This week we welcome Charles Coe as our guest author. Charles is author of two books of poetry: All Sins Forgiven: Poems for my Parents and Picnic on the Moon, both published by Leapfrog Press. His poetry has appeared in a number of literary reviews and anthologies, including Poesis, The Mom Egg, Solstice Literary Review, and Urban Nature. He is the winner of a fellowship in poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Charles’s poems have been set by a number of composers, including Beth Denisch, Julia Carey and Robert Moran. In addition, Charles is co-chair of the Boston Chapter of the National Writers Union, a labor union for freelance writers. He has been selected by the Associates of the Boston Public Library as a “Boston Literary Light for 2014.”
Since it's inception in 2008, we here at the Best American Poetry blog have cheered on Bill Cohen, one of our favorite bloggers, as he has assembled an array of tattooed poets for Tattoosday's annual tribute to National Poetry Month. We are once again thrilled to spread the word to inked poets everywhere. Bill would like to post an image of your tattoo on Tattoosday every day during April. Tattoos need not be literary in nature to qualify. If your ink is featured, Bill hopes to give a little history of your tattoo, some background about you and your poetry, and he'll include links to your own website, books, and poems. With your permission, he'll even post a poem.
In addition, you'd be joining the ranks of over a hundred and fifty poets, several of them BAP contributors, who have participated in years past. You can see who's been cool enough to join the ranks here .
For more details and to express your interest,please contact Bill at email@example.com.
This week we welcome Benebell Wen as our guest author. Benebell Wen is the pseudonym for a certain literary journal editor, writer, corporate lawyer, and fashion designer. Benebell is also a professional tarot reader and has been a practitioner for over 15 years. Her book, Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Tarot for Personal Growth will be coming out Fall, 2014 from North Atlantic Books. She is a mentor and senior reader with the American Tarot Association. Read more about her work at www.benebellwen.com. When she is not practicing tarot or dabbling in any of the other areas of interest, she is a feng shui practitioner and student of the I Ching. She resides in Oakland, California.
If you’d like to be notified when Holistic Tarot is released, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Best American Poetry series editor David Lehman and poet and editor Dan Nester as they read and delve into the mysteries of the sestina, a 700 year old poetic form that continues to beguile poets and poetry lovers with its arcane rules and rigid structure. Nester is the editor of The Incredible Sestina Anthology (Write Bloody Publishing), a volume that gathers more than 100 sestinas by poets from Sherman Alexie to Louis Zukovsky and includes classics as well as modern masterpieces.
The sestina comprises six six-line stanzas plus a final three line envoi. The words that end each line of the first stanza are repeated throughout in a prescribed order andagain in the final three lines.
Nester will read selections from the anthology to demonstrate how what might seem like a dry set of rules becomes a lively, engaging poem. Following the reading he will field questions from David Lehman and the audience.
BOOKS WILL BE FOR SALE BEFORE AND AFTER THE FORUM
DANIEL NESTER is a poet, journalist, and essayist. His work has appeared in Salon, The New York Times, The Morning News, The Daily Beast, The Rumpus, N+1, on the Poetry Foundation website and elsewhere. His poetry has been published in many magazines and journals including Gulf Coast, Barrow Street, jubilat, Crazyhorse, Open City, Slope, Spoon River Poetry Review His work has been anthologized in such collections as Third Rail: the Poetry of Rock and Roll, The Best Creative Nonfiction and The Best American Poetry. Dan is an associate professor of English at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, where he teaches creative nonfiction and poetry and is on the core faculty of their MFA program in creative writing.
DAVID LEHMAN is the author of many collections of poems, including most recently New and Selected Poems (Scriber, 2013). Among his books of non-fiction include A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs (Shocken Books, 2009) and The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets (Doubleday, 1998), which was named a “Book to Remember 1999” by the New York Public Library. He edited The Oxford Book of American Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2006), and is the series editor of The Best American Poetry. He is the poetry coordinator of the graduate writing programs at the New School.
Rent parties began in Harlem in the 1920s when cash-strapped Uptown residents devised creative ways to pay discriminatory rental rates on low salaries. Party hosts opened their homes, and in exchange for a small cover charge, prepared food and provided live entertainment. Together, party goers defeated eviction while eating, drinking, dancing and socializing for much less than what they’d pay for a night on the town. Everybody won! Cave Canem’s Rent Parties revive the Harlem-style rent party with poetry at the core!
Find out more about Cave Canem here.
Coming Fall of 2015 from Sibling Rivalry Press -- The Collected & New Collaborative Work of Denise Duhamel & Maureen Seaton. Excitement!
And here are more 2015 titles from SRP, via cue cards & poet extraordinaire Ocean Vuong.
This week we welcome Joy Jacobson as our guest author. Joy is a poet, a health care journalist, and an editor. She’s the poet-in-residence at the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College in New York, where she teaches narrative writing to nursing students and practicing clinicians and blogs on poetry and health policy. Her poems have appeared in Smartish Pace, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Examined Life, and other journals, and in a 2004 chapbook, I And. Her essay on using poetry in nursing education is forthcoming in the anthology Keeping Reflection Fresh: Top Educators Share Their Innovations in Health Professional Education, to be published by Kent State University Press. Follow her on Twitter: @joyjaco.
DISQUIET’s annual contest seeks the best in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The winner in each genre will be published: the fiction winner in Guernica; the nonfiction winner in Ninthletter.com; and the poetry winner in The Collagist. In addition, a grand prize winner, to be selected by an outside judge, will receive airfare, accommodations, and tuition to the DISQUIET program in Lisbon, Portugal in 2014. Finalists and other entrants deemed to be of the highest quality will be offered partial tuition scholarships.
The DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal will run from June 29 - July 11, 2014, and will include core workshops in poetry, fiction, memoir & nonfiction, with afternoon workshops in songwriting and experimental poetry. There will also be literary walks, day trips, craft talks with leading editors, poetry manuscript consultations, and readings with North American and Portuguese writers in one of the world's most unforgettable cities.
Faculty and guests to include Sally Ashton, Dan Bern, Erica Dawson, Teolinda Gersão, Denis Johnson, David Lehman, Cyriaco Lopes, Rodrigo Garcia Lopes, Josip Novakovich, Alissa Nutting, José Luís Peixoto, Jacinto Lucas Pires, Patrícia Portela, Padgett Powell, Patrícia Reis, Gonçalo M. Tavares, Miriam Toews, Katherine Vaz, Terri Witek, Rui Zink, and more. For more information about the DISQUIET International Literary Program visit the DISQUIET website.
From the National Weather Service: The storm could bring 10 to 14 inches of snow to Philadelphia and up to a foot in New York City, to be followed by bitter cold. An arctic air mass will plunge the eastern half of the United States into a deep freeze, with wind chills as low as 40 degrees below zero, the weather service said.
Button up your over coat! (Better still, stay home.)
This week we welcome Guillermo Parra as our guest author. Guillermo (Cambridge, MA, 1970) has published two translations of the Venezuelan poet José Antonio Ramos Sucre (1890-1930), Selected Works (University of New Orleans Press, 2012) and From the Livid Country (Auguste Press, 2012). Since 2003, he has written the blog Venepoetics, dedicated to the translation of Venezuelan and Latin American literature into English. As a poet, he is the author of Phantasmal Repeats (Petrichord Books, 2009) and Caracas Notebook (Cy Gist Press, 2006). In the spring of 2013 he was the guest editor of issue 18 of Typo Magazine, which featured a dossier of 20th century Venezuelan poets in English translation entitled "Portable Country: Venezuelan Poetry: 1921-2001." You can also follow him on Twitter at @venepoetics. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA where he works as a teacher.
This year's nominees for a National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry are Frank Bidart's "Metaphysical Dog," Lucie Brock-Broido's "Stay, Illusion," Denise Duhamel's "Blowout," Bob Hicok's "Elegy Owed" and Carmen Gimenez Smith's "Milk and Filth." Congratulations to all.
We're especially thrilled for Denise Duhamel, one of our favorite poets and the guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2013. Here's what David Lehman writes about Denise in his introduction:
Denise Duhamel, who chose the poems for The Best American Poetry 2013, has appeared in the series seven times since Louise Glück and A.R. Ammons picked poems of hers in back-to-back volumes in 1993 and 1994. It would have been eight times if the editor hadn't declined to include herself: her "Ode to the Other Woman's Ass" in Ecotone (and reprinted on The Best American Poetry blog) has the traits--humor, warmth, passion, intelligence, and genuineness--that make her poems irresistible. "Exuberance is beauty," wrote William Blake. "Energy is eternal delight." Denise has as much natural exuberance as anyone practicing the art, with a seemingly unlimited amount of renewable energy. I have known and worked with Denise for many years. When a production of her play How the Sky Fell ran for four performances in an Off-Off-Broadway theater in 1997, I was in the cast. Over the years she and I have spent more than a few afternoons collaborating on a play, poems, or other projects. I knew we'd have fun working together and I suspected that she would have a large appetite for the many kinds of poetry being written at the moment. But I was not prepared for her intesity of focus. No sooner did she receive a magazine than its contents were devoured and considered for an ever-growing list of poems that elicited Denise's enthusiasm. It is always difficult making cuts, but Denise's professionalism ruled the day. In the making of one of these books the production schedule requires more than one deadline. Never before in the twenty-six years of this series did I work with an editor who managed to beat every deadline along the way.
Here's a link to Denise Duhamel's poem How it Will End, which Robert Pinsky included in The Best of the Best American Poetry (April, 2013).
And here's a link to Ode to the Other Woman's Ass.
You can buy Denise's NBCC nominated book Blowout here.
Moderated by David Lehman, poetry coordinator, School of Writing.
Now in its second successful year, The Chicago School of Poetics (CSoP) is kicking off 2014 with truly unique online course offerings and amazing opportunities to work with leading international poets in an intimate and collaborative setting.
From the comfort of your home or a nearby café, you can participate in courses using our innovative and user-friendly program—choose face-to-face, real-time video or simply listen in. Join an international conversation—courses have included students from Morocco, Canada, and Australia, as well as from the United States. This is a friendly environment for anyone who is looking to refine their work and connect with others.
In order to give students more opportunities to work with our faculty, we have initiated a new 6-week shortened course format that costs less and requires less of a time commitment. We’ve also streamlined our website, so courses are easier to find and registration is only a click away. Click here to register now: Class sizes are limited to maximize face time with the instructors.
Also, check back at chicagoschoolofpoetics.com for registration information about our next master class with Pierre Joris on April 26.
The glowing space is ours. CSoP showed the way!
This is what a school truly should be – think of Black Mountain College – beyond all the boundaries & borders.
I am surprised at how much I have learned and how much my writing and editing process has evolved.
I felt lucky to receive such input from an established poet and the price was a bargain because I felt I gained a lot from the class.
Winter 2014 Course Offerings
Poetics Level I with Kristina Marie Darling
Saturdays, February 22 – March 29
Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. CST
Blending lecture, written exercises, and in-class feedback this course is designed to help you view your poetry with the cold eyes that are necessary to make instinctual edits based on the many tools at your disposal.
Poetics Level II with Larry Sawyer
Saturdays, February 22 – March 29
Time: 12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. CST
Poets use techniques such as automatic writing, random effect, shifts in writing method and even location, personal archeology, access to a wide variety of secondary source texts, found language, investigative poetry techniques, journal keeping, experiments with the basics of traditional forms, list poems, etc.
Pulse Poem Pulse with Barbara Barg
Mondays, February 24 – March 31
Time: 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. CST
Language is a poet’s instrument. This class focuses on developing dexterity and creativity with the rhythm, texture, and tonal qualities of language. Students will break language down to its melodic and percussive elements and explore rhythms and sounds from diverse, sometimes unusual sources.
Red-Headed Stepchild: The Unholy Spawn of Poetry and Story with Sharon Mesmer
Tuesdays, February 25 – April 1
Time: 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. CST
Students will examine some very early examples of what we now think of as “hybrid” writing, then blend the hallmarks of those early models (brevity, spontaneity, tightly-focused imagery) with contemporary ideas and techniques (collage, appropriation).
Shock the Monkey: Poetry and Mass Media with Larry Sawyer
Sundays, February 23 – March 30
Time: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. CST
Marshall McLuhan’s statement that “Art is anything you can get away with” will be a stepping off point for an examination of how current or popular music, movies, and the cult of celebrity influences one’s world and therefore also one’s writing. Students will study the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortunes of present-day celebrities and use appropriation, investigative methods, parody, the conceptual, replacement methods, hybrid narrative, and ekphrasis to push the limits of their poetry.
Erasure Poetry with Kristina Marie Darling
Thursdays, February 20 – March 27
Time: 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. CST
This course will focus on erasure poetry, meaning poetry created by excising significant portions of a found text, which is then edited, shaped, and structured by the poet.
Chicago School of Poetics core faculty: Barbara Barg, Kristina Marie Darling, Steve Halle, Francesco Levato, Sharon Mesmer, Larry Sawyer
This week we welcome Tara Betts as our guest author. Tara is the author of Arc & Hue and the libretto THE GREATEST!: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali. Tara is a Ph.D. candidate in English/Creative Writing at SUNY Binghamton University. Her work appears in numerous journals, anthologies, and interdisciplinary projects, and you can find her at www.tarabetts.net and twitter at @tarabetts.
This week we welcome Amy Glynn as our guest author. Amy's work appears widely in journals and anthologies (including The Best American Poetry 2010 and 2012). Her book A Modern Herbal was released by Measure Press in November 2013. Follow Amy on twitter (@AmyAlysaGlynn) and facebook.
Vandana Khanna was born in New Delhi, India and received her M.F.A. from Indiana University. Her first collection, Train to Agra, won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize and her second collection, Afternoon Masala, won the Miller Williams Prize and is forthcoming from the University of Arkansas Press in 2014. She is a lecturer at the University of Southern California.
The Literary Man writes:
As a counterpoint to the current glut of people blabbing about the same old novels, we would like to say a few words about David Lehman’s NEW AND SELECTED POEMS, our favorite book of poetry published in 2013.
. . .
This is excellent stuff, people. We often talk about enjoying poetry, and yet it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start. How does one stay in touch with contemporary poetry? Well, start here: with these NEW AND SELECTED POEMS.
Read the complete review here.
Young writers, working mainly in deep private, even if they are in an MFA program, even if they have found their way to a coterie as some poets do, feel themselves when they are lucky to be conjuring a kind of magic, as if they were shaping liquid phospher, and then the work is done, with whatever psychic magic they've put into it and taken from it, and then what do you do? Looking at the world one of the things they'd see, have seen, is the National Poetry Series--poets reading poets in order to publish new work and keep the art fresh, keep renewing it. Not for the world at large but for those poets, the new ones or the ones with no special connection to the world of publishing, the NPS has been crucial, a flare in the dark, and it needs to be kept alive. -- Robert Hass
For each of the past 35 years, under the stewardship of Daniel Halpern, the National Poetry Series has published five books of poetry. Do the math: that's 175 books of poetry by some of our most promising poets. The winning manuscripts, solicited through an annual Open Competition, are selected by poets of national stature and published in beautiful gift-worthy volumes. The list of winners is impressive. Three NPS poets have gone to win the National Book Award: Mark Doty, Terrance Hayes, and Nathaniel Mackey. Billy Collins, an NPS winner, became Poet Laureate of the United States. Judges have included many of major contemporary poets, including Nobel Prize winners Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott, and Pulitzer Prize winners Louise Gluck, Robert Hass, Stephen Dunn and Jorie Graham. Click through the thumbnails below to see the 2012 winners:
Now, for the first time, the National Poetry Series is facing a financial crisis and is asking for our help. You can read more about the Series' financial shortfall in the New York Times.
You can easily make a donation to the National Poetry Series with PayPal. Find the details on the NPS website.
Or you can mail a donation to:
National Poetry Series
57 Mountain Avenue
Princeton, NJ 08540
Consider these testimonials:
Every year I look forward to buying the five books published in the National Poetry Series. It's like having a curator who gathers again and again the most exciting and diverse collections of poetry in the country, selections that continue to represent the breadth of American poetry. Not only is it the most distinguished series, it is also the only one I know of that consistently identifies, at an early stage in their careers, the writers we are likely to be reading for a long time. -- Natasha Trethewey, Poet Laureate of the United States.
By enabling five new volumes of poetry to appear annually over the past 35 years, the National Poetry Series has radically changed the face of American poetry. A number of poets who are now among our best-known first appeared there as beginners, and might never have been heard from were it not for the publication opportunity the Series offers. It's vital to our literary health as a nation that the work continue. - John Ashbery
How do today's poets, especially lesser-known ones, find an audience? How are readers, or would-be readers, introduced to new poets? Efforts to make this connection come alive deserve our gratitude and support, and the National Poetry Series is one of the most successful and long-lived. If you’re familiar with it, you know the quality and quantity of books it’s brought before the public. If you’re not, take a look at the list of works and poets (not to mention those who’ve served as judges) – and decide for yourself. - Jeffrey Brown, PBS News Hour
We hope you will help keep this necessary series in mind when you make your holiday donations to worthy institutions.
This week we welcome Deborah Ager as our guest author. Deborah is the author of Midnight Voices (2009) and co-editor of The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry (2013) and Old Flame: Ten Years of 32 Poems Magazine (2012). She founded 32 Poems Magazine in 2003.
She’s received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. She directs online advertising for a national humanitarian organization and lives in the Washington, DC area. Please visit deborahager.com to learn more about Deborah and her upcoming events in LA, NY, DC and elsewhere. She runs the monthly Poet Party on Twitter and can be found tweeting from @clickwisdom and @32poems.
Exactly one month after she won The Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry in June, Marie Ponsot donated a quarter of that $100,000 check to her alma mater, St. Joseph's College for its new MFA, The Writer's Foundry. Join St. Joseph’s to honor Ponsot ’40, her poetry and her teaching legacy:
Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
University Club, 1 West 54th St.
RSVP required to Sally Solis,
email@example.com or 718 940-5732
OK, I can hear readers applauding the generosity of Ponsot, her poetry, her staunch opposition to war and her many honors – Lily, Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, Chancellor at the Academy of American Poetry, NYC Literary Legend.
But also thinking really, how could the world possibly need another MFA in writing? St. Joseph’s answer is to immerse the 19 students in the inaugural Foundry deep into Ponsot’s techniques, including observations instead of critique.
Ponsot’s summary of her pedagogy: “The method is give them writing to do that cannot be done wrong except by not doing it.”
Ponsot, 92, and her friend, fellow teacher and poet Rosemary Deen published Beat Not the Poor Desk in 1982 after teaching writing to remedial students at Queens College.
Jackson Taylor, who guides the Writer's Foundry, has experimented with the ideas of Ponsot and Deen before in many settings, including classes for women and men in prison, homeless writers at soup kitchens, and those in graduate courses. In each and every setting, the principles and practice generate great excitement because they discover that good writing can come from any background, he said.
A sample below: a Ponsot sonnet followed by observations by Deen.
WALKING HOME FROM THE MUSEUM
by Marie Ponsot
The pleasure of walking, Brother Angel,
calls to mind your Paradise panel
of radiant saviors. They step the vertical
at ease in their deathlife, delectable.
You show among slow green leaves their bliss in place
In the vivid repose of each breathless face.
I lack leaves and their air-changing grace.
I lack gold leaf and your burin skill. Here I walk
east and west of death, toward their lute-led talk,
its pure sound split from song. In their words’embrace
strangers partner. Their redeeming speech spans
time and tune. Solo, they also move as a throng
conversing, had lifted to open hand,
their speech sung as if not split from song.
From Easy: Poems, 2009 by Knopf
14 OBSERVATIONS ON A SONNET
by Rosemary Deen
1. The ordinary action (“walking home”) of the title brings the speaker into the stepping of the “radiant saviors” of the panel. And they, in Paradise, are also “walking home.”
2. A little of the “vertigo” of poetry sets in in paradoxes and double meaning: “death-life,” “breathless faces,” but balance (as in a dance) prevails.
3. Walk turns into talk, somehow. By the grace of rhyme, I suppose, and by con-versing?
4. The poem recalls the speaker’s friend, Leonard Deen, in the title of his book: Conversing In Paradise, and perhaps recalls the morning she read new poems under the slow green leaves and startled him into tears.
5. The sonnet divides by spacing into two parts: 6 lines and 8 lines, reversing the sonnet’s old imperative to keep tense and turn late. The sonnet trades tension for ease.
6. If you allow rhyme in unstressed syllables, the first four lines rhyme a,a,a,a. (Rich rhyme is song-like.) Or you could say the lines “rhyme” in their rhythm: a couple of trochées (angel and panel) and a couple of dactyls: vertical, (de)lectable. (The poem dances.)
7. From this primal unity of sound, the rhymes of the next three lines (place, face, grace) span the stanza break and stretch to line 10: embrace. So there are three rhymes in 10 lines. The triplet “-ace” rhyme embraces (as it were) the interesting couplet: walk/talk.
8. The governing pronoun at first is you: direct address to the painter, who is related to the poet as “brother.” They are both poietes, makers, and are together in the museion, the shrine of the muses.
9. Then the governing pronoun becomes I, the poet speaker--but in her negatives: “I lack….I lack….”
10. These “lacks,” as it were, turn the poem to the fullness of they. Or, to put it another way, the makers, the poietes, give way to the poiema, the thing made.
11. The poem is filled w/ the sense of telos: the end that is there in the beginning. The dancers, for instance, here in the great end, Paradise, make their poiema, their redeeming speech--which was there in the beginning in the burble and warble of infant “speech”: “pure sound spilt from song.”
12. The sonnet ends with speech as poiema: “speech sung as if not split from song.”
13. So the sonnet and the painting turn the impacted end, death, into a telos, a stepping-toward, the purposeful speech/dance of paradise.
14. Speech itself walks from solo, a song alone, into con-versing: the “together-turning” of speech as dance with others, in whose ease, strangers partner in their words’ embrace.
Catherine Woodard is co-publisher of Still Against War/ Poems for Marie Ponsot. Her poems have appeared in Painted Bride Quarterly, Bellingham Review and other journals and are at www.catherinewoodard.com. Woodard has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Hambidge Center in Georgia. She worked to restore Poetry in Motion to the NYC subways and is a board member of the Poetry Society of America.
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.