2018

Up, and to my office, where busy all the morning and then to dinner to Captain Cocke’s with Mr. Evelyn, where very merry, only vexed after dinner to stay too long for our coach. At last, however, to Lambeth and thence the Cockpitt, where we found Sir G. Carteret come, and in with the Duke and the East India Company about settling the business of the prizes, and they have gone through with it.
Then they broke up, and Sir G. Carteret come out, and thence through the garden to the water side and by water I with him in his boat down with Captain Cocke to his house at Greenwich, and while supper was getting ready Sir G. Carteret and I did walk an houre in the garden before the house, talking of my Lord Sandwich’s business; what enemies he hath, and how they have endeavoured to bespatter him: and particularly about his leaving of 30 ships of the enemy, when Pen would have gone, and my Lord called him back again: which is most false. However, he says, it was purposed by some hot-heads in the House of Commons, at the same time when they voted a present to the Duke of Yorke, to have voted 10,000l. to the Prince, and half-a-crowne to my Lord of Sandwich; but nothing come of it.1 But, for all this, the King is most firme to my Lord, and so is my Lord Chancellor, and my Lord Arlington. The Prince, in appearance, kind; the Duke of Yorke silent, says no hurt; but admits others to say it in his hearing. Sir W. Pen, the falsest rascal that ever was in the world; and that this afternoon the Duke of Albemarle did tell him that Pen was a very cowardly rogue, and one that hath brought all these rogueish fanatick Captains into the fleete, and swears he should never go out with the fleete again. That Sir W. Coventry is most kind to Pen still; and says nothing nor do any thing openly to the prejudice of my Lord. He agrees with me, that it is impossible for the King [to] set out a fleete again the next year; and that he fears all will come to ruine, there being no money in prospect but these prizes, which will bring, it may be, 20,000l., but that will signify nothing in the world for it. That this late Act of Parliament for bringing the money into the Exchequer, and making of it payable out there, intended as a prejudice to him and will be his convenience hereafter and ruine the King’s business, and so I fear it will and do wonder Sir W. Coventry would be led by Sir G. Downing to persuade the King and Duke to have it so, before they had thoroughly weighed all circumstances; that for my Lord, the King has said to him lately that I was an excellent officer, and that my Lord Chancellor do, he thinks, love and esteem of me as well as he do of any man in England that he hath no more acquaintance with.
So having done and received from me the sad newes that we are like to have no money here a great while, not even of the very prizes, I set up my rest in giving up the King’s service to be ruined and so in to supper, where pretty merry, and after supper late to Mr. Glanville’s, and Sir G. Carteret to bed. I also to bed, it being very late.

my only enemy is
in appearance kind

says no other world is possible
there being no money for it

thinks love of land quaint
like a great ruin


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 6 November 1665.

25 years ago I sought legal counsel
and attempted to file for annulment—

the difference from divorce being that if
proven meritorious, the court renders

the marriage null and void, as if it never
happened. My lawyer had a habit of picking

at his teeth while taking calls during
my appointments; according to him,

among the conditions listed as grounds
for annulment, the only one I could pursue

was “Mental or Psychological Incapacity”—
meaning I was to present myself to a court

psychologist, write an autobiographical
essay whose theme would be my innate

deranged or unbalanced nature. Because I had
no words back then for describing my ex’s

anger management issues, like a fool I took
the printed form and tried to put my life

as I knew it under the awful, recommended
spotlight. Meanwhile, men blithely led

two or more secret lives, or openly flaunted
mistresses. An action star sired more than

eighty children by sixteen different
women, and even got elected senator.

Look at what money can buy, father
quipped, as I shrugged my shoulders

into my good suit jacket, slid
my feet into pumps, and got ready

to go to work. The two older children
were in school, the baby was with

her nanny. I made a mental note to stop
at the store for diapers before returning

home at five. Father was retired nearly
a decade then; and of poor health. He stayed

at home reading the paper in the corner
armchair, taking out his Novena to Saint

Pancratius and murmuring prayers with eyes
half-closed to this patron of children, jobs,

health, cramps, perjury, and headaches—
though you could say Pancras himself never

recovered from the last big headache
of his young life, having been beheaded

around 303 AD during the reign of the Emperor
Diocletian. As for diapers, I never made it

to the store that afternoon— An earthquake
rocked the city and it felt like any moment

the skies might part and we’d see the Four
Horsemen, lances drawn, come down into our

hills on vivid clouds of fire. In mere minutes,
buildings turned to rubble, walls into piles

of kindling. If anyone had known to pray
to Saint Emydius or Saint Gregory

the Wonderworker, patrons for protection
against earthquakes and floods, could that

day’s catastrophe have been averted? Two
weeks later, father passed away on a makeshift

pallet in the local hospital. Stories have it
that Emydius, though he was a bishop, was also

beheaded in that same period of persecution
that ended 14-year-old Pancratius’s life.

poet bloggers revival tour 2018 A few quotes + links (please click through!) from the Poet Bloggers Revival Tour, plus occasional other poetry bloggers in my feed reader. If you’ve missed earlier editions of the digest, here’s the archive.

Current events were inescapable this week, but so were events of a hundred years ago: bookends for our culture of violence and genocide. So poetry bloggers had plenty to say about the US election, the ending of World War I, politics in general, and how to preserve sanity and make time for what matters (writing, obviously). But there were also posts about new publications and recently read books, plus Collin Kelley had the genius idea (which I for one intend to steal) of blogging a Spotify playlist of songs that inspired his forthcoming collection, and Giles Turnbull calculated the amount of daily exercise he gets from making coffee.

Those of us lucky enough to live in a land that’s not currently wracked by war might think about our luck. We might strengthen our resolve to quit wasting time and to start/continue/finish the work we were put on this earth to do. History shows us that we can’t always or even often count on peace. The world plunges into war for the flimsiest of reasons: an archduke is assassinated, and the world goes up in flames.

So if we have stability now, let us seize the day. Let us not waste time on Facebook, bad movies, wretched television, or any of the other countless ways we’ve devised to waste our freedom. Generations of humans have laid down their lives to secure us this precious liberty; let’s resolve that their blood hasn’t been shed just so that we can fritter day after day away.

If we haven’t always done a good job of shepherding our talents, let’s declare today to be Armistice Day. Let’s forgive ourselves for every opportunity we haven’t followed. Let’s see if any of those doors are still open to us. And if not, let’s rest easy in the assurance that there will be new doors if only we stay alert for them.

For those of us who are activists, we might think about how to use our talents to create a world where we practice war no more. Or maybe we want to raise funds for those who are damaged by war. On a day like Veteran’s Day, it seems appropriate. We can be the voices for those who have been cruelly silenced.

For those of us who teach, we might want to think about how artists and writers might speak to current generations, many of whom do not know any veterans. On Veteran’s Day, which began as Armistice Day, you might bring the work of Wilfred Owen into your classrooms. You can find some poems at this site; I particularly like “Anthem for Doomed Youth.” Pair this poem with some artistic works, perhaps the works of Picasso that look at war, a work like “Guenica” (here’s a site with the image). For this generation of instant access to facts and information, it would be worth discussing whether or not creative explorations enrich our understanding of war and its aftermath. Is photography and documentary film more worthwhile? Another kind of art?
Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Approaches to Armistice Day

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The first two Native-American women. First two Muslim women. First Somali-American, a former refugee. Youngest woman ever, a Latina. First black female congresswoman from her state…They are the hope for me today: the brown female faces of those who won seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, along with many white women who also won races, and the first gay male state governor. These are the faces of the future — though their majority power may be very far away, beyond my lifetime even.

When I look at the map, the polarization is depressingly clear, and I can’t even feel smug about Quebec being better, after our last election. It was just the same: most of the rural, homogeneous French-Canadian areas went conservative, while the diverse metropolitan areas (chiefly Montreal) were solidly progressive. The real question in so many places today seems to be: do you want someone who will actually work for the things that benefit all people, or do you want someone who looks like you, expresses the same fears, and wants to go back to the past? […]

I’ve been on the side of immigrants and non-whites all my life, and especially so since marrying into an Arab/Armenian immigrant family, with multiple personal histories of genocide and narrow escapes from persecution to begin life again in new places. Twelve years of being a Canadian-American, and having opportunities to travel, especially in Latin America, have only made me MORE sympathetic and more identified with migrants and refugees. I’m grateful for my life experiences and fervently wish I could share them with a lot more people, because I think if you don’t live it, or have very close relationships with people who do, it’s hard to really get it. Thus, the map we keep seeing, and the fears that keep being exploited.

Besides this endemic hatred of “the other”, the environment is the other issue that creates ongoing despair for me. There is so little time, and so little will on the parts of governments — in fact I believe we’ve already passed a critical window where reversal was possible. So much of what I have valued and loved about the Earth is in danger of being lost forever. To me, this is the fundamental issue of our time, and even here in Quebec, where many people say they do care about the natural world and live close to it, the new government feels it is not important, and secondary to economic concerns. How shortsighted can we be?

Today is a day to rejoice in a first step back from the precipice Trump’s presidency has placed us in. Frankly, though, we can’t let up for a minute.
Beth Adams, Bright Faces of Hope, and a Long Uphill Road Ahead

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I’ve been thinking about the loud controversies of late and the various ways we Americans have changed the meaning of our identity as human beings. An American man or woman shopping at the mall is human—that’s a given, right? A consumer is important; is human. A voter is human, but these days it is only if he or she believes the same things we do and trusts in the same proper steps to transform the country (rather than some other, surely evil steps) and so votes for “our” party. The ideal of respect (sadly, not always fulfilled over the centuries) for one another is in pronounced abeyance. That’s natural, of course, because the ideas that the image of God shines through all mortal flesh is dead in what is essentially a post-Christian society. […]

In great part, we mean in this country because we shop. I shop, therefore I am. Likewise, we are tiny parts in the voting apparatus, continually pestered to think according to correct party lines. If we are too young to shop or vote or too ill or decrepit, we just don’t matter much to the system—we’re not quite human, and others decide what to do about us.

But this is wholly wrong, isn’t it? We have forgotten what it is to be human if we believe that either consuming or voting correctly grounds us and makes us human, much less fully human (another large question!) But that akilter definition of the human is the strong impression one gets from vocal campus outbursts and the standard media and the blizzard of advertising tumbling around us….
Marly Youmans, Shop. Vote. Don’t forget to be human.

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The hinge of words swings back and forth, creaking,

unable to decide what direction

they should take. My knees argue, unable

to agree on where we’re going. They want

to take a vote, but it’s just them, the two

of them. They aren’t listening to me, or

anyone else. How can I walk, half snow,

half heat?
PF Anderson, Knees (Bodymap, 2)

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You know I love taking pictures of hummingbirds. They represent something about my soul – always in a hurry, and attracted to flowers. I think that we have to watch how to take in the stories of our world – reading books an antidote to the confusing and jarring barrage of bad news and bad things happening in the world – because they force us to slow down and consider things more deeply. Spending time with people on the phone or in real life is different than e-mail or texting – it helps us integrate with our communities.

When you’re a writer, and if you feel your writing in important, it is essential to guard your writing time. For me, it’s after everyone is asleep – when the inner editor is quieter (editors often go to sleep at 10 PM, I think) and my mind is freer to make connections. I’ve been writing poems outside of any planned “book project” – letting myself write whatever it wants, from flash fiction involving time travel to poems about Game of Thrones. It’s clear from the insomnia and nightmares that I’m sensitive to what’s going on in the world, not to mention the stress of trying to get all my medical tests and appointments in before the end of the year, when my deductible flips over and I have to start paying out of pocket again. Emily Dickinson is my symbol of the poet isolated from the world, and yet, had a tremendous life of the mind in her rooms and gardens. She really allowed herself time to write and even more, time to notice things. Instead of allowing our minds and attention to be constantly drawn to the latest scandal and tragedy (and there are plenty of those), scanning instead of truly paying attnetion, how do we hold ourselves steady? Meditation, prayer, reading and writing, and if possible (which it isn’t always, in winter) spending time out in nature. If you have other answers to this modern dilemma, let me know. How do we put into practice embracing the things that are truly important to us?
Jeannine Hall Gailey, The Urge to Protect and Post-Election Insomnia, Looking for the Magic, and Guarding Your Mind/Time

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Ten Reasons for (not) writing:

  1. California is burning.
  2. Our white nationalist president is blaming California for the fires.
  3. There is a civil war going on in this country, and the right is better armed.
  4. Mass shootings r/t #3.
  5. Refugees walking hundreds of miles to be greeted by armed troops at the US border.
  6. Initiative 1631 (a policy to combat climate change) failed to pass in Washington State, funded by big oil, so we may as well just prepare for the worst.
  7. It’s a big season for deaths. I attend deaths, hence, I’ve been busy.
  8. Prop 2 failed. No new library for Sequim, Washington. Property owners win.
  9. Promises to keep.
  10. The new kitten is eating all of my plants and then taking naps on the keyboard.

Risa Denenberg, Sunday Morning Afternoon

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Okay. Just over 1500 words of my play Accountability Partners for this week’s Long Form Friday, which took place in the afternoon because I had to attend some training for the college in the morning. Also, four poems written this week, two of which I (kinda) finalized this morning. When I should have been running. *Cough*

I’m being really, really, REALLY stubborn by keeping to these early morning and Friday writing sessions, considering all of the grading I’m backed up with, but damnit, I made a commitment to my writing for this academic year, and I did it by abandoning a shit-load of committees and other responsibilities, and if I wasn’t backed up with grading because of my writing at this point in the semester, I’d be backed up with grading because of all the committee meetings and driving between campuses and other time-sucks that make this job absolutely maddening. […]

[W]hile it appears that nothing has really changed, everything has changed. I am so much calmer, and enjoy teaching so much more, when I protect my writing time. (I’m also so much happier and healthier when I protect my running time, but we can’t have everything, can we?)
Sarah Kain Gutowski, Writing, Grading, & the End of Soccer Season

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Have you ever read the right book at precisely the right time? One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler is about a religious mom of 6 kids (under age 8) navigating the season of having babies while also pursuing her dream to write. So we have a little in common! And so often I have felt like my dreams conflict–my husband and I want a large family so obviously I have to set writing down, to quit. I’ve tried to quit so many times, but I find myself there again, writing a poem, a book of poems, sending them to publishers. […]

I desperately wish I were a better writer. I desperately wish I were a better mother. But the answer to being better at both isn’t necessarily for me to give up on either one. God gave me a unique calling that is made up of some different moving parts but it is all going in the same direction. Something about writing is important and I need to keep doing it. Welcoming all these little baby-strangers into my life, one at a time, is also part of that calling, and I don’t fully understand how it is all going to work out together in the end.

This book helped me though. It made me feel like although my big family dream and my poetry dream are both crazy dreams to so many (most!) people, God made me for this, so even if I fail, I don’t really fail. I feel inspired to keep going. And I don’t think that right now that is going to look like starting a new book or a novel, but it might, if that inspiration comes, and I’m not too afraid to follow it.
Renee Emerson, dreaming big dreams

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100 years since the end of WW1. My granddad, Alfred, was a sergeant in the Kings Own Yorkshire Life Infantry. He joined as a territorial some years before the war, working as a journeyman housepainter. For some time, on Armistice day I’ve posted a poem I wrote for him, and also for my grandma, Ethel. I never knew her.

Everyone dutifully remembers the men who died in uniform, and that is right and proper. I wish we would publicly remember their wives and mothers, the ones left behind to bring up big families; there was no social security for them. They were left to fend, and those working class women often struggled to make ends meet. They often had big families. Alfred never saw active service. He wanted to, but instead of going off with the lads he called his comrades, he was admitted to hospital and died in 2016 of Hodgkinson’s lymphoma.

Ethel managed to bring up my mum, my two aunts and my uncle. She gradually grew profoundly deaf. The isolation fed depression and in the 1930s she took her own life. Remember the women left behind. Remember them. [Click through for the poem.]
John Foggin, Centenary

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The air shimmers and stiffens
and Mary shatters it

like a pane of glass.
There is a quality
of sound – a mud-born
eructation from the throat

of a marsh bird, or
some searing midnight
heartbreak called from ridge
or hillside – that curls

around the edge of time
to bear witness to what
we have never known,
should never have to know.

And Mary shrieks from that
elemental place, her mouth
split earth and her voice
magma, sudden and naked

in the wrong world.
Dick Jones, Binners

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For a workshop on Tuesday, Election Day, one of my undergraduates submitted a poem based on the day he hid in a closet during a middle school shooting. A different student said there had been a shooting in her school, too; another described an active shooter just last week in the high school her sister attended; a fourth said a friend had died in the Parkland massacre. Stunned, I responded with something like, “Are you telling me that four out of the fifteen of you have had a near miss with a school shooting?” Then two more raised their hands. Six. […]

In short, teachers now have dangerous jobs, students are always vulnerable to random violence, and nowhere is safe. So all together, now: let’s write pantoums! Seriously, teaching poetry during any of the crises we’ve been negotiating lately could seem frivolous, but I’ve been feeling the opposite. My poetry classes keep turning into spaces for analyzing and reflecting on disaster in ways that feel more emotionally useful than, say, reading the news.

Some of that is chance resonance between syllabi and world events. Well, sort of chance. For a different course, my mid-20th-century US poetry seminar, we’re studying the usual characters–O’Hara, Brooks, Rich, and others–but I replaced a session I used to devote to Vietnam war protest poetry with several readings from an anthology I’ve really come to admire: Words of Protest, Words of Freedom, edited by Jeffrey Lamar Coleman. It’s been clear especially since Trump’s rise that we remain in the middle of Civil Rights battles that defined the country fifty years ago, or perhaps in a never-ending backlash against them, so I knew it was time to represent Civil Rights poetry more robustly on my syllabus. Coleman clearly did his research, because while the book contains many famous poems by our best US poets, it also features more obscure work culled from little magazines of the era, and the friction is riveting. I’ve been so impressed by how eagerly and intelligently my students are working through material that is even more relevant than I intended. The KKK leaflets were distributed here on a Friday, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting occurred the next morning, and for Monday, the assignment was to discuss poems about the KKK bombing of a Baptist church that killed four young girls in Birmingham in 1963. That synchronicity has definitely brought urgency to our discussions.

But is it synchronicity, now, or just the permanent daily texture of the world? Since I started drafting this post, there’s been another mass shooting. The election cheered me, but the administration immediately punched back with more ways of undermining the law. Poetry gives me access to other minds confronting related crises thoughtfully–it’s personally useful to read Giovanni, Hayden, Brooks, and many others as they work through anger and hope and grief–but it’s also providing small collections of us with a nonpartisan angle of discussion on the human toll of violence, the way it ripples out in space and time, and I’m grateful for that, too. It makes me feel warmly connected to other anxious human beings working through serious questions, and I hope it does the same for them.
Lesley Wheeler, Keeping the minutes on violence, with Lucille Clifton

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Shell shock. Combat fatigue. Delayed hysteria. Contemporary psychology and medicine have another name for it now, post-traumatic stress disorder, and have extended the concept of delayed stress response to victims of trauma other than combat: abuse and catastrophe victims, anyone who has survived a traumatizing experience, of which the world offers many options. […]

Lately, I feel a bit as though the country in which I live–the citizens, popular culture, government and also the environment itself, geological, ecological, biological–has exhibited PTSD responses. Probably, now that I think about it, that’s been true for a long time. So I find myself contemplating the long view (see the Clock of the Long Now for a theoretical 10,000-year perspective!)

As an individual, I do not have a long reach nor a significant number of years to dwell on the planet. That need not keep me from using the long-view perspective; indeed, I sense that the type of curating that I have begun in terms of compiling another manuscript and thinking about the life of work I have contributed over the years through child-raising, landscaping, gardening, teaching, helping young people in university, assisting family members, and whatever other small drops one person can add to the ocean of existence, suggests my comfort level with the long now has deepened.

Likewise, I accept that suffering just pretty much covers the human condition from beginning to end, and without it we would never recognize how amazing the earth and its diverse communities are nor appreciate our joy nearly as much. Despite the difficulty involved in recalling trauma, we may need to face it, with the compassionate support of other humans, in order to more fully live our ordinary lives and understand the long view.
Ann E. Michael, Post traumatic stress

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After voting (or perhaps while you are waiting in line), check out the stellar work in the Poets Resist 2018 Midterm Elections Special Feature! I’m still pinching myself because I can’t quite believe I’m in this lineup, which I feel compelled to share in its entirety: Yanyi, Luther Hughes, Sage, Sumita Chakraborty, Lynn Melnick, Hazem Fahmy, Linette Reeman, Melissa Crowe, Arielle Tipa, Simone Person, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Ally Ang, Jesse Rice-Evans, Dena Igusti, Stephen S. Mills, Chen Chen, Bailey Cohen, Heather Derr-Smith, Bryan Borland, Zefyr Lisowski, Allie Marini, Erika Walsh, Gemma Cooper-Novack, Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Hannah Cohen, Fargo Tbakhi, Cassandra de Alba, and George Abraham.

I’m so grateful to Anthony Frame for reaching out about contributing to this special issue of Glass: A Journal of Poetry. “The Day Dr. Christine Blasey Ford Testifies Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I Teach My Daughter the Names of the Parts of Female Anatomy” would not have been written otherwise. I tried and failed to write something for three months, then this poem was completed in less than three weeks, which is very quickly for me.

My poem is indebted not only to Dr. Ford’s brave testimony but also to “Naming of Parts,” written by Henry Reed, who served in the British Army during World War II. You can hear Henry Reed and Frank Duncan reading the poem, the first part of “Lessons From the War,” here.

Poets Resist!
Hyejung Kook

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Recently, I have been spending most of my time redacting texts and doing cut ups from newspapers and magazines. However, I haven’t produced any composite fictions along the lines of the one above for a while. When I came across Frances Revel’s work [in 3:AM Magazine] I felt so inspired I promised myself I would go back to this type of work. After all, the nights are lengthening and collaging is a great way to pass an evening.

3am magazine published Revel’s work in their Poem Brut section, which is well worth a look if you’re interested in the way poetry and art collide. There’s some interesting and challenging work on their site that really widens the definition of what poetry is and how it looks on the page/ screen. I’ve said before that the internet is a great platform for this sort of experimental literature, primarily because of the speed at which new work can be published, and also because it costs much less than traditional print to publish texts like Revel’s.

3am magazine also publish asemic poetry in their Poem Brut section. I only came across this term recently, after fellow poets Marion New and Sue Riley returned from a writing residential and introduced me to it. I was sceptical at first – a kind of gut reaction that said, ‘it’s not poetry’. Well, maybe it’s not the sort of poetry I’m familiar with, I began to reason, because partly, my love of poetry is to do with its fringe status. I’m often drawn to poems that stand outside the (lyrical) mainstream.
Julie Mellor, Whatever it is, we’re against it: 3am magazine

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I find myself in the midst of some terrific reads right now, piles of jewels of books that I’m rolling around in like Midas.

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass is a gentle murmur of profound wisdom, the breeze ticking the corn leaves, quaking the aspen as this botanist and member of the Potawotami people braids together different ways of knowing. I’m taking small bites of it, rare for me, a voracious eater. But it’s the proper way to absorb this book.

Ruth L. Schwartz’s Miraculum is poems of close observation, of some duende, and the intimacy of conversation with an old friend. I love encountering books whose authors seem like someone I’d like to know.

Bruce Beasley’s All Soul Parts Returned is quick becoming a new favorite, sprawling, witty poems considering the soul and the sanity, tweaking the sacred mutterings of catechisms. Love his work, which always makes me laugh and be amazed at his creativity.

Lucia Perilla’s On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths is so full of life, often wry, vivid. Mortality is much on the mind of these lively poems, so it was especially startling for me to learn that this wonderful poet I just discovered died a few years ago.
Marilyn McCabe, Easy on the Eyes; or, Book Report on Recent Reading

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With Midnight in a Perfect World officially released next week by Sibling Rivalry Press, here’s a Spotify playlist of the songs and music that inspired and informed the poetry in the collection. There are tunes by Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Marianne Faithfull, Iggy Pop, Kylie Minogue, T. Rex, Miles Davis and, of course, DJ Shadow.

Midnight in a Perfect World – DJ Shadow: Insight, foresight, more sight – the clock on the wall reads a quarter past midnight. So begins DJ Shadow’s epic slice of trip-hop built on a plethora of samples including the opening words from Organized Konfusion. I first heard this dreamy song from Shadow’s debut, Entroducing…, in 1996 on my second visit to London. It remains one of my favorite pieces of music and its mood informed the entire collection.
[Click through for the full playlist]
Collin Kelley, A playlist of songs & music that inspired “Midnight in a Perfect World”

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The Road Most Travelled: My room to the Kettle

  • door to kettle: 23 steps
  • kettle to tap: 10 steps
  • tap back to kettle base: 10 steps
  • take plastic jug, cup with coffee granules in, and carton of milk to sink: 10 steps
  • return to kettle when boiled and take it to sink: 20 steps
  • return milk and plastic jug back to cupboard and return to sink: 20 steps
  • re-fill kettle and return to plug and then return to sink: 20 steps
  • take cup of coffee back to room: 25 steps

So the most exercise I get, other than walking to my workshops, is through making coffee! 138 steps per cup of coffee … I suspect I do 1,000 steps per day just imbibing coffee and making my dinner! :)
Giles L. Turnbull, The Research Roundabout

(Lord’s day). Up, and after being trimmed, by boat to the Cockpitt, where I heard the Duke of Albemarle’s chaplin make a simple sermon: among other things, reproaching the imperfection of humane learning, he cried: “All our physicians cannot tell what an ague is, and all our arithmetique is not able to number the days of a man;” which, God knows, is not the fault of arithmetique, but that our understandings reach not the thing.
To dinner, where a great deale of silly discourse, but the worst is I hear that the plague increases much at Lambeth, St. Martin’s and Westminster, and fear it will all over the city. Thence I to the Swan, thinking to have seen Sarah but she was at church, and so I by water to Deptford, and there made a visit to Mr. Evelyn, who, among other things, showed me most excellent painting in little; in distemper, Indian incke, water colours: graveing; and, above all, the whole secret of mezzo-tinto, and the manner of it, which is very pretty, and good things done with it. He read to me very much also of his discourse, he hath been many years and now is about, about Guardenage; which will be a most noble and pleasant piece. He read me part of a play or two of his making, very good, but not as he conceits them, I think, to be. He showed me his Hortus Hyemalis; leaves laid up in a book of several plants kept dry, which preserve colour, however, and look very finely, better than any Herball. In fine, a most excellent person he is, and must be allowed a little for a little conceitedness; but he may well be so, being a man so much above others. He read me, though with too much gusto, some little poems of his own, that were not transcendant, yet one or two very pretty epigrams; among others, of a lady looking in at a grate, and being pecked at by an eagle that was there.
Here comes in, in the middle of our discourse Captain Cocke, as drunk as a dogg, but could stand, and talk and laugh. He did so joy himself in a brave woman that he had been with all the afternoon, and who should it be but my Lady Robinson, but very troublesome he is with his noise and talke, and laughing, though very pleasant.
With him in his coach to Mr. Glanville’s, where he sat with Mrs. Penington and myself a good while talking of this fine woman again and then went away. Then the lady and I to very serious discourse and, among other things, of what a bonny lasse my Lady Robinson is, who is reported to be kind to the prisoners, and has said to Sir G. Smith, who is her great crony, “Look! there is a pretty man, I would be content to break a commandment with him,” and such loose expressions she will have often.
After an houre’s talke we to bed, the lady mightily troubled about a pretty little bitch she hath, which is very sicke, and will eat nothing, and the worst was, I could hear her in her chamber bemoaning the bitch, and by and by taking her into bed with her. The bitch pissed and shit a bed, and she was fain to rise and had coals out of my chamber to dry the bed again. This night I had a letter that Sir G. Carteret would be in towne to-morrow, which did much surprize me.

God is not
the fault of arithmetic

but of the grave
and a hole of our making

a book of dry poems
that were prisoners to a commandment

a loose hat


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 5 November 1665.

We are building a box. A shed. A thing in which we might keep garden tools, and bags of soil or mulch, or sacks of grass seed, or boxes of old Christmas ornaments. To build a box we have to go down to the city hall to secure a permit to build a box. The permit is called a certificate. To be certified we have to hire the services of a surveyor. They have to come and eyeball your property then measure. I did the same thing beforehand with an extra ball of blue acrylic yarn from my stash. It measured up, except I wasn’t an official surveyor. The survey cost three hundred fifty dollars. I could have certified myself but I am not allowed. Once I gave my husband a haircut and his boss told him maybe his wife should stick to the things she knows best. Why does someone always know best? Good, better, best. In my book, you either know or you don’t know. But if you don’t, you can go looking for the answer. I don’t mean Google or Wikipedia: I mean go out and stand in the yard and look around, figure out things in relation to the pitch of the roof to the swoop of a bird, the angle of your shadow and how a person at the far end of the driveway can look like he’s standing on the palm of your open hand. Squint and move to the right or left until you get it right. Paint the roof that color.

They sayled from midnight, and come to Greenwich about 5 o’clock in the morning. I however lay till about 7 or 8, and so to my office, my head a little akeing, partly for want of natural rest, partly having so much business to do to-day, and partly from the newes I hear that one of the little boys at my lodging is not well; and they suspect, by their sending for plaister and fume, that it may be the plague; so I sent Mr. Hater and W. Hewer to speake with the mother; but they returned to me, satisfied that there is no hurt nor danger, but the boy is well, and offers to be searched, however, I was resolved myself to abstain coming thither for a while.
Sir W. Batten and myself at the office all the morning. At noon with him to dinner at Boreman’s, where Mr. Seymour with us, who is a most conceited fellow and not over much in him. Here Sir W. Batten told us (which I had not heard before) that the last sitting day his cloake was taken from Mingo he going home to dinner, and that he was beaten by the seamen and swears he will come to Greenwich, but no more to the office till he can sit safe. After dinner I to the office and there late, and much troubled to have 100 seamen all the afternoon there, swearing below and cursing us, and breaking the glasse windows, and swear they will pull the house down on Tuesday next. I sent word of this to Court, but nothing will helpe it but money and a rope. Late at night to Mr. Glanville’s there to lie for a night or two, and to bed.

midnight in my head aching
from the news of hate

a moth on his oak
beaten by the green afternoon

cursing the wind
of our nothing-but-money lie


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 4 November 1665.