First off, I am happy to share the latest issue of West Texas Literary Review which features my poem “Old Man in a Rocker.”
This issue also features solid work from Ace Boggess, Ann Lowe Weber, Tara Ballard, and John Sibley Williams among others.
Secondly, I am happy to share that my prose poem, “City of Windows,” has been nominated for Best of the Net by the good folks at Pretty Owl Poetry.
Thank you to the editor for the nod and community!
Lastly, I am delighted to share that I am beginning my tenure as one of the editors of Right Hand Pointing starting this month.
My welcome into the fold is in the shape of the latest issue “the rain will never end” (issue 115) which I guest edited. I had a great time selecting pieces for the issue. I hope you enjoy spending time with them.
Last week saw the release of my latest digital chapbook Naos Explains Everything Via Crumbs published by the good people at Right Hand Pointing. Part of Naos’ latest meditation / treatise / mixtape ideas had him ruminating on the figure of Atlas, the Titan condemned to carry the earth for eternity:
the ant is Atlas under a crumb — Atlas carries the crumb of the earth —
I believe what Naos might be getting at is that it’s all about perspective.
A similar theme arises in this week’s poem in which the late great lucille clifton takes on the story of Atlas. In clifton’s poem, the speaker is Atlas himself detailing how he has gotten “used to the heft of it.” Two things in particular move about this interpretation of the mythological figure. First, how, through the details of “forest,” “sea,” and “odor of flesh,” clifton’s Atlas conveys a familiarity and endearment for the human earth.
The other thing I keep finding compelling is the absence of a specific word for “it.” Due to the title, the informed reader picks up on who the speaker is, and what his role is in myth. The absence of a specific word – “planet,” perhaps or “earth” – points to clifton’s overall ambition, which is to present this mythological figure in distinct human terms. It is a human voice that speaks in terms of “it,” and the human voice of her other poems adds further depth to the story of Atlas.
atlas – lucille clifton
i am used to the heft of it
sitting against my rib,
used to the ridges of forest,
used to the way my thumb
slips into the sea as i pull
it tight. something is sweet
in the thick odor of flesh
burning and sweating and bearing young.
i have learned to carry it
the way a poor man learns
to carry everything.
Just a quick post to announce the release of Right Hand Pointing’s Issue #89: “Echo” featuring poems under 25 words. Along with fine work by Sina Evans, Robert Gregory, and Jordi Alonso among others, three of my own pieces are featured:
The image above is related to the subject of the poem “Concentration.” I’m happy to have this particular poem published as it takes me back to my school days in South Texas watching the local Ballet Folklorico do their thing.
Just a quick post to share the news of two recent publications.
First, this weekend marked the publication of Right Hand Pointing’s Issue 87 “Alabama,” a states themed issue. I’m happy to have been allowed to do my part to rep both Oregon (here) and Ohio (here). Special thanks to the RHP editors!
Also out this week is the latest issue of The Citron Review which includes my microfiction piece “Twitch.” Read it here.
I’m especially excited about this piece as it is part of my forthcoming chapbook “Reasons (not) to Dance.”
Just a quick post to share the publication of the latest issue of Right Hand Pointing entitled Crows and Cranes – dedicated to very short poems, including my own poem “Pebblescripture” which can be found here.
Check out the rest of the issue – part 1 of 2 on short poems – here.
Also, over the weekend One Sentence Poems published two of my, uhm, one sentence poems, which I happily share here:
The crew of Ambidextrous Bloodhound – whose projects include the journal Right Hand Pointing & One Sentence Poems – have been generous and encouraging of my work throughout the years. I can’t thank them enough. That said, thank you to Dale Wisely, Robert Scotellaro, & Laura M. Kaminski. Find out more about Ambidextrous Bloodhound’s projects here.
This past Tuesday night I had the pleasure of taking part in Pretty Owl Poetry’s Online Reading Series.
The reading/interview was conducted through Google+ and was a blast despite a few technical difficulties. Because of the nature of the interview – specifically the part in which I am given permission to ramble and bumble in my own awkward way – I thought I’d share the link along with some of the highlights of the reading, so folks could navigate through my loquaciousness (as can be noted in the interview, the BIG words only come out in writing).
Here is the “reading” portion of the reading. The pieces read are “Stream” (published by Pretty Owl Poetry here) as well as “Letter to Rainer Maria Rilke from NYC” (published in the Acentos Review here) and “Naos and the Spirit Picture” (published in a digital chapbook here).
from 11:08 – 14:24 = craft talk!
Here I respond to a question from editor Rose Huber about the piece “Stream” which has gone through several mutations since first being drafted in 2006.
A little into the following question, I cut out both sound-wise and image-wise. Then I’m promptly replaced by this guy:
Despite his stern look and sudden goatee, I thank this gentleman for intervening for, because of him, folks are spared from having to deal with my teeth on camera which are HUGE.
from 19:19 – 26:33 = blog! reading! astrology!
This stretch includes Kelly Andrews asking me both about the thinking behind this blog as well as reading.
Then, after mentioning the astrological underpinnings of the blog, Gordon Buchan jumps in and I totally geek out about astrology and writers.
Writers astrologically discussed:
– Kafka, Neruda (Cancer)
– Jack Gilbert (Aquarius)
– Rilke (Sagittarius)
– Charles Simic (Taurus)
– Yeats, Garrett Hongo (Gemini)
– Borges, Charles Wright, myself (Virgo)
from 28:09 – 30:47 = mas craft talk!
Lastly, here Gordon jumps right back in and asks another question about craft which leads me to discuss ideas of lyricism and personal/generative distinctions between prose and poetry.
Special thanks again to Rose, Kelly, & Gordon for inviting me to participate!
I am happy to announce that my digital chapbook “Naos: an introduction” is officially out on the Right Hand Pointing site!
Here’s the “Introduction to an Introduction”:
Once again, Anne Rice is at fault. The VHS copy I had of Interview with the Vampire came with an introduction by the author in which she spoke of the character Lestat in terms of persona: how he was her devil, her dark lover, her alter ego, and possibly her conscience. The character Naos is none of these things for me. But I have gone back to the memory often over the years, and thought of Anne breaking down a persona as a fulcrum to get at other facets of self. The word naos comes from the Greek, and means sanctuary, the innermost chamber of a temple. I came across the word in a dictionary of forgotten words, read it, put it in my pocket. I reached for this word when I found myself working on poems I wasn’t sure were mine, poems that made me feel as though I had stumbled upon an innermost chamber of a thought. Which is where Naos lives. Not the brain, more like the mind, or a poem. Things that hold, only as long as we do.
Special thanks to Dale Wisely for giving me this opportunity & to Laura Kaminski for editorial feedback!
Part of the fun of the project beyond persona-ing was working out some formal games. Each poem follows a pattern of 5 in one way or another: either in the poem being five lines or being in five couplets (and sometimes a combination of the two). I also noodled around a bit with syllabics, each lyric having its own measure.
One more update: I’ve recently revamped the Poems tab and included some more recent publications including flash fiction and book reviews as well as recent publications in Pretty Owl Poetry, Short, Fast, and Deadly and Prick of the Spindle – the latter of which includes 3 more poems in the Naos series.
I believe this is now officially longer than most of my regular Friday posts. Excitement = loquaciousness!
One had a lovely face,
And two or three had charm,
But charm and face were in vain
Because the mountain grass
Cannot but keep the form
Where the mountain hare has lain.
I’ve spent the past week reading through the Collected Poems of Yeats. He’s been a go-to guy since high school; each reading reveals him to be a darker writer than his more famous poems allow.
In the above, not one but three of the women of his life are summed up in a six line poem. And not even summed up, but rather quickly evoked, and just as quickly dissolved into an image. The reader is left looking at an impression of life, which is what the speaker is left with as well.
Without going into the details, I’ll say Yeats was a lonely boy, wronged and wronging in love in his respective way. Being sensitive and bookish has its consequences, good and bad.
On the one hand, Yeats is a technical master. But then there’s the hares, who, in truth, merit the greatest sympathy.
In the poem below, Yeats presents a speaker who would learn to change loves “while dancing,” but finds he can only imagine what that might be like. That it can only happen, even hypothetically, in a mythological realm is the first clue to Yeats’ bluff: for all the dancing and laughing, the speaker remains rather pathetic – both in terms of pathos and general sadness, and pathetic like the kid standing against the wall during a dance.
That the means through which the speaker spies this other realm is the bone of a hare – a collar-bone no less, the bone between the throat (where, in us, the voice lives) and the heart – the bone of a simple if fretful creature, means that something simple in him has died as well.
The Collar-Bone of a Hare – W. B. Yeats
Would I could cast a sail on the water
Where many a king has gone
And many a king’s daughter,
And alight at the comely trees and the lawn,
The playing upon pipes and the dancing,
And learn that the best thing is
To change my loves while dancing
And pay but a kiss for a kiss.
I would find by the edge of that water
The collar-bone of a hare
Worn thin by the lapping of water,
And pierce it through with a gimlet, and stare
At the old bitter world where they marry in churches,
And laugh over the untroubled water
At all who marry in churches,
Through the thin white bone of a hare.
p.s. Please check out the latest issue of Right Hand Pointing – a celebration of 10 years of bringing (Right)eous poetry to the people, starring such riff raff as fellow poets Laura M. Kaminski and Marc Vincenz (and yours truly) – here.