Not at all sure

I want to do this, but here goes.

It’s Lent, and my mother died barely two months ago, and her brother died eight days before her. I didn’t give up anything else for Lent, but vowed to write a poem a day. A sevenling a day, to be exact.

As Lent started in March and Easter comes in April, this meant that some of the discipline would cross over into NaPoWriMo, when I usually commit to the poem-a-day business.

I must admit I missed a week at the end of March, and will have to catch up. But the goal for Lent is forty sevenlings to lay the foundation for one long elegy. Taking inspiration, not surprisingly, from Tennyson’s In Memoriam; similar, but not the same.

So: March

Oh. Wow. Nic’s on fire!!

Nic Sebastian’s Whale Sound. Not to be confused with Blogsphere, though it looks the same. It sounds entirely different.

Dear Poet X – I am writing to ask your permission to record and post recordings of your poems A & C, which appear online in locations Y & Z. The recordings will form part of a larger project, the idea for which evolved generally out of a recent interview series on “Poets & Technology” and specifically, out of a suggestion made by Amy King in her responses to those interview questions.

Checking in

Well, I don’t know if there are still people who drop by and read this blog, which has become dormant for a little while.

This is a post to say that I’m not giving up on it altogether, but rather taking a sabbatical. I am thinking how to reform this so that it can work best for me in my new, more active and strangely fulfilling life these days.

In the meantime, enjoy the archives, and go and have a look at what else is keeping me busy these days:

Shakespeare in Paradise

tongues of the ocean

In particular, have a look at tongues of the ocean, where Issue 5 is coming to a close. This time, Issue 5 took a qualitatively different approach, reproducing a very exciting exhibition from this spring online. It worked! Go check it out.

Cheers.

10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Cati Porter

Nic’s interview this week: Cati Porter.

The internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, iPad, iPod, podcasts, digital video and who knows what else. What do they all mean for the poet qua poet? For Poetry? Is it still pretty much where the Gutenberg press left it? Is Poetry technology-proof? In our fearless ongoing quest to exploit other people’s wisdom on poetry-related subjects, we are posing ten questions to a group of illustrious contemporary poets on this topic. This week’s responder is Cati Porter.

via Very Like A Whale.

10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Chris Hamilton-Emery

Nic’s got a new interview up: Chris Hamilton-Emery.

The internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, iPad, iPod, podcasts, digital video and who knows what else. What do they all mean for the poet qua poet? For Poetry? Is it still pretty much where the Gutenberg press left it? Is Poetry technology-proof? In our fearless ongoing quest to exploit other people’s wisdom on poetry-related subjects, we are posing ten questions to a group of illustrious contemporary poets on this topic. This week’s responder, bringing us a UK perspective, is Chris Hamilton-Emery.

via Very Like A Whale.

Literary Explosion

Anybody else notice that the world has exploded with damn good poetry? That everyone’s publishing all of a sudden, and that a lot of the stuff that’s getting published is not half bad?

It’s not really all that surprising. The internet, access to print on demand, and so on, have liberated people’s ability to write, and have allowed people who had never read a poem outside of an academic institution (and come to think of it, I was one of those people — I just happened to spend a lot of my life within an academic institution) to read, write, critique, and discuss poetry in ways that I don’t think have happened since the turn of the last century.

Continue reading

10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Ren Powell

Nic’s third 10 Questions second interview went up last Thursday: Ren Powell.

The internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, iPad, iPod, podcasts, digital video and who knows what else. What do they all mean for the poet qua poet? For Poetry? Is it still pretty much where the Gutenberg press left it? Is Poetry technology-proof? In our fearless ongoing quest to exploit other people’s wisdom on poetry-related subjects, we are posing ten questions to a group of illustrious contemporary poets on this topic. This week’s responder is Ren Powell.

via Very Like A Whale.

10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Collin Kelley

Nic’s got a 10 Questions second interview up. This time it’s Collin Kelley.

The internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, iPad, iPod, podcasts, digital video and who knows what else. What do they all mean for the poet qua poet? For Poetry? Is it still pretty much where the Gutenberg press left it? Is Poetry technology-proof? In our fearless ongoing quest to exploit other people’s wisdom on poetry-related subjects, we are posing ten questions to a group of illustrious contemporary poets on this topic. This week’s responder is Collin Kelley.

via Very Like A Whale.

Laurels | Carter’s Little Pill

This is kickass. It’s a lot like what I’m feeling right now. Time is moving too fast and too slow and the things that you should do don’t get do. The gardens of the dead, or the gardens associated with the dead, are some of the most heart-rending places in the world.

from Laurels by Julie Carter

I would take it somewhere else to die. I know

that it takes the acid of deep Ohio soils but I
have killed the others–mowed them or let them

drown in burdock–before the pink beads of their
flowers could pop open like peppermints, spiraling

out in red and white. Because my husband
gave me three and I killed two. Because he

gave me three and nothing sent me to the back
yard and the yellowjackets and the yellowsun to guard

them and two died …

via Laurels | Carter’s Little Pill

Discovered a new journal today

I blink emerald.
I blink sea glass green.

Saeed Jones, via THE COLLAGIST.

One of the things I like about blogging here on wordpress.com (don’t worry, there are some things I don’t like too) is that sometimes I come across really cool blogs that I like to follow. Saeed Jones’ is one of them, and today, when checking the blogs I surf, I found this reference. Followed it, and ended up at The Collagist, a journal I’d never heard of before.

Worth reading. And while you’re at it, visit some of my online favourites too: Anti-, qarrtsiluni, and, of course, tongues of the ocean.

**edited to fix the man name.

10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Amy King « Very Like A Whale

Nic is back! Over at Very Like a Whale, a new 10 Questions series on Poets and Technology.

*Happy dance*

The internet, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, iPad, iPod, podcasts, digital video and who knows what else. What do they all mean for the poet qua poet? For Poetry? Is it still pretty much where the Gutenberg press left it? Is Poetry technology-proof? In our fearless ongoing quest to exploit other people’s wisdom on poetry-related subjects, we are posing ten questions to a group of illustrious contemporary poets on this topic. Our first responder is none other than our very own Amy King. Thanks for kicking off the series, Amy!

via 10 Questions on Poets & Technology: Amy King « Very Like A Whale.

NaPoWriMo time

So here goes nothin’. Sharing poems by week. Understand (1) they are rough drafts and (2) they come from who knows where.

So let’s start it off with the April 1 offering:

On Smelling Yellow Elder for the First Time

I heard a wasp humming dozy
on the flower, drunk with nectar, bumble-heavy.
A wasp, nosing deep in plain flowers. The flowers
tremble in wind-breath, yellow
as sunshine, bright like butter,
hardy as billygoats, Their roots suck
water from tarmac. From limestone.
From rock and from sand. The wind
spreads new bushes like weeds.

Yellow elder, nation-flower,
not made for a woman’s ear like hibiscus,
or picture postcards like the poinciana,
or for a lady’s table like sprays of bougainvillea,
but small, soft and golden, tumbling in breezes.
I know you now. I have learned the sweet
scent of you, yellow elder:
lemon, and milk, and vanilla.

*

Continue reading

Two more poems on tongues

This week, two womanish poems again. C. S. Bhagya, from India, and yours truly (aka Nicolette Bethel) are featured, sharing the voices of two oddly similar and yet infinitely different women. Bhagya’s “fishmonger’s wife” speaks to an invisible man (not her husband, clearly):

Because I am a fishmonger’s wife
you thought you could visit me at night,
unaware

on summer mornings
I smell of conches, their smooth
white glide and sound of sea.

— C. S. Bhagya

“Island Girl”, meanwhile, explains how to get blood out of cotton:

… you need a lime, some salt, and sun.
Don’t wash it first, cause blood will set, and stain
and give the thing away. So cut the lime
and rub it on the blood, and cover that
with salt and lay it flat, and let the sun
shine on it.

— Nicolette Bethel

Intrigued? Want more? Go to tongues of the ocean.

An interlude: two new pieces on tongues of the ocean

Spoken word by Anku Sa Ra (Bahamas) and prose by Paul Hadden (Trinidad and Tobago/France).

Spoken Tone (Anku Sa Ra) – you need to watch/listen to the piece

Me. Writing (Paul Hadden):

Sit.

Look.

Listen.

Blackbirds sit on electric wires, and the distant mountains are dotted with bright pink and yellow Poui trees. The grass, wet with morning dew, is teeming with sugar ants and grasshoppers.

Yellow breasted Kiskadees sing out their morning salutations.

Kis-kee-dee, Kis-kee-dee, Kis-kee-dee,

The old folks say they sing in French.

Qu’est-ce qu’il dit? Qu’est-ce qu’il dit? Qu’est-ce qu’il dit?

tongues of the ocean » current issue.

tongues of the ocean: new poems

In honour of Valentine’s Day and of love, two new poems: “Oboe” by Nic Sebastian and “Opaque” by Nancy Devine.

(Please note that if you click on the above link after February 21, it’ll take you to two more poems — the content of that link doesn’t remain static.)

He wants to kiss
her arch:
“the tip of the tongue
taking a trip of three steps…”,
use it as his cup
for coddled cream.

“Opaque” by Nancy Devine (USA)

you are the beauty of bound
reed or better
numen’s breath passing
through reed into African

blackwood or better

“Oboe” by Nic Sebastian (USA)

tongues of the ocean issue 4 goes live

Or went live on Sunday past. Featuring entry art by Steve Cartwright, and beginning the issue with two very cool and contrasting poems: “In the Bay” by Changming Yuan (China, USA), and “12 Notes for a Light Song of Light” by Kei Miller (Jamaica, UK).

A taste:

the waves surging towards the seashore
not unlike my spirits

the seashore embracing the waves
not unlike your arms

–Changming Yuan

and:

A light song of light will summon daffodils,
bluebells and strawberries, humming birds;
will summon silver, the shine of sequins,
the gold of rings—and the dreadful luminosity
of everything we had been told to close
our eyes to

— Kei Miller

A little encouragement goes a long way

And flattery goes even further. Thanks to Harry and Aditi, I’ve been encouraged to keep writing on this blog. So I will.

Today I’ve got two things I want to share with you all. The first is that round here we’ve been sleeping with the Canadian covers. When I tell you why you will all want to move here, but I caution you: what you think of as balmy round here is a little different for two main reasons. (1) We are (literally) Hemingway’s (Bahama) islands in the (Gulf) stream, which means that all temperatures here must be imagined in terms of wetness — wet and cool in the winter, wet and hot in the summer. and (2) WE HAVE NO HEATING SYSTEMS. Except in our cars.

That said, this past week’s average temperature at night has been about 60 degrees F (16 C). (I can hear you now: that’s nothing!! I’d kill for 60!!) Fine, but then add the wind chill (our cold fronts are not still, but arrive on the backs of northern winds), dewpoint and humidity, and then remember: *no heat*. And for most people, no woolly sweaters — just cotton hoodies, unless you’ve been living, like me, in the far far north. All my Canuck friends and transplants are freezing. So think again.

I love it!! The tourists, not so much.
Continue reading

Tongues of the Ocean Issue 2 closes

Over at tongues of the ocean, we’ve wrapped up the second issue.

Every Sunday, when the two new poems are published, I think we haven’t got all that much to show for the work. And then we come to moments like today, and the list of poems published speak for themselves.

Here are a couple of poems that have extra-special meaning for me:

Play Time with Nursery Rhyme – a spoken word piece I’ve always for its playfulness and for the confidence of the poet

Charles Town – not sure what it is about this one, but maybe it’s because it reminds me of Guyana, where I had such a good experience with the people that I will always remember it fondly

Forres Park – the week this one came out it was paired with another poem, one that elicited a whole lot of attention, and one that is clearly a fun poem to read. Forres Park was the dark side of the pair, and it certainly didn’t have a feel-good vibe. I liked it regardless.


Very Like A Whale – Ten Questions – Mary Biddinger

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.

Our responder this week is Mary Biddinger, editor of Barn Owl Review.

Ten Questions for Mary Biddinger – Very Like A Whale

Douglas Basford on Anti-

Two sonnets I really like. Buffalonian Douglas Basford’s got some pretty cool stuff here, such as:

So arise and go shiatsu on it again,
jackhammer till pale-green static sparks flames.

–“Shoulder Rub

and

she’s still young and widely enough known

to minister to birds and those who lean
towards heaven for damn good reasons: lust, guns, rage.

–“Ultimata

I’m sure I shouldn’t have posted half a whole sestet of that last poem. But I just couldn’t help it, Mr. Basford. It was just that good.

And this is from a man who says this is what he’s anti- : “I hate poems that end with shimmering light.”


Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Lindsay Walker

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.

Our responder this week is Lindsay Walker, poetry editor of Juked

–Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Lindsay Walker « Very Like A Whale

Ten Questions – Reb Livingston « Very Like A Whale

Nic Sebastian’s series continues.

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.

Our responder this week is Reb Livingston, editor of No Tell Motel.

Ten Questions – Reb Livingston « Very Like A Whale

Rob Mackenzie’s back in Scotland – One Night Stanzas » The Opposite of Cabbage Tour

Little late to the party, but nevertheless — Claire Askew hosted Rob Mackenzie on her blog, One Night Stanzas, this Monday past.

Rob A. Mackenzie is a Scottish poet currently living in Edinburgh, and The Opposite of Cabbage is his first full collection of poetry. Published at the same time as Andrew Philip’s The Ambulance Box — and by the same publisher, Salt — The Opposite of Cabbage is currently on tour, and today One Night Stanzas is receiving a visit!

–One Night Stanzas » Blog Archive » The Opposite of Cabbage Tour — stopping at One Night Stanzas!

Continue reading

10 Questions for Poetry Editors – Very Like A Whale

Nic Sebastian continues her series, this time featuring James Midgley of Mimesis:

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.Our responder this week hails from the UK: James Midgley, editor of the UK print journal, Mimesis.

–Very Like A Whale: Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – James Midgley

John Lundberg: Poetry Of The Revolution

Poetry is a far more important part of Iran’s culture than our own. In the Arab world, political and social movements have long adopted the art as a means of galvanizing support and bringing unity and focus to a cause. Thus, it’s no surprise that when the head of Iran’s Security Council threatened opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi with death, his wife Zahra, who herself has become a powerful symbol for change in Iran, responded with a poem that she twittered out to millions:

Let the wolves know that in our tribe
If the father dies, his gun will remain
Even if all the men of the tribe are killed
A baby son will remain in the wooden cradle.

She wasn’t alone. Scores of Iranians have turned to poetry for expression and in an effort to make some sense of the revolution’s violence and chaos. Sholeh Wolpe, an Iranian-American poet, wrote “I am Neda,” one of many powerful poems inspired by the death of Neda, the now iconic figure shot during a protest by Basij:

Leave the Basiji bullet in my heart,
fall to prayer in my blood,
and hush, father–
I am not dead.

More light than mass,
I rise through you,
breathe with your eyes,
stand in your shoes, on the rooftops,
in the streets, march with you
in the cities and villages of our country
shouting through you, with you.
I am Neda–thunder on your tongue.

John Lundberg: Poetry Of The Revolution

Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Scavella’s Turn « Very Like A Whale

Nic Sebastian over at Very Like A Whale invited me to respond to her Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. You can read the result this week here:

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.

Our responder this week is Nicolette Bethel [aka Scavella], editor of Tongues of the Ocean.

Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Nicolette Bethel « Very Like A Whale

Flood Warnings and Steam Baths – the De-Cabbage Yourself experience flies south for summer

This week, Rob‘s in The Bahamas with me, Scavella, aka Nicolette Bethel. He hasn’t picked the best day for it — the birds are singing, they always do, but it’s overcast and going to pour. Still, the nice thing about rain in the sub-tropics (which isn’t like rain in Scotland, which I experienced one chilly day in Edinburgh on my way back from a conference in St. Andrews round the turn of the century) is that it’s drama at its best. And it’s warm. So hold on for flood warnings and steam baths.

••• Continue reading

Rob Mackenzie’s Cyclone Blog Tour

The last time I posted about this, I’d forgotten entirely that I’d agreed to host Rob on his tour, and had to be reminded by him. Since he started his tour on Very Like a Whale, he’s made two other stops: Marion McCready’s Poetry in Progress and Ivy Alvarez’s Dumbfoundry.

Blogsphere’s next. Check back on Monday coming for Rob’s next stop. And in the meantime, here’s a little taste of the UnCabbage:

  1. Never go into the cage
    without knowing
    what kind of day the poem is having.

–from “Advice from the Lion Tamer to the Poetry Critic”, by Rob Mackenzie


Ten Questions for Poetry Editors – Susan Culver « Very Like A Whale

Very Like A Whale gets inside Susan Culver’s head.

What goes on inside poetry editors’ heads? is a burning question for publishing and wannabe-publishing poets everywhere. With this third Ten Questions series, we are showcasing weekly answers from a diverse group of poetry editors to Ten Questions for Poetry Editors. Each editor’s responses will appear as a separate blog post and all posts will be linked back to the series’ standing page.

Our responder this week is Susan Culver, editor of Lily and Poetry Friends.

Go on. Go check it out.

Rob Mackenzie’s Virtual Book Tour Begins

Over on Very Like A Whale

Very Like A Whale is tickled pink to serve as the launching pad for Rob Mackenzie’s De-Cabbage Yourself Experience, his virtual book tour for The Opposite of Cabbage, his debut collection from Salt Publishing. You, of course, have either already purchased his stirling collection or are about to do so.

We thoroughly enjoyed reading this beautifully-crafted collection of poems which is infused with a whole range of desirables – intelligence, humor, satire, the surreal, the poignant and Scotland, to name but a few. We asked Rob ten questions about The Opposite of Cabbage. He answers half here and will be back towards the end of his tour to answer the other half. Thanks for being here, Rob!

I thought about offering to be a stop on Rob’s virtutour, and thought for some time about it, and then completely forgot. As things turned out, though, it’s probably a good thing I forgot. May found me swamped with work as usual — I seem to enjoy overexerting myself; ever since I plunged into depressions during the long Canadian summer vacations from university (April to September, no kidding) I’ve tried to keep myself busy so that I don’t think myself into a spiral, and now it’s June I have the biggest project I’ve ever taken on in my private life (curious? Check here and here — and if you want to book tickets and accommodations, check either website at the end of the month!) and little things like blogging are slip-sliding away.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t be following Rob’s tour as closely as I possibly can. Go, Rob, go!

This one’s for Rob

Help save Salt.

Poetry press Salt has launched a viral marketing campaign in a bid to stave off closure, in the wake of the publisher’s “financial difficulties”. The publisher has asked for customers to “buy just one Salt book”. Director Chris Hamilton-Emery said the first day of his company’s ‘Just One Book’ campaign had “swept the web”, leading to more than 400 orders within 24 hours.

He said: “The response has been astonishing and heart-warming. Since June last year our family business has faced severe financial difficulties – the recession hit us hard. We’re almost at the end, it’s terrifically sad. Nine years of our lives has gone into developing this literary business.”

All right, Rob Mackenzie, Aditi Machado, Nic Sebastian, I’ve bought my book. It’s Katy Evans-Bush’s collection, Me and the Dead.

I’m a little bummed she took half my title (Mama Lily and the Dead – trust me, I had it waaaay before 2008) and I’m half-racking my brains to think of another.

Christine Klocek-Lim on Static

Thanks to Nic, I had the pleasure of reading the following post on Christine Klocek-Lim’s blog November Sky, and was struck by how much I agree with her.

November Sky Poetry: Sonnets and Static

I recently bought Jack Gilbert’s new book, “The Dance Most of All,” and on first glance it seems to be more of the same. He’s one of my favorite poets and I’m certainly looking forward to reading his new poetry (it’s all so comfortable), yet I can’t help feeling as though he discovered one way to do something and hasn’t varied since then. His poems all look the same: like a herd of horses, they’re different colors and even breeds and beautiful, but still, all HORSES. I’ve noticed that other poets tend to do this, never changing that one style that works, that brings them recognition and awards. It’s a trap.

Both beginners and old-hands fall into this trap, in which there are two sides. On one side you write only for yourself, on the other you write only for other people. The best work of any poet straddles the sharp line in-between: where you understand how much information a reader needs to relate to your poem and you also understand that you must push the boundary of sameness and move into artistry. Continue reading

Online Literary Journals: Coming of Age

Edward Byrne, editor of Valpariso Poetry Review, notes that the most recent issue of Poets & Writers Magazine includes a discussion of online journals, which excites me.

One Poet’s Notes: Online Literary Journals: Coming of Age

The current issue May/June 2009 of Poets & Writers Magazine contains “a special section on the here and now of literary journals” devoted to information about the process of submission, editing, and publication of literary magazines. Sandra Beasley contributes a timely and insightful essay, “From Pages to Pixels: The Evolution of Online Journals,” among the articles included in the “Lit Mag Moment” feature.

The fact that online publications are growing in reputation, and are even being accepted as credentials for funding and for university tenure, is a happy one. The quality of online journals isn’t lost on me — the pool of submissions is larger, as is the pool of editors — which has a happy effect on the results that I’ve seen.  My most recent experience with print journals has been stuffier and less moving than my experience with online ones. Of course, in my country, the availability of print journals is entirely dependent on the post and the depth of one’s subscription-fee-paying pocket (in my case not so deep, believe me), and so my access to such journals is limited at best. I’m there are those out there that are different. But I know that what I have seen tends towards the conservative (in the sense of conserving, not in the sense of being close-minded), the cliquish, and the controlled, not towards (as with the online variety) the exciting, the fresh, and the unusual.

Maybe it’s just me, but maybe it isn’t. Any comments?

Because it’s no longer March

but April, it’s time for NaPoWriMo, that monthly madness where we write a poem a day.

Some certifiable folk are writing a poem a minute for 30 minutes. O joy. I leave to it and wish them best (and wonder how many will survive in the open, and how many will be institutionalized before their half-hour’s up).

In the past, I’ve listed poems of note from PFFA’s NaPo habit. This month I’m teaching once again, which means that marking is my lot. I cannot promise much — it’ll be a challenge to write the poem a day — but I’d like to kick off with the first thread to watch:

Jee Leong’s “A Lover’s Recourse”, which begins with a ghazal that I like. And I don’t like ghazals.

The bit I want to remember:

The cloudy pigeon, mutant dove, aches through the air,
nowhere safe to land, save the branches of the river.

Go see the lunacy for yourselves. Consider joining, if you must. But know this — PFFA’s changed its policy this year, so if you don’t post your first poem today, today, you will be disqualified from participating on the Poetry-Free-For-All.

tongues of the ocean: why stop now?

Two more poems are up for the week:

The West Indies Haiku (#1) by Tim Tomlinson

heat lightning—
pages scattered

on an empty bed

and

The joy of planting banana suckers in your own land by Ward Minnis

I only want me own garden
a little patch where I can dig till I silly.
Plant banana morning, noon and night,
Open the hole and put in me fertilize,
fill it with sap
from nighttime ritual and early morning dance.

Jee’s Birthday Party

Song of a Reformed Headhunter: Virtual Book and Birthday Party on March 20
I am planning a Virtual Book Party to launch Equal to the Earth on my birthday, March 20. Everyone is invited, and you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home, or wherever you find yourself that evening, at 8 pm (Eastern Standard Time). All you have to do is to visit the book blog or my Facebook page.

I agree with Nic — it is a good idea. So I’m spreading the word.

Soundzine now live

The new issue of Soundzine is now live.

It’s a fabulous issue. Looks great!

My poems are here:

Other PFFAers:

M E Hope

There is a weariness that radiates
from the marrow

a butterfly that wishes to be

    Jee Leong Koh

    when he calls her bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh,
    what does he greet
    but
    his need to eat?

      Mike Lane

      Sometimes they skip stones across the tops
      of thunderheads and resurrect dead snails
      and bumper kissed bugs.

          Howard Miller

          As the spasms fade and salt
          dries, you fold, withdrawing,
          into yourself, a consumed
          blood orange restored
          in a film reversed

          The art is fabulous.

          You

          … the saying of you remains the living of you
          never to be said.
          —Martin Carter 


          You, I mutter, you, you, you, as if to keep
          you near. It’s now become a mantra, an ohm to help me sleep,
          murmurs to fool the memory, a make-believe,
          a dream. If I deceive
          myself, I think, you’ll live. You’ll live.
          And as for me? The mantra-you? This you you you
          ensures that I survive.

          PFFA’s Seven/Seven

          We wanted to have some fun.

          So Annie suggested we write seven poems in seven days every month, starting on the seventh.

          Several of us took up the challenge.  This month, I’m returning full-time to academia, so I got sidetracked. 

          Still. I thought I’d share a little of the work I’ve done so far. It’ll flash up and disappear, in time, because, you know, this is a blog and one day I might want to publish one of them, but in the meantime.

          Here: watch this space.

          The changing face of literature

          Having work accepted to places like qarrtsiluni and Anti- has had the effect of my paying closer attention to the way literary journals work, especially online. The above two make some use of the technology at hand, qarrtsiluni publishing a piece a day, and Anti alternating between issues and featured poet series.

          The possibilities are endless, spreading before one like a sea. The lure of the internet as a space for publication sends up the kind of thrill that frontiers must have when they were frontiers.

          So here’s the thing. If you were starting up an online literary journal, what features might you include?

          Poems, Lyrics and Death

          There’s a rocking going on in the poetry blogosphere (hate that word!  Hate it! hate it!) that’s been caused by the unexpected and premature death of Reginald Shepherd, who was two weeks younger than me.  PFFA poets have made their comments — here, and here, and here, and in this thread on PFFA, here.  Like Rob, if it weren’t for the internet I may not have heard of him, but I may — he lived in Florida, and was a colleague of colleagues.  The thing is, unlike my fellow poets, I hadn’t read his poems till the day he died.

          I had read his essays, had looked at his blog, had been moved by his prose.  Now that I read his poems, though, I’m struck by the lyrical nature of them.  Lyric poetry is something I have fought for some time, landing strangely in the world of narrative and dramatic verse, not terribly moved by the lyric efforts of most of my contemporaries.

          I’m not sure but I think I may be changing my mind.  Will I be writing any lyrics in the near future?  Unlikely, though who can tell.  What goes on inside me is nobody’s business but mine, I’ve decided.  Let me give you fragments instead and shore them against my ruins.

          Publication in qarrtsiluni

          (ai, it’s hard to post in the middle of the day from here … traffic is high and the connection gets very slow, and weird things happen.  Where’s here?  Why, Georgetown, Guyana, at CARIFESTA X, and you can follow the story of my/our experiences here, but anyway, we soldier on)

           

          I wanted to say that in checking one of my email accounts the other day, I realized, belatedly, that two of my pieces had been accepted for publication in the Transformation issue of qarrtsiluni.

          The pieces?  

          Sevenling:  Life is a drying

          The Granddaughter Sings Lily Home (1994)

          They’ll even be accompanied by sound files.  Fabulous!

          Thanks, guys.  Look for the first one soon.

          Light and Ending

          Rob surveys 12 poetry collections from his bookshelf to find out how they end.  He’s basing his research on something he read recently in Douglas Coupland’s The Gum Thief:

          “It’s not in every book, but it’s in most books. It’s this: when a book ends, the characters are often moving either towards or away from a source of light – literally – like carrying a candle into a dark room or running a red light at an intersection or opening curtains or falling into a well or – this list goes on. I circled all the bits about light and there’s no mistaking it.”

          My immediate reaction is to be sceptical, but I don’t have enough to ground my scepticism in, so I just thought I’d post this up here and think for a little while.

          Surroundings: Ending a Collection.

          One Poet’s Notes

          Frank O’Hara: “Having a Coke with You”

          I was intrigued by this post on Edward Byrne’s blog, which provides (as the Valpariaso blog often does) video and text of poems.  What intrigued me was not the delivery of the poem, which was pretty boring, IMHO, but the poem itself, which was one of those conversational Whitmanesque Ginsberg-related pieces, but which works as it is written, unlike the residue of that movement that obtains today.  I was intrigued because I wanted to analyze why it worked for me when so many of the contemporary ones don’t.  Perhaps it’s because this is the idiom of the mid-twentieth century, not of the early twenty-first, and we’re hanging on with slipping fingers to innovations of the past rather than looking to see what rough beast our age is about to bear.

          Thoughts?