candy in 2018.

***

Perhaps the pronghorns have the answer?

Lewis and Clark made several other observations on the behavior of the pronghorn… They described the animal, which they referred to as the “Antelope” or the “Goat”, as follows: 

“Of all the animals we have seen the Antelope seems to possess the most wonderful fleetness. Shy and timorous they generally repose only on the ridges, which command a view of all the approaches of an enemy … When they first see the hunters they run with great velocity …”

 

***

 

kid i have the answer

I am happy to announce that my new collection of short stories, I Have the Answer, is forthcoming from Wayne State University Press in one month and seven days! Woot!!

BUT I have a few copies now for the prelease low price of $15. If you are interested, see below:

I Have the Answer

Kelly’s new short story collection signed by the author. ($15.00 + $1 for shipping)

$16.00

The first official book launch is tentatively scheduled at the Grosse Pointe Public Library on May 5th at the Central branch (10 Kercheval) of the Grosse Pointe Libary at 7pm.

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My Personal Favorite: Karen Paul Holmes

Karen Paul Holmes

 

At this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

 

***

 

What Will You Do, God, When I Die?

 

            —after a line by Rilke

 

Will you become me, and I you

as I leave this body, the only home I remember?

Will rejoining be serenity,

even more than I feel

lying drowsy in my love’s embrace?

 

I believe you are the light

that passes through every body, the space

occupying each atom, water

permeating the sponge

of all flesh, all matter.

They say I am that, but in this human

being-ness, have forgotten.

 

Will you give me a white tassel, light as breath

for passing all my lifetimes?

Or send me back to trudge again through

the thousand lessons I failed?

 

This time, I think I learned to love

the right way, to find you in my core.

I have felt sorrow’s blade

carving a place for grace to fill.

Am I ready to rise with this mist

lifting from the river in morning’s silver?

 

  • Karen Paul Holmes from No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin Books, 2018).

Poem originally appeared in Diode

***

Thanks for asking me this, Kelly.

This poem came from a prompt (the Rilke poem) at a workshop in San Miguel de Allende. I chose the poem for three reasons. First, it was a pleasure to write—the words flowed onto the page from somewhere outside of me. There’s no better feeling than receiving a gift like that. It didn’t even need much editing, which is unusual for me, and was one of the few times I felt able to successfully share deep spiritual beliefs through poetry. As a teen, I had read Kahlil Gibran and what stayed with me profoundly was his idea of pain carving out a hole for happiness to fill. I was grateful that made its way into the poem. Then I was grateful Diode (a dream journal for me) accepted it rather quickly. Thinking about writing the poem, also reminds me of my week in the lovely Mexican colonial town (with great food!) studying with poets like Kevin Young and the then Poet Laureate of Britain Carol Ann Duffy. I’m happy, too, that the poem fit well into my book. I guess that’s more than three reasons.

 

***

Karen Paul Holmes Cover

Available from Terrapin Books or other locations listed on the Terrapin site.

***

Bio:

Karen Paul Holmes has two full-length poetry collections, No Such Thing as Distance (Terrapin, 2018) and Untying the Knot (Aldrich, 2014). She was named a Best Emerging Poet by Stay Thirsty Media, and publications include Prairie Schooner, Valparaiso Review, Diode, and Pedestal. Recently, her poems were featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and Tracy K. Smith’s The Slowdown. Holmes is a freelance business writer who also teaches poetry workshops and hosts The Side Door Poets in Atlanta, GA and a monthly open mic in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

 

 

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE: Nicole Zdeb

NICOLE ZDEB

Nicole Zdeb

 

***

 

At this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

 

 

***

 

 

Forbidden Monologue

                                                                                                              After Forbidden Music by Louise Glück

After lights dim and actors find their spots and audience exhales in embryonic dark and curtain rises and words bloom and one child actor exits after delivering lines with winning squeak, there comes a scene called the forbidden monologue. It is called such because it cannot, under any circumstances the dramaturg specified during rehearsals, be spoken. Therefore, they never rehearsed it.

Yet it must be spoken because it has been written.

The lead actress craves to speak those words, to release them from the prison of her gorge.

Tonight, the director decides, it WILL be included. He is young. He wants to make his mark. Or he is old. He wants to leave a legacy. Either way, the words will root in the duodenum of all those people sitting on dusky rose velveteen cushions.

Wobbling a little, he informs the lead actress in that backstage twilight just before curtain. She faints, then quickly recovers. The other actors and stage manager do not know. They are collectively pissed when she veers off-script. Selfish bitch!

The child actor afloat in the wings witnesses something he has never seen before and can’t verbalize. Watching the actress who plays his mother become pure word, pure sound, pure meaning, he wonders, Who am I?

Holding his hands in front of him in the gathered light, he repeats the question, Who am I now?

 

 

***

 

Why I like this poem:

I like this poem for a couple of reasons. Formally, I challenged myself to work with a longer line than I usually do. This required a different thinking and breathing cadence.

In looking for inspiration and models, I came upon the poem “Forbidden Music” and felt moved. A little stunned and transported. It offered me a meaningful reading experience and had the formal elements I admired.  Glück. She delivers.

In gratitude and to learn, I used her poem as a jumping off place. So it reminds me of her and it reminds me of a fulfilling reading experience, which is one way I mark my human time.

Finally, I enjoy it thematically. It attempts to peel back the layers of how art impacts people individually and collectively, and explore the range of art’s impact on different people, from fueling the ego to facilitating an experience with the sublime.

 

***

 

Bio:

 

Nicole Zdeb is a writer based in Portland, OR. She has a MFA in Creative Writing from Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a certificate in translation from CUNY. She has taught writing K-16, had a fulfilling career in education research, and now she’s enjoying her second act as a real-estate agent in the Portland metro area. Nicole serves as Board Secretary and Director of Development for Twilight Theater Company.

Bedouin Books published her chapbook, The Friction of Distance. 

 

Friction of Distance NICOLE ZDEB

Available for purchase here.

***

And in other news:

Coming up two weeks from today in Detroit!

The East Side Reading Series

Saturday, February 15th from 3-5pm

The Commons: 7900 Mack Ave, Detroit

#theeastsidereadingseries #poetry #fiction #creativenonfiction

This event is supported in part by Poets & Writers, thanks to a grant from the Hearst Foundations.

  

 

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MY PERSONAL FAVORITE:Valerie Nieman

Valerie Nieman headshot

Valerie Nieman

 

***

At this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?
***

 

The Leopard Lady Speaks

This leopard-skin come onto me

when I lost love,

(this is not for the marks to know)

when my man’s absence 

set a hot kindle of distrust

that blowed back on me

as lack of faith 

in what is more worthy 

than some handful of spit and dust.

No wonder I lost

my natural color, trying to be

all things to him, and him not wanting

what I ever was or become or any between—

turning away like a spoiled child,

turning away like the sun eat up

by the moon, and not my doing

or undoing.

I scourged my soul,

turning myself inside out

to make him a better tent

against the weather of the world,

stretching myself across his failings

like a worn-through quilt 

on a wide cold bed.

They weren’t enough left of me

to fill a thimble, then,

but I gathered myself back up

and stood, feet reasonable

to the earth, liver’n lights settling back 

like I’d been dropped

from a high place,

and I was about satisfied,

but the letting-go of that man—

him of me then me of him—

left me streaked, specked, and spotted

like the flocks of Jacob,

and I opened my mouth to say 

the true things that underprop the world.

 

 

***

 

I chose this poem because it first chose me.  I was sitting with pen in hand, wait for lightning to strike, and it did — this voice arrived and kept visiting with me for many years until the entire story of Dinah (the Leopard Lady), the Professor, and their lives on the road with a mid-century carnival sideshow came into being. I didn’t so much write as excavate, make a space for her being.

***
BIO:

Valerie Nieman’s third poetry collection, Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse, includes work that first appeared in The Missouri Review, Chautauqua, and The Southern Poetry Review. “Steeped in sideshow tradition, and addressing issues of race, gender, self-concept, and creative expression, your book is beautifully written,” writes Lisa Schaefer, curator of The Coney Island Museum. Her fourth novel, To the Bones, a mystery/horror tale that takes on the coal industry and its effects on Appalachia, was published in 2019. Her poetry has appeared widely, from The Georgia Review to Crannog, and has been published in numerous anthologies, including Eyes Glowing at the Edge of the Woods and Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology. She has held state and NEA creative writing fellowships. A graduate of West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte and a former journalist, she teaches creative writing at North Carolina A&T State University. 

***

Valerie Nieman book

Available for purchase at Press 53 here or Indiebound here or Amazon here.

MY PERSONAL FAVORITE: Robert Fanning

Robert Fanning

Robert Fanning
***
At this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

 

***

 

THE ROSE PEDDLER

 

Through empty daybreak alleys, on streets

steaming with last night’s rain, he pedals

 

into another day of passing strangers, a blur

of empty glances at his roses’ muted horns.

 

Evenings he returns home, his cart sagging

with unwanted flowers. The sky ash and cinder,

 

the hours falling darker in a world without want.

Later he’ll dream their faces pressed to windows

 

watching him ride by, his bundled heap of bouquets

a red wick dimming into the distance. Dream of one

 

who opens his mouth to sing: gone goes my beauty,

gone goes all. His words like singed petals falling.

 

Dream of ember and star, of chimney smoke

and shadow. Of silhouette, of billowing gauze.

 

Of moon and maw, the night a sweet-tinged, scarlet

bulb, wet stems loosely tied, of bows falling open.

 

Of one who swallows the thornsong of his want.

Of one who hushes the bloodloud wish.

 

***

 

Robert Fanning:
The longer I’ve been at this trade, the more I’m attracted to poems I write then puzzle over afterward. Not the ones that hit the bull’s eye. I know this type of poem by the way it leaves me with a sense of accomplishment but deep mystery. A feeling of being found but also of having been eluded. Like the way you reach into the shallows for a bright yellow stone but due to the refraction come up with a dull jade stone a few stones over, something you didn’t aim to hold. The ones that have only a passing flicker in them that I recognize, the ones hard to pinpoint or paraphrase. I have recently started painting, and maybe that’s part of it. I like poems that feel somehow like paintings—that move me but repel explanation. This recent unpublished poem “The Rose Peddler” is just such a piece. It is by no means the best of a large body of new work I’ve written this fall. In fact, I like it precisely because I don’t know why. I’m not sure where it came from or how exactly it missed its mark, though I know that it did, and so have a greater affinity for its waywardness and the way it led me to surprise. A lot of my recent work has been exploring themes of longing, and this poem, to me, investigates the sweet charged aura around desire unsatisfied, the ache of bypassing beauty.
***
Bio:
Robert Fanning is the author of six poetry collections, including four full-length collections: Severance (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2019), Our Sudden Museum (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2017), American Prophet (Marick Press, 2009), and The Seed Thieves (Marick Press, 2006), as well as two chapbooks: Sheet Music (Three Bee Press, 2016), and Old Bright Wheel(Ledge Press Poetry Award, 2001). His poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, The Atlanta Review, and many other journals. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Sarah Lawrence College, he is a Professor of Creative Writing at Central Michigan University. He is also the founder and facilitator of the Wellspring Literary Series in Mt. Pleasant, MI., where he lives with his wife, sculptor Denise Whitebread Fanning, and their two children.
Severence

My Personal Favorite: Marlin M. Jenkins

jenkins_headshot_2018_cropped

Marlin M. Jenkins

Question: At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

 

Marlin poem pdf

This poem was first published in the Indiana Review. Link to Marlin poem pdf

 

Link to another Pokedex poem in Passages North.

***

I love beginnings, and my favorite part of most video games are the openings: how they orient you to the world, establish an atmosphere, immerse you in the life of the game. This is especially true for me in Pokémon games, the moment where you’re starting your journey, choosing your first pokémon to be your adventuring partner. So much possibility! At the same time, though, I resist the idea that true “fresh starts” exist: no matter where we begin there’s always something that exists before, that continues to be at play.

 

This poem is all about beginnings, and I wanted to lean into the idea of how a fresh start is both exciting and impossible—building on the premise from the epigraph, a quote from bulbasaur’s entry in the Pokémon encyclopedia/Pokédex: what inheritances do I carry that are inevitable factors in how I live and grow? In part, though it’s not stated directly, this poem is a rebuttal to one of the most famous quotes from the Pokémon franchise, the legendary Mewtwo in Pokemon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back stating, “I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.” It’s a nice thought, and perhaps not entirely untrue, but it feels to me misguided and over-simplified, and I’ve always felt that having Mewtwo say this really betrays his character arc. I wanted to take what’s compelling about that statement and complicate it, add nuance.

Marlin Jenkins chapbook

Chapbook available here.

This poem is the first poem in my Pokédex series to appear in my forthcoming chapbook, Capable Monsters (Bull City Press, 2020), which feels especially fitting as bulbasaur is both the first entry in the Pokédex and the first pokémon I ever had in a Pokémon game as a kid. And, along with “Pokédex Entry #131: Lapras”, this poem made me feel like this series was going somewhere, that it would be more than just a fun and productive exercise and could be a something that I wanted to make it out into the world.

 

My Personal Favorite: Katie Willingham

Willingham_headshot

At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why? 

**

Dear Forgiveness,

after Kara Candito

 

I am looking down into the fishbowl

of the unknown. The filter is whirring away,

blackening the sponge through which it pushes

the water of dreams and television, collecting

static. The fish that dwell here I call

Melancholy and Antiquark—Antitruth

or Antibeauty, I can’t get close enough to tell.

 

Dear Forgiveness, every time I ask a question,

my doctor smiles and I can’t be sure

if he’s sympathetic or appeasing me. Should I ask

more to increase my sample size or just

touch his wrist and inform him gently

that his watch has stopped? I take

 

the pill he prescribes, shaped like a bone, overcoming

the reflex to gag and spit and I’ve stopped

feeding the fish their regular food. Instead, I sprinkle

flakes of old paper that bubble and spread

like soap. I only have control of this one stupid mouth, and

I know better than to let the reflection of the sky

pour in from the window. But it doesn’t make

 

much difference to the fish. They can swim as far down

as the universe goes, and to be on top

of the world or under it is the same thing from space. So, too,

it must be, with reality. The known world has

its own gravity pulling everything to its gnarled, tangible center:

things that appear the correct size in any light—

An iron, an iron. A rocking chair, a rocking chair.

 

Dear Forgiveness, go ahead. Keep sending me

these photographs of poisonous berries, their

red glister like the blink of satellites. I still want

to kiss you, eyes open, hands

fumbling at the lip of your pocket.

 

 

Previously published in Southern Indiana Review, Fall 2016

 

Why I chose this:

 

I wrote this poem at a time where I was first confronting a chronic autoimmune diagnosis and beginning to process that in poetry, and indeed, this poem is very honest about that. Right on the bottle, my pills were described as “bone-shaped.” But more than collecting these strange details, I wanted to explore the unreality of attempting to accept and forgive my body despite what felt like a betrayal. I was in pain but blaming myself and my body never lessened that pain. I love how the ending here captures the asymptotic nature of this—I get so close to forgiveness but its forever incomplete.

 

I also love this poem because it took a long time to get that ending right. When it made its way to Marcus Wicker at Southern Indiana Review with its original ending, he let me know he was interested but asked me to reach out directly if I changed the ending. It felt good to be on the same page about what needed to happen, to be motivated to work on it, and to finally feel as though I managed to capture this unique feeling.

unlikely designs willingham

Purchase Unlikely Designs here.

 

Bio:

Katie Willingham is the author of Unlikely Designs (University of Chicago Press). Her poems have also appeared in Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Bennington Review, Diagram, and Grist, among others, and is forthcoming in the anthology The Mind Has Cliffs of Fall: Poems at the Extremes of Feeling, edited by Robert Pinsky. Her work has been supported by Vermont Studio Center, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and the Helen Zell Writers Program where she earned her MFA. She is the poetry editor for Michigan Quarterly Review and lives in Brooklyn, NY. You can find her online at www.katiewillingham.com.

 

 

My Personal Favorite: J.L. Moultrie

JL Moultrie blog post Kelly Fordon

Question:  At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite,

and why?

Equilibrium

A flower against the harsh inertia

bathing in Hades’ dim light

uncaring motion, as transformation dwindles

spoons of sun, with eager drip

an exquisite undertaking, falling

with all the weight of your limbs

It is risky to be a human being

it is lost amongst the landing of color;

oblique transitions.   I spoke to you through

the uncaring distance.  Through the

skeletal pain.

Substance of sleep; pictorial, nearly delving.

widening stares, unbreaking negligence

at the very base of the world.  These masks

were worn into disrepair.  In front

of the snow bank, behind the gas station,

in the ease of summer; spring’s tumult

wanders out of hibernation into the

closets of our lives

Fevers wane, giving way to all-too-familiar

words. Honing the craft of storing away blushes

until those who fell through all available substance

reemerge.  Though it is only a mirage, a

well-maintained visage, a mother falling towards

all sand, rainwater nursed in wise hands.

***

This poem was first published by Abstract Magazine here.

***

JL Moultrie discusses Equilibrium:

Equilibrium was written in a spontaneous fashion. I was trying to let the words and concepts flow out of me with no impediments. As poets, we try to translate emotions and impressions into words. This poem is one where I feel I came closest to getting the words to convey what was originally in my mind. I must thank JL Jacobs, the editor of Abstract: Contemporary Expressions, for helping realize the final form of the poem and giving it a home. I feel that some of the lines in it stand out with their originality and intensity, while also conforming to the overall theme; our shared humanity. I tried to capture the finite and fragile nature of human existence in a small, concise space.

***

Bio:

J.L Moultrie is a native Detroiter, poet and fiction writer who communicates his art through the written word. He fell in love with literature after encountering Fyodor Dostoyevsky, James Baldwin, Rainer Maria Rilke and many others. His work appears or is forthcoming in 𝘋𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘢 𝘓𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘑𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘭, 𝘈𝘣𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘤𝘵: 𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘱𝘰𝘳𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘌𝘹𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴, 𝘝𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘯𝘵, 𝘉𝘢𝘤𝘬𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘯𝘦𝘭𝘴, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘍𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘓𝘪𝘣𝘳𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘐𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘵 𝘝𝘰𝘪𝘥 and elsewhere. He considers himself a literary abstract artist of modernity.

 

My Personal Favorite: Rosebud Ben-Oni

Kelly Fordon blog post Rosebud Ben-Oni 2019.JPG

Question: At this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite,  and why?

**

Which is my favorite poem at this moment in time, no? That’s a really, really hard question to answer, as I love all the poems in turn around, BRXGHT XYXS, but I suppose at this moment, it would have to be the opening poem, “Matarose Tags G-Dragon on the 7,” which was first published in POETRY.  

It was in Lorna Dee Cervantes’s workshop at the 2014 Cantomundo retreat that I wrote this poem; it just came to me in a rush of sound. This poem has since become a gateway for other poems: since that day, I began to “hear the music” when writing— and when I’m not writing, for that matter, particularly at night, when I’m trying to go to bed. If I don’t write the words, they get louder and louder, and they won’t let me sleep at all until I write them down. Music itself has always been part of my life. I used to play set. As in the drum set. I also played piano. So music has always been very important to me. I listen to music while writing, commuting, walking around, before going to sleep, and waking up. I like listening to musical scores, soundtracks especially. Under the Skin is a favorite— Mica Levi is a genius. The music I hear that leads me to writing is never deliberate; I just hear it. And in hearing the music, I “see” the poems as well as “feel” them; the words start to bubble up, burst, congeal, thaw, fragrant the air. I don’t know if that makes sense. When I try to explain my own experience of writing, I feel it never captures fully the joy of the writing itself.  Because even the most painful and frustrating of poems to write—there’s joy for me in it.

Rosebud Cover

Bio
Rosebud Ben-Oni is the winner of the 2019 Alice James Award for If This Is the Age We End Discovery, forthcoming in 2021, and the author of turn around, BRXGHT XYXS (Get Fresh Books, 2019). She is a recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and CantoMundo. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, POETS.org, The Poetry Review (UK), Tin House, Guernica, Black Warrior Review, Prairie Schooner, Electric Literature, TriQuarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal ,Hunger Mountain, The Adroit Journal, The Southeast Review, North American Review, Salamander, Poetry Northwest, among others. Her poem “Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark” was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, and published by The Kenyon Review Online.  She writes for The Kenyon Reviewblog. She is currently editing a special chemistry poetry portfolio for Pleiades, and is finishing a series called The Atomic Sonnets, in honor of the Periodic Table’s 150th Birthday. Find her at 7TrainLove.org

My Personal Favorite: Keith Taylor

Today this might be my favorite among the poems I’ve written:

Infant Baptism

When she was six weeks old,

her mother exhausted, sleeping

and me dumb and clumsy 

in my fathering,

I wrapped her and took her out

one late December night

in a snowstorm

to see a snowy owl

perched

in a tree

like a gigantic, puffy, pure white songbird

peering down on us, 

yellow-eyed, 

frightened or curious

or vaguely wondering if my daughter

might be food

when I lifted her toward him—

See? See?

Snow fell on her face

and she didn’t cry.

***

I almost always respond to a question like this with something very recent. After all, I’m still working consistently and still get excited about the work in progress. You should see the poem I wrote yesterday!

This one is most of a year old but still feels fresh. It just appeared in Quarterly West over the summer (https://www.quarterlywest.com/salvage-selvage/taylor). I was really pleased when they asked to see some poems, and even happier when they took three of them. So I like where the poem first appeared. 

But the poem itself: It was a story I cared around for 27 years, a story my daughter and I told about each other. It is a story I like, even though I realize the speaker (me!) appears more than a little silly. I kept cutting away at the first draft getting down to the simplest words to contain the tale. The quatrains just arose naturally during the work; I didn’t impose them on it. I wanted to make sure everyone could get the sense of a snowy owl, even if they didn’t care about owls. I liked the syntax of the first sentence going on and on through most of the poem, and then the contrast with the very short and simple concluding sentence. So it is something I wanted to write for a quarter of a century. When I finally got it down into some form I thought presentable, I liked it! I still do.

But you should see the poem I wrote yesterday! It’s about a bird, too.

As ever, Keith


Bio:

Keith Taylor was born in British Columbia in 1952. He spent his childhood in Alberta and his adolescence in Indiana. After several years of traveling, he moved to Michigan, where he earned his M.A. in English at Central Michigan University. He has worked as a camp-boy for a hunting outfitter in the Yukon, as a dishwasher in southern France, a housepainter in Indiana and Ireland, a freight handler, a teacher, a freelance writer, the co-host of a radio talk show, and as the night attendant at a pinball arcade in California. For more than twenty years he worked as a bookseller in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Then he taught in the undergraduate and graduate creative writing programs at the University of Michigan, and directed the Bear River Writers Conference. From 2010–2018 he worked as the Poetry Editor at Michigan Quarterly Review. He retired from the University of Michigan in 2018. He lives with his wife in Ann Arbor; they have one daughter.

His poems, stories, book reviews, translations and feature articles have appeared in many journals, magazines and newspapers in North America and in Europe, including The Ann Arbor ObserverThe Beloit Poetry JournalBirdingCalibanThe Chicago TribuneThe Detroit Free PressThe Fourth GenreHanging Loose, The Iowa ReviewThe Los Angeles TimesMichigan Quarterly ReviewMondo GrecoNew LettersThe Notre Dame ReviewPhoebePivotPoetry Ireland ReviewPoetry GreecePoets and WritersThe St. Louis Post-DispatchThe Southern ReviewStoryThe Sunday Telegraph Magazine (London), WitnessThe Wooster Review, etc. His work has also been included in  anthologies and other books published by Michigan State University Press, Harvard University Press, Oxford University Press, The University of Michigan Press, W.W. Norton, Wayne State University Press, The Isle Royale Natural History Association, Milkweed Editions, and others.

Keith Taylor’s most recent book isThe Bird-while from Wayne State University Press. It won the Bronze Award from the Foreword Indies Poetry Book of the Year for 2017. His recent chapbooks,Ecstatic Destinations(2018), Fidelities (2015) and The Ancient Murrelet (2013)were published by Alice Greene & Co. In addition to larger and edited collections, he has published eight chapbooks of poetry. His collection of very short stories, Life Science and Other Stories, was published by Hanging Loose Press in 1995. With John Knott, Taylor co-edited the anthology The Huron River: Voices from the Watershed (The University of Michigan Press, 2000), which was a finalist in 2001 for the Great Lakes Book Award for General Nonfiction and was selected for the 2001 Read Michigan List by the Governor’s Office of the State of Michigan.  With Artemis Leontis and Lauren Talalay, he co-edited the collection What These Ithakas Mean: Readings in Cavafy (Athens, Greece: E.L.I.A., 2002), which was picked as one of the “Books of the Year” for 2002 in the Times Literary Supplement. His book Guilty at the Rapture, which includes poetry, short stories and essays, was published by Hanging Loose Press in 2006, and was chosen as one of the Michigan Notable Books of the Year for 2007 by the Library of Michigan. His book of translations, Battered Guitars: The Poetry and Prose of Kostas Karyotakis, done with William W. Reader, was published in the Fall, 2006, by the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman, and Modern Greek Studies at The University of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom.

My Personal Favorite: Caroline Maun

Caroline Maun

At this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

Ornament

Imagine the tangle of filament,

the complexity of loops and knots.

I couldn’t gauge the length wound

round the branch, or what strange

force could produce such a fierce,

irrational record.  In the center

of the lines was the body of the sparrow

who had struggled, the circuit

of flight dwindling with each launch

from the branch, with each push,

each angle attempted.  Maybe he bathed

in lake’s shallows, wings churning

a tiny spray when he was caught

by the shiny, idle hook.  Like an ornament

nested in a milky macramé of sunlit cords,

he was desiccated, yet whole,

an artifact at the center of a shimmering 

testimony of foreclosure.

 

Why Caroline Chose It:

When I saw this scene in real life it was so striking and complex that it arrested me.  My spouse, who was walking with me at a nearby park, asked me to stop staring at it and keep going — how macabre — who wants to dwell on a dead bird who had fallen victim to stray fishing line? It was sad to think about this avoidable, premature death and the way some aspect of the bird’s panic and suffering was so explicit in how the fishing line was tangled in the branches.  As I wrote the poem, I also began thinking about the body of work a poet writes over a lifetime and how in some ways the lines of writing are winding around what will be our idea of the poet after he or she is no longer able to write — when the body of work and the writer’s voice are foreclosed by death. The poem also draws some of its inspiration in dialogue with W. B. Yeats’s poem “Sailing to Byzantium,” which ends on a different note when the persona says he would, after death, choose to return as the golden ornament of a bird rather than taking the form of any natural thing.  Here, I am attempting to contemplate the natural thing as a remarkably striking ornament or artifact– with the corollary thought that it is not a good thing to leave fishing line and hooks to inadvertently harm living things. 

 

Bio: Caroline Maun is an Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of English at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. She is the author of Mosaic of Fire: The Work of Lola Ridge, Evelyn Scott, Charlotte Wilder, and Kay Boyle. She is the editor of The Collected Poems of Evelyn Scott, author of the poetry collections  The Sleeping and What Remains. She has published three chapbooks of poetry–most recently Accident with Alice Greene & Company. http://www.carolinemaun.com

Her launch party will be at the Cabbage Patch Saloon on October 11th at 6:30pm. See here for more details.

Available at Alice Green and Co here: as well as local bookstores and Amazon.

 

My Personal Favorite: Alinda Wasner

Alinda Wasner

At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

***

And There Is Eternity

And today she promises 

she will go there 

and buy the house back—

the one I sold when she was small—

and live in it forever because

the bloom of light from the street lamp

outside the bedroom window

spun the curtains into gold 

and in the deepest hour

the trains rumbled past

making the windows

sing a little tune

and the floorboards hummed

as if dreams 

tunneled under

and we were safe there together 

she in her little bed beside my big one

where we reached our hands out

and held on tight

until morning

painted the walls

so delicious a yellow

you wanted to lick them

and she swears she loved

the smell of moss 

that made a tiny carpet 

just outside the back door 

(though I don’t remember this) 

where the wind chimes 

argued day and night

and the spruce trees 

whispered the kind of secrets 

that made a little river

inside her heart—

the same river 

I kissed a boy in 

when I was her age

and let him kiss me back.

***

There are some poems that just leap out of your heart and your pen and even make you cry as you write them.  This is my favorite poem because it captures all the emotions of having to leave a childhood home to which one can return  only in one’s heart in a sort of grief process that can last for years.  In my own life that was sad enough.  But when my granddaughter begged me not to sell the home I lived in when she was small and spent every weekend with me, there, I”d had no idea she had felt the same depth of loss that I had.  Such a poignant time, childhood!  

***

Bio:

Alinda Wasner, The Starving Poet

Listed in Poets and Writers, Alinda Wasner’s work has appeared in Fresh WaterWomen Writing About the Great Lakes, (a Michigan Best Book) Avatar Review, New Millennium Poets, Passages North,  Wayne Review, Wittenberg Review, Blue Lake Review, Corridors, Comstock Review, UpStreet, Paint Creek Press, Outsider Writers, Corridors, Inkwell, InSpirit, The MacGuffin, Up the Staircase, Moving Out, The Detroit Free Press, Detroit Metro Times and Michigan Natural Resources, among others. Her chapbooks include Departures/Arrivals was published by ML Liebler’s Ridgeway Press, and her latest, Kissing The Ikons, which is available for sale on Amazon.com. https://thestarvingpoet.com

My Personal Favorite: Karen Holman

Karen Holman blog post Kelly Fordon
Karen Holman

At this moment in time which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

The Sound of Glass

Spring peepers chirp at the scalloped

                  edge of floating 

                                    like new dandelions 

predicting their futures.

                  Shrieking nails

                                    —redwings call—

cueing each other 

                  to wrench apart the woods. 

The entire ocean hums in a congregate voice

                  at dawn and dusk migrations

                                    and damselfish search the reefs

calling the names of their mates.

                  Nearing sixty, long into autumn 

but past the winters, I think, 

                                    my entire span and degree

has been a dawn chorus 

                  to you, dear Day,

                                                Your diamonding—

See the poem online here at Interim.

This has been my favorite poem for a long time because writing it changed me. It began with a lonely walk in through a marsh on a gray early spring day near Holland, Michigan where I had taken a trip to hear an old friend and mentor, Marvin Bell, read. It was a dark time in my life, I had been slogging through a depression that had lasted many years and I no longer wanted to keep living. I felt like I had no future. But my heart lifted as I listened to the redwing blackbirds calling to each other and I noticed the calls rising through the air the way fireflies rise into the trees in summer dusk. That was the image that arrested me, although it didn’t make it into later drafts of the poem.

I worked on the poem for several years while my depression began to lift. I realized that I would only be able to get survive the rest of my life if I befriended myself.

And finally, a summer brought joy, the dawn chorus rose around me mornings, it was day until 10 p.m., crickets sang and my garden bloomed. I felt my mortality approaching and was grappling with dreams that would never be realized. I knew the possibilities for my life were narrowing.

Yet, all that light. Light in nuance and dazzle that has been my joy since childhood: on water flitting like moths, the kaleidoscope blaze from one drop of dew, sunlight on the wall, the flash of a hummingbird’s throat, the full moon on snow, the beach glass of a hard frost . . . 

I read that even sea creatures sing a dawn chorus. The ocean hums as its creatures migrate from the deeps at night to the bright surface of day. While I was writing about it, I realized that my life is like that. My work, my voice, is just another in the panoply of living. That the length of my life is like a morning, and I have spent it singing.

Bio:

Karen Holman lives with her husband and two cats in Ypsilanti, MI where she works on a community mental health crisis team. She’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and serves on the editorial staff of december magazine. Her chapbook, “Welcoming in the Starry Night of the Lightning Bees,” features in New Poets, Short Books, vol. IV published by Lost Horse Press. Her poetry has aired on NPR, been honored with several Pushcart nominations and frames composer David Evan Thomas’ oratorio, The First Apostle.Her fiction, hybrids, poetry and non-fiction have appeared in Salamander, Puerto del Sol, RHINO, POOL, december magazine, Gargoyle, Sentence, 2 BridgesReview, Water Stone Review, decomP magazinE, flashquake, Quarter After Eight, Berkeley Poetry Review, Oxidant Engine, JuxtaProse, Portland Review, Threadcount, Interim, andUU World among othersHer work was performed by Pencilpoint Theatreworks in Fight Like a Girl.

My Personal Favorite: Jasmine An

Jasmine An

Which of your own poems is currently your personal favorite, and why?

Link: https://heavyfeatherreview.org/2019/07/27/an/

Film Analysis Techniques

Whose perspective does the camera represent? Whose eyes? I stare. How am I any different than the hungry sockets of men? What if my hand slips between my legs? What if I moan? Which sounds are diegetic? What if I moan? The music is supposed to be Mandarin. The soldiers are shouting in ching-chong-wing-wong, not Chinese. The woman doesn’t make a sound; her back is a silent arch; it’s bare. Does the use of light call attention to itself? Do I squint? Shadows drip off the crease of her spine. I’m staring still. Her lips are roughed red, but this film is black and white. What if the gauze clinging to her nipple slips? The bow of her breast is against my cheek already. Does the mise-en-scene manipulate my experience of time? I looked already. Her skin in my eyes already. What if I forget which decade we each belong to? I watch her wrap her fingers into the air above her head and when she pulls it’s my lungs that empty.

 

***
Answer: I have to thank Heavy Feather Review for inspiring my current favorite poem. Recently, HFR put their old print archives online, including my poem “Film Analysis Techniques.” This poem is part of my first chapbook Naming the No-Name Woman, a conversation with and invocation of actress Anna May Wong who was one of the early, Chinese American Hollywood stars. Rereading this poem for the first time in several years reminded me that I love this poem because it was written at a time that I was still finding my way to calling myself a “real poet” (whatever that means). I still remember that as I finished the first draft of “Film Analysis Techniques” I felt one of those clicks when the moment seemed to settle perfectly into place and I realized that arranging these words together had taught me something about myself that I hadn’t known how to learn before.


Bio: 

Jasmine An comes from the Midwest. Her chapbook, Naming the No-Name Woman, won the 2015 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize. She is an alumna of Hedgebrook and Willapa Bay AiR, and her work can be found in Stirring: A Literary Collection,Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Nat. Brut and Waxwing, among others. Currently, she is an Editor at Agape Editions and pursuing a PhD in English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.

Available at: Amazon or Two Sylvias Press.

My Personal Favorite: Carlina Duan

Carlina Duan

IN THE MODERN ENCYCLOPEDIA FOR BASKETBALL

men make jump shots and leave blue ink on the pads of my fingers.

there are years of sweet grass. there are years where I dance alone

on a court made of asphalt, and baba tells me to remember I am

great. the fish in the sea splash their teeny tails and cannot touch

me. I’m unstoppable! clogs on my feet, my wingspan stretched

out to the treetops. remembering I descend from a man who once

drove me through the entire car wash: soap suds lingering over

the frame of the car, wiping away crusts of bird shit, dirt, the even

hum of the engine as it propelled us forward, forward, and even then,

I loved to watch a machine grow clean, cleaner. I loved to watch

my baba at the wheel, talking about zebra fish in dishes of cool

water. here I am now, darting between pages — photographs of men

wearing capes that say CHAMPION, only I’m the champion now,

rich with sweat. rich as a daughter can be: watching her father’s

mouth open into a small pearl as the Chinese opera disc spins. on

the page, the ball falls into the hoop. and he begins, off-key, to sing.

***

My current favorite poem is: In The Modern Encyclopedia For Basketball, found in Peach Mag.

I wrote this poem on the sixth floor of a university library about a year ago, flipping through the actual Modern Encyclopedia For Basketball — a thick brick of pages wrapped in a blue cover, published in 1969 by Zander Hollander. At the time, I was working on a longer suite of nonfiction essays about basketball, Asian identity, and desire. I encountered the actual Modern Encyclopedia For Basketball during my research process. Around the time of this writing, I was also interested in who gets culturally portrayed as fluent or foreign in the context of speech, and in the context of sport. I was interested in the concept of the encyclopedia — what gets contained? What gets attributed (or misattributed)? Who arrives to the encyclopedia — and in pursuit of what? I’ve always been fascinated by language, and the clinical language of an encyclopedia for basketball intrigued me, particularly because we think of an encyclopedia as a source-text; we are beholden to its fact and its science. At times, however, privileging the encyclopedia can mean we privilege a certain type of knowledge and overlook the knowledge of personal narrative, of storytelling, of emotional root. In flipping through this particular encyclopedic volume, I witnessed pages of terminology, black and white photographs of (primarily white) men. I thought about the ways that my own encyclopedic knowledge of basketball — while very limited in scope — is still knowledge. My knowledge of basketball contains a sense of intimacy, a sense of care and duty, a sense of lineage. In my poem, I wanted to reclaim the love I have for basketball and for good fathers. I wanted to write in — and perhaps expand — the image of Chinese fathers, who so often are portrayed in popular culture or literature as stoic, unfeeling, strict. I wanted, instead, to write a Chinese father into an encyclopedia of motion, to “tender-ize” (and here, I mean to make soft, tender, critical) and begin again. To question what we think we know, or are capable of knowing.

The father in my poem is joyous, he’s bold, he’s singing, he’s alive. The speaker celebrates him. She loves him. There is motion and there is speed and there is a hoop and there is, always, a life that is made possible by care, by trust, by nodding to the ones who have come before, sang to us, lifted a ball, shot it in.

***

CARLINA DUAN is a sister, a poet, a friend, a fan of basketballs and sugar. She hails from Michigan, and has taught writing in classrooms across across the state, as well as Malaysia, California, and Tennessee. Carlina is the author of I WORE MY BLACKEST HAIR (Little A, 2017), and the chapbook Here I Go, Torching (National Federation Poetry Societies, 2015). Carlina is the winner of multiple Hopwood awards, a Fulbright grant, the Edna Meudt Poetry Award, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and the 1st Place Winner of Narrative Magazine’s 30 Below Contest. Her poems can be found in Black Warrior Review, Tupelo Quarterly, The Margins, and elsewhere. She received her MFA in Poetry from Vanderbilt University, where she served as the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Nashville Review.

My Personal Favorite: Terry Blackhawk

Terry Blackhawk by Nancy Rodwan
Cover art by Neil Frankenhauser

Florida

for Neil

The dream tells me where I am:

nose close to a tulip tree

filled with lime green finches,

one that sports a spectacled mask

miming my every move.  But here

all the palms look the same

and I am lost again in the parking lot

outside the hospital, searching

for my rental car, no stars,

no bearings, while across the planet

actual birds are falling from the sky.  

At night I swim in the hotel pool

and look up past the trees.   I have placed

the beach flotsam we gathered

next to the outdoor sink, said farewell

to sponge and seawrack,

and paid up the cottage and thrown away

the food we bought to move across town

into emergency housing.  I have called

your children and sorted and shipped

your things and have ridden the elevator

up through the indoor atrium, past

the potted ficus trees and the pianist

playing holiday songs, and held firm

with the nurses and social workers

and moved your tray and adjusted the blinds,

the bed and the television and watched

the TV until it was time to go. 

I rode in the ambulance and

crossed the bridge and trembled in

the waiting room and met the doctors.

While they operated I drove out to the shore.

I walked the beach and picked up a shell.

I practiced the slow steps I knew would come

later, after they opened your heart. 

***

“Florida” springs from the dislocation of dealing with a life-threatening emergency in what came to feel like a very surreal place. In December 2009, my sweetheart the artist Neil Frankenhauser and I were in Sanibel Island on a vacation that ended up with his open-heart surgery on New Year’s Eve. The poem moved me step by step through that experience but seemed to be creating the events as I wrote, rather than mining them from memory. I knew the details, obviously, but they presented themselves in surprising ways. Using both “TV” and “television” in one sentence, for instance. It’s not something I would normally do, but it makes me think about the difference between the generic “television,” which one adjusts, and the “TV” one watches together with one’s beloved in a more intimate and time-delimited setting. The shell, the holiday songs, the potted ficus trees were also unexpected, but the most surprising line of all was the simplest: “all the palms look the same.” Feeling so helpless and frustrated and, most of all, alone during this time, with life and death decisions to be made, I developed a thankfully short-lived animus toward palm trees. I no longer resent them, but at the time their sameness, the way they look like templates or cut-outs, the way they don’t seem like their own individuals or change with the seasons like our beloved oaks and maples and willows in the north, drew my ire. I wrote paragraphs and another entire poem trying to express this irritation, when all I needed to write, finally, was “all the palms look the same.” As soon as I wrote that, I knew it was right. Now the struggle to get there strikes me as faintly ridiculous. I guess it’s an example of what it takes to get out of one’s own way as a writer.  I like this poem, too, because its pacing is comforting and provides a sense of control over the chaos it describes, and because it will be in my new book, One Less River, with Neil’s beautiful piece of art on the cover.  It was also selected by Denise Duhamel for 2013 Springfed Arts Poetry Prize.

–Terry Blackhawk

Bio: Terry Blackhawk’s poetry collections include Escape Artist (John Ciardi Prize, 2003), The Light Between (WSU Press) and One Less River (Mayapple Press, 2019)—with awards from Nimrod International (2010 Pablo Neruda Prize), America (1990 Foley Prize)and others. A former high school creative writing teacher, Blackhawk is Founding Director (1995-2015) of InsideOut Literary Arts Project and a 2013 Kresge Arts in Detroit literary fellow. She received a Detroit Metro Times Progressive Hero Award (1999), the MI Governor’s Award for Arts Education (2001), grants from Michigan Council for the Arts (1998-2000) and National Endowment for the Humanities (1992-1993) and was twice named MI Creative Writing Teacher of the Year (1990, 2008). In 2015 WSU Press released To Light a Fire: Twenty Years with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, a collection of essays that she co-edited with iO Senior Writer Peter Markus.  To Light a Fire was named a Finalist for Foreword Review’s INDIE FAB 2015 Book of the Year in Writing.

Terry’s new book is available here: https://www.spdbooks.org/Products/9781936419890/one-less-river.aspx or at Amazon.

My Personal Favorite: Jude Rittenhouse

Jude Rittenhouse

At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite, and why?

***

After the Perseid Meteor Shower

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.                                                                                                                           –Mother Teresa

The end of summer; the end

of night shooting

her stars. Tossing them

toward us through galaxies and time

while we watched

with mouths and eyes open wide

as children

delighted by the Fourth of July. Flags

waving, our chests swelling

with pride. Night

after night, thousands of meteors

dove into their dying like Palestinians

and Israelis. Like Afghanis and Iraqis.

Like those people September eleventh

in buildings and planes. Shedding

their skin. Relinquishing

time. So all the children watching

might finally see

how each of us blazes a singular trail

made of darkness and light. How

we’re all falling

through this same abiding night.

“After the Perseid Meteor Shower” is a perennial favorite of mine because it is brief, yet vast, and it emerged from creation’s cauldron almost fully-formed. It presences a most important truth and, in a gift-process that sometimes happens, it almost wrote itself: images presented and arranged themselves in a way that simply seemed obvious—no effort required.  

My husband lives and works in NYC during the week. 9/11 was a harrowing day of waiting to hear from him—waiting to learn that he was okay. Afterwards, despite the fact that we knew people who died that day, some family members in the Midwest, who were less directly affected, surprised us with their anger and desire to retaliate. I don’t know how this dichotomy moved inside me and shaped itself into words as it did, but I’m grateful to this poem for conveying powerful aspects of being human together, on this singular planet.

This poem was part of sequence that earned a finalist designation in the Pablo Neruda Award. It was originally published in Nimrod International Journal and is included in my book-length manuscript Languages of Light.

Biographical Information:

An award-winning poet, short-story writer, and creative non-fiction writer, Jude Rittenhouse is also a teacher, speaker, and holistic practitioner (M.A. Counseling, NKH).

Her poems, essays, and articles have appeared in Nimrod International Journal, Tiferet Journal, River Oak Review, Newport Review, plus many other literary magazines and anthologies, including Lay Bare the Canvas: New England Poets on Art. Writing awards include a Writer’s Grant from the Vermont Studio Center, a First Place “Day of the Writer” Short Story Award, two Poets & Patrons of Chicago Poetry Awards, a Glimmer Train Press Poetry Award, and multiple Finalist Awards for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Tiferet Poetry Prize, plus a Finalist Award for the Tiferet Non-fiction Prize, among others. Books include Magician’s Daughter: From the Ashes (1995 poetry chapbook) and Living In Skin (2009 poetry chapbook). Two book-length poetry manuscripts, Gaia’s Daughters and Languages of Light, are submitted; a third, Beyond Time’s Tirades, is in progress.

She was a founding co-editor for the feminist literary magazine Moon Journal (archived in the Sophia Smith Collection at Smith College), and editor of Meeting The Grand Dame: The Journey Through Breast Cancer and Beyond (poetry by Joy Veaudry and Helen Quade), as well as The Ten Commandments for a Healthy Lifestyle (nonfiction by Dr. Perry Wolk-Weiss).

For over 25 years, she has helped people use their creativity to achieve positive change and growth. All of her work emerges from a commitment to deeper connection and greater wholeness.

My Personal Favorite: Joy Gaines-Friedler

Joy Gaines-Friedler
 
 
QUESTION:
At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite and why?
 
 
 
 
***
 
 

Burial

 

Not of bones or humiliations we lie with

thankful for the alarm of another day,

but of the squirrel who found her way

into the tube feeder, sought black oilers,

their seedy scent, the way the apple

in its sun-glow, tempted Eve. Pungent

apple-scent like the scent

of Adam himself, his skin, his hair,

maybe now I’ve gone too far, but isn’t

that what the squirrel sought there

in the feeder I filled, I hung?

Her clever mind figured the lid off,

reckoned a way to the manna there,

the way the man whose elbow rested

confident on his knee as he flicked

ashes from his cigarette, whose music

lined his walls alphabetically, whose love

of mysteries pulled me from my marriage

into a conduit of seed, no

consciousness of how deeply the tube

held food or what might be at the end—

no end at all. Dug in, I consumed

my way to the bottom, found myself

trapped. She died there. Suffocated.

When all she wanted was to be fed.


 

We come to poetry every day, different, altered, new perhaps. Each day I read the same poem differently. This is the magic of art. Like the warm chord we finally hear, the pale blue stroke we hadn’t noticed before. This is why I struggled with this question: which is currently my favorite. I find myself in need of certain poems on certain days. So today, it is this poem, Burial from Capture Theory. “Not of bones” the opening line begins, or of “humiliations” – but of the squirrel who found her way into the bird feeder, who sought what she needed there. And got trapped. It’s a stunning metaphor.

Joy Gaines-Friedler’s works include three books of poetry, Like Vapor, Dutiful Heart and Capture Theory which is a Foreword Review 2018 Book Of The Year Finalist. She is a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee and the winner of the 2016 Margo Lagattuta Poetry Prize. Featured in The Bloomsbury Anthology of Jewish American Poetry and the award winning Poetry in Michigan in Poetry, Joy’s work has received numerous awards from, among others, Ekphrastic Magazine, The Patterson Review, and The Marjorie Wilson Award for Excellence in Poetry. Joy holds an MFA in Creative Writing and teaches for a variety of non-profits in the Detroit area including literary arts programs, social justice programs, and the PCAP – Prison Creative Arts Project through the University of Michigan. www.joygainesfriedler.com

Image result for capture theory joy gaines

 

Links: http://www.joygainesfriedler.com/capture-theory

One last announcement….

Join me at Bo’s Kitchen in NYC on June 18th! Call ahead for reservations. Have a wonderful summer, everyone!

2019_6JuneNewest.png

My Personal Favorite: Michael Lauchlan

michaellauchlan3
 

Michael Lauchlan

 
***
 
QUESTION:
 
At this moment in time, which of your own poems is your personal favorite and why?
 
 

***

Pyromaniac

My neighbor is burning things

and sitting close enough to be warmed

by a shock of color that tears

the longest night in what

we’ll recall as the year it all

came apart. Even our verbs

are ashen. The fire’s turning

and turning as she feeds it

old boxes and branches snapped

in the last wind. She might be thinking

of the moody guy who sits on her porch

and stares at his phone. She might

hope that next month or next

year she’ll get by on two jobs

instead of three. I walk the dog

and see my neighbor letting fire

do what it’s always done–

destroy trash, peel bark,

unlock the grain of limbs, and draw

us near as it shimmies and curls

before our eyes. Sparking neurons,

the furnaces in skin cells, even

the long hidden sun–all burn

in tune with backyard havoc.

Picture a lit scrap wafting toward

my garage roof. Weigh the cost

of tools against the thrill–a blaze

recharged by flash fuel–scraps

of lumber, popping gas cans

and wheelbarrow tires–a blaze

charring lawn mowers, shovels, saws

and drills–flames bright enough

to dent our vast darkness.

printed in Cumberland River Review, Issue 7-4

http://crr.trevecca.edu/article/pyromaniac

***

 
I’m choosing “Pyromaniac” partly because I have been preoccupied with fire lately, expressive of my own rage but also of the unconscionable destruction unfolding around us. Fire is also, of course, elemental and suggestive of matters beyond our control.
 
Michael Lauchlan
 
 
***
 
Bio: Michael Lauchlan’s poems have appeared in many publications and have been anthologized in Abandon Automobile(Wayne State University Press, 2001) and A Mind Apart. His earlier collections are And the Business Goes to Pieces and Sudden Parade.