Monthly Archives: December 2011

Poems For Breakfast: Ankney, Brimhall & Dameron

"Seated Man" by de Kooning

  • Started my morning off with “To Failure” by Christopher Ankney. These lines, in particular, were the poetic equivalent of coffee this morning: “…like fire once it realizes / it can breathe, you prey on the world, leave us all / self-described martyrs in our own ashes.”
  • I’ve been obsessed with Rookery by Traci Brimhall for a couple of weeks now. “Falling” is one of the poems in that collection.
  • And let’s take a moment for DeLana R.A. Dameron’s poem “Beetle” which concludes: “Look, I know / what it’s like to see / the world upside down, / waiting for someone / to fix you.”
  • In retrospect, these poems in combination — while exquisite — aren’t exactly pick-me-ups, but whatever: It’s the winter solstice; it will be dark again in like an hour anyway.
  • Okay, fine: A reason to smile — Landscapes Made of Books!

Re-reading “Song” by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

by Olsen Zander

In the last semester of graduate school, Rigoberto Gonzalez my workshop great advice about what to do when it seems we’ve fallen out of love with poetry: “Go back to what you were reading when you were in love with poetry. Find those poems & see what was in them that made you fall in love in the first place.”

And so, this gloomy December morning, I’m re-reading “Song” by Brigit Pegeen Kelly. Here are the concluding lines, but read the entire poem to see how Brigit drives us to this point:

Not a cruel song, no, no, not cruel at all. This song

is sweet. It is sweet. The heart dies of this sweetness.

Blue Prelude & Other Recent Work

by Amy Taluto

So happy to have my poem “Blue Prelude” in the current issue of Jubilat alongside work by L. Lamar Wilson, Eduardo Corral, and Kimiko Hahn among many others. Also, I have poems in the current issues of Hayden’s Ferry Review, West Branch, & Spillway.

Also, grateful to Zahra Darby for this interview about When The Only Light Is Fire. I love being able to have conversations about poetry on this level because, without fail, I learn so much about my own ideas when I have to justify them. Here’s an excerpt:

Thank you for beginning [the interview] with Toni Morrison because, in many ways, hers was one of the first voices that taught me how to speak. I mean “speak” in the sense of using language to stake a claim to my life. Most of the poems in this collection were written because, in one way or another, I needed them. In the same way that a kid creates an imaginary friend to get through the terror that is childhood, I wrote these poems. I wrote “Mississippi Drowning,” for example, because I was drowning in news story after news story of queer men and women of color being attacked, brutalized and killed. It seemed to me then, and now, that the only way a gay or trans person of color makes the news is by dying horribly. I wrote “Mississippi Drowning” because I needed a way, any way, of answering that outrage. Whether or not, the poem holds up to a critical reading is beside the point because the need – and the language that answered that need – is deeply personal.

And I discuss queer mentorship in my most recent column for Lambda Literary: “Over Coffee With Melvin Dixon”. Here’s an excerpt:

Perhaps Melvin Dixon, at this very moment, takes another sip of coffee, arches an eyebrow at the young writer sitting across the table from him, and says, “Baby, what do you mean you haven’t heard of Bruce Nugent?” The young writer blushes, then writes down “Smoke, Lilies & Jade” in his notebook, promising to read it as soon as he can get to the library.

But I Remember The Song…

by Sean Edward Whelan

I wonder what Reginald Shepherd would have had to say about the sky over New York this first December morning, and if Tory Dent would decide to sleep in, shoving the alarm clock off the night stand, and if Joe Brainard would be at work on another collage, and who would Essex Hemphill wake up beside this morning, and where is Assotto Saint, and where is Melvin Dixon, and where is Thomas Avena, and where is Donald Britton, and where is Tim Dlugos, and where is Jaime Gil de Biedma, and where is Leland Hickman and where and where…

With a grateful nod to Philip Clark & David Groff’s Persistent Voices (Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS), I will be tweeting links to work by these voices today, December 1, World AIDS Day.