“They are bad boats and they hate their anchors”

Objects. Simple, inanimate, quotidian, and when looked at with intimate focus, the subject of some of the works of art I love best.* So, for 2016’s monthly series*, the topic will be: objects. And I’m kicking it off with a look at Laura Jensen’s poem “Bad Boats” from her (out of print but find-able) collection of the same name. Continue reading

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“Because entrances! Audacity! Breakdowns! The hots!”

Delighted to end 2015 with a poem of mine about the TV show Empire published in The Broken City’s “Remotely Controlled” TV issue (#17), which you can read online or download. It begins,

Because Cookie punched BooBooKitty right in the damn face
then 40 seconds of ohhellno awyeah on a red pool table!

(The poem uses up my entire lifetime’s allotment of exclamation points but it did seem, given the subject, an appropriate place to put them all at once…)

This caps off a lovely 2015 for me from a reading and writing perspective, with a grand independent bookstore adventure and library book bingo fun, and poems published in FIELD, The Operating System, and The Human. And I even survived the rampant Seahawks fans of my new city.  I only managed six of my supposed-to-be-monthly posts this year, but that just gives me an easy new year’s resolution.

Happy new year!

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Last-Minute Recommendation + A Few More Old Christmas Books

First, a quick last-minute recommendation for that english major/college professor type on your list: Srikanth Reddy’s Readings in World Literature. I picked it up while attending a lecture by Reddy in Seattle (in which I learned, among other more intellectual things, that Hermann Rorschach, of the inkblots, was totally hot.)

Readings in World Literature is a fabulous chapbook of short prose pieces delving into questions of the underworld and meaning while satirizing academia with aplomb. It comes in the form of notes written by a professor teaching a course in the humanities described thusly: Continue reading

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Thanks 2015

Thanks for poetry, thanks for places to hear about new poetry, thanks for bookstores, thanks for booksellers.

My job, for which I am of course also thankful, has been inordinately time- and focus-intensive of late so not that much reading of poetry (not to mention writing of or about poetry) has snuck in through the cracks, but that just makes the force of coming across a good poem all the sweeter.

Here are a few poems I’ve read in the past few weeks that have struck me like a tractor beam — not necessarily about gratitude per se, just ones for which I myself am giving thanks for having read today: Continue reading

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Two Poems in FIELD’s Fall Issue (#93)

I am delighted to say that FIELD’s Fall Issue (#93) is just out and contains two of my poems, “Muskoxen” and “Long Day”.

“Muskoxen” begins:

Flummox of insects
none of their nevermind,
Arctic shadowcaster cold
yeah and-ers [..]

and “Long Day” starts out with:

The triumph of the day: that the old dog
made it 12 hours without peeing in the house,
success in her success at staying asleep,
certainly no success in the 12 hours ’til I made it home, […]

You can pick up issues of FIELD at your more poetry-enabled bookstores, get an online copy, or order direct from Oberlin College Press, and I hope you do. You can read a couple sample poems from this and past issues on the OC Press website also.

In other exciting news about this issue, the symposium this fall is on the, as the editors put it, “strange, commanding genius” of Russell Edson, If you’ve never read Edson’s prose poems, you must. The vast majority of people who do are hooked, and are thrilled they now know his worlds exist to be visited. Poems discussed include two of my favorites, “The Fall” and “Counting Sheep”, with symposium essays by Dennish Schmitz, Charles Simic, Lee Upton, Jon Loomis, B.K. Fischer, and others.

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“Magnitude and bond”

For this month’s Famous People poem, Gwendolyn Brooks’ “Paul Robeson” and “Of Robert Frost” (because just one Gwendolyn Brooks poem at a time isn’t enough. Also I’ve missed a few of this supposed-to-be monthly series).

I had to wake up super early last Sunday morning, which I wasn’t that thrilled about, but when my radio came on it happened to wake me up with the sound of Gwendolyn Brooks’ amazing voice, and then I didn’t mind so much. (A BBC show not currently available online, alas). Her delightful presence and dynamic reading voice even on old somewhat scratchy recordings is just phenomenal—I would have loved to hear her in person.

Here she is reading her most-anthologized poem “We Real Cool” (and explaining that she sort of wishes she were also known for writing other poems) so you have a taste.

Brooks wrote about regular people (“Gay Chaps at the Bar“, “The Bean Eaters” for e.g.) with great compassion and insight, and she wrote about some famous people too with her remarkable precision and verve. Here are two, “Paul Robeson” and “Of Robert Frost“. They’re both short portraits, focused, the Frost poem’s lines lines long but with short, blunt sentences, with the wonderful detail of his eyebrows “neither too far up nor down.” The Robeson lines and sentences contract and swell, and wind up on one of my favorite phrases in Brooks’ poems, “we are each others’ / magnitude and bond.”

(After reading “Paul Robeson” you will undoubtedly want to revel in his famous voice a while. Here he is singing for workers at the in-progress Sydney Opera House, and here being interviewed about civil rights.)

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Summer Book Bingo (Blackout!) Book Reviews

Last week I finished the last square on the Seattle Public Library’s Summer Book Bingo card and turned it in with one whole reading day to spare! A delightful summer of both more and different reading than I’d have done without that impetus.

 

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Plus! apparently I have a 1 in 197 chance at winning that prize the SPL and Seattle Arts & Lectures folks will be drawing for this Tuesday— season tickets to SAL + a library of books by the speakers. (And 218 bingos are in for the drawing for a gift certificate to a local bookstore.) It is such a delight to be living in such a book-centric city.

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Here’s a quick rundown on the books I read, rated ◊ to ◊◊◊◊◊ (more, of course, is better): Continue reading

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New poem “Leaf Blower” in The Human Journal

I am delighted to see my brand-new poem “Leaf Blower” published in The Human Journal’s Crime Issue (Issue 5), hot off the press.

The poem begins:

I watch the manager next door
where older, poorer people have to live,
just stand and blow the dust around, and hate him some.

Head over to The Human to read the whole thing

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p.s. A Summer Book Bingo update: “No I can’t hang out with you today, I have to finish my bingo card” is something I am saying nowadays — 7 more books to finish before Labor Day!

 

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Poetry Suggestions for Summer Book Bingo

As promised, a list of a few suggestions for poetry collections that satisfy the Seattle Public Library & Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Summer Book Bingo squares:

You Finish Reading in a Day

Geography III, Elizabeth Bishop — only 10 poems, and some of her best. (Also works for Published Year You Were Born if you were born in 1976.) “The art of losing isn’t hard to master.”

Woodnote, Christine Deavel —an utterly lovely book. It brings you right in and doesn’t let you go, in ways you possibly don’t expect. Also works for Local Author; she is co-owner of Open Books in Wallingford. “caraway     caraway”.

From Your Childhood

Shel Silverstein — “listen to the mustn’ts, child”. Continue reading

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Book Bingo NW

The theme for my 2015 is totally clear: Reading.

Books, bookstores, book contests, books books books. Hot on the heels of the Independent Bookstore Day challenge came Summer Book Bingo, the Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures’ totally awesome summer reading program for adults.

Get a Bingo, get entered for a gift certificate from a bookstore. Do a Blackout, get entered for a chance at season tickets to Seattle Arts & Lectures’ next season and books by all the speakers. Deadline: Labor Day.

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OH HELL YEAH.

Continue reading

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