New Poem in Stirring

Thanks to Stirring for publishing this poem about taking my mom to hospice in the hours before she died.

Hospice

1. Lift

I lifted my mother’s body from the passenger seat-
the notches of her spine, her slats of ribs-
each bone against my skin, her weight
pulling me down even as I lifted her

[…read more]

One Pause Poetry

A new poetry media resource has opened up shop on the interwebs: check out One Pause Poetry.

The mission of One Pause Poetry is to “make poetry accessible to all. We are non-academic and non–market-driven. One Pause Poetry honors diversity and quality in our selection process and is dedicated to supporting Michigan poets. We select both established and emerging writers for our series and website, with the goal of breaking down categories and camps and encouraging collaboration and innovation across poetic forms, the arts, and media.”

Poets on the site contributed recordings of three poems—one of their own, one by another poet, and one poem for children, making space for a unique and accessible archive of new and classic work everyone can enjoy.

Poets who contributed to the site include Mary Jo Bang, Joel Brouwer, Bryan Borland, Alfred Corn, Victoria Chang, Oliver de la Paz, Kathy Fagan, Sarah Messer, Kevin Simmonds, and Daniel Nathan Terry.

xoxo!

LOCUSPOINT: Quad Cities!

A new edition of LOCUSPOINT has arrived!  Please welcome E. Marie Bertram’s Quad Cities, featuring poems by Neal Allen, Bertram, Ryan Collins, Sarah J. Gardner, Farah Marklevits, Lucas A. Street, and Amber L. Whittle.

Of the place, Bertram writes, “It’s the only place in the country where the Mississippi River runs east to west, not north to south, save New Orleans.  I like to think this bit of cartographical trivia suggests something about the area, about being lesser-known, but worth knowing about.  The area is also one of just a few that are regularly referred to in the singular (“the Quad Cities is . . .”) and the plural (“the Quad Cities are . . .”), leaving subject-verb conjugation up to context, to the speaker, whatever sounds more natural to the ear.

Check it out!

Poem of the Day

My poem “Poem in which Words Have Been Left Out” is the Poem-of-the-Day today at Poets.org, the website of the Academy of American Poets!

It’s based on the “Miranda Rights,” the set of rote statements officers of the law must recite when taking someone into custody.  This practice came out of a U.S. Supreme Court case that originated in Arizona.

Click below to visit the poem:

Poem in which Words Have Been Left Out

You have the right to remain
anything you can and will be.

Meet Me at The Collagist

Thank you to Matt Bell and Matthew Olzmann for including three new poems in the latest issue of The Collagist!

Letters to the Editor

Dear Drivers of Suburban Maryland,
my life is in your hands. My life in your hands
is an unpinned grenade.

Prospero’s Confession

What wreckage, I forgot. What
courage to sail, forgot. What
ocean? Forgot.

Poem Beginning with a Line Falsely Attributed to Voltaire

Night arrived with smears across its face

so that I’d know it was coming to me from
someone else. So I’d know I didn’t own the night—

that the night, with unpredictable arrivals,
owned me.

Newborn.

A book manuscript I thought I was only half done writing suddenly came together into a draft. A draft that runs…maybe a little on the long side. I’d thought the book was so far from being done that I had started flirting with another manuscript I saw coming together, even though those poems feel more troubled to me, need more work.

I had been working/revising with a paper draft of the (good) poems, loosely thrown together in a haphazard order, when, while driving from Detroit to DC, the appropriate structure for the book struck me. For a month I kept that idea at a low boil in my head, and earlier this week I started putting the plan into action.

I retyped them into a new document page by page. It took about four hours. (Naturally, in the midst of this I had to eat dinner, play my guitar, etc, so it wasn’t four constant hours. But close.)

The exercise–retyping drafts–is one that I’ve come to find essential. I retype my poems from scratch several times throughout my writing process now. It helps me shake off any unnecessary words or phrases, like how transplanting a potted plant allows you to shake loose the old, unhealthy soil.

And when I feel cringe-y when typing something, I just cut it from the draft, even if it means putting myself on the spot to rewrite the ending or come up with something new for the piece.

There is something about working with the manuscript holistically, from the start to finish, that means the arc of the book is preserved and the language and diction remain fairly consistent. Of course, it also means I sometimes grasp at straws and throw in something that’s all wrong–but generally, it’s better than what was there and it’s closer to what it should be.

I printed the manuscript off and, for the last few days, I’ve felt like I’ve been in that aura of having-just-met-someone-you-really-like. I steal glances at the stack of pages on my desk. I flip through it gently, marveling at my turns of genius. I want to call people I know and say, “I think I’ve met the one!”

All of this, but I know after some time, the newness will wear off. We will slip back into our routines and, while we will still care for each other, it won’t ever be so perfect. I’m good with that. When the aura wears off, I can tinker with the poems again.

But for now, I’m enjoying the glow.