For a video of the installation ceremony, please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xAk6fOzaNE.
HERE, WHERE I AM HAS BEEN NAMED ONE OF THE 30 BEST POETRY BLOGS.
How a Poem Happens: http://www.howapoemhappens.blogspot.com/
Go to http://www.yourdailypoem.com/, managed with finesse by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, who says, "Our intent is to make visitors to Your Daily Poem aware of the joy and diversity of poetry."
Friday, January 29, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Two weeks ago, redroom.com asked its members to blog on the topic of "my favorite poem." How could I choose? One poem from all the ones I love? Then I took a look at our Aero garden and knew. Verde, que te quiero verde!
Poets are fickle creatures. We fall in love over and over again.We can never remain faithful to only one poet. I began to understand this the day I forsook Wordsworth in my college Spanish class. My poetic guide. My first love. How could I?
What was I doing in a Spanish class anyway? Hadn’t my father instructed me to take either French or German, the latter being his grandmother’s native tongue?
He would have found it silly, the way my infatuation began, with a 75 rpm record bought during my senior year in high school. The Music of Spain. I listened at night after lights out to “Granada” and “Malaguena.” The hair on the nape of my neck trembled. The dark outside my windows beckoned.
And so, on the first day of classes in a small woman’s college in Georgia, I sat down to learn Spanish from a short rotund woman who demanded we call her La Senora, although she had never married. I read the classics of Spanish literature, moving inexorably toward the 20th century where in the anthology’s last section, I found Romance Sonambula and, and in the burst of a verde viento, the English Romantic poets became as dust to me. I fell in love with Federico Garcia Lorca. In Spanish. No matter how many translations of his work I’ve read over the years, the original Spanish has never lost its seductiveness, whether I read it silently or, better, aloud.
Verde que te quiero verde.
Verde viento. Verdes ramas.
El barco sobre la mar
y el caballo en la montaña.
Con la sombra en la cintura
ella sueña en su baranda,
verde carne, pelo verde,
con ojos de fría plata.
Verde que te quiero verde.
Not that I agreed with La Senora that everything sounded better in Spanish. Shakespeare? Wordsworth? Keats? No, I already knew that the language of poets is beautiful, no matter what it is. Hungarian, Romanian, Polish, French, English....Cherokee.
Garcia Lorca’s poetry spun me around, gave me a new way of experiencing language, my own language, which was now infused with the cante jondo of Andalusia.
Even now, years later, I recite those lines as a kind of mantra, Verde, que te quiero verde... and I still love the feel of them in my mouth. I love the deep song of them in my viscera. I have dreamed of trying to save Lorca in the olive grove, with only my child’s fingers pointed like guns at his assassins.
Verde, que te quiero verde.
Not even these lines can stop bullets. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. I know that.
But they live on in our daily lives, these words we love. They wait patiently for us. I had to reach middle age before Garcia Lorca’s duende found its way into my own poems.
Long before I could read Lorca
I wanted to give myself over to green
as he had and be lost like a sleepwalker
in it. I wanted to hide in the honeysuckle
and never come home if it meant I must stay
by the telephone, waiting for someone
to call with the doctor’s pronouncement,
my mother then turning to us saying
over and over again in my memory, Gone.
Such a word I would never repeat
to the oaks that held sway round my favorite pasture,
or blackberry bushes I dreamed would stay
unscythed by road crews sent forth to claim
right of way. Verde, que te quiero verde,
I’d gladly have cried if I could,
but where are such beautiful words
when we need them? And what if that’s all
this poem means now I’m middle-aged: words
as a way to want green back again
and myself in the throes of it,
even though I’ve learned enough about Lorca
at last to be quite sure that no verde
anywhere spending its June on this earth
could have outstayed for one blessed
second what waits at the end
of the line, always some bloodless voice
trying hard to sound human across so much
distance, its words still escaping me.
(from The Store of Joys, NC Museum of Art)
W.H. Auden said that art is a way of breaking bread with the dead. Each time a poet begins to write, or to read a poem, she takes the bread of those gone before and places it in her mouth. She does this over and over again. With one poet. Another, and yet another, living or dead. She loves the taste of the bread they share. So many poets. So many poems. By the end of her life she will contain, like Whitman, multitudes, and will never again try to answer the question, “What is your favorite poem?”
Monday, January 18, 2010
Alex Grant is a Promethean poet, which I know sounds maybe a bit pretentious. But he seems to be everywhere--publishing poems in just about every journal and e-zine, writing poems non-stop, posting on facebook, making numerous friends. How does he find such energy, this transplanted Scotsman? Is he a shape-shifter? He calls himself Alex Cougar Grant, but I think he must be Coyote! His sense of humor runs non-stop. He's a craftsman of great facility and sometimes, I think, trickery. He loves a joke. He loves the English language and how to play with it and let it play him.
Fear of Moving Water, $15.00,
59 pages, ISBN 978-1-936138-02-9
600 Overbrook Drive
Nicholasville, KY 40356
Alex's chapbook Chains & Mirrors (NCWN / Harperprints) won the 2006 Randall Jarrell Poetry Prize and the 2007 Oscar Arnold Young Award (Best North Carolina poetry collection). His second chapbook, The White Book, was released in 2008 by Main St. Rag Publishing. His poems have appeared in a number of national journals, including The Missouri Review, Smartish Pace, Best New Poets 2007, Arts & Letters, The Connecticut Review, Nimrod and Seattle Review. A recipient of WMSU’s Pavel Srut Poetry Fellowship and the Kakalak Anthology of Carolina Poets Prize, he lives in Chapel Hill, NC, with his wife, Tristi, his dangling participles, and his Celtic fondness for excess. He can be found on the web at www.redroom.com/author/alex-grant.
Here are some testimonials to his work:
"Alex Grant is a fabulist who spins language acrobatically into tales, tales into music, music into myth. Reading him (preferably aloud) is pure pleasure for the imagination, the mouth and the mind."
--- Susan Ludvigson
"If you value linguistic fluency, the flow of the English language along the warp of syntax, the weaving of image and rhythm into a tapestry of sound, you will find yourself immersed in Fear of Moving Water. Alex Grant brings his keen sense of language to every poem and he writes unashamedly out of the sheer pleasure of that language. Where does a poem's sense of place begin? In the naming of things. Grant names the world in all its multitudinous glories and terrors. Reading his poems kindles our desire to live again in that world."
--- Kathryn Stripling Byer, NC Poet Laureate & author of Coming to Rest
"I've always believed that poetry depends on two truths: the probity of mystery versus obscurity, and the musical resonance of words within the poetic line or phrase. Alex Grant probes a menagerie of mystery in these poems, and among the younger poets I've encountered, he is more finely attuned to the music of poetry than most. He is a poet to be reckoned with, and he is worth every nuance of the serious reader's reckoning. This is a book that compels our reading, and our re-reading."
--- Martin Lammon, Arts & Letters editor
"These historically savvy, philosophically ambitious poems demonstrate as much linguistic and syntactical dexterity as they do an expansive literary mind at work. Alex Grant casts his visionary net far and wide, capturing the dark and shimmering..."
--- Dorianne Laux
NERUDA’S SUICIDE NOTE
- In memory of Spalding Gray
They say nothing ever changes
but your point of view.
Nothing – “some thing
that has no existence” –
this makes no sense.
I sit in the catacumbas
and listen to the rain
pound the papaya leaves -
my skin like confetti,
my heart a cheap lottery.
I have seen the tiger’s stripes –
they live between
the fine linen sheets
of an office-girl’s bed,
in the afternoon fumblings
of someone who is no-one,
with a heart bursting
like a red balloon
on a tap – the pieces fly
in all directions, you cover
your face with your hand,
and it sticks to your skin
like confetti, like phosphorus
launched from a Greek warship,
like the skin of a plum
peeled by a broken nail.
SECRET SONNET FOR THE COCKROACH
They live without their bodies for a week,
you know – subsisting on the head, the mind
alone - they flit like frogs beside a creek
whenever pounding footsteps come to grind
their crunchy shells into some pristine hard-
wood floor. You stamp on one, and six white eggs
are jettisoned inside a fibrous shard
they say is tougher than a whiskey keg.
Four billion years and evolution’s passed
them by – this crevice-living dinosaur,
resisting every futile fog and gas-
filled labyrinth - unlike the Minotaur -
bull-headed, eggless doorman of the maze -
that mythic locus Theseus embraced.
THE LONG, SLOW DROP
A wedge of salted cantaloupe
sinking in blue agave.
A bruised peach
in a white porcelain bowl.
The heart’s iambic thud,
like steps on maple floors.
Four strands of hair
in a lover’s mouth.
A zinc nail sunk in bitumen.
A black-haired boy
seen in a rear-view mirror.
A plum tomato skewered
on a bamboo stave.
A Chinese flag buckled
in the monsoon’s lull.
The white afternoon
turning to November dark.
- For the Haiku Master Issa, and his father
19 days into the late spring moon,
Issa pours sugar down his father’s
throat, rubs his feet and shoulders,
listens, in the early hours, to breath
labor like fading wind. He watches
him mouth unheard prayers, hears
the rattle in the gullet, the invitation
to the moon to walk with him again.
Delirium comes in many forms, but
none so blatant as necessity, none
so welcome as the inevitable stone
sinking back into amniotic blue.
HIS HOLINESS THE ABBOT
IS SHITTING IN THE WITHERED FIELDS
- after Buson
The mortal frame, the Haiku Masters hold,
is made up of one hundred bones
and nine orifices.
The mind this frame contains can be used,
or not used, to make the poem,
or become the poem.
Becoming is accomplished without thought,
making requires the application
of intent and will.
All change comes from objects in motion.
To capture the thing at rest, you
must be moving.
So, 7 days bereaved, Issa made his father’s
death poem: “A bath when you’re born,
a bath when you die – how stupid.”
Grief is a silk neckerchief covering a burn
around the throat, holding sound
down in the body.
And so we make these sounds without
thought – the heretic body burns,
intends, and moves.
Friday, January 15, 2010
(Please go to http://ncpoetlaureate.blogspot.com/2009/11/appalachian-heritage-special-cherokee.html to see the post on this special issue.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Margaret (Peggy) Raab, one of NC's most accomplished and acclaimed poets, has died much too soon of cancer. Her funeral will be Friday in Chapel Hill. For her obituary, please go to http://www.chapelhillnews.com/news/story/54472.html. For a podcast of Peggy reading from her work, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu-Udyk_9PU.
Here are a few of Peggy's poems, as well as some comments by her many friends and admirers.
She also published at least three great chapbooks. Here she reads "Low Owl Illusion"http://www.youtube.com/wat
by Margaret Rabb
By pairs and threes they crash
and spin to the shoulder, drivers
stunned, unable to keep their eyes,
wheels, the tingle in their fingertips
from bark and open drifts of silk,
the looseblown momentary bloom.
April. They pass, retreat sideways,
floating away from the little accident.
A specimen tree in a suburban yard
is one thing, fertilized, gravid, buds
popped out all over, azaleas snapping
at its knees. But the woods at the edge
of plowed fields are another story, a waltz
at the dogwood diner, the dance that slays us:
four or five flowers hover over a branch,
crossed, notched, whiter than this world allows.
Two poems from Margaret Rabb's Shoulderable Shine
followed by a note on the author
In the middle of my life I found myself in a dark wood.
On one side, clouds settled like three or four trouble notes.
Then they moved, right to left, a slow freight
shuddering by the crossing grade. Or – I was looking
out the grate as a whistle shifted bars across the gate.
In the middle of life's way I found myself in dark woods.
On a landing a broom leaned out of a bucket.
Beyond the ferry wake, a slanted plume. Sunrays
slipped, then caught a jib and mainsail. Runnels hissed
to the rocks. White sheets cupped and held.
In the midst of life I found I was in a dark wood.
Rain scrimmed the air. It was all unclear,
a sandblasted flood I squinted through. Great,
I'd say, and try the other glasses in my pocket
but they only focused drops against the gray.
Just what I need now, cut loose and nearly blind,
an unknown coast closed in with rime.
Midway on life's journey I found myself in the dark woods.
At night the island might still be overgrown with fir,
starless but for piers and porches across water.
Black-green drooping boughs stir a diffuse
and moonish glow behind the clouds' light cover.
In the middle of the night my daughter's call –
old anger she'll never get over, oil and vitriol
against too much, too little, pitched and caught again.
Next night my mother's voice, scratched in pain,
near panic, twisted gut. Back to the ER
because – what else is there to do for her?
In my middle age, that darkening wood, I found myself
across the continental shelf from home. The flight back
skimmed high plains. Now I can't recall the place
for a waterglass, which drawer holds stamps.
No light outside since lightning hit the lamps.
Midway through my life in the dark wood
of Sylvania County, I found it was a hemlock forest,
a rhododendron hell. What could be more manifest
than native laurel thickets three stories high
holding pale petal spikes to claps of thunder in July?
My mother, nearly ninety, will not bathe or brush her hair
but sits askew all day in the black reclining chair.
After the middle of middle age a vision,
airy or ordinary, will not engage
but only aggravate a reader. Reactive fission
fuels the middle of middle age. A vision
from a line of Dante? Rescue mission.
Infernal fizzle pushed to the nuclear stage
over the edge of the middle. A middle-aged vision-
ary? Her ordinary will? Disengage
the dazzle. Any pen to any page.
For the straight road was lost. How hard a thing
to tell what wild, rough, dense or wooded was.
I turned too soon and drove too far, climbing
a one-lane gravel path. The gearbox buzzed,
the drop sheered off. Pines on that steep side.
Mills River understory ginseng and Solomon's seal.
I forced myself to turn back at the final hairpin.
For I had missed the right road. What hard work
to imagine for you, reader, this wood, savage and tangled,
and down where we breathe, air like condensed milk.
I lay low, gave in, adored the genes
that cool my children's bloodlines.
So bitter, so bitter is it, death is little more.
Past my mother asking for her father,
past my careless girls who husbanded nothing,
no harbor but clouds, no train but grief,
I left the right road. But the good I found
may be told: a shale never broken,
a shadow cove, whitewater at the cleft.
I stepped into the stream, sleepwalker woken
midway – myself dark words, dark woods.
Walking a Black Lab at Night
She pulled out to the leash's
end and disappeared.
From then on it was weird
air-fishing through the reaches
the cable gave her – reeling back,
casting and spinning – sudden slack
that dropped my wired wrist,
her hidden point I missed.
Margaret Rabb has been the artist in residence at the University of Central Oklahoma. She has taught at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, St Andrews College in Laurinburg, and the University of Washington in Seattle, and was awarded the 2006 Arts & Letters Rumi Prize by Coleman Barks. Her first book of poems, Granite Dives (New Issues Press, 2000), received North Carolina's Roanoke-Chowan Award. Her poems have appeared in journals from the Kenyon Review to Light Quarterly and have been awarded the Louisiana Literature Prize for Poetry, the Phyllis Smart Young Prize from the Madison Review at the University of Wisconsin, the Lullwater Prize from Emory, the Hackney Literary Award, and the Wood Award for Distinguished Writing from the Carolina Quarterly. Her new chapbook, Old Home, was chosen by Fred Chappell and published last November by New American Press. Next year Rabb will direct the creative writing program at Wichita State University.
"Dante's Anteroom" was first published in Chelsea; "Walking a Black Lab at Night" was first published by theCincinnati Review.
The second annual Nâzım Hikmet Poetry Festival will be held on Sunday, April 18, 2010 in Cary, North Carolina. As we bring together poets and poetry lovers, participation of area poets will be an essential part of this Festival. Interested poets are invited to submit their poems by Friday, February 19, 2010. The selected poems will be published on-line at the Festival web site as well as in the Festival Chapbook, and the poets will be invited to read their winning poems and introduce their poetry at the Festival. Each finalist will receive an award of $100. Last year's winning poems can be found at the festival web site.The 2009 festival chapbook is available at Amazon.com.
Deadline: Entries received by Friday, February 19, 2010 will be considered for selection.
(*) All entries MUST be submitted via www.nazimhikmetpoetryfestival.org
(*) All poems submitted to the Festival must be unpublished, original works.
(*) Each poet can submit up to three poems.
(*) The poems should be in English.
(*) The selected poems will be published on-line at the Festival web site as well as in the Festival Chapbookl. By submitting their poems, the poets grant NHPF all rights to publish the poems at these venues.
(*) After the festival, the chapbook will be available for purchase at amazon.com. The proceeds from the chapbook sales will be used to support future festivals.
(*) The poets will retain copyrights of their poems.
Selection & Notification
(*) Submitted poems will be evaluated anonymously.
(*) The contact information provided by the poets will not be disclosed to other individuals or organizations.
(*) The poets will be notified of their poem’s status by March 22, 2010.
POETRY SELECTION COMMITTEE:
John Balaban, Professor of English, Poet-in-Residence, NC State University
Kathryn Stripling Byer, 2005-2009 NC Poet Laureate
Greg Dawes, Professor, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, NC State University
Joseph Donahue, Senior Lecturing Fellow, Department of English, Duke University
Jackie Shelton Green, Piedmont Laureate
Hatice Örün Öztürk (ATA-NC Representative), Associate Professor, Department of ECE, NC State University
ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS:
This event is organized by the American Turkish Association of North Carolina (www.ata-nc.org )
Organizing committee: Buket Aydemir, Pelin Balı, Erdag Göknar, Mehmet Öztürk, and Birgül Tuzlalı
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Jessie's poems and non-fiction have appeared in publications such as The Main Street Rag, Iodine Poetry Journal andThe Northville Review. Her first chapbook, At the A & P Meridiem, was released by Pudding House Publications in 2009. Her first e-chapbook/2nd print chapbook, The Wait of Atom, was released by Folded Word Press in November 2009. Her first full length collection Paper House will be released by Folded Word Press in March 2010. Jessie works as a freelance editor, writer, and writing coach/teacher. She is also the editor of Shape of a Box, YouTube's first literary magazine. Jessie received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She is a member of AWP, Charlotte Writer’s Club, NCWN, NC Poetry Society and will serve on the new board for the Poetry Council of NC. You can find her around the web but most often at her blog http://jessiecarty.wordpress.com.
From Jessie's first chapbook “At the A & P Meridiem” (Pudding House, 2009)
Outside the pan, then inside its lip,
the rhythm of the dish rag
invokes a spell of domesticity
as the grease clumps
down the silver walls of the sink
and into the growl of the garbage disposal,
all hungry like a spirit animal.
I set the oven to preheat at 450
while I chop up a fruit salad.
Out the sliding glass door,
I toss rings of oranges
puckered like over tanned skin
into a brown compost pile.
Improvising, I prepare
a pot pie of mixed, frozen
vegetables and sliced chicken.
Here is a dash of salt, a turn
of the pepper mill, a finger
making a furrow across the top.
I taste the raw beginning.
I set a timer for 45 minutes.
As I wipe down the counter
and scrub up the sink, I stop
once in a while to flick
the light inside the stove—
From – The Wait of Atom, her 2nd chapbook, Folded Word Press 2009
(first appeared in Wild Goose Poetry Review)
The Wait of Atom
It wasn’t that he wouldn’t wait for her
or not even that he didn’t want
to wait for her, he just couldn’t
stand still. She couldn’t stand it,
the way his eyes became nearly crossed,
how he jangled the change in his pocket.
She’d complained before.
To keep his face from registering
annoyance, he began mentally listing
the noble gases by weight: lowest to highest,
using his hands in his pockets to count each one.
He could do this without moving his lips.
His face relaxed even though she was still
transferring her personal items
from a brown purse to a black one.
She had explained, on more than one occasion,
how her purse had to match her shoes. How
his belt should match his shoes and he’d learned
to keep his eyes focused on a point
just over her shoulder while he let his brain
scan the periodic table of elements.
Her upcoming full length book Paper House will be out March 2010 from Folded Word Press.
Fold a sheet of striped
notebook paper in half.
Draw the shape of a house.
Trim the edges to form a roof.
Where you want windows,
cut a flap.
Place pieces of furniture
or people to peer at
when you peep
through the paper windows.
On the first floor, in the kitchen,
her stick arms. She can almost
touch the ceiling.
She’s closest to the door.
Above her is a bedroom
a girl looks out a window.
She’s next to a desk
with her arms out straight
as if she was trying
3rd grade calisthenics. To the girls’
right is another room
with a bed, a lamp. Downstairs,
next to the kitchen,
Dad lies on the couch wearing boxers.
Black and white can’t show
his cigarette dripping red-tipped ash
onto the carpet, forming a hole.
From a project in progress. Ology. First appeared in Blue Fifth Review
Far and Wee
Breathing on trees was my hobby. I’d sit on the browned pine needles, leaning my head against the bark and I’d suck in as much air as I could through my nose then I’d let it go with my chin pointed up to the branches. I’d pretend I was blowing up a balloon as I willed my carbon to keep the trees growing up and out.
I was never good at making balloons. Impatience perhaps? The first long breathes are almost futile. The balloon just spurts the air back at you, but if you keep pushing past that the plastic will eventually give and expand from the center rounding out.
Mom was the best at tying the ends of the balloons but my brother would do in a pinch. Like when we were waiting in the car once and to o entertain us, my brother blew up a balloon for each of us. My sister was in the front seat, bouncing her balloon back and forth against the windshield but I had taken a dare from my brother. I put the balloon under my shirt to pretend I was pregnant. I was rubbing my new rotund belly, saying, “Feel it kick!” When it popped, shrinking against the skin of my stomach it pulled the flesh up and in.
From an untitled project in progress but first appeared in The Dead Mule
When the contractor began flattening the fields I had sold,
he turned over a small cache of bones.
From my back porch I saw him remove his hat, pull
his browning hand across his forehead.
He tossed the bones into the woods and leveled the spot,
prepping it for concrete.
In the dark of early evening I scooped up the bones. They were light
like bread and cold from the wet earth.
I warmed them in the oven of my palms, wondering if once
they were worn down by hours leaning into an axe,
or perhaps from grinding against a mortar to resize corn. They
could have been the foundation of skin, hope and tendon;
they could have belonged to the builders of pillars, of stone
circles, of sacrificial mounds, of children.
As I laid them down, I saw a body loose and those bones poking
through the skin like the skin was shale;
as the meat of the body moved down the shaft of the bone
like a candle melting on stone.