I’ve been behind in sharing some of my recent publications of the past few months so I’ll be doing a few short posts this week to rectify this.
First up – new work:
I’m honored to have my poem “Conditioning (Run Study)” published in the latest issue of Hunger Mountain “Everyday Chimeras.” They have been kind enough to share it on their site as well. Special thanks to the editors for including my work alongside some great writers including Elizabeth Acevedo, Brian Clifton, and Carl Phillips!
Also, my poems “Flea Market,” “Funeral,” and “Grit” are included in the latest issue of The Inflectionist Review! I’m always excited to be a part of one of IR’s issues. This one includes fine work by Jon Boisvert, Laurie Kolp, and Maximilian Heinegg among others!
Lastly, I am psyched to have a haiku included in the latest issue of Bones: journal for contemporary haiku. I found out about this journal a year ago, and spent that year reading past issues and working out how my haiku aesthetic could learn from the work they publish. Special thanks to the editors for including my work!
Stay tuned for updates on reviews and media later in the week!
Just a quick post to share 3 recent publications of new work:
.) Check out three new octaves in the latest issue of The Inflectionist Review. These poems come from a new sequence that expands upon the syllabic craft concepts explored in my chapbook Corpus Christi Octaves (Flutter Press, 2014). Special thanks to John Sibley Williams & A. Molotkov for including me in this issue along with CL Bledsoe, Devon Balwit, and other fine writers!
.) Also, the latest issue of Shantih Journal includes “Nada Takes Stock” from my series The Nada Poems. Thank you to David L. White and everyone at SL for putting together such a fine issue!
.) Lastly, I am proud to have my prose poems “Mist Song” and “Creature Song” be a part of the inaugural issue of Scryptic Magazine. Special thanks to Chase Gagnon and Lori A Minor for including my work! Read more about the vision of this magazine here.
I was recently asked to participate in an experiment of sorts in promotion of poet John Sibley Williams’ latest collection, Disinheritance (Apprentice House Press). John has asked fellow poets to record readings of their favorite poems from the new collection, all with an eye/ear towards how other poets interpret and perform the work. I found the concept fascinating and am happy to present my own contribution to this reading “tour” of the book.
For this project, I chose “Things Start at Their Names,” specifically because of how the poem performs on the page. While the poem starts off with the image of ice locking “the river in place,” everything that follows begins to push against being locked. This push gesture is furthered in the select italicized words, each phrase used as a name in the poem’s argument. What this move does both typographically and conceptually is push the lyric towards speech and voice, as if wanting to “unlock” from ink and rise. A name is what one is “called”; here, each italicized name calls out and summons specific colors to itself and to the poem. One calls out a name in hope of a response; reflecting on the title, a name can be seen as the start of this hope.
In performing this poem, I found myself going at a slower pace than usual. There is something in the construction of the poem that, when read aloud, seems to want to echo the locked ice image and the metaphorical pushes against it. Each time I practiced it, I found myself halting at different times, different phrases; eventually this energy began to feel inherent to the poem.
I want to thank John Sibley Williams for the invitation to participate in this promotional project. I can only hope my reading of it does it justice.
Things Start at Their Names – John Sibley Williams
Ice locks the river in place and my heart
is static for the season and traversable.
Sometimes a boy about the age
my son would be adventures
half way across me before remembering
the duty to destroy the one thing
beneath him. He writes his name
on my rib; it says Curiosity. I reply
with the name I’ve learned to wear: Distance. A fluster of bluegill follows his body
downstream to where it meets the Columbia,
in time the ocean, which I cannot make freeze.
Next spring I will snare the things that still move in me,
beat them against stone, and eat until empty. I have
his name written all over my body; it says Forever be Winter. My wife calls him Gabriel; after all these years
she still calls him Gabriel, and sometimes from the shore
she calls to me: Thaw.
I feel that ever since discovering Ritsos’s work years ago I keep coming back. The most recent return has come in the form of my morning meditations which consist of my reading poems aloud for about 5-10 minutes. I discovered this practice in talking with Ani about some of the physical struggles with meditation, how sitting in one spot and focusing on breathing can sometimes bring more anxiety and pain than, say, reading poems aloud.
Because of the role poetry has played in my life, reading poems aloud for the sheer focused pleasure of it feels like returning home. Approaching it like meditation, I let myself read as I used to growing up, sinking into the words, not worrying about exacting meaning, rather, the meaning instead rising from the active engagement with words. Giving myself over in this way, I believe, takes me to a similar place of selflessness as meditation – though I wouldn’t exactly call it a substitute or equivalent, more a cousin activity, closer to prayer.
I made it through most of Spring reading through Jack Gilbert’s Collected Poems and have moved on to Ritsos recently. In the interview, I speak of a fateful vividness in the work of Crane and Ritsos, a characteristic that can be found in the poem below. The poem’s narrative moves from a childhood scene observed from a distance, the details moving in the first two stanzas with a similar distance. The third stanza, on the other hand, zooms in and in four lines gives a fateful image that lifts the lyric beyond words on the page.
A Myopic Child – Yannis Ritsos
The other kids romped around the playground: their voices
rose up to the roofs of the quarter, also the “splock” of their ball
like a globular world, all joy and impertinence.
But he was reading the whole time, there in the spring window,
within a rectangle of bitter silence,
until he finally fell asleep on the window sill in the afternoon,
oblivious to the voices of those his own age
and to premature fears of his own superiority.
The glasses on his nose looked like
a little bike left leaning against a tree,
off in a far-flung, light-flooded countryside,
a bike of some child who had died.
Just a quick post to announce that I was selected for the Distinguished Poet feature for the latest issue of The Inflectionist Review! Along with a selection of poems, I also participated in an interview where I discuss my writing process as well as my views on the current state of poetry in America.
The Inflectionist Review has provided an engaging and supportive community for years now and I am proud to have my work be part of the conversation.
Special thanks to editors A. Molotkov and John Sibley Williams for their support and insightful questions!
In a shallow bay, my father is slumped
inside a black raft, arms flung over each side,
fingers flicking the water. I touch the ripple
of sunset and I want to be his fingerprints
and index his lolled years—carry his melody
of back and forth, unlearn the sway
of push and pushing.
Today I wrap the oars in silk,
leave the telephone receiver pendulous
over the oak table where he taught me
to write my name in English—
that round eddy where forgotten things
appear and disappear like those beetles
I tied to strings during a storm.
I remember that table carved from a bend
in my father’s house, how it listened
to the chorus of wings outside our window—
oaring the sky for forgiveness, oaring the sky
for another way home.
The poem above is just one of many fine poems in the newly released Inflectionist Review Anthology of Poetry. The way in which the word “oar” is used throughout the poem is a great example of what the editors had in mind by “inflectionism.” As defined on their site, “Inflecting suggests grasping what has come before and redefining it, refocusing it, placing it upon a different point in the arc thereby changing its trajectory.” The last two lines “oaring the sky for/another way home” become for me not just a metaphor for the experience of the speaker but also for the experience of writing, which can be seen via the poem as another kind of “oaring.”
The Inflectionist Review Anthology of Poetry features all the poems from issues 1-4 as well as an interview and feature of Distinguished Poet, Courtney Druz along with artwork from Anna Daedalus and Kerry Davis.
I’m delighted to have nine of my own poems in the anthology, including some newer work in the Naos persona. Here is “Naos Explains Memory,” which the editors of the Inflectionist Review were generous enough to nominate for a Pushcart Prize:
Naos Explains Memory – José Angel Araguz
Like gradual blindness: each day, more and more, a mix of less and less.
What you do see, you say remember. What filters through: a voice, car lights,
the ends of a dress. Singular and graphic. A strong whiskey.
A root you cannot shake from your body. The color of the last moon.
In a city you do not remember leaving.
The Inflectionist Review Anthology of Poetry can be purchased here (and make sure to check out the review’s submission guidelines here).
Congratulations to editors John Sibley Williams and A. Molotkov for putting together such a fine anthology!
The countdown to the December 1st release of my full-length collection, Everything We Think We Hear, continues. Since I shared the IR Anthology cover I thought I would share the artwork that will be featured on the cover:
This piece by artist Andrea Schreiber features the kind of dress my mother wore to work at Rosita’s on Baldwin back when I was a kid. As we get closer to the date I plan on sharing the full cover. I did, however, want to share the artwork alone as it is its own special creation. Here are links to the mom-related “Raro” recently published in Compose Journal as well as to The Story Behind “Raro” feature on the piece.
Just a quick post to announce the latest issue of The Inflectionist Review which includes four of my new Naos poems: “Naos Explains Memory,” “Naos Explains Ghosts,” “Naos Explains X,” & “Naos and Who He Would Pray To.” This issue also features work by Kate Soules, Julia Webb, and a special interview and feature on Kelli Allen along with other fine work. Check out the issue here.
Special thanks to editors John Sibley Williams and A. Molotkov for putting together a great issue!
For those of you unfamiliar with Naos, he is a poetic character of sorts introduced in my digital chapbook from Right Hand Pointing entitled Naos: an introduction which can be read here.
This week’s post is a meditation on form via sharing some new publications.
First, the good folks over at Rattle have recently shared the content of their Summer 2014 issue online which includes my own poem “Abandoned Church.” Rattle is unique in that they ask for some insight into the work via the contributor’s bio, which allowed me to share a bit of my thinking behind the form of this and other kin poems:
“These poems come from working at times in a five-line form, which I call ‘hands,’ maybe because each could be written on the palm of a hand. I consider them the poetic, unkempt nephews to Yasunari Kawabata’s ‘palm of the hand’ stories. These pieces are surprising me, pushing me to be concise and spooky, narrative and imagistic within a limited frame.”
I’m also happy to announce the release of the new issue of Inflectionist Review which includes my poems “First Night” and “Blue in the Rain” – the latter of which is also in the “hands” form. Check out the issue here.
My two guides into the form have been the short lyrics of Yannis Ritsos as well as my reading and writing in the Japanese tanka form. Here’s some of that Ritsos mojo:
A Door – Yannis Ritsos
The carpentry shop,
the grocery store,
the farmer’s rubber boots
on the porch,
the low, cloudy sky,
and, so unexpectedly,
a blue door
fallen flat among the ruins
with the key
still in place.
Working in and out of various forms, I’m always curious if people take note or not. Ultimately, what matters is writing a solid poem worth rereading, which is the ongoing good fight.
Of course, all this talk of “hands” has me thinking about these guys: