April 30, 2007


April, Fidelity, Signs, Proposal, Orchis, Making the Crane, You Were You, Antietam, The Sacred Heart, Muscadet, Vocation, Elegy, The Crowd, Love Poem for Virginia, The Spell, Beauty, Love Poem for Wednesday, Against Grief, Your Mother, The Minotaur Speaks, Love Poem for College, The Taxonomy of Houses, Love Poem for Los Angeles, How I Got Hit, Fidelity (II), I Don’t Fear Death, My God, Fugue, Monday, and The World War Speaks.


What I learned:

-Repetition may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but it is the saving grace of NaPoWriMo. The tireless pace of drafting forced me to "allow" myself to reuse a syntactical framework over and over, which turned out to be a useful experiemnt. Sometimes I liked the latter incarnation better than the first one, which is usually where I would have stopped.

-I'm a love poet. That's the relationship dynamic I'm drawn to, again and again, even when it is strictly metaphorical. No point in being ashamed of it.

-When I don't have time for more thoughtful revision, the most important question to ask is: Does this poem really start 3 lines in? Could it end 3 lines sooner?

-I don't have to be in a a studio or a barn or a vacuum to write. I really can draft a poem on the metro. I really can draft a poem watching TV. I really can draft a poem in bed. And when I have those glimmers of ideas I really should get my lazy self up and get it onto paper, eventually. I'll be glad I did.

I'm tempted to rework the strongest of these, at least half, into a chapbook--a Book of April 2007, essentially. I like the idea of reading poems grouped in terms of when they were conceived, versus an explicit thematic thread. The most liberating thing is that there's just too many poems here to rationalize that they belong in an existing manuscript. Time to think beyond the first book.

Congratulations to all who attempted, particularly those who survived, and thanks to Maureen for getting us all wound up...

April 22, 2007

5 Books Off the Beaten Path

Since I am temporarily out of NaPoWriMo commission, let me respond to a tag from Sam, on five books of poetry you must read, but likely have not yet.

***Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros (Vintage Editions)
This was the book I read in high school that made me fall in love with poetry, especially the poem "Night Madness Woman":

"Choose your weapon.
Mine--the telephone, my tongue.
Both black as a gun."

[I love the fact that now, all Blog keyword searches for "loose woman Sandra" will come here.]

***Kazimierz Square by Karen Chase (Cavankerry Press)
I found this tucked away in the library of a writing colony and lived with it for a month. Fresh and funny.

***Palace of Ashes by Sherry Fairchok (Cavankerry Press)
Fairchok's focus on Pennsylvania mining culture is an unforgettable subject portrayed in quiet, moving poems.

***Orpheus and Eurydice by Gregory Orr (Copper Canyon Press)
Probably the strongest self-contained lyric sequence I have ever read; physically, a startlingly elegant book.

***Ghost Letters by Richard McCann (Alice James Books)
Although Richard has concentrated on his prose in recent years, his poetry has the same strengths--beautiful imagery, merciless insight, a real attention/affection for our human flaws.

Okay Carly, Deborah -- your turn.

April 16, 2007

Running About

Update - Congratulations to Natasha Tretheway, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her book Native Guard (published by Houghton Mifflin). The prize is for a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author, and carries a $10,000 honorarium.

Yesterday I went to a wonderful launch party for the first two publications from Vrzhu Books (directed by Michael Gushue and Dan Vera, also of the local BAWA reading series). Kim Roberts was sick and could not attend, but Dan read a selection from her collection THE KIMNAMA, which can be read as a multisectioned narrative of the speaker's travels through India. I loved what I heard--lots of lyric repetition, beautiful images. Though the work has a balanced, meditative feel, there are glimmers of unexpected humor. The book as a physical object is also very pleasing--the cover photograph is vibrant, and the white text for the bio note on the back has a curiously sexy raised feel. The editors didn't know how it had happened, but I think it is a good omen.

Hiram Larew was also on hand to read from his book, MORE THAN ANYTHING. He's a practiced, engaging reader. Then an open mic, all hosted by the glorious Sarah Browning. I told her afterwards that she delivers an excellent "Woohoo," an important sound effect for any hostess to possess. If you're a former DC-area poet who hasn't been back in a while, make sure BUSBOYS AND POETS is on your radar--a great space for readings, with poetry programming virtually every night of the week. And if you really want to ensure a good time, invite Deborah to join you for a bowl of harira soup beforehand.

April 10, 2007

Announcing a New Poetry Journal

From Don Illich, a great DC poet:

If Poetry Journal Seeking Submissions

"Hi, I'm starting a new print poetry journal (actually it's zine sized). I'm looking for submissions of poetry until July 31st, 2007. I plan on publishing the journal by early December 2007 (maybe earlier I hope).

What I'm looking for: Here are some writers I love: Tony Hoagland, Dean Young, Jennifer Knox, Denise Duhamel, Ben Lerner, Kim Addonizio, Bob Hicok. I like humorous and surrealistic poetry, but with some heart and weight to it. I'm open to good formal poetry, as well as free verse. I want poems with exciting ideas more than another perfectly crafted poem that just lies there dead on the page.

If you would like to submit 1-5 poems, please e-mail me at ifpoetryjournaleditor at gmail dot com. I'm aiming for 34 pages total for the journal, maybe 48 if I can afford it. Each contributor will receive one contributor's copy and be subject to the envy of all their peers. There are no subscriptions as yet, as I don't know how often the journal will come out; I plan on distributing the journal at readings, through Internet requests, and to libraries, MFA programs, etc.

The journal should, at least as far as basic design goes, look like this (with different cover art, of course). Thank you in advance for submitting work, if that's what you choose to do."

...Sorry about the delay in yesterday's NaPoWriMo post; the poem text is in one place, the internet access is in another. Should be up later this morning.

April 05, 2007


I have won this year's Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize from Passages North at Northern Michigan University. The prize was judged by John Poch and carries a $1,000 award for a single poem or group of poems. (Don't ask me which poem or poems, just yet; details are unfolding.)

Well, hey. That really is exciting!