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Sunday, June 29, 2014


In Praise of Coldness                        Jane Hirshfield

“If you want to move your reader,”
Chekhov wrote, “you must write more coldly.”

Herakleitos recommended, “A dry soul is best.”

And so at the center of many great works
is found a preserving dispassion,
like the vanishing point of quattrocento perspective,
or the tiny packets of desiccant enclosed
in a box of new shoes or seeds.

But still the vanishing point
is not the painting,
the silica is not the blossoming plant.

Chekhov, dying, read the timetables of trains.
To what more earthly thing could he have been faithful?–
Scent of rocking distances,
smoke of blue trees out the window,
hampers of bread, pickled cabbage, boiled meat.

Scent of the knowable journey.

Neither a person entirely broken
nor one entirely whole can speak.

In sorrow, pretend to be fearless. In happiness, tremble.


"Act so that there is no use in a center." Gertrude Stein

Peach                                            Catie Rosemurgy

The head, the mouth, the fruit, the eating.
The pit, the teeth, the branch, the fall.
The wet, the swollen, the light, the seeing.
The picking, the washing, the cutting, the quartering.
The sweet, the having.

The juice. The holding it in your hands
beautiful and then ruined. The forms of devouring. The remaining empty.
What’s inside.

The excitement of the definite article. What’s inside
one thing is analogous to what’s inside another.
The ceremonial names

of what is done to them. What is unknown requires a new way of cutting.
What we’re left with.

How we make an object ours, make it disappear.
How we become the object and are food.
How we are delicious and dead at the center in so many ways.
How that is wrong and it is stillness, moon-like at the core.
How what we are is what reflects off it. How we are light produced earlier
by other things.


Tempest                                                       Emma Howell

It's storming, pounding out there.
Rain breaks and falls like the mismatched
halves of haloes.
Luminescent drops arc above the wind's dips and joints.
This is the division of virtues through their centers.
Whole waters submit, are split and capped,
sectioned like tangerines into mouth-shaped crescents
and then auctioned into thunder.

The rain marks its weight in deep
forgiving streaks.
The storm is tight around all things
and in rope fingers of light
water cracks into marbled, complex structures,
less like a chandelier, hanging vows above our heads,
than like the mezuzah we kiss when we step outside.
It shelters a scrolled blessing against leaving God
at home.
We break Him into pieces and carry Him along.


"To Forget Its Creator Is One of the Functions of a Creation"
—E. M. Forster

(Poem by Gilbert Allen)

So memory is the absent
letting things slip
out of mind and sight
to make discovery

And God is no
which is the why
of these strange, awful creatures
whose creator would envy
their lost footprints, if He could.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Contained Chaos: 3 Podcast Recommendations

I've recently listened to episodes on ***three different podcasts*** I'd like to recommend to you.

1) New Letters on the Air host Angela Elam recently interviewed poet Rick Barot. Among the interesting things Barot said was that poets need to balance the principle of order with the principle of disorder in a contained chaos that makes a poem interesting and effective.

He stressed the importance of remembering that ordering some element or elements of a poem can kill the emotional vigor of the piece if not counterweighted with disorder, which can be achieved in an unexplained leaping between ideas, for example. On the flipside, all chaos without any ordering principle makes a piece disparate and risks excessive interiority or obscurity. It's the tension between the two that Rick Barot counsels poets to strive to find in every poem, not neglecting one principle in favor of the other.

Good advice, no matter which principle you naturally lean toward. Enjoy the whole episode.

2) Skylight Books Reading Series recently featured visual artist Danielle Krysa (the popular blogger of The Jealous Curator) talking about her new book Creative Block: Advice and Projects from 50 Successful Artists. Krysa discusses her own creative block and how she attempted to solve it by beginning her blog, thus discovering that studying others' art simultaneously inspired and discouraged her. So she contacted artists and asked them about their experiences with creative block, and it turns out at just about all of them have had periods of self-doubt and inability to work. So she put together this book, which is instructive for any creative type, visual or otherwise.

Krysa is charming; enjoy both the podcast episode and her blog, a place where I have lost countless hours.

3) NPR's Ask Me Another quiz show this week featured erudite musical group They Might Be Giants, singing (Don't Hate the Villain) Hate the Villanelle. The whole quiz show is, as usual, highly amusing and worth listening to, but if you just want the song, you can watch it on YouTube or on Vimeo. (The Vimeo sound is a bit better. Or listen on iTunes to the entire episode, for the best recording.) Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sunday, June 22, 2014


"To progress in life you must give up the things you do not like. Give up doing the things that you do not like to do. You must find the things that you do like. The things that are acceptable to your mind." - Agnes Martin


She Considers the Dimensions of Her Soul            Young Smith
(Mrs. Morninghouse, after a Sermon Entitled,
"What the Spirit Teaches Us through Grief")

The shape of her soul is a square.
She knows this to be the case
because she sometimes feels its corners
pressing sharp against the bone
just under her shoulder blades
and across the wings of her hips.
At one time, when she was younger,
she had hoped that it might be a cube,
but the years have worked to dispel
this illusion of space. So that now
she understands: it is a simple plane:
a shape with surface, but no volume—
a window without a building, an eye
without a mind.
                         Of course, this square
does not appear on x-rays, and often,
weeks may pass when she forgets
that it exists. When she does think
to consider its purpose in her life,
she can say only that it aches with
a single mystery for whose answer
she has long ago given up the search—
since that question is a name which can
never quite be asked. This yearning,
she has concluded, is the only function
of the square, repeated again and again
in each of its four matching angles,
until, with time, she is persuaded anew
to accept that what it frames has no
interest in ever making her happy.


“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower


To Be Continued: A Parable                Samuel Hazo

It's like a play.
                     Or rather
   the revival of a play in which
   you're still the main character.
The set, the lighting and the stage
   are what they were, but not
   the cast.
                Different actors
   have the roles that other actors
   acted when the play first
         You make comparisons
   but then accept the differences
   as given.
                 Somehow you only feel
   secure in character but alien
   to all the others on the stage.
Their names will keep on changing
   as the run resumes with younger
   people in older roles.
                                 The script
   will stay the same.
                              You know
   your lines by heart but try
   to say them in a different voice
   each night.
                  The other actors
   say your character and you
   are one.
               Sometimes this seems
   a sentence, sometimes a challenge.
Either way you keep on playing
   your part.
                 You have no choice.
Choice of attention—to pay attention to this and ignore that—is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be.  W. H. Auden
Legato                                                                       Mary Cornish
(Italian: bound)
As when a crow flies up from a field, the sky
accepts the weight of birds.
The crow's shadow falls to earth, and earth
accepts the shadow as if it were a house or tree.
Roots go down, blind as moles
and as eager. And in the house, each day
light moves across the bed.
Even with you gone, light moves on the bed
and I wake up. There's an arc
between the living and the dead, as when
a crow rises from a field, sun on its back.
Below, the shadow moving.

Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.  Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters: 1910 – 1926

We deduce that accepting an initiatory task is more important than succeeding or failing at it. Robert Bly, in Iron John: A Book About Men, p. 54

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rescue Yourself

Rescue Press has an open submissions for their Black Box Poetry Prize, judged by none other than Maggie Nelson (of Bluets, and more). Would that I had a manuscript ready to enter in this FREE (though donations welcome) contest of full-length poetry manuscripts, with the possibility of having my work seen by Maggie Nelson!

Plus, have you ever heard of a poetry prize with a more honest name?

Enter by June 30th.

Speaking of all things black, Black Ocean has its open reading period through June, also for full-length manuscripts, also without a fee. One of my favorite presses.

Publishing Genius is also open for manuscripts through June 30, with a $5 fee--a bargain compared to many other presses.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Feeling Foreign (Twice!)

I had two moments of feeling my foreign-ness today, but neither negative.

First was when I went to the curb to get my weekly grocery delivery. Every week the deliveryman says to me, "Shall I help you carry those home?" and every week I say, "Thanks, but I got this." (Except the whole exchange is in Japanese.) The deliveryman changes every once in awhile, but this one has been coming to my house for about 3 months, and every week offers a helping hand.

So this week I come out and I'm wearing my headphones, listening to a podcast. I'm getting my groceries organized and the deliveryman walks over to me and says something I can't hear, so I say, "Thanks, but I got this." He looks at my groceries, and again says something. I look at my groceries; this week's order is a little large, so I guess he thinks I need help, but I don't, so I say again, "Thanks, but I got this." One more time he says something, so I take off my earphones. Clearly we've veered off our script: I need to listen. "Which country are you from?" he asks me in very polite Japanese. This strikes me as a little odd; we've been meeting weekly for 3 months and now he wants to know? "I'm from the US," I say. "Congratulations on your soccer team," he says, bowing. "Oh," I say. "Well, thanks." "Shall I help you carry your groceries?" he asks.

Second was when I went to buy supplies for our lizards this afternoon. I always stop and look at the lizards for sale in the shop, and there is a very cute one today. He notices me watching him, and he comes right over to the side of the cage and tries to crawl up it to look at me. I tap on the glass and he follows my finger wherever I drag it. He tries to nip at my finger through the glass. All the while, I coo at him, "Aren't you a cute little lizard? Would you like to come home with me?"

A little boy, watching me, says to his mom, "What's that lady doing? Does she think lizards can speak English?"

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Today's Tip: Time to Publish

Check out this useful blog called 'Time to Publish'.

With individual posts about poetry markets (including timely deadlines)

plus a list of submission deadlines

however it is you organize your thinking about publication

this blog has something for you.


Sunday, June 15, 2014


Forecast       Karin Gottshall

I remember, before the snow started,
thinking I wish it would start. The sky darkened

shadow on shadow. The cats, as usual,
slept through the morning. Then snow so heavy that even

my father, who was a kind of Noah—all resolve and solitude,
cabinetry and salt—couldn't have steadied me. I remember—

and this was back when the sham fortune-teller sat
turning over cards, saying you will be lonely

thinking it could be worse. Thinking loneliness
is nothing more than a cotton slip

and uncombed hair. A path you dig in the snow
once the snow has stopped. Thinking then let it begin

The Cave Painter                  Elizabeth Onusko

Memory is a series of caves
in which perspective invents itself,

learns the language of images,
mixes egg white with hematite,

and presses to a wall
a pigmented finger or piece of lichen

to record what it sees.
Holding a torch, she roams
the network of passages,
trying to find something she recognizes
amidst the thousands of images
drawn haphazardly over each other.

She interprets the juxtaposed layers literally,
takes comfort looking at things

that never happened,
like her five-year-old self holding hands

with her five-year-old father,
because the images seem whole

and therefore reliable.
Sometimes the torch doesn’t last,

and every step brings her further
into a black so complete

it’s no longer color but sound.
Panicked, she sits on the ground,

arms around legs and mumbling.
This is how we find her

when we enter her room,
a white nightgown puddled on linoleum,

and this is why she doesn’t –
know who we are.


The Methodist and his Method   by Chad Sweeney

Underground in the cemetery
my grandfather preaches to the other corpses.
They clap inside their boxes

nicely arranged in Sunday clothes
in long rows like pews.
His words stir hope

that conditions may change.
Each man has been given his row boat,
he says,

to lie back in and watch the sky
braiding and unbraiding its light.
No one is safer than we are. 


Ocean Beach at TwiIight: 14        Dean Rader
Who's to say the stars understand
their heavy labor, or the moon its
grunt work across the hard curve of absence?
Who's to say the gulls taut on their tiny strings
believe the air? Everything seems surprised
by the fat slab of pink strung up against the blue:
the dogs dark in night's water, the fishermen
buoyed to the beach's pillar of stillness.
Even the teenage boy playing in the spoor
of foam and backflow pauses longer
than expected, his father's voice dissolved
in the din-drop of surf and sea hush. Night
is no curtain. When he stares out across
the wave of waves, who's to say he looks inward? 

Shuttlecock                                             Gary L. McDowell       

A poem about my father
will always begin my father.
A poem about my father and I
will always begin when I was young.
My father never told me
I limped a long time
after my bones had knit,
favored one leg more
than the other, egged myself
forward, one knee knotted,
never told me my fists
were too small for fighting,
too small to be blamed
for violence: the grasp and tug
I made at my mother’s hair,
that tug to pull myself closer,
to grasp something other than air.
My father never told me
I was a body, I was a herder,
never told me that when bit
I should swear, swear,
and take showers at all hours
of the night.  My father never
told me that I inherited
his dancing thighs.
A poem about my father,
when I was young, will
always begin in October.
In October, we flew kites
in the frantic rush of winds
that never toppled us.
My hawk never had its feathers,
my father’s eagle never lost
its feathers.  Our birds, so different,
soared and never threaded
our story to another story,
never forgot who we were,
us, me and my father,
when I was young.

I Scandalize Myself                     Iman Mersal
translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa

I must tell my father
that the only man for whom "desire shattered me"
looked exactly like him,
and tell my friends
that I have different pictures of myself,
all true, all me,
that I will distribute among them one at a time.
I must tell my lover,
"Be grateful for my infidelities.
Without them
I wouldn't have waited all this time
to discover the exceptional pause in your laugh."
As for me
I am almost certain
that I scandalize myself
to hide behind it.

Bird Advice                                         Jill Alexander Essenbaum
There you go again, head in hand
and wringing out the vandal curl of your hair,
the only sparrow Jesus has his eye on.
Of course we'll eat your breadcrumbs.

Mostly, you drive too fast. My little heart
beats more quickly than the dawn of a terrible day.
Revise your poems to include more of that.
Long live the lilt of my right wing.

God has numbered every feather.
I sing because once, I thought to do it.
When the wind warbles in strange tones,
the air has found something of itself to regret.

So. You don't believe. Strange species, you,
the North American Doubter, migrating
southward and in volumes like an irruption
of nuthatch. What shall you make of that?

Your cat is quite mean. You must
learn new songs of despair and delight.
Your dead father is an anthem in the skies.
All that you yearn is instinct. 


The Mortgaging of Self Is Done                                    Aimee Sands
And the floors dreaming in wide,
drowned light. The drifting and bobbling,

nodding you off in another direction,
broken sideways, sideways

broken. Farther. Father. And the staff
of good intentions that sprouts leaves,

feathers, the formal calm that surprises,
gauze outflung and laid.

The miner that comes with a light, knees,
questions, gunpowder. The stifling,

the unbinding. Moral, normal, matted,
matched. The pelt of suffering,

hung in its usual place. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Celebrating Charles Wright

Charles Wright, recently named poet laureate of the United States, has long been one of my most favorite poets, if not the favorite. Here are some of his poems that have meant a lot to me:

High Country Canticle                      Charles Wright
The shroud has no pockets, the northern Italians say.
Let go, live your life,
the grave has no sunny corners —
Deadfall and windfall, the aphoristic undertow
Of high water, deep snow in the hills,
Everything's benediction, bright wingrush of grace.

Spring moves through the late May heat
as though someone were poling it.


China Traces                                                               Charles Wright
Nature contains no negatives.
                                                  Nothing is lost there,
The word is. Except the word.
In spring there is autumn in my heart,
My spirit, outside of nature, like slow mist in the trees,
Looking for somewhere to dissipate.
I write out my charms and spells
Against the passage of light
                                              and gathering evil
Each morning. Each evening hands them back.
Out of the nothing nothing comes.
                                                        The rain keeps falling,
As we expected, the bitter and boundaryless rain.
The grass leaves no footprints,
the creek keeps on eating its one word.
In the night, the light assembles the stars
                                            and tightens their sash.


"There's so little to say, and so much time in which to say it."  Charles Wright


Future Tense                                  Charles Wright

All things in the end are bittersweet—
An empty gaze, a little way-station just beyond silence.
If you can’t delight in the everyday,
                                                         you have no future here.
And if you can, no future either.

And time, black dog, will sniff you out,
                                                            and lick your lean cheeks,
And lie down beside you—warm, real close—and will not move.


Body and Soul II

(for Coleman Hawkins)

The structure of landscape is infinitesimal,
Like the structure of music,
                            seamless, invisible.
Even the rain has larger sutures.
What holds the landscape together, and what holds music together,
Is faith, it appears--faith of the eye, faith of the ear.
Nothing like that in language,
However, clouds chugging from west to east like blossoms
Blown by the wind.
                 April, and anything's possible.
  Here is the story of Hsuan Tsang.
A Buddhist monk, he went from Xian to southern India
And back--on horseback, on camel-back, on elephant-back, and on 
Ten thousand miles it took him, from 29 to 645, 
Mountains and deserts, 
In search of the Truth,
                    the heart of the heart of Reality,
The Law that would help him escape it,
And all its attendant and inescapable suffering.
                                               And he found it.
  These days, I look at things, not through them,
And sit down low, as far away from the sky as I can get.
The reef of the weeping cherry flourishes coral,
The neighbor's back porch light bulbs glow like anemones.
Squid-eyed Venus floats forth overhead.
This is the half hour, half-light, half-dark,
                            when everything starts to shine out,
And aphorisms skulk in the trees,
Their wings folded, their heads bowed.
  Every true poem is a spark,
              and aspires to the condition of the original fire
Arising out of the emptiness.
It is that same emptiness it wants to reignite.
It is that same engendering it wants to be re-engendered by.
Shooting stars.
April's identical,
             celestial, wordless, burning down.
Its light is the light we commune by.
Its destination's our own, its hope is the hope we live with.
Wang Wei, on the other hand, 
Before he was 30 years old bought his famous estate on the Wang River 
Just east of the east end of the Southern Mountains,
                                                     and lived there,
Off and on, for the rest of his life.
He never travelled the landscape, but stayed inside it,
A part of nature himself, he thought.
And who would say no
To someone so bound up in solitude,
                           in failure, he thought, and suffering.
Afternoon sky the color of Cream of Wheat, a small 
Dollop of butter hazily at the western edge.
Getting too old and lazy to write poems,
                                      I watch the snowfall
From the apple trees.
Landscape, as Wang Wei says, softens the sharp edges of isolation.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Autograph Etiquette

The first time I was asked to sign a book it was a well-established Australian poet who asked me. So I admitted it was my first time, and asked for his guidance. He told me to open to the title page, and cross out my printed name, and sign underneath, which is how I signed books for a number of years.

Over time I noticed that while most authors do sign their books on the title page, very few (none of the ones I've seen, actually) cross out their printed name first. So I went looking on the internet for instructions on how to properly sign a book.

The most complete information I found was at the blog of author Mary Robinette Kowal. Go to her website if you want a complete tutorial. She did not, however, have anything to say about crossing out printed names, and in fact, I checked quite a few articles and posts written about signing books, and found only two that addressed this issue. Both said that they had seen a case or two of it, but that it didn't seem to be the norm. Perhaps it is an Australian tradition--if anyone knows, I'd love to be enlightened. In the meantime, I've left off with that practice.

My internet search did give me a few pointers that I wasn't looking for, and here they are:

1) Use an ink color other than black so that your signature stands out more. Not too important for the person who initially requests your signature, but if the book is ever resold, it helps those pricing it to notice the autograph.

2) Date all signatures within the first month of publication. This will make the books more valuable someday (assuming there is a market for your books in the future....well, you never know). (Some say, just keep dating after the first month to personalize the signatures more.)

3) Have a different signature than your legal one to discourage identity theft. (I have to say, this seems smart, but really hard to pull off.)

4) In an anthology, sign on the page where your piece appears.

Lots of other tips are available, at Mary Robinette Kowal's website. Beware: there is conflicting advice out there too, such as: the crossing out of the printed name or not, the debate over whether to sign with a stock phrase or phrases or to personalize it more, etc. (It makes it easier for the writer to reuse phrases, but some readers complain if their signed note isn't more personal. On the other hand, some authors report that readers complain if they think a different reader got a warmer personalized note than they did, and so such authors sign everything the same.)

It's an honor to be asked to sign your book, so doing it right matters. Would love to hear your tips and experiences.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mendeleev's Mandala Finds a Home

Mendeleev's Mandala, my most recent manuscript, has found a home at Mayapple Press. I'm excited to report that in February 2015, Judith Kerman's press will be publishing Mendeleev's Mandala (recently a finalist for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize from Waywiser Press).

I'm delighted to be joining quite a few poets whose work I admire who also call Mayapple Press their home, including Penelope Scambly Schott, Jeannine Hall Gailey (book forthcoming in 2015), Jayne Pupek, and Allison Joseph, among others.


The Livelihood of Crows – Jayne Pupek
Voice: Poems - Allison JosephLillie Was a Goddess, Lillie was a Whore

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Splinter            Ewa Lipska, translated from the Polish by Robin Davidson and Ewa Elżbieta Nowakowska

I like you a twenty-year-old poet writes to me.
A beginning carpenter of words.

His letter smells of lumber.
His muse still sleeps in rosewood.

Ambitious noise in a literary sawmill.
Apprentices veneering a gullible tongue.

They cut to size the shy plywood of sentences.
A haiku whittled with a plane.

Problems begin
with a splinter lodged in memory.

It is hard to remove
much harder to describe.

Wood shavings fly. The apple cores of angels.
Dust up to the heavens.

No Sky
Martha Ronk

after Robert Adams’s California: Views

No sky a gray backdrop merely and absence
and below: the scraggle of dusty fronds, the scrub oak and scrub jay
whose abrasive noises sharpen in response.

Shadows proliferate in deep furrows no sky above
merely a scrim registering conical thrusts, a heightened flurry &
outlines of branches, the dead ones slowly petering out.

magnificent ruin the cut through the field blasted chaparral

As I understand my job, it is, while suggesting order, to make things appear as much as possible to be the way they are in normal vision.

An unvoiced series of sentences, without articulation,
with gray shapes, formulating a syntax loosening and then tightening from edge to edge.

The frame sets a border down from which a thin straggle hangs at random &
like purposeful intrusion, and so unlike

and the interstate (in the title) missing from the photograph itself
merely a dry riverbed, the density of shadows trapped in the confusion
of bush and bush-like tree

except from higher up than the rest, its thin trunk arched against
no sky

colorless, less often remarked upon, appositely emotionless these days,
a relic, like the fan palm living at the edges of water. 

Halo             Melissa Stein
A swirl of it: a stain, like cinnamon:
that's how it was, at the base
of her skull, radiating like a halo.
I watched, for a long time, her outline,
her shadow, her second self
sink into sand. They say the soul
lifts from the body; that it takes wing
from sullied matter, a perfumed storm,
petals and light. I saw a slackening,
a gradual collapse to paleness tinged
in yellow, in slate. A lowering, not a lifting
as the earth that once held her up
loosened to take her in. A sigh.
Then a quiet that was more than quiet,
a listening that itself became like noise

Anyone involved with the institutions of poetry would do well to remember this. With all the clamor in this country about the audience for poetry, a veritable barnyard of noise into which I myself have been known to bray, we shouldn't lose sight of one of poetry's chief strengths: how little of it there is. I don't mean how little there is in the culture, but how little there is at any one time that is truly excellent. Poetry's invisibility is deplorable and worth fighting. Its rareness is admirable and the chief source of its strength. Indeed, I sometimes think that if we honored its rarity more, poetry's invisibility would be less of a problem, or at least we might define the notion of visibility differently. Seamus Heaney has noted that if a person has a single poem in his head, one that he returns to and through which, even in small ways, he understands his life better, this constitutes a devotion to the art. It is enough. And in fact I find that this is almost always how non-specialists read poetry – rarely, sparingly, but intensely, with a handful of high moments that they cling to. The emphasis is on the memorable individual poem, and poetry in bulk is rarely memorable.

Christian Wiman, Poetry, Dec. 2006

Last Trip to the Island                                      Erin Belieu

You're mad that I can't love the ocean,

but I've come to this world landlocked
and some bodies feel permanently strange.
Like any foreign language, study it too late and
it never sticks. Anyway,

we're here aren't we? —
trudging up the sand, the water churning
its constant horny noise, an openmouthed heavy

breathing made more unnerving by
the presence of all these families, the toddlers

with their chapped bottoms, the fathers
in gigantic trunks spreading out their dopey
circus-colored gear.

How can anyone relax
near something so worked up all the time?

I know the ocean is glamorous,
but the hypnosis, the dilated pull of it, feels

impossible to resist. And what better reason to
resist? I'm most comfortable in

a field, a yellow-eared patch
of cereal, whose quiet rustling argues for
the underrated valor of discretion.

And above this, I admire a certain quality of
sky, like an older woman who wears her jewels with
an air of distance, that is, lightly,
with the right attitude. Unlike your ocean,

there's nothing sneaky about a field. I like their
ugly-girl frankness. I like that, sitting in the dirt,

I can hear what's coming between the stalks.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Beat Insomnia!

My kids, for whom English hovers between a first and a second language, sometimes confuse the verbs "beat" (as in "beat the opponent") with "win" (as in "win the game"). For example they might say "I won him" when they meant "I beat him."

So forgive me now for telling you that this blog post cannot tell you how to beat insomnia. Instead, it's here to tell you how to win a signed copy of The Insomniac's Weather Report. You can do that by entering my Goodreads giveaway here. The deadline is June 30th.

Good luck!

Free Online Course from Univ of Iowa

The University of Iowa's International Writing Program is offering its first Massive Open Online Course, entitled "How Writers Write  Poetry." Running from June 28 to August 9, this class features twice-weekly craft talks from poetry luminaries such as Robert Hass, Kate Greenstreet, Dora Malech, James Galvin, Kiki Petrosino, Richard Kenney, Kwame Dawes, Larissa Szporluk, Shane McCrae, and Marvin Bell, among others. There will also be a online discussion and writing assignments.

The course is free. Yes, you read that right, free. And it has unlimited enrollment. It's supposed to be useful for the beginning poet to the practice poet looking for inspiration and new tips. Check out the syllabus, or sign up today. I did!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Insomniac Reading Plus More!

Tokyo friends, mark your calendars for this Friday, June 6th!

Launch of the second four Isobar Press books:
The launch of the second four Isobar Press books will be from 6–9 p.m. on Friday, 6th of June in room 403/404 on the fourth floor of International House of Japan in Roppongi.

Royall Tyler will read from A Great Valley Under the Stars.The first book of poetry by the award-winning translator of The Tale of Genji and The Tale of the HeikeThis is a delightful and lovely book – at once spare and lyrical, whimsical and profound.  I have been grateful for Royall Tyler’s splendid translations for years, but I am every bit as grateful now to have read him writing entirely in his own voice.’(David Bentley Hart)

Andrew Fitzsimons & Nobuaki Tochigi will give a bilingual reading of A Fire in the Head.
Among those who have taken on the challenge of writing about Japan’s triple catastrophe, none has done so with greater intensity or economy than Andrew Fitzsimons.’ (Richard Lloyd Parry) 
フィッツサイモンズ氏の三行詩は芭蕉のいう「ものの見えたる光」を確かに捉えている。 高橋睦郎  (In these three-line poems, Andrew Fitzsimons has captured what Basho called ‘the revelatory light of things’.  Mutsuo Takahashi)

Jessica Goodfellow will read from The Insomniac’s Weather Report.
The first edition of The Insomniac's Weather Report, originally published in 2011 as the winner of the Three Candles Press First Book Award, was only briefly available; this new Isobar edition brings this striking collection back into print. ‘To say that The Insomniac’s Weather Report is exquisitely thrilling poetry doesn’t begin to do it justice. Wicked and funny as an encyclopaedia of unanswerable koans … I found it irresistible, as will you, dear reader.’ (Alicia Ostriker)

Paul Rossiter will introduce and read from Whispers, Sympathies, and Apparitions by David Silversteinthe American prose-poet who lived and worked in Tokyo in the 1980s and early 1990s until his untimely death in 1992; these selected poems are drawn from his three books, Dazzled by Nothing (1984), The Suspicious Sympathy of White(1990), and Apparitions (1991).


6:00: Doors open.
6:30–7:15: Paul Rossiter (introducing and reading from David Silverstein); Jessica Goodfellow.
7:15–7:45: Break; wine & soft drinks.
7:45–8:30: Andrew Fitzsimons & Nobuaki Tochigi (a bilingual reading); Royall Tyler.

ADMISSION: Y1,500 including wine or soft drink.

I hope to see you there!