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Sunday, September 27, 2015


"Art is fire plus algebra."  ~Jorge Luis Borges

Geometry is not true, it is advantageous.  ~Poincare
Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things. ~Henri Poincare

Confessions of a Music Box                          Bruce Bond

No larger than a bird coffin,
the kind that opens its one wing
onto a sky it cannot take to,

save as the thin and silver trickle
of a tune, a feather fanning
the ghost goodbye, as if to say, yes,

it’s true, how the ancients saw it,
that music is the sound numbers
make on the verge of extinction

or sleep, whatever comes first,
that it sends its arrows through
the ear’s window, clean through and yet

attached, brightening the glass.
That’s why a monk I read loved
music, not merely for the holy

signatures, the geometry
of tones that are its body, but how
that body dies again and again,

how it slips its box like steam, like gold.
Ask any star in the Greek
toy chest of stars, any sphere,

and it returns you to an image
of this, to the singing of a thing
you wind, or someone winds, the grind

of a song it never tires of.
A lullaby. How like a box
to hoard its measure of nothing

we speak of until, that is, the box
of dark inside breaks, confessing
the way an old grief confesses

or some nocturnal heating vent
pouring air between its teeth.
But then... if you call this news,

it is never news enough.
Only paired phrases like a doll
house on fire, like the small

murmur of a child at her bed,
talking to a god she has only
heard of, a father locked up in

the rhymes of parables, of hymns:
and if I die before I wake.
Either way she dies, she wakes.

The Prophecies of Mathematics                  Gary Fincke

Not even his wife wanted to listen
To Francis Galton explain that prayer made
No difference, that insurance companies
Knew the facts of longevity, and there
Was no adjustment for people who prayed
And the various buildings they lived in.
Not even, but he said it anyway—
The pious live no longer than the bad.
It's always this way with Jeremiahs.
In the prophecies of mathematics
Are equations for hours in the sun,
Alcohol in the blood, early marriage.
There, among the numbers, lies the total
Of the truth of ourselves, and I admit
I've counted the daily steps from my house
To my office through six possible routes;
I've counted the frequency of letters,
Rooting for underdogs like b and k
To outdo their predicted sums of use.

Trivial? Stupid? I estimated
The minutes, once, until the end of school,
Wrote seventy-five thousand, six hundred,
In my September notebook and followed
The lurch of each long minute on the clock
For three periods of world history,
Latin, and plane geometry until
I rejoined the classroom of common sense,
Abandoning the women who number
The knocks on a door to seven, the breaths
Before starting their cars to six, knowing
Nothing about the habits of Galton,
Who kept track of boredom by numbering
The small fidgets of a congregation,
Who counted the brush strokes as his portrait
Was painted, who evaluated place,
At last, by the beauty of its women,
Selecting London like a pageant judge,
Leaving it to us to tally the days
Till what's longed for mayor may not arrive,
Keeping calendars of Xs that end,
Each time, on the eve of possible joy
Like a merciless cliffhanger for faith.


All one's inventions are true, you can be sure of that. Poetry is as exact a science as geometry.  ~Gustav Flaubert


There is still a difference between something and nothing, but it is purely geometrical and there is nothing behind the geometry. 



When we were the poorest,
mom paid my weekly allowance
in birds. That one is yours, she whispered

so as not to disturb it.
If you clean the oven
I’ll give you that red one.

In a few months
I owned all the birds on the street,
blue jays, finches, a lame owl

cowled in the clock tower.
We had to walk farther each Saturday
to find a new fountain or thicket

so mother could pay me what she owed.
We stood on a bridge.
Our soldiers were marching away,

and trying to sound brave.
Their numbers were staggering.

I invented a
to understand them.
I subtracted them from summer

and it was winter. Most of our houses
were gone, and the birds too.
The university had been bombed

with my father inside, attending a reading
by some Polish poets.
The poems were so sturdy, he said,

they held up the dome of the ceiling.

“I know that I have an instinct towards math and cleverness in structure that I work against, and so I try to make something … I make this whole structure which takes up a cork wall of index cards, and then I feel that is the architecture of the book, and what you do with architecture is that you cover it completely . . . And why I am driven to make something this complicated I don’t know. It’s just a pleasure for me always in all kinds of reading and fiction to know that there is some kind of clock ticking in the background. It could be rhetorical device, the way that language goes in the book. That there’s a pattern to it, because it’s nice to feel when you close the book that there’s a pattern to life.” 

~Andrew Sean Greer in an interview with Michael Silverblatt on KCRW’s Bookworm 

37. Poetry is a mystic, sensuous mathematics of fire, smoke-stacks, waffles, pansies, people, and purple sunsets.
from DEFINITIONS OF POETRY by Carl Sandburg


Friday, September 25, 2015

Give (#2)

"God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another." ~Shakespeare


Giving up the ideal for the real is our only job. Recognizing the point where the creative urge is stilled is our basic moral dilemma. Surrendering at that point the symbolic aggregates of matter and self is morally the right thing to do. Morality is giving the crystallized images of captured energy flows back to the universe. Wanting to live forever is immoral, just as it is immoral to destroy energy still possessed by the desire to be, just as it is immoral to circumscribe the desire of another. That is why immortality (Dracula) is evil, Los Alamites are guilt-ridden, and Utah polygamists are bad. Morality is the secret knowledge of every organism of its exact relation to desire.  
~Andre Codrescu, The Disappearance of the Outside: A Manifesto for Escape, p.190-1


My Topiary Is a Hedge against Confusion                      Michele Glazer

You have to come at it from a distance,
to walk up close to it to see the animal
is only from a distance:
then to be charmed by it.
The closer you get the more abstract.
       The dog is named for the variegated privet.
Walk away & the wind shakes Spot & the little leaves flicker,
perhaps, as if in happiness,
or, the water off.
It is not giving up anything nor is it
literal to a fault.

The work of the imagination / is to give itself away.   
~Erica Funkhouser, from  “The Marvels of Insect Life,” in Pursuit


472. We invent a god to help us understand solitude. In time, we give him a wife, a son, pets, students. He seems kinder; we know him better. But then we need a new god. 
~from Vectors: Aphorisms & Ten-Second Essays by James Richardson


God does not demand that we give up our personal dignity, that we throw in our lot with random people, that we lose ourselves and turn from all that is not him. God needs nothing, asking nothing, and demands nothing, like the stars. It is a life with God which demands these things.

Experience has taught the race that if knowledge of God is the end, then these habits of life are not the means but the condition in which the means operates. You do not have to do these things; not at all. God does, not, I regret to report, give a hoot. You do not have to do these things—unless you want to know God. They work on you, not on him.

You do not have to sit outside in the dark .If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.

~Annie Dillard, in Teaching a Stone to Talk: Expeditions and Encounters, p. 31


Age of Vanya                                         Jeffrey Harrison

Three months after my brother's death,
I saw Uncle Vanya in New York.
Near the end of the play, Vanya says
he's forty-seven years old. I had forgotten that,
and the line caught me off-guard. Forty-seven
was my brother's age when he killed himself.
I wondered if there was something about being
forty-seven—the very beginning of growing old—
that makes a certain kind of person take
the measure of his life and find it wanting,
even unbearable. Did Andy feel that way?

A few years earlier, over Christmas, Andy and I
had watched Vanya on Forty-Second Street together.
We kept rewinding and replaying the scene
near the end of Act Three, fascinated
by Wally Shawn's performance of Vanya's tirade
and lamentation, which was terrifying
but somehow funny, mordant but pathetic.
I almost don't want to admit we were laughing,
yet I also hold our shared laughter dear.
Now I wonder how close Vanya was to suicide,
and when that possibility entered my brother's mind.

Approaching forty-seven myself now, I can say
it hasn't entered mine. And yet, some days
I have to remind myself my life isn't over,
that I am still, by some measure, young,
that I shouldn't give up and it isn't too late
to get something done. There could be decades ahead,
or at least the thirteen years that Vanya
gives himself. I tell myself it's just a phase,
as our elders used to say annoyingly
when we were teenagers. It's just the age of Vanya,
something to dread, something to get beyond.


…that poets are those to whom the difficulty of writing gives ideas, not those from whom it takes them away.  
~Reginald Gibbons, On Rhyme, APR, Nov./Dec. 2006


It is said that in marriage, the man and woman give each other “his or her nethermost beast” to hold. Each holds the leash for the “nethermost beast” of the other. It’s a wonderful phrase.
~Robert Bly, in “Iron John: A Book About Men,” p. 77


Desert Ant                               Sawako Nakayasu

Says “and” with every step, so that it sounds like this: “and and and and and and and and  and and and and and,” and so on. By the time I make my way to the same desert, I have been collecting and carrying an accumulation of nouns over the past, oh I don’t know how many days, and so I insert them in between the steps of the ant. Cilantro, tennis, phone, hand. Needle, rock, hair. Mingus. Monk. Mouth. I have been ignoring the dirty looks the ant keeps giving me, but finally I cave in, which means I stop to listen carefully. I am informed that I have thrown off the rhythm of “and and and and and.” I am informed that this shall not continue. I am given several options. I choose Monk, so for a while we do “monk and monk and monk and monk and monk and monk and monk.” I thought we were doing okay, but before I know it the ant is out of sight, and then before I know it, the ant has made a decision, and then before I know it, the ant is in my mouth, and mouth, and mouth, and mouth, and mouth, and mouth , and mouth. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Rolling With Nicole Rollender

The very talented poet Nicole Rollender interviewed me for her blog Carpe Noctem. Please check it out, along with her interviews of Jennifer McBain-Stephens , Raymond Gibson, and Ruth Foley. She's also got some wise words about rejection, so don't miss this chance to get to know her blog, and more importantly her poetry.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Art, Craft, and Kitsch

When on vacation earlier this summer, I borrowed from the library of the hotel where we were staying Denis Dutton's The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution. It was fascinating reading, but unfortunately I didn't have a chance to finish reading it before we had to check out. I read the chapters that seemed as though they would have the most meaning for me (it was hard to select which those would be), and I jotted down the following quotes in my notebook (which could contain errors as I wrote them quickly and by hand). I will buy a copy and finish this book soon, but in the meantime:

"Craft, Collingwood agreed, is skilled work purposefully directed toward a final project or designed artifact; the craftsman knows in advance what the end product will look like. The craftsman’s foreknowledge is required by the very idea of craft. …..Art in this respect is an entirely different domain ….  in the sense of using skill to produce a preconceived result, creative artists strictly speaking never know what they are doing …. The arts, Collingwood argued, are always open to the unexpected ….He distinguishes the artistic expression of emotion from the more craftlike practice of emotional arousal. Arousal is manipulative, which is why we speak of a formulaic movie or novel designed to elicit a predetermined sadness as a ‘tearjerker.’ …The artist, on the other hand, probes the content of human emotional life with an eye toward articulating, or making clear, a unique emotion, an individual feeling."
     ~Denis Dutton The Art Instinct, p227-8

"The first tear is what we shed in the presence of a tragic, pitiful, or perhaps beautiful event. The second tear is shed in recognition of our own sensitive nature, our ability to feel such pity, to understand such pathos or beauty. A love of kitsch is therefore self-congratulatory....Kitsch shows you nothing genuinely new, changes nothing in your bright, shining soul; it congratulates you for being exactly the refined person you already are."
      ~Denis Dutton The Art Instinct, p241-2

Friday, September 18, 2015

Give (#1)

Ordering a man to write a poem is like commanding a pregnant woman to give birth to a red-headed child.  ~Carl Sandburg


Amendment                                                            Christina Davis

The love of each of us
for some of us,
                        of some of us
for all of us—
                        and what would come if it were
                        welcome, if learning were
                        to prepare “a self with which to
           the in-
admissible,        stranger
whose very being gives
a discrepancy. School of our just
beginning to think
about this,       I believe
the seats will be peopled.


"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


"A man will give up almost anything except his suffering." ~John Cleese


"Just do your work. And if the world needs your work it will come and get you. And if it doesn't, do your work anyway. You can have fantasies about ...having control over the world, but I know I can barely control my kitchen sink. That is the grace I'm given. Because when one can control things, one is limited to one's own vision." ~Kiki Smith

I ONLY DANCE FOR MY MOTHER                      Mathias Nelson

She gives me the wine
and I take the wine.
I mop her floors
and she walks on them
while they’re still wet
so I begin to dance
to warn her of how
easy one can slide.
She watches
grinning in her old green jacket
before going outside
to see the moon on the snow.

“The city gives us a feeling of being at home. We must take the feeling of being at home into exile. We must be rooted in the absence of a place.” ~Simone Weil

The word guru means ‘one who dispels the darkness,’ which is different from giving light. Giving light means giving someone something that they don’t already have. Gurus remove the layers of darkness and show you what’s already there. They peel away the self-hatred,the guild, the shame, the fear.  ~Krishna Das

In the end it all comes down to this you have a choice (or more accurately a rolling tangle of choices) between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot -- thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy. It becomes a choice between certainty and uncertainty. And curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice.
~David Bayles & Ted Orland In Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Interview with Nicole Rollender

Today I'm thrilled to interview Nicole Rollender, a prolific and talented poet who has not one but two new chapbooks recently out, Bone of My Bone (Blood Pudding Press), and Absence of Stars (Dancing Girl Press). She also has a full-length book coming out by year end, Louder than Everything You Love (ELJ Publications), and another chapbook, Ghost Tongue (Porkbelly Press), forthcoming next year. Read about how she manages to be both so prolific and so otherwordly in writing her gorgeous work.

JG: You have two chapbooks coming out this summer, Bone of My Bone (Blood Pudding Press), 
and Absence of Stars (Dancing Girl Press). What are the themes of each, and is there overlap? How did you decide which poems belong in each collection, or were they separately conceived projects from the get-go?

NR: Each chapbook was actually rooted in the birth of each of my children – Absence of Stars primarily for my daughter and Bone of My Bone for my son – and they started with poems about each of those experiences, although poems about both children appear in each collection. However, the poems that grew around each of those experiences did evolve into different concerns, and different collections. Interestingly, some of the poems are quite old and some are quite young, but I put together the collections about six months apart. Absence of Stars contains 13 poems and is a more delicate collection, centered about what it means to be a first-time mother of a girl born with severe intrauterine growth restriction, and the guilt of the mother-body betraying the child. It’s also about memory, and how experiences become part of physical/spiritual selves and how in a sense we live those memories alongside our current lives (it’s also possible to live others’ memories). Bone of My Bone is grittier (there’s suicide, death, torture) – the narrator has a fraught pregnancy where three times it seems as though the child has died and then is born nine weeks premature. The poems are also concerned with discovering what is the divine and interrogating it about what our purpose is, and how we live as embodied spirits.

JG: There is a marked transposing of the spiritual and the physical in Bone of My Bone; the title of nearly every poem in the collection either names a body part/physical act or a religious term (i.e. bone and tongue / vespers and vigils). The first poem “Lauds” has these two striking lines: “I cry for you, God, who has no / hands or feet on earth anymore.” There are sinners and apocalypses next to metacarpals and phalanges. Are you addressing the duality of spirit and body, or using the tension/energy that comes from examining such a duality in your work? Or is something else going on here?

NR: Bone of My Bone evolved into an exercise of trying to understand how to live in this world, with the knowledge that there’s also this afterlife-world that co-exists with the plane we inhabit. I like what you said about the poems using the tension/energy that comes from examining such a duality, because when I write I feel that tension physically inside my body. I think, how do I harness this tension, how do I translate this struggle, this what feels like angst dancing a jig on my ribs, into visceral poems? I’m Catholic, so I was raised with the strong sense that we’re both spirit and body, and we co-exist with the afterlife that’s inhabited by spirits. And we deal with this, when someone dies, when we’re depressed and contemplate leaving our bodies, when we have a miscarriage. When I write, I feel this whole gathering of things around me, memories, objects, words, things that are beautiful, other things that are grotesque. It’s this chaos, all these voices, so the idea is how do I inhabit multiple places, the earth, the afterlife as this creature who has a dual form? I think most people struggle with what their life on earth means. In this chapbook, there’s a reflection of that real questioning, and how we’re never really sure of anything—our place on earth, salvation, the meaning of suffering. It’s an ongoing internal struggle.

JG: There is a lot of intergenerational interplay in both chapbooks—the speaker and her premature baby, the speaker’s dead mother and grandmother, the grandfather. There’s also a repeated concern about entering heaven. Is the reaching for connection throughout generations a kind of insurance against being forgotten, against not entering heaven? And does this extend to the two writers whose lines are listed in your notes as being used in some of your poems, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath? Are they part of the lineage invoked?
NR: Yes, what was interesting to me was that the deceased grandmother and premature children inserted themselves quite often into my poems – until they became familiar characters. Two things that I’ve often thought about as keeping someone alive and rooted to the earth are their bones and words, so the grandmother whose body created the narrator’s mother, and Woolf and Plath who left their words, are still here with us. There is definitely a fear of both being forgotten and not entering heaven that the narrator in these chapbooks concerns herself with – and that’s complicated by the fear of dying young and leaving her children. The idea of having a female lineage that goes back and forward is part of the way of having both a history to root oneself in and a way to live, perhaps forever, on both earth and in the afterlife. The dead grandmother often haunts my poems, seemingly as an archetype of this dead/but still living source of history, wisdom, comfort and also mischief.

JG: Resistance is a strong presence in these books. In the title poem “Absence of Stars” we read “As a means of resisting, I knead bread, close my eyes and wash my face with tumbling waters.” In “If Every Sorrow Was This One,” the speaker intones: “sun don’t go down / let’s not grow old, // bone is forever”. There is a lot of language about throwing things in Absence of Stars, including “people fling apples, / kites …”, “I fling apples into eternity, // homesick for flying.”, “I throw salt at night’s terrors,” “the sinner flings happiness into fire.” Please tell us about how resistance plays a role in both of these books, and if you can, say something about these impulses to throw. Do they have similar impetuses, or not?

NR: A woman in my family birthed her only child when she was 40, and because of complications, her doctor advised her not to have any more children. She told me how there was this tissue or membrane that descended from her vagina, and she had to push it back in – she did this in secret, in the bathroom or bedroom or wherever. She had a similar story about how when she started menstruating, she thought she was dying because her mother hadn’t told her what the bleeding meant. There are these moments where the body betrays us, and so then we start to resist what else is to come, further births, our own deaths. So the resisting, the guarding of our bodies, but then also the pushing out further, flinging salt to repel spirits, a woman throwing offerings up into eternity in the hopes there’s a place for her there. So yes, the resistance and throwing are both forms of self-preservation.

JG: Despite the resistance and tension in these books, and the straining against death, which “is everywhere”, the final poem of Absence of Stars ends with the hopeful lines “I will walk with you // to eternity, its immensity / of yes, of life after / all our meaningless gestures // that mourn.” Is this uptake in mood because the premature baby is strengthening? Is there another source of this hopefulness that the reader should recognize?

NR: There’s definitely a hopefulness attached to parenting (especially a first-time parent), that as tiny premature babies strengthen, grow, come home for the first time and then continue to grow that’s reflected in these poems. Even for someone who suffers from depression there are these moments of joy, small miracles, the idea that the future brings some kind of hope for a positive evolution. When writing these poems, I found moments of calm and happiness among the chaos, some sort of order that also must exist alongside the maelstrom. Parenting, in the same day, the same hour, even the same five minutes, brings intense highs and lows. We struggle to make meaning of the seemingly meaningless or repetitive tasks (changing diapers, sweeping another mess off the floor, writing just one line of poetry in a sitting), but the tasks add up into the passage of time, which yields a growing child, a poem, a book of poems, a child that your body formed and grew and now speaks and breathes in the world.

JG: You have had a very prolific past year or two (or three), with two chapbooks Absence of Stars (Dancing Girl Press) and Bone of My Bone (Blood Pudding Press) having come out this summer, and your first full-length Louder than Everything You Love (ELJ Publications) coming out at the end of the year, with another chapbook Ghost Tongue (Porkbelly Press) forthcoming in 2016. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such publication productivity from a single poet within such a short time frame. What has propelled you to publish so much at this time? Is it the subject matter that pushes you to be so prolific, or something else? Or, is this a backlog of work that just happens to be coming to publication fruition all at once?

NR: I read this interview recently with poet Cecilia Woloch where she said something to the effect that she had really been writing for decades and then all at once, it seemed like the poems came and assembled themselves into chapbooks and books. I published one of my first submitted poems in Alaska Quarterly Review in 2001 right after I finished graduate school, and then my first chapbook came out in 2007. And then I didn’t really publish anything until 2012. During that five years, I had my first child and I was writing, but not actively focused on getting the work out there. My daughter and son were born four years apart – I had difficult pregnancies with both; both were born early (my son nine weeks) and spent weeks in the NICU. Those experiences seemed to catalyze my writing, which contained love, grief, vulnerability and the desire to create art, since time had become so scarce and precious. So to answer your question, I’ve written many poems along the way, and it seemed that in 2014, after workshopping with other poets, the manuscripts started to assemble in front of me. I had years of writing and cultivating and honing, and then something shifted and I was able to put together collections. One other thing that I wanted to mention is that a poem, “Necessary Work,” that I wrote about my daughter’s time in the NICU, when I was just frantic with worry, won Ruminate Magazine’s Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize in 2012, and was selected by Li-Young Lee, a poet I admire so much. That was the moment, I think, that put me on the track to focusing on getting a second chapbook out.

JG: Is there any poem in your repertoire that you think hasn’t gotten the attention it deserved, or that you would like to highlight? If so, please tell us about why it is important to you.

NR: “Labor” is an important poem to Absence of Stars. This was the first poem I wrote about my son, and it took a long time to find a home before it appeared in Stirring.


Pears, immortal fruit, comfort me. How in Chinese, li is pear separating.
Corn husks, our bodies against.

Bees humming, my water broke nine weeks early, and the baby came.
For a woman

whose labor is long, for her exquisite ache, midwives spoon
sugar and aged

vinegar into her mouth, sweet brightening the sour. Or, they call out
to Margaret,

as if the saint of childbirth will place a hand on the locus of pain. Shhhh,
this is why

a baby is born now, to teach me about the forms resistance takes. Just as you,
stone, shone on the first

angel, a midwife strokes sard on thighs to make the baby come, so a child comes
forth a shining person.

Is there consolation in this suffering, as light falls between sycamore branches?
Does the flock

that leaves one drowned in the river ever forget its black wings and shimmering eye?
Things are always

happening in the forest, flashes of feather and fur. We fail into departure,
such graceless creatures

carrying broken teeth. Yet, a singing through fontanel.

JG: You work full-time and have two young children. Yet you are so prolific. Do you have any advice for working parents who aim to have creative lives? Does your professional life feed your poetry life, or deplete it?

N: I remember at a recent doctor’s visit, I complained that I was always so tired, and had been tired for the last year or so. And the doctor laughed and said that every patient of hers who is the parent of young children and works full time says the same thing. So this is just another rite of passage in raising children that the body and mind must endure and survive. Honestly, the best advice that I have for writing parents is to just make time to write: For months on end, I sat down to write after my children had gone to bed, and that’s where a lot of these poems were written, in that space before my sleep. So you have to commit to that, but also commit to your own sleep and self-care. My day job as a B2B magazine editor doesn’t have a direct effect on my creative work either way; however, I will say that because my day job is editing and writing, I’m more in that mode when I come home to do more editing and writing. Yes, so my most common answer when people ask, “How are you,” is “I’m good, but so tired.”

JG:  In addition to the impressive list of your own books, what else do you recommend readers read?

NR: I have a rotating stack of books that I keep near my laptop, so right now I have Ariel by Sylvia Plath, The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers by Bhanu Kapil, Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds, Annie Dillard’s For the Time Being, Louise Gluck’s Faithful and Virtuous Night and the Women Write anthology, edited by Susan Cahill.

JG: What are you working on now? Or are you taking a much deserved break?

NR: No breaks for me yet. I’m working on the final editing and ordering of my first full-length collection, Louder Than Everything You Love. It’s amazing how bodily I feel this work, that I have such a strong stake in sending the best collection possible out into the world. The next step will be sending it to several poets who’ll write blurbs – that will be my first glimpse into how this collection will impact readers.

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Nicole Rollender is editor of Stitches. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Alaska Quarterly ReviewBest New PoetsThe JournalRadar PoetrySalt Hill JournalTHRUSH Poetry JournalWest Branch, Word Riot and others. Her first full-length poetry collection, Louder Than Everything You Love, is forthcoming from ELJ Publications. She is the author of the chapbooks Arrangement of Desire (Pudding House Publications), Absence of Stars (dancing girl press & studio), and Ghost Tongue (Porkbelly Press, 2016). She’s the recipient of poetry prizes from CALYX JournalRuminate Magazine and Princemere Journal. Find her online at

Where to get the chapbooks

Title of chapbook: Bone of My Bone
Name of press: Blood Pudding Press
Year published: September 5, 2015
Ordering link  

Title of my chapbook: Absence of Stars
Name of press: dancing girl press & studio
Year published: 2015
Ordering link

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Adroit Alert

When it rains, it pours, and it has been raining here in Kobe, both literally (for a week or more) and figuratively.

Today, I'm pleased to have a new poem in the new issue of The Adroit Journal alongside the work of Elizabeth Onusko, Alex Dimitrov, Patty Paine, Michael Bazzett, and more. Thanks to Peter LaBerge for putting together this stellar issue!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Jump in the POOL!

Thanks to Judith Taylor and Patty Seyburn of POOL Poetry for including four of my poems in Issue 14, along with work by Rusty Morrison, Matthew Thorburn, Peter Cooley, Molly Brodak, and more!

About twelve years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to POOL and said he thought it was one of the hottest new journals following the best writing, and I've wanted to place work in it ever since. And today's the day! Yay!

Monday, September 7, 2015

From the Masters

Bridle Path Press has a monthly feature called "From the Masters," in which writers share tips and advice. This month I was honored to be invited by Nina Romano to share my essay, "Constraints Are Your Friends," in which I invoke the experiences of musicians, writers, and the Oulipo.

Check out other monthly essays, such as Joan Murray's "Give Me a Break: On Revision and Line Breaks," Sandra Rodriguez Barron's "The Art of Detaching," Joan Colby's Catching a Poem," and more.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Interview / Review / Woo-hoo!

Two bits of self-promotion.

1) Donna Vorreyer, at Put Words Together. Make Meaning., has included me in her charming series in which she gives poets fill-in-the-blank sentences to complete (a la Mad Libs). Donna's questions are quirkier (and hence more revealing) than other interviews you'll read. Check out her entire series, in which each poet gets a different set of unusual sentences to complete.

2) Joshua Hjalmer Lind, editor of Hartskill Review, reviewed Mendeleev's Mandala for the Fall 2015 issue. He called me (via my work) "as playful and devastating as John Donne."

Wow. Just wow. I never expected that comparison, one I'm not worthy of . Wow.