November 29, 2009

TED Talks

In case you are looking for something to absorb a Sunday three favorite TED talks.

November 25, 2009

Part 3: On Animated Poems & YouTubing

The good folks over at "Poems Out Loud" gave me a heads-up on this post, which shares my focus on setting poems to video.

They also showed me how to manually manipulate the embedding code so that a video will always fit in a blog's column. They advise to avoid using a border, and tweak the pixel count.

Here is the original code I used to embed one of the Todd Boss videos on my blog, relevant display factors in bold:

{object width="500" height="315"}{param name="movie" value=""}{/param}{param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"}{/param}{param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"}{/param}{embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="500" height="315"}{/embed}{/object}{br /}

The altered code, with changes is bold:

{object width="340" height="285"}{param name="movie" value=""}{/param}{param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"}{/param}{param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"}{/param}{embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="340" height="285"}{/embed}{/object}

...note that 1) I struck the bit of coding that added the border, and 2) I had to take the coding out of carrots--replacing throughout with brackets--so that it explicitly shows up here. If I use the proper carrots, the resulting video display looks like this:

Okay, now for a day of baser pleasures--sweet potatoes, red wine, and turkey. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

November 23, 2009

Part 2: On Animated Poems & YouTubing

I've been very grateful for the flurry of feedback in response to my video of "Vocation," forthcoming in I Was the Jukebox this April. In addition, it's been a great excuse to talk about the larger topic with other poets. What I'm hearing falls into one of two categories:

The first is "Oh! Have you seen [X]! I love that one!" This tells me that when you get it right there is potential for not just casual enjoyment, but real delight. My video work is nowhere near "real delight" yet, but I have some ideas. Here's a great one I learned about from you all, Jeffrey McDaniel's "The Foxhole Manifesto":

...a little long, but killer images.

The other thing I keep hearing is "Yeah, I've heard about those, but I'm not clear on how it works." This reminds me of the way people talked about blogs five years ago. So let's get into some nitty gritty of how these videos get made.


I use iMovie, because it was already installed on my system. But if it hadn't been a freebie I'd still recommend it. The interface is intuitive and lets you drag-and-drop images (moving and still) in sequence. You then anchor sound and text to these images. Editing duration time and text placement can be done through a combination of keystrokes and mouse clicks, with the results visible in situ--meaning, as long as you're not afraid to push buttons, you can fumble your way toward refinement. The import/export system works with a multitude of file types and includes a set of "Share" menu shortcuts that prime your video for YouTube and iTunes formats.

If you are a Windows user, you have the free option of Movie Maker. My understanding is that this has a similar drag-and-drop functionality, but requires more manual fussing to get it into a format which can easily be uploaded and shared.

There are some web-based "movie makers," but I don't think they offer enough sophistication to handle a project like this. One exception is this program, "Xtra Normal: Text-to-Video":
...which someone with the right humor could use to good effect.

A gratuitously technical note on formats: YouTube accepts videos no more than 10 minutes in length and 2 GB in size--unlikely to be a problem here. YouTube prefers resolutions of 640x360 (16:9) or 480x360 (4:3), and the YouTube site displays videos at 480x360 DPI. Unfortunately, a lot of default image-capture settings and (inexpensive) stock images come in at a slightly lower resolution than that. This means that your images will blur when viewed on the YouTube site, much like when you view a DVD "full-screen" on your laptop. The good news is that if you export/upload in the "standard format" (4:3), you can tweak the embed setting so that anywhere else you post the video, it appears in a smaller frame (340 x 285) and therefore, shows a crisper image. If you export/upload in "widescreen format" (16:9), it'll look great on the YouTube site. But the lowest resolution YouTube offers in its embedding settings for widescreen is 500x315, which means it will be blurry elsewhere--and get clipped if embedded in a blog.

Long story short: I think exporting in standard format, and embedding on the smallest scale, is the best deal for those starting out.


The biggest (and justified!) criticism of "Vocation" is that the soundtrack is tinny. I know. I'm using a $30 external mic that plugs into the USB port. Frankly, the built-in probably works just as well. If I really get in the habit of these, I'll either buy a better mic or borrow one from a musician friend.

I've also heard GarageBand (another program automatically bundled on my system) may allow me to fine-tune the recording, but I haven't tried it out yet.

The iMovie software lets you record the voiceover while watching the images stream, which can be very helpful in terms of timing. You can do one long rendition, or a bunch of short clips matched to sections or stanzas. If you need a WAV or MP3 of your poem separate from making the video, I recommend Audacity as a good free recorder/editor. You can then import it to your video and synch up images to match.


Two words: Kevin MacLeod

Got a favorite song that perfectly matches your poem? Great. Don't use it. Those songs are copyrighted. Use royalty-free, but don't use midi except for humorous effect (it sounds cheesy). If you use more than one song in the space of a video, make sure they're of the same genre and use some of the same instrumentation. Otherwise it'll be too harsh a jump. You want music that operates on a subconscious level, cushioning the voiceover. That might not be the same music you'd enjoy listening to for fun.

Some folks opt out of background music. That works best if you've got top-notch recording equipment for your voiceover, which I do not.


You can import images or short videos from a camera. I'm insecure about this because of continuity issues--lighting, framing, palette--but it's a good option if you're experienced.

You can use images skimmed off the internet, though be sure they are not copyright protected and that they are of sufficient resolution.

My resource is iStockphoto, which has the drawback of requiring payment. For still images fees are minimal--a few dollars for the "Extra Small" image (sufficient resolution for YouTube). The moving images are pricey ($20 per), so be smart about your choices. You can usually get a free "comp" image (watermarked with "iStockphoto"), which can serve as a useful placeholder while you're making preliminary image choices. An example:

If you choose to go the stock image route, some things to keep in mind...

-My first cut only used visual text for emphasis. But this makes the video inaccessible to anyone who wants to see it from an office computer, or who lacks speakers. So I redid it with full text, which meant I needed to choose images with space for legible text.

For example, that meant I had to shift from this image:

to this one, where I had the room to run a line of text across the top.

-Go for a mix of literal images (discrete objects), abstract interpretations of the text, and "white noise" backgrounds.

-Choose images that segue well. That means a series of images that are the same medium (photo/line drawing/digital rendering), or all full bleeds, or all isolated images set against a white or black background.

-Don't pay for a moving image where the "motion" consists of pan & scan or zooming in for a close-up. You can do that with a static image as part of the iMovie editing process (they call it the "Ken Burns effect").

-Look for moving images that are "loopable," meaning it can be seamlessly played several times in a row. It's very frustrating to realize that you've bought a 14 second video clip to illustrate a line that takes 18 seconds to deliver well.

-Don't forget about creating an atmospheric entry (that includes some kind of title caption) and exit (that includes some degree of credits, link to a website, etc.). There's tons of stock stuff designed for this purpose; try searching for "film leader." It's not just needless bells and whistles--it gets the audience in a mood sympathetic to your video.


I can't walk you through the assembly process. There's too many intangibles to articulate here. You'll do a lot of do-ing and undo-ing. You'll lose work at least once. You'll swear at least four times.


You finish your movie. You preview it in iTunes or Quicktime and it looks OK. So...?

You'll probably want to upload it to YouTube. In case you're wondering, YouTube accounts are free and very easy to set up. They do a good job tracking traffic, they provide easy code for others to share or embed the video, and it's where people will go to look for you.

But don't upload it to YouTube right away. Sleep on it--odds are you'll think of something you want to change. YouTube doesn't let you save over an uploaded file. You have to delete (deleting with it that particular link, and that view count) and reload.

Why do this? These videos will never supplant the poems themselves. I don't expect to monetize them. Enjambment tends to get lost, unfortunately, which means in some ways you have to compromise the poem to make this work.

But anything that gets your poems to a *slightly* different audience than before intrigues me. It's the same reason we put poems on buses and subway cars--and in that spirit, try to choose poems that translate to a public and attention-span-challenged space.

I suspect I'm not the only poet who at one point wanted to be a visual artist, and there's something deeply satisfying about this process (think of it as getting to design your own cover, except to the umpteenth power).

Plus, sooner or later someone will visit YouTube and search for your name. They will. Whoever you are. Wouldn't you like to control what comes up when they do?

Because in my case, I am otherwise at the mercy of fan-love for a character in The Office:

...Okay, that's it for now. Is this helpful? I hope this is helpful! For those looking for an even more detailed walk through, check out this series of posts by another author, Terisa Green.

Read the "Part 1" post here.
Read the "Part 3" post here.

November 20, 2009

Part I: On Animated Poems & YouTubing

I've been watching a lot of (prose) book trailers on YouTube lately, and I've come to the conclusion that in order for them to truly serve the book they need to be one of the following:

1) incredibly funny
2) incredibly provocative
3) an original artwork in and of itself

There are a few that actually achieve one of these standards. I am seeing a lot of slideshows combined with midi music, or a "live" reading in a poorly staged room. That might summarize the book, but it won't sell it. I'm going to do an upcoming post on the (prose) book trailers I think are most successful, so if you have a suggestion please leave it in the comments section. I was really in the mood to try creating a trailer for Don't Kill the Birthday Girl, but it's premature--not only is the book still being written (at least, when I'm not procrastinating via YouTube), but it won't be out until April 2011.

This left me in search of a more timely pursuit. So I turned my attention to poetry. What most people know of "animated poems" are either 1) Billy Collins, or 2) the short clips sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and shown on repeat loop in the elevators of the AWP Conference hotel this year. People were so distracted by the connotations of the placement (poetry = Muzak?) that the clips got needlessly derided, but many of them are actually lovely.

Here's a link to the most well-known of the Billy Collins productions:

& my actual favorite of his (yes, I do like his poems):

& my favorite of the Poetry Foundation ones:

Of course, what these have in common is original and fluid art illustration, which I'd kill for. But unless you have a personal connection to an artist willing to work for free, or a partnering institution (the Poetry Foundation works with docUWM at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), you'll probably have to go another route--it's pretty easy to get good at iMovie, but it doesn't have that kind of functionality.

I'd say the standard for a more homegrown look is set by the (fairly numerous) videos of Todd Boss reading poems from his first book, Yellowrocket:

& you could also go for a purposefully low-tech aesthetic. This tends to require a ton of patience, but can really pay off as in the video below:

I've been missing the satisfaction of a short-term creative project. On Sunday I discovered that my laptop (and I suppose all Apple laptops) had the iMovie software already installed on it. On Monday I made a video for "Vocation" (which first appeared in 32 Poems, and will be part of I Was the Jukebox). On Tuesday I posted the slightly refined version that you see below.

It doesn't look like any of the other videos, for better or for worse; I've always tended toward a bold design style that favors photographs (see my website). It cost under $100. It took about 20 hours, and that includes familiarizing myself with the iMovie software. I did already have a microphone on hand, bought from some earlier gigs recording poems for online journals. But honestly, I'm not sure it did the job any better than the built-in mic.

This video is a test balloon. If it seems to generate some viewers or interest, I'll make three more and roll them out early next year, as a lead-up to the publication of I Was the Jukebox in April. If it doesn't stir a peep, well, I'll live. Either way, I'm grateful to have the excuse to familiarize myself with a new software--you never know when that's going to come in handy. The number of viewers for these videos tends to range from 224 in six months (anemic, but respectable) to 124,000 in two and a half years (damn you, Billy!). There's no financial reward. It's a matter of seeing if the judgment of the people find it worth their while.

If I can do this, you can do this. My next post will cover some of the tricks, techniques, and pitfalls to keep in mind if you tackle animating one of your poems.

[I've sure you noticed that the poems from the Poetry Foundation and Todd Boss all cut off on the righthand side. That's because they uploaded in widescreen format, which doesn't fit in the lefthand column of a blog--a shame, since blogs seem like the logical way for these poem/videos to go viral. On the other hand, standard doesn't look as good on the YouTube homepage, because they add black bars to either side. So I uploaded in both. It's not ideal--I'd rather have one absolute version, and therefore one absolute viewer count--but as I'm learning, these videos require all kinds of small compromises and workarounds.]

Read the "Part 2" post here.
Read the "Part 3" post here.

November 16, 2009

Gilding the Funnel

The Poems Out Loud blog of W. W. Norton has just posted my take on the whole kerfluffle over MFA rankings. Here's an excerpt from "Mistakes We Knew We Were Making: Life Outside the Poets and Writers ‘Top 50 MFA Programs’"...

Given to the language of intoxication, as so many writers are, I think of the writer as a wine bottle. The label is your career—magazine credits, books, prizes—the place where you brag and brand. The liquid is your sloshy, messy, creative self.

An MFA program is just the funnel. It’s a transport of bulk resources, pre-vintage, readying you for future pours. For some the funnel is an expensive tool, monogrammed, sides pitched for maximum efficiency. For some the funnel has as many kinks in its tubing as a beer bong. Either way, the funnel is just a preparatory stage; if it makes it on the label at all, it is in the fine print of “Distributed by…”

Your degree does not describe who you are as a writer. If it does, that’s not a good thing. So why all this hoopla and indexing? Why do people keep gilding the funnel?

Read the rest of the essay here.

November 13, 2009

Washington Post Love

Thanks to Galley Cat for drawing my attention to the fact that if the Washington Post's "Book World" can't pick up some more subscribers to its podcast series, the higher-ups will eliminate funding for the program. Editors Ron Charles and Rachel Hartigan Shea have voices that are easy on the ears, and they do a nice job mixing headlines from the publishing world in with authors interviews and other lit-world trivia. Recent subjects have included Francine Prose, James Ellroy, and Margaret Atwood.

The last thing we need is further erosion of "Book World," which occupies a liminal space: print appearances fused into the "Outlook" and Style" sections, while online components such as "Poet's Choice" offer robust content but lack visibility. So please, take the time to check out these podcasts. At 10-20 minutes each, they're the perfect length for use as a conversation starter for writing workshops and book clubs. Given they are 1) free, and 2) available through iTunes technology, asking a constituent group to subscribe is easy and practical.

This Sunday, the magazine features my valentine to the Jefferson Memorial. I'm elated to be an issue where the cover story is on none other than...Edward P. Jones! Talk about good company. I'm dying to see the print version, but in the meantime here's a link to read it online.

November 12, 2009

Rainy Day Woman

I have really been enjoying Melissa Friedling's series of "video posts" over at the Harriet blog. But they don't generating much of a comment dialogue, and I worry that means they'll be construed as having failed. Why the radio silence?

Maybe poets are finding the answers (to the question "What is poetry?") a bit banal. A few excerpts:

Tomas (in translation): "Poetry is an elegant way of defining things like love, a flower, a landscape. It's the language use by people that, you could say, have very deep thoughts."

Joe (a sidewalk artist): "Poetry, to me, is an observation of life that exponentially reinforces the magic of life."

Sarah (from Louisiana): "It's raw emotion. It can be a lot of rambling words thrown together that a lot of people don't understand, but it's art."

Nirali (a classical Indian dancer): "I really like poetry, but I don't know much about it."

Not exactly an in-depth critique of Oulipo; there aren't even many poets cited by name. Nothing worth picking a fight over, which seems to be the underlying motive of so many Harriet commenters.

It's a very human drive to surround oneself with kindred spirits, and in this internet age it's possible to maintain a constant chit-chat in poet mode. Your junkfood reading can consist entirely of poetry blogs. You can make a joke about villanelles in your Facebook status, and eight people will joke right back at you. With this kind of saturating access to fellow artists, the grandmother or boss or neighbor who doesn't "get" poetry becomes the outlier figure in our minds, the exception to an otherwise dominant community of readers and writers.

But the reality is that your grandmother, boss, and neighbor are the majority. The people in these videos? They're the people I'm trying to win over. As much as I love the congratulatory note from a poet I admire, it's the email from the systems engineer in San Diego that really gets to me.

In the last month I have read poems to a class full of bored art students, a group of ladies who lunch, and a packed room at the Mexican Cultural Institute (for some of whom English was a second language). Each time I encountered people like the ones in these videos. People open to poetry, but not engaged by its crafts. People who say "I like it, but I usually don't get it." Or just "I usually don't like it."

Each time I go in knowing that subtleties will be lost in translation (whether literal or cultural). So I provide a generous narrative context beforehand. I revise on the fly, repeating identifying nouns and pronouns that I'd cut from the written page. I exaggerate my delivery, placing a hand to my chest when the metaphor is one of a heart.

Are these compromises a form of pandering? Maybe, but they work. What's the alternative? Maybe the audience on display in Melissa Friedlander's videos is a readership that 9/10 Harriet commenters are uninterested in reaching. But that's a damn shame.


Though I am hoping to get nonfiction work done today, at 5 PM I'll be breaking away to head downtown for a light dinner at Sonoma before the Library of Congress reading with Lucia Perillo and Tony Hoagland. Perillo is great--I heard her read the year she won the Kingsley Tufts Award. Her humor is a bit on the dark side; yours would be too, if you'd gone from life as a park ranger in the Cascade Mountains to being confined to a wheelchair by MS. That said, I'd hide behind her in a knife fight. The woman is fierce. I've never heard Hoagland read. My expectations of his demeanor are entirely based on this author photo to the right, which was taken by Dorothy Alexander.

There's only one more enviable event on my radar, and it's this one with Daniel Nester, Stephen Elliott, and Nick Flynn. If I could make the 8-hour drive up north, I would. So much gorgeous cynicism in one room! A girl could swoon. When I spent my month at the Millay Colony, The Spotty Dog in Hudson was one of my favorite places to seek civilization (a.k.a., graphic novels and porters on draft).

Luckily, I'll have the celebration of the 120th anniversary of Poet Lore to keep me busy here in town on Saturday night. This reading--featuring Myra Sklarew, Gary Fincke, and John Balaban--will take place (fancy setting alert) at the Historical Society of Washington, complete with a champagne toast to follow. Get the details and RSVP here. It's a free event, open to all.

Someone once asked me how many readings I go to each month. Unless I'm traveling or on deadline, I try to go to at least one a week, and two when I can. This is what happens when you are nearing 30 without kids. Or pets. I have a peace lily that droops when it isn't watered by 7 PM, but that's it.

November 10, 2009

Playing Dress-Up

You may notice that the blog has a new look--one that may continue to evolve over the next week or so. The greenery of old had started to feel worn out, and this matches the aesthetic of my website. The links are only temporarily gone, as the upgrade to my template requires adding them back by hand. And just in case you've been wondering, looky here--it's a's a's a cover design:

November 06, 2009


I tell the story of leaving my job over at "The Education Of Oronte Churm," one of the blogs hosted by Inside Higher Ed.

Here is the opening of my essay, "Let It Rain":

I just snarled at my boyfriend over a piece of fruit. More specifically, my last banana, which he tried to claim for his lunch. “I’ll buy you another one,” he promised, and he would. He’s good that way.

The problem is that I’d wanted to eat that banana within the hour, and he tends to pick under-ripe produce. So I’d end up running to Safeway myself, which means getting dressed and stepping outside. At which point, I’d remember oh! the envelope I need to mail and oh! the birthday card I need to buy for my mother and oh! I need to make photocopies of an essay and oh! I’ve got a 3 p.m. coffee date—might as well head over early with this copy of Real Simple and read until she gets there.…

“Don’t mooch,” I snapped at him, with the ferocity of someone defending no mere piece of fruit, but hours worth of work. That’s right: the act of putting on pants can derail an entire day’s productivity. Welcome to the life of a full-time writer.

You know the drill. When someone asks what you do, you trot out whatever workhorse pays the rent—in my case it was “scholarship coordinator,” then “personal assistant,” then “magazine editor”—before arriving at your true destination. “I’m really a writer.”

This elicits a respectful head nod or, if talking to a fellow writer, a bittersweet shrug. We know the odds. And you swear to yourself Someday, the answer will be, I’m a writer. No hyphenating. No qualifying.

I quit my job. I quit so that for the next year I can live off the combination of an advance on a nonfiction book, periodic freelance gigs, and honoraria attached to two poetry collections. I am a full-time writer with the bathrobe and sparse cupboards to prove it.

Yet the “what do you do?” exchange is no easier than before. The respectful head nod has been replaced by a quizzical tilt. The bittersweet shrug has been replaced by a narrowing of eyes or, worse, a nauseated smile.

“So you, um, you don’t work anywhere?”
“How are you covering health insurance?”
“That’s pretty brave.”

Yes. No. COBRA. Hmm.

It’s not as if I had been deveining shrimp for a living. I worked as an editor at a national magazine of arts and commentary, the kind of venerated place one settles in for a lifetime (literally: two supervising editors had, combined, over 50 years experience on staff). People all around me—including my best friend, including my boyfriend—have been laid off in their professions. Meanwhile, I walked out on a steady income with full benefits and three weeks annual vacation.

Is “brave” codeword for “idiotic”?


Read the rest here.

November 04, 2009

Next Week: Two Readings!

Next week holds a couple of outstanding two readings in DC--prose and poetry--both too promising to be missed. I'll be hosting one and drinking wine at the other. (Well, maybe drinking wine at both.) Please come on out!


"The Last Sailing Oystermen": Christopher White and Skipjack

7 PM / The Arts Club of Washington / 2017 I Street NW
Free and open to the public, reception to follow.

On Tuesday, November 10, the Arts Club of Washington will host Christopher White in celebration of Skipjack: The Story of America’s Last Sailing Oystermen, just out from St. Martin’s Press. White will read from this gripping nonfiction account, set in the nearby Chesapeake Bay, and take questions afterwards. This event is part of an ongoing series at the Arts Club.

SKIPJACK: THE STORY OF AMERICA’S LAST SAILING OYSTERMEN (St. Martin’s Press) is the saga of three unforgettable men who captain oyster boats in Chesapeake Bay—the only wind-powered fishing fleet in America. Though their traditions run strong, their legacy has been jeopardized by trends in overfishing and mismanagement. During a pivotal season, they encounter storms and slim catches. Trying to survive to another year, the skippers put rivalries aside to preserve their way of life in the last days of the Age of Sail.

“A compelling story about how the wisdom of the past can help us protect the future of our fisheries,” says Trevor Corson (The Zen of Sushi). “If you savor seafood, White’s chronicle of the gritty life aboard America's last sailboat fishing fleet is a tale you need to hear.”

CHRISTOPHER WHITE is an author, filmmaker, and naturalist. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and spent much of his youth exploring the waters and wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay; he later earned a degree in biology from Princeton University. His three books include the best-selling Chesapeake Bay: Nature of the Estuary, and he has written about science and natural history for National Geographic. A mountaineer, he has climbed Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Grand Teton, Glacier Peak, and the Matterhorn, among other summits.

THE ARTS CLUB OF WASHINGTON is at 2017 I Street NW, near Foggy Bottom/GWU and Farragut West metro. Headquartered in the James Monroe House, a National Historic Landmark, the Club was founded in 1916 and is the oldest non-profit arts organization in the city. The Club’s mission is to foster public appreciation for the arts through educational programs that include literary events, art exhibitions, musical and theatrical performances.

-->And just two days later....


- Tony Hoagland and Lucia Perillo -

at The Library of Congress Madison Building
6th floor / Montpelier Room / 6:45 p.m.
101 Independence Avenue, SE, Washington, DC

The reading is free and tickets are not required; a book-signing and reception will follow.

"Here are a few lines from each guest poet, just to whet your appetites..."

*Tony Hoagland, from "Candlelight" in DONKEY GOSPEL:

Crossing the porch in the hazy dusk
to worship the moon rising
like a yellow filling-station sign
on the black horizon....

you have to decide what
you're willing to kill.

*Lucia Perillo, from "Sylvia Plath's Hair" in INSEMINATING THE ELEPHANT:

In Bloomington, Indiana, the librarian lugged it from the archive
in a cardboard box, the kind that long-stemmed roses come in--
there was even tissue paper she unfolded
like someone parting a lover's blouse....

November 02, 2009

"The Dark Prerogatives"

Each of these fairly young online journals just launched a new issue. Excellent site navigation, clean graphics. Definitely worth your time to go have a look...

CERISE PRESS: A JOURNAL OF LITERATURE, ARTS & CULTURE - Vol. 1, Issue 2, featuring poems by Yusef Komunyakaa, Dorianne Laux, and Victoria Chang.

Their mission: "Cerise Press, an international online journal based in the United States and France, builds cross-cultural bridges by featuring artists and writers in English and translations, with an emphasis on French and Francophone works. Co-founded by Fiona Sze-Lorrain, Sally Molini, and Karen Rigby in 2009, Cerise Press hopes to serve as a gathering force where imagination, insight, and conversation express the evolving and shifting forms of human experience."

A sample poem from this issue:

"Elegy as a Strand of Hair"

The woman’s skin says: childless.
Her eyes still white, the iris still slight.

The wind takes a strand of our hair.
We leave one here, one there for someone to

misunderstand. A child will find
the imposter. A child will toss it out.

Babies are snoring in strollers.
One arm up in mid-air, mouth open.

I am half-alive. I am half-dead.
Maybe more.

Imagine it, the love the mouths will have when
we are no longer needed.

Childless selfish mouths.
Lucky mouths. Lucky lips that will moth them.


& from down south...

WACCAMAW: A JOURNAL OF CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE - Number 4, featuring poems by Brian Barker, Camille Dungy, and John Hoppenthaler.

Their mission: "Welcome to Waccamaw, an online literary journal published at Coastal Carolina University. We take our name from the Waccamaw River, which runs through Conway, South Carolina, home of the university....Waccamaw is proud to have published poems, stories, and essays by some of the best authors writing today, including Jack Gilbert, Natasha Trethewey, Paul Allen, Sonny Brewer, Robin Ekiss, Barbara Hamby, Paul Cody, Kevin Wilson, Linda Gregg, David Kirby, Joshua Poteat, Katrina Vandenberg, Rebecca Barry, and Chad Davidson."

A sample poem from this issue:


In the most beautiful rape story
he comes as a swan.
Above her, wings beat hard,
spreading the scent of muck and lake.
Then there’s a parting squawk,
arc of his neck almost apologetic
as he takes off.

But in the worst—and this
will always be the case—
she is shivering and has
your little sister’s face,
an old pillow pressed
into her mouth: musty taste
of feathers, mildewed heat,
choking cough.

No longer do they break
with gravity—no lift,
no odd, consoling courtesy—
nor do they feign
the half-shyness of those
who metamorphose
for cloaked purposes
yet still take the shapes,
the dark prerogatives, of gods.