A personal selection of posts from the Poetry Blogging Network and beyond. Although I tend to quote my favorite bits, please do click through and read the whole posts. You can also browse the blog digest archive or subscribe to its RSS feed in your favorite feed reader. This week, it’s the anarchist cafe. Pull up a chair and settle in.
Anarchists should open cafes.Dick Jones, THE ANARCHIST CAFÉ
Spill the ill-assorted chairs
and tables onto the pavement.
Go heavy with the red paprika,
shower down the black pepper.
Have trans and Roma waiters
to glide between the tables,
taking orders couched as poems.
The apple, small on the table, easily overlooked, will be affected by the wheel of time faster than the desk.
And are we not the apple? Is his sculpture too approaching this idea of temporality? His lean figures are more like their own shadows, elongated in a lowering sun, or thinning and thinning down so by the next step they may disappear, the walkers.Marilyn McCabe, Leaping and hopping; or, On Ways of Seeing
We did not think of it
as not having a real body
or the body being a stick
the head was rubber, and it rode.
Mine was called Silver before I knew what it meant.
It takes time to understand what time doesErnesto Priego, 6. El caballito
to people and things. It takes time
to learn to look back and grasp what it all meant.
The lizards contemplated our journeys
and the tree house was the jail.
I wish I could say that I spent my time improving myself but nope! Just trying desperately to keep myself and my poor garden alive. (Hydration is very important for flowers AND humans, it turns out, in this kind of heat, as I was reminded by the ER doc before he put an IV liter of fluids in me.)Jeannine Hall Gailey, A Week of Heat Waves, Bad Air, Sunflowers, and ER Visits
sometimesPaul Tobin, A PAGE OF USED INK
at night perhaps
a poem can slip through your fingers
back to wherever it came from
all you are left with
is a page of used ink
You will be trying to name that song the cicadas keep spinning — drone, chant — and might fall into an inspired trance. There are flies on your ankles and the slow swirling scent of the time or its demise, of memories you’ve had or never had, of something tantalizing—Jill Pearlman, Noon Justice
each page talks to the nextAma Bolton, ABCD July 2022
sinking back into the landscape
For Strange Ladies, I realized that during the past 45 years I’ve written enough oddly interesting straggler poems about/in the voices of/relating to female “characters” of a mythopoetic variety that they might form a coven. Or at very least, a neighborhood. The strangeness of these women comes from their position as outsiders, exiles, shamans, rebels, goddesses, myths, heroines. A chapbook manuscript materialized, and what surprises me most about this collection is that the poems I ended up choosing date all the way back to some of the first poems I ever got into print. At that time (circa 1981), indie-lit mags were photocopied, stapled affairs often using collages of copyright-free art for graphics. My nostalgia about that era led me to go for a retro look on the cover. And yes, I wrote one of these poems in 1979 while living in New York City…but others are as recent as 2019. A span of 40 years, and yet they seem to belong together in their differences.Ann E. Michael, Why so strange?
the agony of our bodies betraying us
hemorrhagingRachel Barenblat, Choice
we might have to beg the pharmacist for drugs
they still might say “I can’t help you”
Never underestimate either the strength or fragility
of power—what ticks quietly all these years beneath
the walls, one day also buckles from the load
it’s made to carry. Between circuits, a current
falters. A bulb goes out, and quiet spreads through
a house in which all the machines have mysteriously
hummed themselves to sleep.Luisa A. Igloria, The Myth of Permanent Faults
My advice to everyone this summer has been to enjoy summer, enjoy what you’ve got, soak up the sun. Especially if you live at latitude 53 which is where I am, because we all know how sparse the sun is at other times of the year. I know very few people who haven’t had a rough time this past year. A lot of stuff has just really sucked. I recently had a really big laugh when I backed my car into a pole after a particularly not great day where I guess I was having what we will call “a moment.” It’s fine. But who can afford to fix things these days? I need therapy from my therapy but who can afford that either? Other stuff currently is a priority. So like regular people, I just get my therapy from books and poetry and from playing Sheryl Crow and Bruce Springsteen extremely loud in my now banged up car. I’m good, you know?Shawna Lemay, It’s Not Having What You Want
how senseless Jim Young [no title]
when bowing to each other
we bump heads
Things sometimes need to be said plainly in poetry. But my pen tends toward curvature. It wants line breaks and metaphors, sometimes rhythm or even rhyme. I’m thinking about how you can say a thing with those curves while buffing its essentials to a clarity that can’t be mistaken. This poem burst into being recently, got some polishing, some additions, and probably will evolve. So I won’t send it out for publishing. I’ll post it here, in my blog, as an experiment. Here I can let my poetry keep morphing. I plan on posting poems here, though I realize by doing so I remove the top layer of the onion of my copyrights (thankyou, literary lawyer, for that metaphor). Sometimes partnering with a zine or litmag is great. Today, I need to speak. Plain and curvy.Rachel Dacus, What I Know
While there are many things (many) I’d like to take on, I think that realistically I can only keep up with 2 or 3 things Well at a time. For example, this fall my adjunct schedule is pretty full, and I’m homeschooling, and want to continue my poetry writing, so that pretty much fills up my time with what I can do well.
What this means for me is that I can’t also volunteer to start reading poetry submissions for a journal, or start up a book club for homeschoolers, or join a committee. It also means giving some things up to make those things a priority.Renee Emerson, choosing 2 or 3 focus activities
Scarlet: the mac defining a news reporter’s back, hunched
at the front of a vast crowd flailed by rain, waiting hours
for Amelia Earhart’s arrival at Hanworth Air Park, May ’32;
conception month of my parents, who grew up to nurtureMatthew Paul, On Sickert
such tasty Moneymaker tomatoes, lining them up to redden
on the south-facing window-sill, behind the kitchen sink.
The poems in APOTHEGMS are short, and lean into koans, the short snap of expectation and quiet words placed after another, with an intimacy that allows the dates to become an essential element of small moments that are clearly crafted, while still allowing a sense of immediacy. He writes of time, and the immediacy of it; referencing haiku and the moment in which he is standing, no matter the distance of temporality between thought and composition. Think of the poem “URBANESQUE,” composed from his home-base of Mountain, Ontario “2021-10-04,” that reads: “The tiny / tea bag / plate // in my / cupboard / takes // up more / real / estate // than the / tall / glass // standing / next / to it [.]” In certain ways, the only differences between the accretions of Hogg’s longer poems and these short, near-bursts is a sense of scale: the shorter pieces included here still allowing for a kind of accretion, but one set with a particular kind of boundary. The larger accretion, one might suggest, might be the very assemblage of these poems into a chapbook-length manuscript. […]
Hogg connects time to the physical, and the physical to the body. There’s a way he’s attentive to both physicality and natural spaces, in part, one would think, through his time as a kid on a farm in the Cariboo, or his decades farming a space just south of Ottawa. With references to poets Lorine Niedecker, H.D. and Daphne Marlatt, Hogg doesn’t have to describe the landscape to allow for its presence; as Creeley attended the immediate, and his sense of the “domestic,” so too with Robert Hogg, attending his immediate, whether memory or at that precise moment, and a “domestic” that concerns the landscape, both internal and external.rob mclennan, Robert Hogg, APOTHEGMS
they held a brushJason Crane, haiku: 25 July 2022
& painted until
the sky went dark
Earlier this month, our family went on a little road trip through BC and Alberta. One of my favourite parts (behind only the water slides, mini-golf and dinosaur bones) was visiting book stores.
If you find yourself making a similar trip, here are three you shouldn’t miss:
First up is Baker’s Books in Hope, a used bookstore where every book is $2! They have a small but mighty poetry section, and a strong selection of rare poetry books at the back (they cost a bit more). Always worth a stop at the beginning of a road trip.
Another bookstore I’m always sure to visit is The Book Shop in Penticton. With over 5,000 square feet of floor space, it’s one of Canada’s largest. This time I counted 28 shelves of poetry, ten of which were Canadian (including Laura Farina’s Some Talk of Being Human, photographed here).
My tour of Alberta bookstores was truncated by our skirting around Calgary to avoid Stampede madness (and to spend more time hunting dinosaur bones), but I made sure we popped in to Glass Bookshop in Edmonton. Founded by poets Jason Purcell and Matthew Stepanic, it’s an absolute heaven for poetry fans.
Right at the front entrance you’re greeted by this fantastic array of (mostly poetry) chapbooks. [photo]
And inside – boom! – eight shelves of brand new poetry, largely from Canada and the US. It doesn’t get any better than this.Rob Taylor, BC/AB Road Trip Report
This past July I spent two weeks in the Zhejiang mountain village of Chenjiapu translating a set of poems by the Nanjing-based poet Sun Dong. She was able to join me for a few days toward the end of the residency, and we worked together on drafts of the translations. I worked out drafts of two dozen poems and the preface to her most recent book, Broken Crow (破乌鸦 Pò wūyā), and published eight of the poems along with an essay — “Meditations in an Emergency: The Cosmopolitan, the Quotidian, and the Anthropocene Turn in Sun Dong’s 2020 Pandemic Poetry” — on the experience and on Sun Dong’s poems. The goal: a book-length collection of her work.David Perry, Meditations in an Emergency: The Cosmopolitan, the Quotidian, and the Anthropocene Turn in Sun Dong’s 2020 Pandemic Poetry
SALA is Australia’s largest and most inclusive visual arts festival, which takes place in galleries and non-traditional arts spaces across South Australia annually, during the entire month of August. Each year, around 8,000 emerging, mid-career and established South Australian artists exhibit in more 500 venues across the state, from sheds, cafés, offices and retail spaces to wineries, schools, public spaces, galleries, major arts institutions and on-line events.
For SALA 2022, I have compiled a collection of my recent videos that explore the unreliable interactions between visual perception and language. In a world of artificial intelligence, what is real? In a multi-lingual society, whose voices do we hear? When language begins to fragment, where do we find meaningful narrative?
I also have an on-line artist talk in which I explain some of the techniques involved in making one of my most successful collaborations, The Life We Live Is Not Life Itself. You will also find links to recent articles I have written about my creative process, the role of translation in video poetry, and how narrative works in short form video.Ian Gibbins, SALA 2022: The Life We Live…
I have done a lot of self-improvement work through the years, and progress has never–NEVER–felt as microscopic as my wrist healing has been. But let me remind myself that 13 weeks ago, when I had to hold my arm at a certain angle away to have the splint put on, I thought I might throw up or pass out from the pain. Now I can turn my arm that way with discomfort, not pain. When I first had the cast off in late June, I couldn’t hold a metal set of tongs in my hand and pick up objects. When I tried, I felt a searing pain down my arm. A month later, when I did an exit exam for my hand therapist, I could do the exercise with some minimal pain.
Last night, we played Yahtzee, and I was able to roll the dice with my right hand. I can still roll the dice better with my left hand, but it’s progress. Likewise with using utensils: I can get the food to my mouth, but it’s still a bit easier with my left hand.
This morning, I wrote a poem the way I once wrote poems: by hand, on a purple legal pad. I had started composing it as I walked yesterday morning. I was thinking of all the ways our fathers had taught us to leave: how to pack a suitcase, how to pack a box, how to load the moving van. I thought about the way that grandmothers teach us to stay: which plants we can eat and how to transform scraps into the comfort of quilts. Then I wondered if this gendering was fair. I wrote the poem that begins “They taught us how to pack” and the second stanza “They taught us how to grow.” I like it better.
I have experimented with writing poems by using voice dictation into the computer, but I like writing on the legal pad better. Still, it’s good to remember that I have options. I don’t think that the content of my poems changed radically with the writing process. For poems, I don’t think I even wrote any faster, as I do when I’m writing prose. When I’m using the computer, I still prefer to type. I make fewer errors.Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Wrist Update: Fifteen Weeks After Break
As I round the bend on the GRANATA project, I find myself debating the book’s point-of-view. I initially fully intended to use first person, and the first 10 or so poems are written with an “I” narrative. Slowly, it began to slip, and my much favored “you” slipped in–the second person I favor so often over anything else these past years, not so much a conscious decision, but a go-to. I like the second person since the poems have a persona-like poem feel without actually taking on the limited persona of the “I” voice. Lately, the daily poems are “you” driven, and if they stay that way, I will probably just give over to the majority, partly because obviously I want them that way, partially became oy, the edits.
Guidelines for the heroic/heroinic epic I intend would probably have me doing third person. Odysseus, for example does not tell his own story, but relies on Homer to do it for him. Maybe second person is a good compromise here, and something I reach for in my poetic bag of tricks far more often than the third or first person. If I do use first, it’s far more often a “we” rather an “I.”Kristy Bowen, persephone speaks
Joanna Fuhrman is the author of six books of poetry, including To a New Era (Hanging Loose Press, 2021), The Year of Yellow Butterflies (Hanging Loose Press, 2015) and Pageant (Alice James Books, 2009). Her poetry videos have appeared in Triquarterly, Moving Poems Journal, Fence Digital, Posit and other online journals, as well as on her own Vimeo page. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches poetry and multimedia writing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. For more see: Joannafuhrman.com
What are you working on?
I’m finishing a book of prose poetry called Data Mind about how it feels to live life online as a non-digital native. My generation entered the internet era with a lot of optimism about what online life might offer us, so it’s been painful to watch how social media has exacerbated the problems in our quasi-democracy/necrocapitalist economy. As someone who loves social media, I am trying to capture my own ambivalence. Some of the poems use the tropes of digital life to look back at pop culture from the past.
I’m also working on a different book of poetry, mainly about my mom’s death, called The Last Phone Booth in the World. The prose poem manuscript is dense and surreal, while the newer manuscript feels more magical realist and dreamlike. I’m also hoping to get back into making poetry videos.Thomas Whyte, Joanna Fuhrman : part one
My review of Christopher James’ new pamphlet, The Storm in the Piano (Maytree Press, 2022), is up today at The Friday Poem. You can read it in full at this link, but here’s a short extract as a taster
Whether using the first or third person, the poet stands far further behind these poems than is common these days, thus avoiding any temptation to conflate the poet and the narrator. Dramatic set piece after dramatic set piece, Christopher James invites us into his vast array of worlds via an aesthetic approach that feels pretty much unique in the context of contemporary UK poetry.
In a juster world, Christopher James’ books books would sell in thousands…Matthew Stewart, Christopher James’ The Storm in the Piano
“From this Soil” is a compassionate look at how family roots nourish and shape us. Casey Bailey’s poems are self-aware, conversational in tone and humorous, inviting readers to laugh with, not at, their subjects. The characters are recognisable and the pamphlet shares their lives, like striking up a conversation with someone you’ve sat next to in a pub or cafe and discovering how much in common you have.Emma Lee, “From This Soil” Casey Bailey (The Broken Spine) – book review
This summer, as my day job eased its clutches for a while, I’ve been thinking about time in relation to book publicity and reception. For me, the main pleasure of a review is hearing from a reader: I worked for a decade, put the book out there, and wow, someone was moved to answer! Further, although I’ve been lucky in magazine reviews for all my books, I am receiving more backchanneled notes about Poetry’s Possible Worlds than I ever have about poetry collections. I wonder if it’s a genre thing. Poetry gets pretty personal, too, but most people are less confident responding to it. Or is Poetry’s Possible Worlds simply my best book? Part of the difference is almost certainly due to hiring a publicist for the first time. Yet, like most people, I can’t see the big picture when it comes to my own career.
Maybe this sounds paradoxical, but it was actually more emotional than lucrative for me to see Poetry’s Possible Worlds on the Small Press Distribution May-June top 10 bestseller list for nonfiction. It’s gone to a second printing!!–the first time that’s happened for me anywhere near this fast. We’re not talking huge numbers; this is small press stuff, remember. But it means that a boatload of work has made some difference: organizing events, pitching op-eds, querying podcasts, biweekly Zoom strategy meetings with Heather Brown, and more. Many authors fight hard for a couple of sales here and there, whether they publish with indies or the Big Four; every famous author I’ve ever talked to can describe traveling for miles to give a reading to two people. Even a little success makes me feel less discouraged about all that effort, though–less mystified, more philosophical.Lesley Wheeler, Broadside giveaway, reviews, & long views
My delirious state has meant I’ve not read much this week. I’ve not really watched much TV either, although I did finish all 6 hours of Get Back, The Beatles’ doc on Disney+. I loved it, aside from it foreshadowing what we know is about to happen, it serves as a wonderful doc about creative process and working through things to get at the “final” version. I feel less bad about the million drafts for Trajectory (or anything else) as a result. It’s lovely to see the craft and the magic happening before our eyes, and it really is the craft and the magic in that order. Paul conjuring Get Back from the ether is a beautiful moment, but the hours of versions that follow to get it done are more instructive, but I digress.Mat Riches, Get(ting) Back (To Fitness)
For four days, I couldn’t do much of anything without acute pain. I spent most of my hours in bed, flat on my back, longing for my ordinary, everyday life. All I wanted was to throw a load of clothes in the washing machine, run to the store to pick up food for dinner, water my flowers, wipe down the kitchen cabinets. I craved these things, the ways I have of keeping order, making beauty, caring for myself and others.
What a gift, to see how much there is to love about simply existing in our bruised, broken, shattering world.Rita Ott Ramstad, Things I didn’t know I loved until I couldn’t do them
Paddy fields line both sides of the highway. I stop to watch the white egrets poke around in the water. The roar of the irrigation pump, the outlines of tractors and bullock-drawn ploughs, the bent backs of toiling farmers, kingfishers and drongos perched on overhead wires, large statues of village protector-deities — fierce warriors watching over people and livestock and crops, the romance of pastoral deliberation, the aroma of frothing cups of filter coffee, life as I know it fading into the distance…I can understand how this moment contains everything that came before it. And everything that is yet to come. What matters, what can wait, what we need to do, what is beyond us. That truth has never changed. In all this time. Time that knows it all.
swinging from the branchRajani Radhakrishnan, Within it, the stillness
of a tamarind tree
the chain from an old tyre-swing