The Sunday Poem
"FLITTER / is what she said but what she meant had nothing / to do with the lighting from one bloom to the next / by a monarch or an equally colorful diva at the bar. / What she meant was your privates, your girlie parts, /something you better soap up daily and watch / like a spectacled hawk."
I have breathed into too many balloons / put my fingers in so many cakes / had my body scanned with fingerprints / written out my dreams in lines of the night / traced words into storm clouds / mixed water with mint and bourbon...
There isn’t a word for walking out of the grocery store / with a gallon jug of milk in a plastic sack / that should have been bagged in double layers / —so that before you are even out the door / you feel the weight of the jug dragging / the bag down, stretching the thin / plastic handles longer and longer and you know it’s only a matter of time until / bottom suddenly splits.
For Proust," Susan Howe writes in her Preface to The Gorgeous Nothings, "a fragment is a morsel of time in its pure state; it hovers between a present that is immediate and a past that once had been present." The fragments Howe is specifically referring to are the envelopes left behind by Emily Dickinson, fascinating slips of paper scrawled with the poet's distinctive script (handwriting that one of Dickinson's correspondents compared to “the fossil [...]
Lauren Camp (Photo by Elena E. Giorgi) The Dailiness by Lauren Camp from Edwin E. Smith, 2013 An Interview with Lauren Camp Michelle Aldredge: I like the close attention you pay to daily encounters in your book. The image of "folding" appears again and again throughout the collection. Can you tell me more about how this image creates a consistent thread through the book and why it has resonance for you? Lauren [...]
Jamaal May was born in 1982 in Detroit where he has taught poetry in public schools and worked as a freelance audio engineer and touring performer. His first book, Hum, received the Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books and an NAACP Image Award nomination. (Photo by Tarfia Faizullah) "I don’t always go into a poem wanting to address a specific issue," says Jamaal May. "I’m usually led by language and discover [...]
Brenda Arrieta Killian in the wig she wore after shaving her hair at the beginning of chemotherapy. Brenda was the subject of a series of articles Sunday Poet Don Colburn wrote for The Oregonian and is the subject of his new chapbook Tomorrow Too: The Brenda Monologues. (Photo by Stephanie Yao Long. © The Oregonian 2008. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.) Journalism and poetry have become for me two ways of reporting [...]
Lauren Alleyne hails from the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. (Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths) Poetry is like ice-cream," poet Lauren Alleyne recently told an interviewer when asked to compare poetry to a food. "It completes joy, but is also a natural remedy for heartache. You can enjoy it in all its flavors, and yet its essential nature doesn’t change. It’s good for your bones, will delight your tongue, and I don’t [...]
Poet C.D. Wright (Photo by W.T. Pfefferle via Flickr Commons) I first encountered C.D. Wright's poetry through the back door of photography. Years ago, when I was studying contemporary artists working with 19th century photographic processes, I stumbled across Deborah Luster's collaboration with C.D. Wright, titled One Big Self, in which the two artists recorded Louisiana's prison population through tin type images and text (see photo below). “No single description adequately captures Wright’s work," [...]
Judith Taylor (Photo courtesy the author) As the psychoanalysts Jung and Freud both observed, fairy tales frequently reveal more about a culture than its sophisticated literary texts. These are the stories we hear at a young, impressionable age. Whether we're conscious of it or not, these tales of angelic and evil women, knights on white horses, and wolves in the forest shape our ideas about beauty, love, and danger. In her latest collection, Sex [...]
Do not encourage small children / to play the trombone as the shortness / of their arms may prove quite frustrating, / imprinting a lifelong aversion to music / although in rare cases a sense of unreachability / may inspire operas of delicate auras.
Patricia Fargnoli published her first book of poetry at the age of 62. When Pulitzer-Prize-winner Mary Oliver chose Patricia Fargnoli's first book, Necessary Light, as the winner of The May Swenson Book Award, Fargnoli was 62 years old. "I began writing poems in high school and had a few (terrible ones) published in the school paper," Pat explained by email from her home in Walpole, New Hampshire. "And I had taken poetry classes [...]
(Attributed to) Caravaggio, Sacrifice of Isaac, c. 1598. Oil on canvas 46 in × 68 in. (Photo via Wikimedia courtesy the Piasecka-Johnson Collection, Princeton) Sophie Cabot Black (Photo by Alexander Black) "For me, the act of writing comes out of query," poet Sophie Cabot Black explains in a recent interview with The New Yorker. "Each image turns to the next with its question and gets answered. Or with its answer it gets questioned. Poetry is [...]
Lisa Elmaleh, Paurotis Palms, Everglades, Florida, silver gelatin print, 2010. On view in the Mythology of Florida exhibit at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans through January 5th. (Photo © Lisa Elmaleh via lisaelmaleh.com) "Miriam Sagan's Seven Places is a lovely collection of verbal souvenirs, resonant snapshots plumbing the mists, the touches, the footfalls that evoke place," writes art critic Lucy Lippard. "Before I started reading I knew some of these places. [...]
(Carl Sandburg poetry manuscript photo by Ben Woloszyn via news.illinois.edu) Alice B. Fogel is poised to become the next Poet Laureate in New Hampshire, following in the footsteps of Donald Hall, Maxine Kumin, Jane Kenyon, Patricia Fargnoli, and others. Governor Maggie Hassan recently appointed Fogel to the five-year position. Fogel’s third book, Be That Empty, was a national poetry bestseller in 2008, and in 2009 Strange Terrain (on how to appreciate poetry without “getting” it) came out. Nominated six [...]
Writer Ed Skoog (Photo by Kelly O courtesy the author) We don't give much thought to the covers of the poetry books we read, but the genre is plagued by amateurish typography and ill-chosen imagery. Copper Canyon Press consistently has some of the strongest, most thoughtful designs, and Ed Skoog's Rough Day is the perfect marriage of style and substance. A 1939 photograph of Skoog's mother, looking rather displeased with a pet crow on [...]
Poet Bridget Lowe (Photo by Jennifer Wetzel courtesy the author) The publication of Bridget Lowe's debut collection, At the Autopsy of Vaslav Nijinsky (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2013), is a bit of a full-circle moment for Gwarlingo. Bridget Lowe was one of the first Gwarlingo Sunday Poets, back in the early days when the Sunday Poem feature was limited to a single poem. Bridget's "In My Study of Hysteria," which is included in her [...]
Poet David Bottoms (Photo courtesy the author) David Bottoms grew up in Canton, Georgia, the only child of David H. Bottoms, a funeral director, and Louise Ashe Bottoms, a registered nurse. Their home had only two books: a King James Bible and a book by preacher Billy Graham. It was his grandmother who was the "dreamer" in the family, Bottoms explains in an interview with the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. She had [...]
Poet Anne Valley-Fox in Oaxaca, Mexico (Photo courtesy the author) "A poet makes everything up, including one’s job description," says Anne Valley-Fox. "My job: to retrieve rejected or edgy bits of inner material and put them together in ways that illuminate and provoke. My poems seek connections, complications, and small astonishments." In her latest collection, How Shadows Are Bundled (University of New Mexico Press), Anne tackles topics as diverse as sexuality, aging, family, hurricanes, war, [...]
Writer Joshua Beckman (Photo courtesy of Wave Books) The poems in Joshua Beckman's new book, The Inside of an Apple (Wave Books, 2013), have all the immediacy of a "V" of geese passing overhead: for a brief moment, everything else falls away. While not technically haiku, Beckman's latest work shares many characteristics with the form---the spareness, the juxtaposition of images, a focus on the natural world, and a sensory urgency. It makes [...]
Janet Kaplan (Photo by Silvia Sanza) (Note: This introduction and interview with poet and publisher Janet Kaplan are by Adrienne Brock) While Janet Kaplan has her roots solidly in the New York area, her work reaches into the dirt of both American continents. Born and raised in the Bronx, she was educated at Lehman College of the City University of New York, and at Columbia University, and earned her MFA in poetry [...]