My essay “The Poetry of Non-Poetry: On Alan Bigelow’s ‘This Is Not A Poem,'” which originally appeared in Goddard College’s BFA in Creative Writing Blog, was just reprinted in the current issue of Poets’ Quarterly. Thanks to Leslie L. Nielsen for recirculating the piece. Click here to check out Bigelow’s digital poem.
My review, “The Collagist’s Hand: Afton Wilky’s ‘Textureechoes,'” about Wilky’s gorgeous debut volume Clarity Speaks of a Crystal Sea just appeared in the recent edition of Hyperallergic Weekend. I say that “the process of reading Clarity is a sort of seeking which requires being attuned to both saying and seeing, a seesawing between sound and vision with one’s sensorium astir.” Click here to see an excerpt of the book.
In 2012, I favorably reviewed another Flim Forum book, Jennifer Karmin’s aaaaaaaaaaalice, which I called “an inventive and formally daring book for our global age; it redefines (and re-genders) areté (heroic capability)—a defining hallmark of classical epic—to include how one ethically engages with foreignness.”
It seems that Flim Forum is becoming a great venue for post-conceptual women’s writing. I will certainly be looking out for their expanding catalog.
My new poem “Spell” was published today in the Fall 2014 issue of the Marsh Hawk Press Review. See the poem below and click the image above to see the full issue. Other contributors include Harriet Zinnes, Jean Vengua, Susan Terris, Eileen R. Tabios, Felino A. Soriano, Barry Schwabsky, Susan M. Schultz, Michael Rerick, Marthe Reed, Paul Pines, Sheila E. Murphy, Daniel Morris, Stephen Paul Miller, Meredith Lewis, Eric Hoffman, Anne Gorrick, Joanna Fuhrman, Donna Fleischer, Thomas Fink, Thomas Fink and Maya Diablo Mason, Brian Clements, John Bloomberg-Rissman and Anne Gorrick, and William Allegrezza.
According to Tabios, this is “the first book-length haybun poetry collection”; after the haibun, pioneered by the seventeenth-century poet Bashō, the “haybun” is a mixture of hay(na)ku and prose. The hay(na)ku, of Tabios’ invention, “is a 21st century diasporic poetic form,” which consists of “a tercet-based stanza with the first line being one word, the second line being two words, and the third line being three words.” Each haybun in 147 Million Orphans is inspired by hay(na)ku which contain words from Eileen’s adopted son Michael’s school project (which encouraged him to learn 25 new English words a week).
The book amounts to a powerful (and polyvocal) meditation on orphanhood, adoption, parenthood, education, the poetics of language acquisition, and multiple authorship. It’s both lyrically intense and structurally adventurous.
Midway through the volume (at MMXXX), collaborative haybun appear, giving the book a surprising and dialogic texture; in early 2013, Tabios invited several poets, including myself, to respond to “assigned” hay(na)ku with prose. She also enumerated two other constraints: “1) I’d like you at the outset of writing to keep in mind a general theme of orphans. If the writing takes you beyond orphans as a subject, that’s okay of course. 2) This is actually optional: It’d be good if at least one phrase (or sentence) within the prose poem must be considered acceptable to be presented with a strike-through over said words (the strike-through can be interpreted as ambivalence over the words, or any way you look at it).” Other eventual collaborators include William Allegrezza, Tom Beckett, John Bloomberg-Rissman, Michael Caylo-Baradi, Patrick James Dunagan, Thomas Fink, j/j hastain, Aileen Ibardaloza, Ava Koohbor, Sheila Murphy, and Jean Vengua.
This is my contribution to the book, which occupies the “MMXXXVI” position:
intricate complex thesis
We were born into a dowerless present, heires of uninhibited civic-spiritedness. On occasions an electric brightness would shoot out over the radioactive wastes of the earthly cytty in traceable lines assembled by an analogous but discontinued destiny. The wild and pharmaceutical path merged with a popular replacement image, which awkwardly isolated the rise in echoed incense from original asylum.
Manufacturers charred the captured mesh of crying isolates.In the western soulcase, research will be delayed. Distributing fuel, we know so little of flight. Like the category of “chance,” the thesis of oure enteric minds was cut from the very top of an impossible page.
[A Note on the Text: The haybun above was derived only from language found either in the hay(na)ku provided or in definitions and quotations in the Oxford English Dictionary entry “orphan, n. and adj.”]
Being presented with a number of constraints, I–somewhat paradoxically–decided to impose another one and “borrow” words from the dictionary in the same way I was borrowing words from Michael’s 8th grade school assignment. From another perspective, I “adopted” the words, placing them into a textual home.
This video is from the BFA in Creative Writing faculty member reading at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, Vermont. It was part of PoemCity 2014, with additional readings by Michael Vizsolyi, Arisa White, Wendy Call, and Janet Sylvester.
The first poem I read first appeared in the excellent but now-defunct Pindeldyboz, and the second poem, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2008, first appeared in Opium Magazine; both can be found in my first book e.s.p., which is available from Silenced Press.
My short article “The Poetry of Non-Poetry: On Alan Bigelow’s ‘This Is Not A Poem’” was published today in Goddard College’s BFA in Creative Writing Blog. “This Is Not A Poem” is a fantastic appropriation of Joyce Kilmer’s famous poem “Trees.” It’s a digital poem that’s well worth interacting with and performs a creative critique of–for better or worse–one of the most well-known poems in American literature.