by Will Penny
Last night, at Bar 13, I was so happy to join a packed room full of poets to celebrate the release of Marie-Elizabeth Mali’s book Steady, My Gaze. Marie-Elizabeth has been such a good friend & has always supported my writing process. It meant a lot to be there with her & so many great writers. Do check out her work. You won’t be disappointed. (Also, thanks everyone who came out. That was the first time I read “Post-Apocalyptic Heartbeat” and your love gave me the push I needed.)
Looking ahead: I’ll be reading at Rainbow Bookfair’s Poet Salon this Saturday, March 26 at 2pm. The event will take place at the LGBT Center (208 West 13th Street.) It’s a marathon reading that will feature some of the fiercest poets New York City has to offer. Here are the details.
Finally, expect to see some new work in the May 2011 issue of Connotation Press, guest edited by the brilliant Anna Journey.
by Justin Walker
I. Well aware that every generation has likely thought the world was coming to an end during its time & that perhaps this kind of panic is another word for “civilization,” I have to say: I do believe the world is on fire. From the turned backs of governors against the people in Wisconsin & Ohio to the government guns being turned on people in Libya to the hardened faces I see when I walk to work in Newark to the faces among the wreck in Japan & back again: people are suffering in a way that seems to have outdistanced our understanding of the word “suffering.” Perhaps only “madness” is the word for our world, or “bedlam.”
II. But what use is it to give in to bedlam? Who exactly would that help? And so, I try not to give in. When I walk into my classroom & see the faces of my 9th & 12th grade students & hear them reading Dickens & Morrison out loud & asking questions — good, deep-hearted questions — I answer them smiling. I answer them & whisper to myself that “this is not bedlam.”
III. I’m grateful to have happened across Suheir Hammad’s performance of “What I Will”
at TED. (Click the link to watch the video.) The poem which begins “I will not dance to your war drum. / I will not lend my soul nor my bones to your war drum. / I will not dance to that beat. / I know that beat. / It is lifeless.” speaks to a rejection not only of war (in all of its forms) but to a rejection of that “panic” as well; the kind of “panic” that seizes the mind and the body & renders them useless. Her poem reminded me that when I sit down at my desk each morning & write my way into this world, perhaps each line is just another way of saying “This heartbeat is louder than death.”
by Adam Friedman
I happened across these brilliantly crafted poems this week & thought I’d share them with you. In particular, “Crescendo” will take something from you & refuse to return it.
“Crescendo” by Rickey Laurentiis
“I think my body is prosthetic, she said” by Christian Anton Gerard
“Language Lesson” by Ysabel de la Rosa
“Fugitive Memory” by Penelope Scambly Schott
“For the Weight of Gravity in Early Autumn” by Adam Clay
“The Body Apologizes for Almost Everything” by Leslie Adrienne Miller
- by Kim Anno
Sorry for the silence, so to speak. In a world other than this one, I’d update this blog regularly every two or three days. In that very same world, there’d be an antique chandelier above my bed & a vase of fresh orchids in my kitchen. We’ll get there one day, I’m sure.
In the meantime, though, the mental space in which I’m able to write thoughtful blog post is the same space in which I’m able to write & revise poems. One of the realities of my life as a new high school teacher is the limited amount of time I have to be in that particular space, so I have to make a choice: write a blogpost about the writing process or write.
I will say, though, that I have poems forthcoming in West Branch, Jubilat & Emerson Review. And the chapbook (slated for release in November of this year) is well on its way thanks to Bryan Borland’s amazing work at Sibling Rivalry Press.
Until next time, write on.