miscellany

1: write the poem. The language of it. The actual words are important. The music is as important as the idea. If the music isn’t there, the idea doesn’t take flight.

2: don’t get precious. Write until you find your way. You’re a millionaire of words. Speculate to accumulate.

3: figure out how to get into the sweet spot between idea and music as quickly as possible, ever more directly.

4: no time to second guess yourself. That’s what later is for.

Art, be it poetry, music, sculpture, puppetry—the whole of it, inspires change on a personal level rather than a global one. This is important because the individual is the whole. The creation of art argues that people are connected, ideas are connected, the past and future are connected by this moment. Meanwhile, exploitation of the poor, drone strikes that kill hundreds of children, slavery, genocide, land theft—these are all acts that depend upon convincing large groups of usually well-meaning people that “they are not us.” Dean Young once said, “The highest accomplishment of the human consciousness is the imagination, and the highest accomplishment of the imagination is empathy.” Poetry, along with every other art, is a tool for teaching and expanding empathy. Violence and injustice cannot endure empathy.
A NORMAL INTERVIEW WITH JAMAAL MAY | The Normal School: A Literary Magazine
  • RC:

    What role should poetry play in everyday life?

  • BH:

    None. Should sounds like eating vegetables. I'm sorry— I sort of criticised your question there. But I don't like should. I'm guessing that your question has to do, in part, with poetry's diminished status in our culture. I certainly wish poetry still didn't seem so strange to people. Which is weird, given that, if people write, they're more likely to write poetry than anything else, in my experience. With that in mind, I think poetry is an every-day thing for many.

This juxtaposition of space and text—each poem in the cycle adheres to the same format—creates multiple effects. First of all, and by far the simplest of all possible explanations in my mind, would be that open space creates a field for the reader to imagine the absent, roughly two-dimensional, visual surface that triggers the writing. But a far more interesting explanation, made possible by Bleakney’s aesthetic choices, is that the field created by the space allows the speaker to create a three-dimensional absence which she may fill with her own internal weather, a process in which the speaker becomes the painting’s ego, and eventually even a superimposed alter-ego for the painter herself, who remains mostly absent, in terms of fact. Throughout the cycle—other than a reference to her birthplace, we get very little information about the painter herself—but she remains ever-present through the speaker’s entreaties. The speaker evokes Owens directly, or more particularly, the Owens she is in the business of creating

“20 PAINTINGS BY LAURA OWENS” BY ELAINE BLEAKNEY | Stitched, Stapled, Bound

Lamenting the fact that this chapbook appears to have sold out. That said, Bleakney’s next collection is out in April. Looking forward to picking up a copy.

First thing every morning after waking up, I take a pill that may cause drowsiness. The darkness begins to peel away in long, uneven strips, exposing patches of brighter darkness underneath. Later, I’ll feel as I often do, like a candle eavesdropping on sunlight. Going up on the escalator, a vague little man who reminds me of me will hug a bag from Infinity Shoes to his chest. I’ll have the sense that anyone who isn’t a victim is a suspect. In infinity shoes, you could, theoretically, walk forever.
'The Shadow of an Airplane Crosses the Empire State Building' - Howie Good; via Right Hand Pointing
For a year I went blind as a freight train, thrashed
in a wild grief, because nothing as loud
as my sorrow could be heard. Now, in the formless dark
I can’t untangle my tongue
even to know what kind of help to ask.
But he tells me I’m all flintstrike
deep in the basement’s gut: again, again, again, again—
Extract of Small Bang Theory by Anne Shaw | Kenyon Review Online. Follow the link for the full poem.
Can’t say I’m worried about success because I don’t really know what constitutes success in the poetry world. Book sales? Fellowships? Being invited to read or interviewed? Having people request your work rather than having to send it out cold? I don’t ever want to think that what I’m doing is automatic, or that I can’t fail. Too many once-great poets (no names here) have let their work go stale, and I wonder if it’s because no editor will tell them “this sucks — I don’t want it.” I don’t know if I’ll ever be a great poet, but whatever I am, I don’t want to be a guy who writes the same poem over and over again, no matter how well I write it.
A Poet in My Bones: A Conversation with Brian Spears « Used Furniture Review
Living, we cover vast territories;
imagine your life drawn on a map—
a scribble on the town where you grew up,
each bus trip traced between school
and home, or a clean line across the sea
to a place you flew once. Think of the time
and things we accumulate, all the while growing
more conscious of losing and leaving. Aging,
our bodies collect wrinkles and scars
for each place the world would not give
under our weight.
First Gestures (extract), Julia Spicher Kasdorf

The body of a bird in your mouth
breathing songs.
Raw light spills from your eyes,
utterly naked.

You must breach the horizon, once,
in order to wake up.
You must open window after window.
You must support the walls.

I let alphabets cling to me
as I climb the thread of language
between myself and the world.
I muster crowds in my mouth:
suspended between language and the world,
between the world and the alphabets.

I let my head
listen to the myth,
to all sides praising each other.
And I shout at the winds from the top of a mountain.

Why does my tongue tell me to climb this far?
What is the distance between my voice and my longing? What is there?

A body transcending my body.
A body exiled by desire.
A body sheltered by the wind.

Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi

1 / 7