5/22/2016 0 Comments
Idris Anderson :: Beverly Burch
5/16/2016 0 Comments
Charlotte Muse :: Priscilla Lee
4/10/2016 0 Comments
Priscilla Lee :: Cathryn Shea
2/22/2016 0 Comments
Cheryl Dumesnil :: Gail Entrekin
1/10/2016 2 Comments
Merna Dyer Skinner :: Devi Laskar
12/14/2015 1 Comment
12.14.15: Cross Tie: Mari L'Esperance
12/6/2015 0 Comments
12.6.15: Cross Tie: Nancy Kuhl
11/22/2015 1 Comment
11.22.15: Sonia Greenfield
I encountered Sonia Greenfield for the first time at a reading of ekphrastic poems that I participated in at the Riverside Art Museum last August. I was bowled over by her “Nafsicrate Considers Bruegel’s Famous Work”:
I told Daedalus to watch him, goddammit,
so now here I am waiting for my son
to breaststroke home to me, held up on fingers
of green foam. Waiting past the rise and fall
of Rome through to Pieter’s brushwork
which rendered the sun like a lemon on fire . . . .
I loved the point of view in this poem, the implicit war between the parents, the portrait of infinite, focused and pragmatic mother-love which maintains even self-deceiving hope. And I promptly bought Sonia Greenfield's first book, Boy with a Halo at the Farmer's Market, winner of the 2014 Codhill Poetry Award. Greenfield's fierce and witty work is highly inventive, and often other-directed, as in the title poem, which imagines the later life of this boy with a "metal halo" "bolted into his skull"—a life in which a broken neck turns out to have been "a lucky break." She re-invents myth, again, in "Afternoon with Redón," another ekphrastic poem, in which Galatea is not the victim of Polyphemus, but "like the heartbreaker, / the boy-teaser, the self-pleaser / who only thought to have some fun," and he "like a monster-hearted boy before he buys / his gun." In "Milk Carton Kids," she invents the places and ways children can disappear forever, not even to be found "stuffed / in a trunk" or "dragged from a lake." She asks how "thoughts and prayers go out" in response to a disaster ("Like a loon's / song transmitted by Morse?"), as when "the first plane hit" in 2001. Her metaphors and similes are fresh and exact. "At night bugs came out / and flicked their shells open // like switchblades." ("Pestilence"). They are also compressed, deft, and unsentimental; in “Sago Mine, West Virginia”—about the explosion that killed twelve of thirteen miners—the coal is described as “a black ribbon pinned to / a lapel.”
Greenfield's is often a dire, threatening world seen with a cold, clear eye, a world in which "schools are ever on lockdown behind / chain-link where the mothers cling" ("School Rules"), yet there can be sly amusement in her clear-eyed inventiveness. In "A Vision in Stride Rite," the baby throws his sandal out of the pram, and eats champagne grapes "as he surveys his subjects." The narrator (echoing Allen Ginsberg?), concludes:
Here he is,
Baby Bacchus, making the most
of privilege as his servant
puts her shoulder to the wheel
and shoves on
up the hill.
I admire the strategies of so many of these poems, the way the poet manages their "plots,” or turns them multiple times. In "Morning Coffee with Chagall," she describes a Chagall painting on a coffee cup, a painting in which
The bride and groom lift off
as if their feet were filled with helium, a bouquet of peonies
in her hands, lips locked as if they're
inflating each other like elegant balloons . . .
The poem only turns neatly toward the self in the third line from the end, when the pronoun "my" deftly enters:
Held aloft, alive--
before their feet touch the ground, before dishes
need to be done. Before the cup is drained, rinsed
and shut away in the hot spray of my top-of-the-line
machine, caught flying before the gravity
of domestic routine.
I look forward to further work from the accomplished Sonia Greenfield.
-- Judy Kronenfeld
11/9/2015 0 Comments
11.9.15: Susan Browne
10/27/2015 2 Comments
10.27.15: Beverly Voigt
As Voigt is quite a reserved and private person, I am always surprised and delighted by her insight, and her generosity to share herself with the reader. She is intelligent and has a quiet grace about her and through her work. What I appreciate about her poetry is the quiet way in which her poems unfold and reveal themselves: no loud bangs and thrashing metaphors, no hyperbole of language, but a certain knowing that she is at work and in service of the poem. And respectful of her art, the reader, and her subject. Beverly writes often of her upbringing in Pittsburgh. Coming from a large family, many of her poems are of the reunions, dinners, or get-togethers on the house porch or in a historic restaurant in her home town. Her closeness to nature, how she walks through the world in wonder of the forests, and what she chooses to see, is a source of great joy to her, and a source of wonderful poetry of the natural world, for us.
-- Carine Topal
All that long night we hovered,
all of us in the room, watching
her slow retreat. Her feet
so cold, her fingers
Again and again
she raised her arm, wanting
out, wanting back.
Again and again, I guided it
down to the bed. All the care
she’d given me, repaid
in such a small gift.
Blue mother in the bed--
Venus in marble—glowing
down that long hallway. Legs
in folds of winding sheets.
One shoulder shrugging off
the world, the other arm
I think of the apple tree
in blossom whose branch
I’d once pulled toward me.
Whoa, I whispered, when it reared
in the wind. I’ve got you.
10/12/2015 2 Comments
10.12.15: Rebecca del Rio
When I first recognized that my words were falling onto paper in poetic form, that is, when I started writing poems and calling them that, I felt like a surprised and vulnerable fledgling bird. And the voice that caught and lofted me further forwards was Rebecca del Rio’s.
Rebecca is an American-born poet, mother, and grandmother who divides her time between Northern California and Catalunya (Spain). We met, and I became familiar with her work, because we both attend a Zen meditation center that places creativity and compassion at the center of its practice.
Rebecca’s poetry has been published in literary journals in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and she holds degrees in both creative writing and public health. For over twenty-five years, she worked as an investigator in the Superior Court in Sonoma County, California, and she has also been deeply involved in social work and public health projects in Guatemala. Her extensive work and travel have opened her eyes to multiple histories, and to global suffering.
Rebecca writes poems determined to walk in the dark with beauty. “To awaken here,” she writes at the close of her poem “Auschwitz-Birkenau,”
Is to know one’s
Darkness, and not
Turning from it, see that light.
She questions unashamedly (“Who am I / in this enormous evil?”). She can dwell in the large dilemmas (“When there’s not enough to eat… we wander… We step into occupied / territory, call it our own…”) and capture small moments in crystals of specificity (“Begin with tools: a hammer, / a hoe. A moment under gathering / clouds…”). She made it clear to me that a poet is served by being observant in so many ways—watching our dreams, reading the newspapers, listening to the small, routine habits of speech (“…we say, as a way / to soothe our separate souls, / ‘We’re under the same moon.’ / Why not the same sun?”). But most of all she woke me up to the alive-ness of poems themselves.
In “Poems Are Trying To Write Me,” Rebecca is chased by poems, beseeched by them, each one with an impish child’s face like a “rising moon, / grinning.” She can’t turn away:
They dream me, they think in me,
they step on my heels as I walk,
they tug on my sleeves.
I read these lines and knew that feeling. And knew that this was what I wanted to do in my poetry: create that feeling of recognition, of pleasure, of real life, even in metaphor, even in disorientation, repulsion, confusion. I wanted to learn to walk the line between singular vision and civic awareness, through attention to language, emotion, and craft.
Rebecca’s poems have helped me pay attention to my own creative imps and babies, walk into my own dark questions, and listen to my own voice. I am deeply grateful for hers. -- Amy Elizabeth Robinson.
10/4/2015 0 Comments
Cross Tie 10.4.15: Sun Yung Shin
A decade ago, when I opened Sun Yung Shin’s debut collection, Skirt Full of Black (Coffee House Press 2006), one hundred pages of postcolonial sagacity in multiple tongues greeted me with echoes of Theresa Cha and Myung Mi Kim. I sensed a kindling - and kindred - spirit for Asian poet-sisterhood.
Years later, as “machine poetas” of Margaret Rhee’s marvelous Kimchi Poetry Machine – with Devi Laskar, Erin Adair-Hodges, Micha Cárdenas, Shelley Lee, Hyejong Kook, and Terry Hong – our syllables mingled in multimedia cyberspace, enhanced by Sun Yung Shin’s startling lines of vivid rapture – and voluptuous rupture.
I love Shin’s sequence of nested open parentheses in “Flower II, Calyx” from Skirt Full of Black.
Flower II, CALYX
Blazing corolla (sweet apparition
bud of smoke (ruptured confession
shroud of paradox (embrace an import of ivory
this maiden portrait (graveside signature
first there was a sword (glint of heavy elements
made to pierce (tender
my only-heart (cherry wounds
drunken fruit (as lightning falls from heaven
For this feature, I invited Sun Yung Shin to share about her current projects, as well. Shin writes, “I have been thinking a lot about fictional cyborgs, orientalist visions of the future, notions of purity, 19th century conceptions of the sublime, utopia ... this poem is in my new book that is about the politics of hospitality (guest/host relations), the uncanny valley, the monstrous female (always ...) ... ” The following poem, "Unalloyed," will appear in her forthcoming book, Unbearable Splendor (Coffee House Press 2016). -- By Karen An-hwei Lee, Poet of the Week.
Lambert: You admire it.
Ash: I admire its purity. A survivor ... unclouded by conscience, remorse,
or delusions of morality.
- Alien, 1979, directed by Ridley Scott
1. The woman in white by the side of the road will eat your blushing heart and throw your alien, illegible, edible laws in the fire.
2. The woman in white has a face like a weapon. Sharpen it. If you could get inside her body you could ride in
it like a vast and war-ready ship. Slaves at the oars disposable as time. Sections of time thrown overboard to lighten the load, for you will get heavier and heavier as time goes on.
3. The woman in white places her palms against your face like twin curses and leaves black marks all over your flesh, as if you were a herd animal being chosen for the next truck that arrives tomorrow.
4. You invent the internal tattoo and gently remove each organ for scarification, branding, and the gentle and vivid watercolor of the sewing needle.
5. You would like to devour permanence and dissolve it in your many stomachs. You would like to replace your skin when you grow weary of its memories, everything that seeps in it and never passes through,
6. This woman is a disappointment. Can she be exchanged, can she be returned, can she be reborn. Douse it
7. The palm reader does not hesitate to read the palm of any creature. Every creature has a future, every other
creature speaks its own language that we cannot understand. It does not care about our future but it should.
8. Every woman is a source of terror. She is sublime, she gives chase like the white whale and she will destroy
your ship and bring you down with her, tethered to her by a sewing needle. You break the surface of the
water and become something else. A foreign object with no memory of your gills. You burn in the icy water.
Your last image is of a beautiful woman you saw on a street once, she left a wake of terror which you reared back from as if it was fire.
9. In the 19th century, men were obsessed with the sublime, the distant, the unknowable, that which causes
awe and terror. Alien, unknowable. Now men have forgotten the gods but not women, an ever renewable
source and object of this enduring passion. On her hands, clever spiders, might wear a band of metal to
mark her as yours. A miniature heart of coal compressed by time into something white and shining, a star
while it still gives light.
10. This woman in white is a ghost. She is a machine. She will be a god. Her spirit is a sacrifice to cleanse the
land of its sins. Blameless monarch. She is bathing inside you. Find her. A labyrinth, a fork in the path, your future.
신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin
Sun Yung Shin 신 선 영 is the author of the forthcoming books in 2016: prose collection Unbearable Splendor from Coffee House Press and essay anthology A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota from Minnesota Historical Society Press. Her poetry collections Rough, and Savage and Skirt Full of Black, winner of the Asian American Literary Award for Poetry, were also published by Coffee House Press. She co-edited the anthology Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption and is the author of Cooper’s Lesson, a bilingual Korean/English illustrated book for children. She lives in Minneapolis.
9/14/2015 1 Comment
Cross Tie 9.14.15: Cait Weiss
8/16/2015 0 Comments
Cross Tie 8.16.15: Amaranth Borsuk
“Love leaves a trail
in the scattered seed
where small birds have feasted
and in the smell of jasmine
circling the doorway
~ Marilyn McEntyre, opening lines from, “Where Love Has Been”
The Light at the Edge (Fithian Press, 2006)
Marilyn McEntyre is a poet attentive to what can be seen in the light. In addition to her poetry books, The Light at the Edge and Where Icarus Falls (1998), she has three collections of ekphrastic poems, published by Eerdmans and dedicated to selected artworks of the Dutch painters Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Van Gogh respectively: In Quiet Light (2000), Drawn to the Light (2003), and The Color of Light (2007). Paired with beautiful, full-color reproductions of the originals, her verses draw the reader’s vision gently into the worlds of poetry and paint, rendering the possibilities of interpretation in luminescent words.
When I taught creative writing at Colorado Christian University, I liked to use The Color of Light in my poetry unit, not only because Van Gogh’s artwork reveals the immeasurable value of the artist’s calling and perseverance despite his lack of worldly success with love or money, but also because the collection shows many strategies a poet can use when writing ekphrastically, such as:
- Describing a painting with attention to contrasting colors (“Self-Portrait with Gray Felt Hat”)
- Describing a painting using a vivid list of what’s depicted in it so that the extraordinary significance of the ordinary
becomes more apparent (“Van Gogh’s Bedroom”)
- Imagining the life of a person portrayed in a portrait (“Portrait of Madam Trubac”)
- Incorporating a biblical or literary allusion (“The Sower”)
- Using the description of the painting to raise a philosophical question at the poem’s conclusion (“Landscape with
House and Ploughman”)
- Imagining what would happen if things depicted in the painting began to move closer or interact differently (“The
- Imagining the sound of the music playing in the scene of the painting (“The Starry Night”)
- Imagining the relationship between two people portrayed in a painting (“Couple Walking between Rows of Trees”)
- Inverting a traditional interpretation of a painting (“Wheatfield with Crows”).
“Wheatfield with Crows” is often considered Van Gogh’s last painting and associated with his suicide, but McEntyre sees the light in the darkness, for as she says at the conclusion of her poem: “the sun / that poured itself, day / after day into these stalks / shines. It shines.” Thus the poet turns from the negative toward photons of the positive.
McEntyre’s poetry emerges from a life of faith, thought, and spiritual practice, which she has lived not only as a poet and teacher of poetry, but as a minister and a healer -- even as an angel of grace. She is particularly interested in a field known as the “medical humanities,” and she has worked with many groups of people to help them integrate creative expression, especially poetry, with the healing process. Her books A Faithful Farewell: Living Your Last Chapter with Love (Eerdmans, 2015), Patient Poets: Living Illness from the Inside Out (UC Medical Humanities Press, 2013), and Teaching Literature and Medicine (MLA, 2000) reflect her commitment.
Marilyn McEntyre is a friend and colleague, someone I admire, and I believe anyone would enjoy her beautiful work.
~ Jane Beal, PhD, poet of the week.
6/24/2015 0 Comments
Cross Tie 6.24.15: Amanda Chiado
Amanda Chiado is a force to be reckoned with. In her poems you might find zombies, guns and knives, a certain sexiness and edge, even Houdini. You never really know what to expect in a Chiado poem, except that you'll be surprised and unsettled. A Best New Poet of 2009, chosen by Kim Addonizio, this young poet is already an impressive talent.
Chiado is an MFA graduate of California College of the Arts. Her work is forthcoming or appears in It was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip Hop, Arcana The Tarot Poetry Anthology, Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books, Witness, Sweet, Forklift, Ohio, Best New Poets, Fence, Eleven Eleven and others. She currently works as the Program Coordinator for the San Benito County Arts Council and she is also an active California Poet in the Schools. Read her work and connect with her at www.amandachiado.com.
... Though you are out now among the hyacinth-moths,
a flicker of late embers between earth’s symmetry
of shade and song—the seam between slight vibrations
of chatter. I have carried you in dream.
From Maureen Alsop's Gnosis:
There is something magical, ethereal, about reading Maureen Alsop. Her words carry you toward the unexpected, and then suddenly you can’t breathe, or you’re breathing water. Even her prose is like silk tugged through a closed fist. She is also a wonderful collagist, and has done some gorgeous collaborative work, in particular her work with poet Hillary Gravendyk. Of all the poets I've read in recent years, Maureen has done the most to open my work to the possibilities of language.
Maureen is an assistant editor for Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry, a journal I founded in 2005, has led workshops for Inlandia, The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative, is author of four collections of poetry, and too many chapbooks to count. In addition, she is the recipient of numerous prizes including the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award (Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities), Harpur Palate’s Milton Kessler Memorial Award in Poetry, Bitter Oleander's Frances Locke Memorial Award in Poetry, Eleventh Muse Poetry Prize, and six Pushcart nominations.
-- Cati Porter, Poet of the Week
But those colors I’ve seen
and that road is somewhere, and I have the strangest
desire to give an old friend a high five though I don’t
from "Celebration" at The Collagist
When you read Janelle DolRayne's work, you feel like a trusted friend. In an ongoing series, Janelle responds to Abstract Expressionist paintings by sculpting ekphrastic poems that linger in the mind like their arresting visual counterparts. Her poems are both dazzling and poignant as they embody the transformative experience of art to startle us into our imagination and lived experience. When I arrive at her last lines, I want to rush back to the start. She is a special writer, a dear grad school friend, and I'm excited to share her work with others.
Janelle is a former poetry editor of Copper Nickel and the current production editor at The Journal. She is a recent MFA graduate from The Ohio State University. Her poems and nonfiction have appeared or are forthcoming in The Laurel Review, Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, The Collagist, Parcel, Interrupture, and the 2013 Best of the Net Anthology, among others. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and the Vandewater Poetry Award. She is originally from Coal Creek Canyon, CO. --- Shelley Wong, Poet of the Week
5/18/2015 0 Comments
Cross Tie 5.18.15: Julia Connor
Before . . .
when moon and stone
were the bulwark
against which everything pushed
the first syllable
in the body’s cup . . . .
Julia Connor is a poet for the world and for the world of women. She nurtures her sister poets in the mystery.
-- Barbara March
But these are not angel wings
who disguise themselves as leaf or shred of bark,
who are named after the stops
in meaning our language must make room for:
from "Common Blue" at Poetry
In her poetry, Melissa Kwasny is a diviner of nature. Whether it be bird, water, herb or tree, she translates its essence into human speech. And, like the birds, her tones are varied, clear and delightful. As she says in a prose poem from her most recent book, The Nine Senses, "I quicken the animal out with the in of where I've been." She's been, and is, with them with herself, to our benefit.
Melissa is the author of four books of poetry which have won prestigious prizes: The Archival Birds (Bear Star Press), Thistle (Idaho Prize, Lost Horse Press), Reading Novalis in Montana and Nine Senses (Milkweed editions). She has also authored two books on poetics. -- Grace Marie Grafton, Poet of the Week
Who Will Water the Garden
now that we’ve left the crumbling world behind,
each unchosen side road mute,
each crow flown away from the power lines?
Home was a pause in the empty intersection under light-rumbled skies,
a gold-toned mom and pop whistlestop,
orange evening life, always on the move.
We time traveled back to buttered toast and coffee,
while behind the house, the horses stumbled.
We will paint the walls of this cellar as if it were still the foundation.
Those days we were always so caught being small between the poles;
all I knew was underground: bodies piled on bodies.
Power lines bend into catenaries reaching to catch and fling back time:
When I was twelve my parents, remembering Ibsen, sold my dollhouse.
The heavyset woman with the frail orange hair talked too loud.
No need for church with spirit in cloud and electrified cross.
Every mile we cross (windows clattering in echo of loose gravel on the road) the intersection of possibility
Birthing the house halted at the crossroads where electric lines dissect the storm,
fine-veined marble, green as our daughter's eyes.
Who has set this humble door of gold to shimmer between road dust and storm cloud?
It’s hard to open the door of a moving house,
shuttered against the oncoming storm.
The door is small and fleeting, but the heart behind it storms toward a new season,
knits together stormclouds over this roving crossroads of home and sky,
the sifted stones of a failed foundation.
The road will shatter underneath these open windows,
clouds to clouds, dust to dust.
The road leads only to clouds.
In this parallax, I assume departure. Come back white door. Come back yellow light.
I never missed that yellow, and I was never sorry.
My smallest dreams are golden.
This ekphrastic exquisite corpse was created during National Poetry Month 2015 in response to the above artwork. The poem was cobbled together from lines posted by the following poets: Rebecca F. Ross, Annie Stenzel, Katy Brown, HB, Ivy, Connie Post, Kierstin Bridger, Charity Parrott, Jeanine Stevens, Tanya Greer, Cati Porter, Julia Park Tracey, Liz Tynes Netto, Emma Schmitz, Anna Marie, Ann Privateer, Meryl Natchez, Lynne Thompson, Janet Trenchard, Casey Gardner, Jeanette Nicole, Alice Anderson, Roz Levine, Deb Jensen, Suzanne O'Connell, Karen Terry, PD Weddington, Allie Batts, Raina Leon, L.A. Jones, Mary Pacifico Curtis, Carlena Wike, Wendy Esterás, Mary, Devon Moore, Pamela Murray Winters, Lindsay Lewis Smithson, Donna Vorreyer, Minal Hajratwala, EK Switaj, Yu-Han Chao, Shika Malavia, Ellen Kombiyil, Amanda Chiado, and Jessica Lindsley. The black lines link to the website of the poet who wrote the line, with the exception of, "knits together stormclouds over this roving crossroads of home and sky," which links to two different poets. We weren't able to include every line contributed, but we thank all of the poets for their participation!
West Trestle Review
Powered by Women