Afterward, be sure to check out her bio below and purchase a book.
On May 1st, I’ll be deconstructing a story from Joseph Harris’ new short story collection, You’re in the Wrong Place, available at Wayne State University Press here on the blog, and on May 11th, I will be talking to Caitln Horrocks about her short story collection, Life Among the Terranauts, at Pages Bookshop.
Bio:Laura Van Prooyen’s collections of poetry are Frances of the Wider Field (Lily Poetry Review Books 2021), Our House Was on Fire, nominated by Philip Levine, awarded the McGovern Prize (Ashland Poetry Press 2015), and Inkblot and Altar (Pecan Grove Press 2006). She is also co-author, with Gretchen Bernabei, of Text Structures from Poetry—a book of writing lessons for grades 4-12 (Corwin Literacy 2020).
Laura has over 20 years experience teaching poetry and writing in a variety of academic settings including: Dominican University, Henry Ford Academy: The Alameda School for Art + Design, Chicago Public Schools, Del Valle High School, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also facilitated therapeutic writing sessions for soldiers with PTSD in an Intensive Outpatient Program for three years at Brook Army Medical Center.
Having been raised in a tight-knit Dutch community just outside of Chicago, Van Prooyen now lives in San Antonio, TX. She earned a B.A. at Purdue University, an M.A. at The University of Illinois at Chicago, and an M.F.A. in Poetry at Warren Wilson College. Laura serves as the Managing Editor of The Cortland Review and teaches in the Low-Residency Creative Writing MFA Program at Miami University in Ohio. She is launching Next Page Press, with the first title to be released late 2021.
Frances of the Wider Field is available at Lily Poetry Review here, Bookshop here, or Amazon here.
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.
Currently, one of my favorite poems is “Dot Product: The Cross Between Particle Theory and Pointillism,” which is in my book Light into Bodies. “Dot Product” was the first of my poems to be accepted for publication. Lisa Mangini had just launched her publication Paper Nautilus in 2011, and she accepted the poem for publication in the inaugural issue.
lots of other folks, I tend to have obsessions. One of them is a fascination
with dots or particles. This poem is a favorite is because it integrates poetry
with other treasured things: math (dot product), science (particle theory), and
art (pointillism and Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte.) And it does all of this in house of
my obsession dots(!) What could be better?
Another, and primary, reason “Dot Product” is special to me is because it’s one of those rare poems that arrived almost fully intact, beginning with the title, which is unlike my normal modus operandi. I usually need to revise a poem an untold number of times before it’s ready to see the light of day. But on handful of occasions, the muse has been wonderfully generous, and a poem arrives that writes itself. I just happen to be the one who’s holding the pen. This poem was one of those times.
Bio: Nancy Chen Long is the author of Light into Bodies
(University of Tampa Press, 2017), winner of the Tampa Review Poetry Prize. She
is the grateful recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing
fellowship, a writer residency at Ox-Bow School of the Arts, and a scholarship
at the Provincetown Fine Arts Center. Her work has been published in The Southern Review, The Adroit Journal,
Valparaiso Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, Alaska Quarterly Review,
Pleiades, and elsewhere. She works at Indiana University in the Research