Ron Honing and Christine Kanownik will read from their poems at DIA on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, at 6:30 PM. More information here.
Wednesday (2/1) at Pen and Brush, 29 East 22nd Street between Broadway and Park Avenue. 7:00 pm. Free
Two falls ago, on the second round of drinks at the late lamented Puck Fair, a friend and I found ourselves talking—as often happens when two women writers sit down at a bar—about VIDA’s yearly count that tallies up the gender ratio in publishing and book reviews and the dismal numbers it often reveals. As my friend is the director of a nonprofit for poetry and I’m an editor at an independent press, the conversation eventually meandered into discussing the many amazing women we know in publishing. When we realized that no one had yet compiled a comprehensive list of the organizations, presses, and journals run by women, we began scrawling out our own. I spent a few more weeks crowdsourcing to find more names and eventually gave the list to VIDA to be published as a ever-updating community resource.
Around the same time that I was researching this list, I finished up a stint guest editing for Pen and Brush, the 122-year-old nonprofit for women in the literary and visual arts, who had just launched their publishing wing and moved to a new space, a beautiful art gallery in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. With the VIDA list in hand, I began Pen and Brush Presents, a monthly reading series that features women, non-binary, and genderqueer writers who read work in honor of the female editors who have nurtured and supported their work by publishing them in the past.
This Wednesday, Feb. 1st, we will be honoring the important work done for the literary community by Stacey Harwood, our gracious host here at the Best American Poetry blog, as well as Laura Cronk’s editing work for the wonderful literary food journal The Inquisitive Eater and Melinda Wilson’s work for the invaluable poetry resource Coldfront. Our readers will be the brilliant Elaine Equi (reading for BAP), Jen Huh (The Inquisitive Eater) and Crystal Curry-Vassilakis (Coldfront).
I would like to invite those of you who are in or near New York, to come join us this Wednesday (2/1) at Pen and Brush, located at 29 East 22nd Street between Broadway and Park Avenue. We'll lift a glass (or two or three!) to the talented poets who'll be reading and the amazing editors who have published them. The evening begins at 7 and extends as long as poetry and wine allows. All are welcome.
David Lehman is the author of many collections of poems, including New and Selected Poems (Scribner, 2013), Yeshiva Boys (Scriber, 2011), When a Woman Loves a Man (Scribner, 2005), Jim and Dave Defeat the Masked Man (with James Cummins, Soft Skull Press, 2005), and The Evening Sun (2002). Among his books of non-fiction are Sinatra’s Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World, 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 on the core faculty of the graduate writing programs at the New School and New York University. He lives in New York City and Ithaca, NY.
Elizabeth A. I. Powell is the author of The Republic of Self, a New Issue First Book Prize winner, selected by C.K. Williams. Her second book Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter: Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances won the Robert Dana Prize in poetry, chosen by Maureen Seaton, and will be published by Anhinga Press in 2016. In 2013, she won a Pushcart Prize. Powell has also received a Vermont Council on the Arts grants and a Yaddo fellowship. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Barrow Street, Black Warrior Review, Ecotone, Harvard Review, Handsome, Hobart, Indiana Review, Missouri Review, Mississippi Review, Slope, Sugarhouse Review, Ploughshares, Post Road, and elsewhere. She is Editor of Green Mountains Review, and Associate Professor of Writing and Literature at Johnson State College. She also serves on the faculty of the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing and Publishing. Born in New York City, she has lived in Vermont since 1989 with her four children.
More fantabulous answers by superb poets, including some scary responses... Part III of III... Find Part II here.
Question 9: List five events in your life that mattered to you during the writing of your book.
Max Ritvo: I read the book Ardor by Roberto Calasso, which is about the Indian Vedic tradition. This religious tradition encouraged its devotees to spend their entire lives in ritual dance to commune with the gods, to the extent there was no time left over to build permanent buildings of worship. Which feels to me like a life writing poems. The Vedas spent much of their time addressing the creation of the world and the fundamental ecstasy of desire. They do so using hallucinatory Freud-like myths in which a god has sex with his interior monologue, Speech, only to have the child rip out the womb of Speech itself and force it on his father's head as a turban so he may never impregnate such a potent womb again. This is all I could ever aspire to have my imagination create. It also is a religion that focuses around the guilt and complication of eating meat, and I am a vegetarian. So Ardor's blood runs strong through this book. Grazzi, Roberto! On a less literary note: I got dumped during cancer. I got married to the most wonderful woman in the world. My illness is now terminal. I am in great pain and on many drugs. All of these things made me feel very strong feelings, and so I wrote poems about them. Since my mentation has certain very idiosyncratic features, the poems cohered into a meaningful whole with kind of a narrative around them. And this, my friends, is Four Reincarnations!
Chris Santiago: Akita. I wrote the first draft of the long title poem as I was graduating from Oberlin and moving to Akita, Japan, to teach English. It was a relatively isolated part of the country, with even more snow than my home state of Minnesota. That experience of isolation— living in another language, one I could hardly read or understand—was a gift. It gave me solitude, distance, and perspective.
Manila. From Japan, I was able to backpack around Southeast Asia. At least a few poems came out of this, including “Photograph: Loggers at Kuala Tahan,” which is about getting drunk with some loggers we befriended in the Malaysian rainforest. I also traveled to the Philippines a few times. My uncle Flu put me up and showed me around. He took me on some adventures, introduced me to his network, and regaled me with stories, many of them harrowing.
Los Angeles. After Japan, I lived in LA for fifteen years and worked several odd jobs: I worked in a call center; I read scripts and rolled calls at Miramax; I was a substitute teacher in South LA and Long Beach, and a graveyard shift editor for a wire service. I also dealt with mild depression, and would go one or two years at a stretch without writing a poem. When I met my wife, Yuri, it was, as Karl Ove Knausgaard says about meeting his own wife, like day broke. After we had our first son, the poems started coming again.
Minneapolis. A few weeks after I defended my dissertation—which included an earlier draft of TULA, my mother died unexpectedly. Up until that point, it had been a season of joy: not only had I finished the program at USC, but I had gotten a job teaching literature & creative writing. The job was even back in my hometown, where my mother and father were still living when she died.
I was, of course, devastated. Part of me wanted to set the manuscript aside—it was hard for me to look at it. It became clear to me how much the poems had to do with my mother, how she tried to transmit our family’s history to me, through songs and stories. The fact that I never learned her language is the seed the book grew out of: I never learned it, but when I hear it spoken, it’s like a music and a home.
But my circle—from USC, from St. Thomas, from Kundiman—gently kept the pressure up. After Daniel Slager called me to say that A. Van Jordan had picked TULA for the Lindquist & Vennum Prize, I called Yuri and cried for a long time. I’m grateful that my mother was at least able to read a draft of the manuscript.
Megan Snyder-Camp: Falling in love with the Pacific Northwest coast and wondering about the origin of these bleak place names like “Dismal Nitch” and “Cape Disappointment.” The birth of my daughter. Sitting with writer, Native Studies scholar and enrolled member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe Elissa Washuta at a bar one night and her rattling off a long list of books I needed to read (she was right). My husband losing his job. Driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike with my dad, a trip we used to make all the time but hadn’t in many years. Encountering the term “ruin porn.”
Clint Smith: It’s impossible to disentangle the poems in this collection from the broader racial justice movement that stemmed from the death of Trayvon Martin, and later Michael Brown. These poems are shaped by and responding to the political moment from which they are birthed. These poems are also deeply informed by my work both a teacher and researcher in prisons over the past two years. I teach creative writing at a state prison in Massachusetts and in my doctoral program, I am being trained as a sociologist focusing on the relationship between prisons and education. My proximity to both the people I worked with in the prison as well as an extensive engagement with the social and historical literature outlining how the prison system came to be very much inform my political, and inevitably artistic, commitments.
Tony Trigilio: The Boston Marathon Bombing. Boston, where I lived for ten years before moving to Chicago, already was a big part of the book. The Marathon bombing occurred very early in the composition process, while I was only a few pages into the manuscript. This is a violent book at times, and it has to be, because it documents the politically turbulent year, 1968, when these Dark Shadows episodes first aired, and the painful world we’re living in now. The Marathon bombing is the book’s first violent act. Even when I wasn’t directly writing about Boston, the bombing shadowed just about everything as I wrote the first section of the book.
Gun violence in Chicago. I’ve lived in major urban areas for almost three decades, and I’ve never seen anything like this. The body count we experience every day is heart-wrenching and infuriating. The episodes I watched for this book originally were broadcast in 1968, and I imagined the book would document the global violence of that year (all but ignored in the show’s fictional, soap-escapist seaport town of Collinsport). I just didn’t anticipate how violent my own city, and at times my own neighborhood, would become as I wrote the book.
Posted by Alan Michael Parker on October 03, 2016 at 12:35 PM in Art, Auden, Book Recommendations, Book Stores, Collaborations, Feature, Guest Bloggers, Interviews, Latina/o Poets, Movies, Music, Overheard, Photographs, Poems, Poetry Forums, Poetry Readings, Poetry Society of America, Poets House, Science, Translation | Permalink | Comments (0)
In June, 2016, Terrance Hayes visited Florida to read and teach in the University of Tampa low-residency M.F.A. program. In the course of his presentation, he made a comment about syntax and sound that struck me as important, and worth exploring. Despite our both being distracted by the seventh game of the N.B.A. Finals later that evening—a game to ruin any Davidson College professor’s mood—we agreed to correspond via email, and this conversation ensued.
Terrance Hayes is the author of five collections of poetry, including How To Be Drawn in 2015. His honors include a 2010 National Book Award, a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship and a 2016 NAACP Image Award for Poetry. His website is terrancehayes.com.
AMP: Welcome to the non-place of email. Let's dive in, over our heads.... If I understood correctly, sometime in your artisitic development, you began to associate the extension of syntax with the production of a different kind of music within the poem. Is that an identifiable moment? Would you care to elaborate?
TH: I was drawn to syntax early in my reading life. It was the feeling something beyond words was being communicated in the bones of poems. Certainly that was my experience of Keats’ “To Autumn”— specially that first stanza. When I first read it in college, I didn’t associate its power (mellow, carnal oozing power) with the fact it was a single over brimming sentence:
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
The same feeling came in certain passages of prose. I remember a college professor beginning to sob as he read Molly Bloom’s soliloquy of yes in Ulysses. It’s one of the longest sentences in the English language (4391 words according to Wikipedia). I must have associated the sentence’s breathless charge with his emotional reaction. There were no periods—he couldn’t take a breath to collect himself. I’m still trying to create that sense of charge and “o’er-brimm’d-ness” in my work.
AMP: I love your description of the “o’er-brimm’d”: that’s a great ambition. In that passage, Keats also holds it together contrapuntally, via end-rhyme and those almost-parallel caesuras in lines 7-9, which lead us to read backwards into memory as we move forward in the sentence. Is that something you do too? Or, rather, what’s your way of managing the length and breath of such a charged sentence?
TH: I see “contrapuntal” and “caesuras” and get a tad nervous. Especially when thinking about my early drafts of a poem. I mostly follow something closer to what Frost called “the sound of sense”:
“Now it is possible to have sense without the sound of sense (as in much prose that is supposed to pass muster but makes very dull reading) and the sound of sense without sense (as in Alice in Wonderland which makes anything but dull reading). The best place to get the abstract sound of sense is from voices behind a door that cuts off the words.”
I am trying to find the sense in a sentence: its sense of rhythm, its sense of verbs and nouns, its sense of thought and sound. I work in units of sentences as often as I work in units of line and image.
AMP: Cool, those connections that you draw between a sentence’s musical properties and its meanings....
“Rhythm” is a term that I tend to fudge when I’m discussing sound and sense; it’s such a difficult concept. Maybe I can ask you to consider an example from Frost, and talk a little more about rhythm.
In “West-Running Brook,” Frost observes of the water:
It has this throwing backward on itself
So that the fall of most of it is always
Raising a little, sending up a little.
I think that one way to read these lines is as a discussion of rhythm, the riffles in the water “contraries,” as Frost calls them elsewhere in the poem. Would such a metaphor be consistent with your use of “rhythm”? Or are you thinking of the rhythm of a sentence in another way? Could you elaborate upon your use of the term?
TH: The word “rhythm" is fluid. Sometimes I’m thinking about varying the length and speed of a sentence. As in the first poem in my collection Wind In A Box. (Is it self-important to refer to one my own poems?) That’s sort of an exercise in staccato sentences. And in the ways punctuation impact a sentence. A series of periods, some slashes, a dash:
WIND IN A BOX
This ink. This name. This blood. This blunder.
This blood. This loss. This lonesome wind. This canyon.
This / twin / swiftly / paddling / shadow blooming
an inch above the carpet—. This cry. This mud.
But most times I’m thinking of rhythm as a kind of pattern. As in the ways subordinate clauses and repetition can expand a sentence. Especially the way lists can expand a sentence. The catalogues of Whitman and his Beat progeny, for example. Ginsberg spins wildly creating a fog of image that first long, elastic sentence of “Howl.” That first sentence is one of the most technically dazzling dimensions of “Howl.” I don’t know if that answers your question. I agree rhythm is a difficult concept. Because it is such a personal/intuitive concept.
AMP: Now that we’re talking about sentences in your work expressly, I’d love to hear you comment upon one or more of the poems in your latest book, How To Be Drawn. In light of this conversation, I’m especially interested in the formal play in “Who Are The Tribes," the “Portrait of Etheridge Knight…," and “Some Maps to Indicate Pittsburgh”—all of which use words inside boxes and/or charts. Care to dig in a bit?
TH: The notion of “formal play” is on the mark. What it suggests is I’m just playing—or trying to play outside my given tendencies. Since sentences are my default inclination, the poems you mentioned are instances of trying something different. Of trying to shift my focus. They are genuine, intimate experiments. Meaning I don’t see them as natural extensions of the sentence. Though you’ll find maybe some syntactical play, the attention is given to form. Not that I’m Jordan—I’m no Jordan, but it’s akin to asking Jordan the relationship between his dunks and his work on his jumper or his defense. He was, when he developed his jumper and defensive prowess, only trying to broaden his skills…
AMP: So what’s next, in terms of formal play? Is there a kind of poem you’re working on, that you haven’t been able to write?
TH: Great question. I’m mostly/usually concerned with the last poem and the next poem. The last poem was accompanied with drawings. The next poem is presently several scraps waiting to find a shape. The poems of late have been pretty long. The poem before the last poem was over 1200 words. So I’ve been trying to work my way back to compression via sonnets lately. But I don’t know. I don’t mind not knowing.
AMP: I’m going to highlight a phrase from your latest excellent response, and take the conversation in a slightly different direction.
You write, “The next poem is presently several scraps waiting to find a shape.” Do you think this is true—that phrases, or scraps, or oddments, are “waiting to find a shape”? Maybe the shape is yours, and you have certain shapes internalized that wait for the scraps you collect by writing? Or… maybe there are shapes waiting to find scraps… in the culture? Care to comment?
TH: Yes, I mean scraps waiting to find a shape. As in what I suspect happens in quilt making. I’m just gathering bright bits of thoughts and conversations, imagery in my notebook. Waiting to stitch/thread something compelling together. Usually the brightest bit becomes the poem’s heart, its engine.
AMP: You mention your notebook. Could you talk a bit about how your process might elucidate the quest for “o’er-brimm’d-ness” in the syntax? How do you handle, literally, the writing, so as to facilitate in the composition process the ambitions you identified earlier?
TH: I have to talk about basketball again here. I can’t say I’m handling the writing so much as continuously practicing with it. I am trying to broaden my facility with it. I am practicing form, of course, but I am also practicing thinking and feeling. It’s all practice. That’s what Thelonius Monk says. For me, poetry is all practice. Occasionally practice pauses for a game—which is to say, some of my poems get published— but my habit is practice. I’m practicing to sustain my strengths while strengthening my weaknesses. I like a long sentence, for example. So I have to push myself towards new challenges with long sentences. One of my challenges/experiments in How to Be Drawn was to push myself into longer poems. These days I’m trying to work my way back to the sonnet. It all takes practice. One can fail in practice. One can experiment and scrimmage. There is intimacy and measure. Practice is a laboratory, a workhouse, a habit. For me, poetry is the practice of language. —June-September, 2016
Alan Michael Parker is the author of The Ladder (Tupelo Press), his eighth collection of poems, along with four novels, including Christmas in July, forthcoming from Dzanc Books. He has edited or co-edited five books, including The Manifesto Project (with Rebecca Hazelton), to be published in January 2017, by the University of Akron Press. His awards include three Pushcart Prizes, two inclusions in Best American Poetry, the Fineline Prize, the 2013 and 2014 Randall Jarrell Prize in Poetry, the North Carolina Book Award, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. Parker is the Douglas C. Houchens Professor of English at Davidson College. He also teaches in the University of Tampa’s low-residency M.F.A. program. More about Alan Michael Parker can be found at here. Follow him on twitter here.
This week we welcome Lynn Domina as our guest author. Lynn is the author of two collections of poetry, Corporal Works and Framed in Silence, (Four Way Books) and the editor of a collection of essays, Poets on the Psalms (Trinity University Press). She lives in Marquette, MI on the beautiful shores of Lake Superior and serves as Head of the English Department at Northern Michigan University. You can read more here: www.lynndomina.com.
In other news . . .
"Best American Poetry 2016" Launch Reading: Sept 22 at the New School in NYC 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. David Lehman, poetry coordinator for the Creative Writing Program and series editor, will moderate the event. He will be joined by contributors to the anthology as well as Edward Hirsch, guest editor of the 2016 volume.
The Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall 66 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011
David Lehman, poetry coordinator for the Creative Writing Program and series editor, will moderate the event. He will be joined by contributors to the anthology as well as Edward Hirsch, guest editor of the 2016 volume.
With poets Christopher Bakken, Catherine Barnett, Jill Bialosky, Paula Bohince, Michelle Boisseau, Marianne Boruch, Lynn Emanuel, Martín Espada, Charles Fort, Emily Fragos, Juliana Gray, Linda Gregerson, Mark Halliday, Jeffrey Harrison, Cynthia Hogue, Garrett Hongo, Erin Hoover, Richard Howard, T. R. Hummer, Major Jackson, Lawrence Joseph, Julie Kane, John Koethe, Loretta Collins Klobah, Keetje Kuipers, Deborah Landau, Robin Coste Lewis, Paul Mariani,, Debra Marquart, Hai-Dan Phan, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Stanley Plumly, James Richardson, Patrick Rosal, Brenda Shaughnessy, Anya Silver, Taije Silverman,Tom Sleigh, A. E. Stallings,Susan Stewart, Nomi Stone, Adrienne Su, Lee Upton, Eleanor Wilner . . .
It will be historic.
Sponsored by the Creative Writing Program.
Dear Mr. Lehman,I know this email comes out of the blue, and many months late, but it occurred to me just today that I could write to you and tell you how much the James Tate Tribute back in February meant to me. It was one of the most moving nights of my life. As is often the case when reading his poems, I both laughed and cried. Tate has been my favorite writer for years, and it was wonderful--almost religious--to be in a room with so many other fans of his, to see pictures of him projected against the backdrop, to hear his words. Your introduction to the event was especially memorable, and revealed a true understanding of Tate's poetry and personality. For that I thank you. I will always remember the image you shared of him drawing a crude--yet somehow functional--map using the lines on the palm of his hand.I hope all is well, in life and in writing.Sincerely,Mikko Harvey
KGB Bar: 85 E 4th St, New York, New York 10003
Renowned Russian-American composer, writer, visual artist and concert pianist Lera Auerbach will be reading from Excess of Being, her new book of aphorisms and original artwork, by turns provocative, dark, ironic and humorous.
Poet David Lehman is a prominent editor, author and literary critic. He serves as the editor of The Best American Poetry series, which he initiated in 1988, and teaches at The New School. His most recent book is Sinatra's Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World. He will read poems from his forthcoming book Poems in the Manner Of (Scribner, 2017).
When Edward Hirsch invited Emily Fragos to read with him in the lovely decommissioned train station that is home to The Hudson Valley Writers Center, all who attended expected a brilliant and memorable afternoon of poetry. No one in the standing room only crowd was disappointed. In spite of the many honors garnered by Hirsch over the years and recently by Fragos, I left the reading wondering what it was that made the particular pairing so incandescent. The reading took place on bright, windy October afternoon, the Hudson River and Hook Mountain as a backdrop. But the setting was only the setting and not what made sparks fly.
Fragos read from her most recent collection Hostage: New and Selected Poems and Hirsch read excerpts from Gabriel: a Poem, a searching book-length tribute to the life the son he lost in 2011 and The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems. The affinity between the poets and the poems is striking. Yet these poets seem to approach their poems very differently. In her introduction to the reading, Jennifer Franklin, Program Director of the Writers Center, quoted Hirsch as saying that Fragos’s poems seem “unlikely” to him at first but then surprising in the way they reach us. Both poets are full of surprises, but this observation seems to get at a difference in where the poems begin. In a 2011 interview in Guernica, Emily Fragos quotes, in its entirety, a poem by Ted Kooser: “If you can awaken/inside the familiar/ and find it strange/you need never leave home.” It is the combination of familiarity and strangeness and the poets’ generosity in locating and sharing it that created the sense of sparks whirling in the room. Fragos tells me in an e-mail that poetry should be “mesmerizing and elusive,” qualities she admires in Hirsch’s work. Unlikely, surprising, mesmerizing, elusive: both poets arrive but by different routes. It seems to me that Hirsch most often reaches the strange through the familiar and Fragos, the familiar through the strange.
Here is Edward Hirsch remembering a moment with his small son in an excerpt from Gabriel: A Poem:
I’m grasping his ankles
Giving him a seat in the Grandstands
Just above my head
The sun wants to see
The stage over the crowd
And look down upon the world
Here is the child, riding on his father’s shoulders like any child, but becoming a sun god in a pun few poets could pull off without throwing the reader out of sympathy. The gravity of this long, luminous, heartbreaking poem, given us without any punctuation, allows for the both the play and the tragedy the poet experienced with his son, a life affirmed.
Here is the beginning of Emily Fragos’s “The Scarlatti Sun” from her second book Hostage:
The mute seamstress on her knees
sticks a pin in the hem
and weeps for the cloth;
the dead stop their dying,
their heads warming like stones
in the Scarlatti sun,
Here, we are surprised by the “mute seamstress.” Vivid as she is, the word “mute” distances us, suggesting a permanent condition. And how far into the miraculous world we are in the second stanza, though we feel the warming stones. But Fragos pulls us closer as the postman’s mind goes, “windswept,” and the novitiate in a convent is “taken up” and “rushes across the just-washed floor.” So we come from far way to the music of the everyday.
A recent banner in an email promoting the Hudson Valley Writers Center’s upcoming Gala (Nov. 5) read “Brilliance, Humanity, and Humility”. It was surely inspired by this generous poetry reading. Neither of Hirsch nor Fragos shies from examining suffering in their poems. But I left this reading feeling my spirit lightened, feeling that poetry does make things happen.
Karen Steinmetz is a poet and novelist. Her poems have appeared in The Cortland Review, Coal Hill Review, Southern Poetry Review, So To Speak, and the anthology Still Against War I-V, among other venues. Her young adult novel The Mourning Wars was published by Roaring Brook/Macmillan in 2011.
Hi! I’m very excited to be guest blogging for The Best American Poetry this week, as I’ve been an admirer of the series for a long time and am a fan of the persons editing the series and this blog. I love that writers here have the leeway to talk about anything, and if I do this again I may write about ‘70s divas, the perfect Manhattan, and what my dog would say if he could talk, but for this, my first run, I will keep my posts poetry-centric, writing today about three Korean American feminist poetry panels that I’m participating in or have recently produced.
The first of these panels took place last March at the Thinking Its Presence: Race, Creative Writing, and Literary Study Conference at the University of Montana, Missoula, an invigorating new forum produced by the poets Prageeta Sharma and Joanna Klink, who founded the conference in 2014 to “examine innovative creative writing and scholarship that re-thinks the complex and inseparable links between literary forms and the racialized thinking, processes, and histories that have shaped this country since its founding.” The conference takes its title from scholar Dorothy Wang’s book Thinking Its Presence: Form, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry (Stanford University Press, 2013), which in turn takes the phrase "thinking its presence" from Mei-mei Berssenbrugge's poem "Chinese Space" from her collection Empathy. As Adrienne Rich said, one never knows what the life of a poem will be.
Featured readers at this year’s conference included the keynote speaker Claudia Rankine who delivered a mind-rousing reading from Citizen, John Keene who read a terrific story from his new fiction collection Counternarratives, William S. YellowRobe who read from his strange play Native American Paranormal Society, and the irrepressible Marilyn Chin. Panel topics encompassed technoshamanism, how translation fractals race, tributes and responses to Amiri Baraka’s work, and the personal essay, among other lively subjects.
I produced and moderated a panel titled Why KA? FP with the poets Youna Kwak, Hannah Sanghee Park, and Franny Choi. (The “F” stands for feminist. I like the idea of Feminist Poetry as the answer to most questions.) I wanted to enact this panel to feature the writing of these talented and forthright writers, to discuss phenomena we address as KAF poets, and to draw attention to these experiences through our very presence. Small though our numbers were, this was one of the largest gatherings of KAF poets we’d known, and certainly so including the audience.
Gathering together in person affords the opportunity to have a fluid conversation, so after reading new work, we discussed a few questions including the following:
Then we opened up the discussion to the audience who asked excellent questions, making for an enjoyable, idea-provoking, sustaining experience.
I will mention that these poets’ writing styles vary tremendously, as you may see by reading the poems below, and as I expect they will among the poets on the two Korean American female poet panels I’ll be participating in next April, both produced by the young award-winning writers Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello and EJ Koh. The first panel will take place at the AWP Conference in Los Angeles; the second will happen at the Split This Rock Poetry Festival in Washington, D.C.
The presenters on the AWP panel will include Marci, EJ, Hannah, and Franny; Arlene Kim will also present on the Split This Rock panel. We’re working out the details of what we’ll be focusing on, but here’s a list of “13 Reasons to Do a Korean American Female Poetry Panel" that we’ve come up with:
Throughout the week, I’ll be featuring new poems by contemporary American poets whose work and persons I like. The first poem is by Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello from her collection Hour of the Ox, winner of the 2015 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, forthcoming in 2016 from the University of Pittsburgh Press. This poem originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Thrush Poetry Journal.
Brother Returns As Chrysanthemum
Didn’t we think we were more than this—
little suns unfurling above the earth?
We thought we were constellations
in soil, entire galaxies anchored to dust.
Ravenous, we believed our thousand
arms could hoard the horizon—
eclipsing ourselves even as we waned,
bereft of all but shadow.
Arlene Kim, author of What have you done to our ears to make us hear echoes? (Milkweed Editions), wrote the following poem, which first appeared on diode:
American Gothic: Revival
. . . these are the very hours during which solitude grows; for its growing is painful as the growing of boys . . .
—from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet
Dear Rilke, I am not young and I am not a poet. I slink around the city, disaster-footed, sure for danger, face unknown, I pull my hoodie up. I snick around, I slink around the city’s back. Short for danger. My motherless face bagged. I like a girl at Taco Bell but she knows only my voice. I wear my clothes like a blanket around the shipwreck of my body, the et cetera of my body. Like Dracula, I don’t exist. There is no such thing as a moonless night. There are only nights and nights in a blown together indigo accordion. I’m there at 2 a.m. to shut down Leilani’s, pilfer burritos and lumpia. I like to keep zippered all the way. I like the sound my skateboard makes on the asphalt. I think dreadlock is a funny way of putting it. I call my face a jihad. I, the lesser victor. I call my face a tattoo. One my father gave me—someone else’s face Frankensteined to mine. Inside my head, my father’s words, notations, fatwas. My father stalks me like a footnote. Follows me— when I see boards pasted with pictures of the missing, I look for my face. That is me, gone. It’s been much more than 24 hours. In society. Among citizens. I never take off my hood, because inside I’m all wolf. My reasons are still unknown.
Dear Rilke, I read your book. I read your book anyway.
The next poem is by EJ Koh, a Kundiman and MacDowell fellow and visiting scholar at the University of Washington, from her collection A Lesser Love:
To My Mother Kneeling in the Cactus Garden
For a month I tried to think of what to say.
How many times you’ve swept a kitchen knife
across your neckline and said, This is how
you end a marriage. How many more wicks you light
for god. I could tell by your eyes you’ve never
seen him. What would you call the feeling
of abandon and caution and relief that keeps me
tethered to you? Let me be the husband
you prayed for, the son you wanted, or mother
who held you. I’ll build your new patio swing
and fold your coffee linens, wash your hardened
feet in warm water. To me you have become a prison
of its own light. I’ll grow greens and the parsley
you love and wrap them into cold sandwiches.
I will place them where you can reach with ease.
Here’s a fablesque poem by Franny Choi, the author of Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing):
There’s fancy footwork in this poem from Hannah Sanghee Park’s collection The Same-Different, which won the 2014 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets:
And I’ll conclude today’s post with a verse/essay by Youna Kwak that appeared this summer in The Offing. Among other accomplishments, Youna recently earned her Ph.D. in the Department of French at NYU. I think of our fellow poets and friends in France in posting her verse essay “You”:
(Ed note: This is Part III in a four-part series about the Transylvania Poetry Festival. You can find yesterday's post here.)
Next day, I passed up Vlad’s talk (in Romanian) about his magazine and did a little more sightseeing with Tara. In the center of town, we passed seven formal weddings entourages (one near the picturesque Liar’s Bridge), and stopped at a little charcuterie for some slices of real Romanian pastrami. Then Tara took me up to the old clock tower for a look at the city from above:
That evening, Habitus would be the site of the last reading, and “The Crypt” looked particularly sparkling, and the translations would be projected onto a good movie screen. I was going to be the last reader—a position I didn’t take lightly. And the readers preceding me were all stellar. Hearing Anna Hallberg’s emphatically guttural Swedish added a savage auditory dimension to her poems. Several younger women poets immediately won me over. Orsolya Fenyvesi seemed a little nervous but I found her poems both touching and powerful. I especially liked “Der Hölle Rache,” which gives Mozart’s Queen of the Night a strong and personal new voice. Given Adela Greceanu’s shy and modest demeanor, you’d never know that she was a prize winning poet, novelist, and radio journalist. I loved the new and (I assume) semi-autobiographical poems she was reading about a girl named Adila. “The Provincial” begins “I lack any talent for being a woman.”
I’m sorry I didn’t really get to talk to the Romanian poet and Ginsberg translator Domnica Drumea; I especially admired her poem “Snow” (“the sun like an incision on the winter sky… I am a field of dirty snow”).The long family poem by 27-year-old Marius Conkan, the youngest poet in the festival, had a touch of Ginsberg too (“Dad used to bring home miners who were put to bed by his side, / he said they were his guardian angels”). The Moldovan poet Alexandru Vakulovski made his literary debut in 2002 publishing not only a book of poems, but also a novel, and a collection of plays. He’s wildly talented but I’m not sure he’s found the ideal English translators.
The Turkish poet, architect, and Hikmet scholar Efe Duyan was one of the most exciting poets at the festival—his poems were comic (“Russtylove” begins “I call you honeyovsky / didn’t we learn to love from Russian novels”) and tragic (sometimes both at once), ferociously personal and ferociously political. I was riveted, from the inventive “Call Centre”:
for the day you met school friends for the first time
please dial your lucky number
for the times you ran tirelessly around the playground
press all the numbers at random
for the steamed-up windows of greasy spoons
dial the year of the last family summer holiday
everybody has times they're ashamed of
do not tell the numbers you pick for these to anyone
for the tea and poğaça breakfasts you had on the university lawn
put the receiver down and go out onto the balcony
if you wish to complain about time flying furiously past
please press down hard on the button
if you realise that you don't remember your granddad exactly as he was
look in the mirror
for the smell of dusty books in second-hand bookstores
say the third letter of an illiterate labourer’s name
for your neighbourhood tailor who was found dead in rags
for that unpredictable moment
that you touched the neck of a woman in your sleep,
dial the same number over and over again
after the beep
the day after the break-up
write in your notebook one hundred times
'I am never going to fall in love again'
to the extraordinary “Looking at the Newspaper Clippings,” which ends:
…destroyed some police cars, AP (Party of Justice) buildings, signboards of the Tercüman Newspaper. In the course of two days,
those fateful days when everybody found another self within
more than one hundred and fifty thousand workers from 168 working place have participated in the demonstrations. Finally,
three apples fell from heaven
one apple agreed with those who went home and closed the shutters
one sympathised with those who saw things through, with or without regrets
the third discovered the beauty of rebellion
on June 17, martial rule was declared by the Government. Although the way had been paved for the 1971 military coup, the law amendment to the law that had triggered the demonstrations was cancelled.
although this vivid cortege did not last forever
a watch broken on this day
still tells the same time
Efe was also a dynamic reader. In fact, when he chose to read without a microphone, I was relieved, because I didn’t know how I was going to hold my poems and a microphone at the same time and I would have been too timid to break the precedent. Efe wasn’t.
Then it was my turn. It occurred to me that no one had really publicly thanked Radu and Dragos and Vlad and Catalina and everyone who had done such a masterful job putting this festival together. So I did, and it was as if all the poets and the entire audience were waiting for just that opportunity. Applause erupted, and with the greatest enthusiasm.
Then I read—eight poems I hoped would be appropriate to the occasion: poems about writing, about my mother, about my unknown Romanian grandmother (how could I not read this one?), about love, about travel, and about language.
and retired to Café Frieda for one last raucous dinner together: soup and schnitzel and delicious crepes stuffed with strawberry jam.
The publication was a ‘maelstrom’ whipped up by a ‘dubious stratagem,’ provoking an ‘irredeemable problem,’ we were told by mainstream media. Then, thirty five poets from all corners of the country promptly turned up to celebrate great writing at the New School, New York, in the largest ever launch of an annual volume in the Best American Poetry series.
Editors David Lehman and Sherman Alexie spoke warmly of the contributors (or rather, as David suggested, presidential candidates) and the 400-strong audience were exuberant throughout, with a standing ovation for Aira Dee Matthews’ incisive thought- and form-provoking ‘If My Late Grandmother Were Gertrude Stein.'
2015 was another good year for house names as well as rising stars. Saeed Jones, whose debut Prelude to Bruise was published last year, held the audience with a sparse and incisive poem, a 'reflection on the limitations of what we know about our lovers.' Baltimore-born Cody Walker tore the roof off the eighty-four-year-old college auditorium with his exhortation-as-poem ‘Trades I Would Make.’ Although it is quite a lengthy poem, shouts of “read it again” were heard at least once from the audience.
Like Walker’s piece, Dennis Nurkse’s ‘Plutonium’ gained particular resonance read aloud. As with Donald Platt’s also, these multi-page poems were long enough to address an issue of substantial importance (atomic energy, say, or the life of an African American boxer, dead at twenty-five), yet concise enough to hold an audience hearing more than thirty recitations in a ninety-minute period.
American poets are evidently still occupied, as Whitman was, with the body and its relation to the current status of its environment. The voice of Mark Bibbins’ poem confesses “I don’t even know/ who I’m kissing anymore, do you?” while Sarah Arvio’s poem addresses an out-of-time saviour: “You’ve saved my old body from the fatwa."
Such poets are, in their most basic renditions, coy autographers of everyday life, yet this work offers well-grounded claims about the body which extend beyond the personal into an arena of thought usually occupied by discussions of the private citizen and the body politic. Jericho Brown is more directly political on this subject, '[n]obody in this nation feels safe, and I’m still a reason why.'
The ‘who’ and ‘what’ of a walking, talking biology is being assessed lyrically here, and a socialized, public conception of relatedness now meets the tradition of personal expression in text. What does Dana Levin’s speaker propose when, seeing a starfish in the sea and deciding to film it, she memorializes this way: 'I stood and I shot them.' Humans negotiate their personal encounters with the world differently with time, and such poetry reports from the front lines of these shifting borders.
Close listening was needed for the judicious word choice and clinical deployment of text by Terence Winch, Susan Terris, and Monica Youn. Additional spacing and line breaks, as well as numbered sections played an important role in these compact pieces. Such techniques for vocal nuance are not easy to articulate at public readings but were well used in place of the more rigid divisions of comma, period and em-dash. The last of the readers announced that she was 'all that was standing between the audience and a drink,' an insight that brought one final shout of raucous laughter before David Lehman brought the evening to a close.
-- Sam O'Hana
Poets David Lehman and Deborah Landau read at the KGB Bar in New York, September 21st, 2015. Photo Credits: Sarah Shatz, Larryfishkorn (flickr)
Poetry is how we pray, now. In these skeptical times, poets are Caedmon and poems hymns. Past the personal, poets sing for those who cannot – registering our awe, making sense of our anguish, and harnessing the inchoate longing of countless souls. Unlike prose, poetry can keep its secrets - deepening our silences, so that we might overhear ourselves.
Poetry, also, can restore our sight, helping us to bear better witness to Now and, past that, calmly gaze over the head of our harried times. By lending us this third (metaphysical) eye which collapses distances, poetry can act as a sort of journalism of the soul, reporting on the state of our spiritual life. After all this, too, is what prayer can do: serving as our conscience, and reminding us in times of (personal or political) duress of our essential selves, or who we might become: ‘the better angels of our nature.’ Thus, poetry reconciles false distinctions between vita active and vita contemplativa – demonstrating how words are also actions. I pray by admiring a rose, Persian poet Omar Khayyam once said. In contemplating poetry’s rose – its inscrutable architecture and scented essence — we’re made finer morally, able to conceive of a greater reality.
Our metaphysical eyes are expert at collapsing distances, seeing through the apparent to the infinite. Lately, I’m consumed with the idea of the artist as mystic, and the worship of beauty as a form of prayer. How, in Khayyam’s deceptively simple utterance (prayerful admiration of a rose) one finds the connection among the visible, invisible, and indivisible laid bare. Theologian and Sufi mystic, Al Ghazali, puts it thus: This visible world is a trace of that invisible one and the former follows the latter like a shadow."
One year before his death, Rilke is meditating upon the inseparability of the material and spiritual worlds, in these memorable words:
"It was within the power of the creative artist to build a bridge between two worlds, even though the task was almost too great for a man… Everywhere transience is plunging into the depths of Being. It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves, so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again, invisible, inside of us. We are the bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible."
Reverence for the visible world is not in opposition to the invisible one; in the same way that it is through the body we access the life of the spirit. Remembering we are "bees of the invisible," sweetens the suffering and even cheats death of its ultimate sting. We are saved by the very idea of a back and forth, between a Here and There. Bodies are like poems that way, only a fraction of their power resides in the skin of things. The remainder belongs to the spirit that swims through them.
Here is another Persian and Sufi poet, Hafiz, reflecting on the centrality of beauty to our well-being:
“The heart suffers when it cannot see and touch beauty, but beauty is not shy it is synonymous with existence.”
Beauty, far from being a superficial concern is essential, and can be a turnstile that leads us from the visible to the invisible world. To return to Khayyam, yet again, by admiring the rose — its inscrutable architecture and scented essence — we are made finer morally, spiritually even. This is how aesthetics can serve as an ethical code, and prayer is "the soliloquy of a beholding and jubilant soul" (Emerson’s definition).
Poets, philosophers and mystics, by their nature, seem especially well-suited to exposing the false divisions between the visible and invisible worlds. While a calling in the life of an artist might be divorced from the strictly religious sense of the word, it still requires similar renunciations, obedience and sacrifice. I can’t say I’ve studied the lives of mystics as closely as I have those of artists, yet the profound similarities seem difficult to dismiss. Time and again, I discover poets and thinkers I respect powerlessly submitting their private lives in the service of intensifying consciousness (out of what can only be described as an indestructible inner imperative). Thus, entire lives are anxiously arranged around the conditions most conducive to the maturity of this elusive faculty.
The artistic-philosophic landscape is teeming with seers of this type. The power and aura of these fiery spirits derives as much from the truths or realities they have revealed as what they’ve had to sacrifice along the way; it is an authority born of the tension between what is accomplished and what is suffered.
What such poets or thinkers have in common is a life-long struggle to build a bridge between the two worlds — an uncommon commitment to bear better witness and Be, more fully. To travel to and fro, between the visible and the invisible, required a kind of vanishing act of the traveler, what Foucault called “a voluntary obliteration that does not have to be represented in books because it takes place in the very existence of the writer.”
October 9 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
We're pleased to announce the exclusive Seattle book launch for the premier anthology of contemporary American poetry. The 2015 edition marks an exceptional volume guest edited by award-winning novelist and poet Sherman Alexie, who will also host the event. Readers include poets Natalie Diaz, Joan Kane, Ed Skoog, Cody Walker, and Jane Wong. Alexie picked seventy-five poems for the anthology, which highlight the depth and breadth of the American experience.
Find more information here.
I am thinking about time, how it divides and separates. I have been attempting to locate myself in the present, and I think I am getting better at it, but it is hard work. The mind wants to slip back into the past, to glory over supposed triumphs and fret over past defeats — or to pump itself up over things it is looking forward to or cower over things it is apprehensive about. Yeah, you know the drill. But to be in the present, when one can achieve it, is a gift to oneself, and ultimately to everyone else as well. Meditation is a practice for this, and so is going to poetry readings.
I’ll always remember an early poem of Anne Waldman’s called “Things That Make Me Nervous” — and the entire poem reads “Poetry readings. / People. / Dope. / Things I really like.” Which, back in the day, all went together. I looked up the poem and found it in Waldman’s collection Baby Breakdown, published by Bobbs-Merrill in 1970. It was in a period when major publishing houses thought it made sense to go with the zeitgeist and try publishing some far-out poetry, almost as though they were record companies, gambling that one of these books could be the Next Big Thing. Others in this class include Ron Padgett’s Great Balls of Fire, published by Holt Rinehart and Winston in 1969, and Tom Clark’s Stones, pubished by Harper & Row, also in 1969. These were hardcover publications with dust jackets and very sharp design, seemingly because the decisions were left to the poets. Joe Brainard blanketed Padgett’s book with white stars on a royal blue jacket, cover and endpapers. His hand-lettering of the title and author’s name is exquisite. Clark’s book also has jacket design by Brainard, in this case a large piece of yellow swiss cheese on a black background with the author’s name on the vertical axis. Brainard also contributes a blurb, which begins, “Ron Padgett is a poet. He always has been a poet and he always will be a poet. I don't know how a poet becomes a poet. And I don’t think anyone else does either…” Ted Berrigan’s “liner notes” for Waldman’s book are typically effusive. He starts out casually, “Anne Waldman is easily the most exciting poet of her generation, and Anne and her poems are among the great pleasures of everyone’s generation. Half the population of America is under 25, and Anne Waldman, at the age of 25, is a star. It seems she can do anything, and she has, and does …” Later, he adds something as true today as it was in 1970: “She has altered all our lives for the better simply by her presence, for she is no wielder of power, but simply a presence that permits everybody to be themselves and more often than not their best selves in the world…” He concludes, “This book is an ordinary miracle.” I love that Berrigan dated this blurb, printed on the book’s dustjacket folds, “May 18, 1970.” Baby Breakdown is really a far out book! The half-title and title page are hand-drawn by Waldman, and the inside of the book also features experimental typography and layout.
Tonight I heard two poets reading their poetry, Bobby Byrd, from El Paso, Texas, and Todd Colby, from Brooklyn, and they both, in very different ways brought me back into the sound of a human voice. That seems obvious, but it’s not. Too many times, at readings, there’s a different sense, an overriding thought, usually, of how is this going to come off, what’s my percentage in it, the calculation of a laugh, or a particular point of view that will give the poem, or more to the point, the poet, support. Poetry doesn’t work like that, nor do poets. First of all, it has to be about the poem, or the poetry, not the poet. Not that poets are not glamorous, fascinating, and fun to look at. And not to deny that they are the authors of their work. But there has to be a moment in the reading when you forget all about the poet, who they are, where they live, what they are wearing, who’s that sitting in the back row, and you are left floating, coasting on a wave of words that takes you to a place you simply could not have imagined before you came to the reading.
I am excited to be starting a new season, Fall, my favorite season. It is said that every poet has a favorite month. October was Jack Kerouac’s. For me, it is the season. Even though a friend once said, “Spring is my favorite season, except for Summer,” for me Fall is the season that is filled with new beginnings and renewed buoyancy. It is the season in which classes start again and people migrate back to the city from the country. It is the season of cold evenings and Friday night plans. I actually like the days getting dark earlier and the rhythm of the leaves falling, a dance that will finally end when all the leaves are down, and the trees go to sleep for the winter.
It is also Rosh Hashanah. I feel a resonance with the energies that have to do with understanding among peoples, repentance, and taking responsibility for one’s actions. As described in Wikipedia, today should be, literally, “a day of shouting or raising a noise” or, and this I like even better, a Feast of Trumpets. In addition it cites, “three important stages as the spiritual order of the Ten Days of Repentance (the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) unfolds: On Rosh Hashanah Jewish tradition maintains that God opens the books of judgment of creation and all mankind starting from each individual person, so that what is decreed is first written in those books, hence the emphasis on the ‘ketivah’ (‘writing’). The judgment is then pending and prayers and repentance are required. Then on Yom Kippur, the judgment is ‘sealed’ or confirmed (i.e. by the Heavenly Court), hence the emphasis is on the word ‘chatimah’ (‘sealed’). But the Heavenly verdict is still not final because there is still an additional hope that until Sukkot concludes God will deliver a final, merciful judgment, hence the use of ‘gmar’ (‘end’) that is ‘tov’ (‘good’).” In my own interpretation, I take this to mean that the writing that we, as poets, do must be held accountable to the highest judgment and that it must contain within it, not necessarily expressed literally or rationally, our most profound beliefs. Again, in my own interpretation, I take this whole period to mean that, through self-reflection, we must make every attempt to be not simply tolerant but actually open to others, particularly those whose opinions and beliefs may be most alien to us.
And that thought reminds me of someone who embodied those principles. Born the daughter of a rabbi in Kiel, Germany, she immigrated to New York City at the age of three and lived an exemplary life devoted to the arts and freedom of expression and thought. She once told me it was important to engage those on the opposite end of the political spectrum; otherwise, we would never have a chance of convincing them. No one could accuse her, however, of compromising. Her adult life and art practice were devoted to the core principles of Anarchism. I am speaking of Judith Malina, one of the great heroes of contemporary theater and poetry presentation and a remarkable poet herself, whom we lost this year. Judith, first with her husband, Julian Beck, and later with partner Hanon Reznikov, and most recently with Brad Burgess, founded and fired The Living Theatre, legendary not only for its social activism, street theater, audience participation, and full nudity, but also for its productions of poet’s theater, including a 1952 production of John Ashbery’s The Heroes and later productions of plays by Kenneth Koch and Frank O’Hara, as well as for the poetry readings it hosted by such luminaries as Allen Ginsberg, LeRoi Jones, Gregory Corso, and Ray Bremser, not to mention Charles Mingus with Kenneth Patchen. In the rare Homage To Frank O’Hara (Big Sky 11/12), on page 71, one can find reproduced two photographs of O’Hara. In the first, he sits at a simple wooden table, with a jug of water, reading from a sheaf of papers at a benefit reading for Yugen magaine. In the second, he stands in front of two paintings installed for a reading of writers from Daisy Aldan’s Folder magazine. Both readings took place at the Living Theatre in 1959.
So with that, I begin — the week, the season, and the continual renewal each of us must undertake if we are to aspire to being human in the deepest sense of the word. And make no mistake, poetry is at the core of that effort — for all of us.
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.