Poetry, process, progress.

Month: April 2017

Day 13: Amorak Huey

Day 13: Amorak Huey

I can’t have the best title for a poetry book ever because Amorak Huey already has it with his book Ha Ha Ha Thump (Sundress Publications 2015). He is on my shortlist of poets i envy for poems or phrases I wish I’d written, but […]

Days 11 and 12: Denise Duhamel

Days 11 and 12: Denise Duhamel

I strongly suspect that my daughter has most if not all of my Denise Duhamel books. She snagged them sometime before she left for college and somehow never returned them. I missed posting yesterday due to bronchitis (still have it–boo), so I’m not on campus […]

Day 10: Maxine Kumin

Day 10: Maxine Kumin

I love a good narrative and I love how images work to add more, but I really love a poet who uses it all, as Maxine Kumin does. I have her Collected Works, but she was an active poet to the end of her life in 2015. Here is a poem from Where I Live, New and Selected Poems (2011), where she is being political in one of the “torture poems.”

Waterboarding, Restored

           Carol Houck Smith 1923-2008

Let’s take this one out, my editor said,
my wise old editor, who rarely invoked
her privilege, two years from now
(it takes that long to go from manuscript
to print) no one will even remember
the word. And so I did.

It began:
You’re thinking summer, theme parks,
a giant plastic slide turquoise and pink,
water streaming down its sinuous course
and clots of screaming children pouring past
in a state of ecstasy, while you sip gin
and tonic with friends.

Now under the shellac
of euphemism they’re calling it
enhanced interrogation.
It follows on the heels of
extraordinary rendition.
Only the mockingbird is cleverer
Warbling blithe lies from his tree.

 

Poems 7, 8, and 9: Web Weekend

Poems 7, 8, and 9: Web Weekend

If you are  reading this and you’re a poet, you know that getting that first book is very hard. More established poets have told me that getting the first book is no guarantee that a second will be easier or the third. Reduced funding to […]

Poem 6: W. Todd Kaneko

Poem 6: W. Todd Kaneko

I wish I could buy all the poetry I want, but I never catch up it seems. Then, the beauty of the internet and all the web journals is that I can read  work from a poet for some time before actually buying a book. […]

Day 5: Alicia Ostriker

Day 5: Alicia Ostriker

I gained a number of new-to me poetry books buying from Jane Hoogestraat’s poetry shelves to help fund a scholarship in her name. So many books, so little cash. The following poem  is from The Book of Seventy by Alicia Ostriker (2009). the title poem is one to read again and again, but I also like “Everything alive’–so, small, so ambitious.
[Robin photo by Ken and Nyata, found on Flickr]

Everything alive

everything alive wants to surge and wilt

by its own rules, the tide in its veins, and in April
the green force is irresistible

But one great rule is life’s tenacious webbiness
another great rule is change
nothing stands alone, everything succeeds

and disappears
so the birch trees close their eyes in the rain
and robins drink their bliss

Day 4: Michelle Disler

Day 4: Michelle Disler

{Bond, James] alphabet, anatomy, [auto]biography by Michelle Disler (2012) is an unexpected gem, poetry that pushes boundaries and by doing so, gives poetry more room to breathe. This is not a kitschy pop culture tome played for laughs or for the moment. It is a serious, […]

Day 3: Larry Levis

Day 3: Larry Levis

Larry Levis’ last book, Elegy (1997), continues to be a huge influence on me as a poet. I love the intricate narratives laced with strong images and the long streams of iambs don’t hurt either. It is still free verse, but it veers close to blank verse […]

Day Two: Karen Craigo

Day Two: Karen Craigo

This poem is from Karen Craigo’s 2016 chapbook, Escaped Housewife Tries Hard to Blend In, available from Hermeneutic Chaos Press. A bit of a disclaimer–some poets I know in real life, others I don’t. Po-biz is a small world compared to some others and it doesn’t take too many degrees of separation to reach anyone. Karen and I were a year apart in the same MFA program and might have similar aesthetics, but in the end, I think we are actually very different poets. One thing I think we do share is deceptive clarity, a positive thing that can be mistaken by the too-quick reader as poetry that is too prose-like or not very deep. Oh dear. However, I think Craigo’s poetry fills a much needed place in contemporary poetry in that it gives voice to the otherwise unvoiced and shows that narrative poetry is still a living, breathing poetic choice. Interested in more? Her 2015 book No More Milk is available from Sundress Publications.

Escaped Housewife Gives Three Good Reasons for Taking Up the Bagpipes

1.
On occasion she has cried
herself our—out of breath,
out of salt, head hot and humming,
she has heard her voice wane
before she has said all
she has to say.

2.
The instrument holds screams
like a camel.
With the bag tucked
in the V of arm to body,
she can howl through her sleep
and rise ready
to start again.

3.
One voice isn’t nearly
enough. She likes how each
stiff tentacle makes its own
reedy hiss to release her heart’s
ugly harmonies, to deflate
the leather sack
she lives in.

 

A poem a day for Poetry month

A poem a day for Poetry month

  I have been doing the PAD Challenge every year since 2010 and this year will be no exception. Because many journals have fairly strict rules about what is considered prior publication, I stopped posting my daily drafts on my blog and took down the […]