Denise R. Weuve

Ink Damage and Other Permanent Stains

Archive for the category “Poet”

Day ??? ~ Ocean Vuong

First this is Saeed Jones fault because he keeps posting pieces of Ocean’s poems, reminding me why I like his work so much.

First I suck at Poet a Day

First I rock for even trying to do this

First Ocean Vuong is a heart wrecking, earth moving, pen master that makes me want to move to New York so I can know I am breathing the same air, and perhaps somehow his talent will drift through taxi exhaust, pipe fumes, and Tuesday refuge pick up right into my lungs.  A girl has got to dream, doesn’t she?

If you have never read Ocean Vuong (who in 2016 when his book Night Sky With Exit Wounds from Copper Canyon Press no one will ever admit to having not read him) and not fallen in love with poetry, the line, the word, then your heart stopped beating long before this blog was ever written.  He has won took many accolades to list, and I am not as thorough as likes of Poetry Foundation where you can learn about those all, but I can tell you he is the reason poetry is as vital as breath, and has value.  So much value that if you are wanting Vuong’s chapbook Burnings (SiblingRivalryPress, 2010) look to pay anywhere between $200.00-$850.00.

This is the opening “On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous”:

Tell me it was for the hunger
& nothing less. For hunger is to give
the body what it knows
it cannot keep. That this amber light
whittled down by another war
is all that pins my hand
to your chest.

See what I mean?  You now want to read anything Vuong writes.  No need to wait. Here are a couple of my favorites:


He came into my room like a god
stepping out of a painting.

Back from the wind, he called to me
with a mouthful of crickets–

scent of ash and lilac rising
from his hair. I waited

for the night to wane
into years before reaching

for his hands, my finger tracing
the broken lines in his palm.

My shadow beneath his shadow
across the hardwood. And we danced

like that: father and son–
our bodies like a pair of legs

over a broken chair.

from The Paris American 2014


From Youtube, a reading by Ocean Vuong
The most recent I can find of him, but you need to turn up the sound up full blast



Day 18 & 19 ~ Jeff & Tobi Alfier

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I have a bias to adorable people that make me wish I was in love; Jeff and Tobi Alfier over pour right into that bias cup. Individually they are remarkable poets, not simply because of their great writing, but because of their support they offer to other writers regardless of where they are on their personal journey.

These two poetic souls have been together since 2009 and have lit up the poetry scene ever since. I met them about three years ago at the now defunct Tuesday Poetry Readings, hosted by Murray Thomas, when I brought my high school creative writing students to their first poetry reading and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly a pro at these readings, I had very few under my belt, and simply figured I learn this with my students. One of my students was in love with a poem Tobi read, and Tobi just handed over her printed copy to the student. The student did not stop talking about it, and I thanked Tobi. Next thing I know Tobi was sending three of her chapbooks and three of Jeff’s chapbooks to my students. I was very new to the scene but that night taught me to hand over poems if someone likes it, you can print another. Far more importantly it taught me that poetry needs a community that looks out for each other, and wants to see each other do well. It’s not a competition people; we can all be happy (well is, we are writers) and successful together. There is room. Jeff and Tobi are pillars of the community.

Together they founded and edit San Pedro River Review. A lovely print journal that has seen the likes of Naomi Shihab Nye, Alex Lemon, Marge Piercy, and Frank X. Gaspar. They spend their time and their money, which is limited in the poetry world, doing this. Poetry is a shared love by these two beautiful people, both have multiple Pushcart nominations, and books a plenty. With each book they write they get better and better. And I bet each year they spend together will be better than the last.

In case you were wondering, they have a book of poetry together, courtesy Mojave River Press called The Color of Forgiveness that I highly suggest you purchase right now!

Jeffrey C Alfier has had an amazing past 6 years, not only has he married the pretties woman in poetry, Tobi Alfier (formerly Cogswell) but he has seen the publication of quite a few books,  Idyll for a Vanishing River (Glass Lyre Press, 2013), The Wolf Yearling (Silver Birch Press, 2013), Bluesman’s Daughter (Kindred Spirit Press, 2011), The Torch Singer (Kindred Spirit Press, 2011), Before the Troubadour Exits (Kindred Spirit Press, 2010).  If you have not read Jeff’s work may I suggest beginning with The Wolf Yearling.  There is a solid reason for his multiple Pushcart nominations.


The Drawbridge
~Jeff Alfier

The frozen face of sleet searches morning,
wakens into hoarfrost. Six a.m. and the world
beyond my parent’s street fails visibility.
I start coffee—the machine’s gabbling growl,
click on dad’s warmed-over radio, behold
winter-spurned limbs of backyard trees
that sluice the early fog. I hear the Navy ammo
train trundling the near distance, a bodiless
voice echoing its way to port.

Early evening now. Night sky breathes clear
of cloud and ice. I walk Shrewsbury River Bridge
to Sea Bright, scan the current passing under
the bascule’s frangible grate. Some constellation
I can’t name hangs in the deepening hour.
At the bridge’s coastal end I sip
false fire from a flask, watch two Iberian
tankers limn the end of the evident world.

I thought I came here for the good rinse of night’s
ocean air. But it was only to walk this bridge,
pass a young woman in smart work clothes
and dressy heels, the drawbridge operator’s blue
silhouette inscribed against river blackness.
Whatever message beyond nods that passed between
us three in that failing light, we were children
whispering on Christmas Eve: any kind word to shine
across open water, bordering us against the sea.



Tobi Alfier (formerly Tobi Cogswell) has been published in 100s of journals, and has several Pushcart prize nominations to both her names.  Her poetry seems to have found a place in nearly every continent this world offers.  She runs a group that have 25,000+ members focussing on Poetry Editors & Poets via linked in. She has a few books you can read including The Coincidence of Castles (Glass Lyre Press, 2014),  and Lapses & Absences (Blue Horse Press, 2013).

Evening in Oban
~Tobi Alfier

A table for sitting,
the profile of your strong jaw
as you scan the horizon
for boats and wayfarers.
A rooftop chapel of silence
but for the outside flutes
of wind brushing leaves,
birds heading home,
and the crinkle of water
along the shoreline
as ferries slowly cruise to sleep
until beginning again with the sun.
Forested ruins spotlit by stars,
and us, holding hands,
a bottle of red and one of water
between us, our blended
observations deliberately low,
as an audience will whisper
while leaning toward the orchestra,
waiting for those first real notes
of night.



Day 11 ~ Elena Karina Byrne


Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 10.57.37 AMTonight Beyond Baroque brings the rare treat of two amazing women poets that have given their hearts and efforts to the City of Los Angeles. Yesterday I spotlighted Suzanne Lummis, and today I spotlight the renouned Elena Karina Byrne. She has worked so tirelessly in the arts for so long, that many of you already know and admire her. Her poems “irregular Masks” was featured in The Best New American Poetry 2005 and she is a Pushcart Prize winner.

She curates poetry readings at Ruskin Art club and is the moderator for Poetry at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival.

If you are at all near the Venice area tonight. Perhaps taking in a lovely dinner, than you need to get over to Beyond Baroque to hear this woman read along with Suzanne Lummis.

More importantly you can be part of the celebration when she is awarded the George Drury Smith Outstanding Achievement in Poetry Award and Distinguished Service Award, tomorrow night. Elena Karina Byren epitomized both outstanding achievement and distinguished Service. A wise choice by Beyond Baroque, and you can see her accept this award by purchasing tickets.

Here is a taste of the poetry you will be treated to, tonight, courtesy youtube.


Day 6 ~ Diane Wakoski

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 9.37.12 AMAnyone who writes a poem entitle, “Dancing on the Grave of a Son-of-a-Bitch” deserves our attention and she wrote that and like poems in her book the The Motorcycle Betrayal Poems, (1971).  But then as years would turn Diane Wakoski wrote more books than I have years, and I found Medea the Sorceress and Jason the Sailor (1991 an 1993 respectfully), which called out to me because of my maddening love of myth, but they are so much deeper than an exploration of myth as we have seen them before.  Not only does she use myth in these books but in writing these poems she creates a myth of her own life.  Most Recently, Diane Wakoski has release Bay of Angels (2013) and this time her base to build these poems are movies and TV.  For those of you that loved Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there’s a poem called “Spike, Not Angel: Imagining Another Spinoff from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and even gives the pilot episode it’s own title “Vampire Ballerina”.  It’s like she has been reading my mind before I was ever born.

I would also like to point out she is a nice lady.  I brought 2 of her books (out of the shelf of books I seem to have of hers) and she signed those and Bay of Angels for me.  And she chatted me up about poker, apparently a new passion of hers, and a game my grandma taught me at 4.  Poets are regular people, folks.  They watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and play poker, that’s what DIane Wakoski taught me.

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Instead of me picking my favorite poems from Diane (which is nearly impossible), I am showing you  a video that Diane has on her own website and I quote from her site “I am always interested in wonderful video interpretations of my poems. Below are some of my favorites. If you create a video using one of my poems, please be sure to send along the link.”  So if you have created a video send it her way.

And now a poem from Diane’s website, that appears in Bay of Angels, and sings to my love of mythology in contemporary situations.

Persephone Steps Off the Elevator
At the 4th Floor

and emerges again onto the adobe walled landing,
the Southern California horizon wide as an avalanche
exposing parrot-wing cerulean, and cobalt
streaking into the molten crown of evening’s still golden

Returning to light,
even twilight, makes her shadow gasp with
recognition. Here on the 4th floor she seems still
long-haired and trusting, the speckled-blue egg of her
gaze is open to any invitation, as it was before
she became the Queen of Night,
and cruel.

If only she had not returned,
ascended to this balcony that obscures the long
corridor, on the walls of which hang photos
showing a girl
holding a blue flower; if
only she didn’t have to look
at the radiant sky, its
beauty reminding her of everything she’s either
lost or never had.

In the moment of stepping into light
she does not know,
for the first time,
if beauty is,
or ever can be


Day 5 ~ Lord Byron

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 4.39.52 PM“She walks in beauty like the night” was read in a British Literature class and I fell in love with poetry, and the handsome poet that was the writer, George Gordon or as he is better known, Lord Byron. The bad boy of the romantics made me fall in love like many other bad boys would do in the future. Yet this bad boy made me love poetry. So in the end he is also to blame for the fact I write poetry. He can be blamed for the horrible poetry I wrote, and at times the horrible poetry I still write.

I went into college writing like a D Class Romantic Era poet, and slowly had the Lord Byron sifted out of me, but he does remain with me in my heart. As romantic as he was, he wrote the beautiful satirical Don Juan, where the aforementioned character is not quite the womanizer history portrays, but instead a man who falls easily under prey to women.


She Walks in Beauty


She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

A very trippy and oddly beautiful performance of “She Walks in Beauty”


Don Juan: Dedication


Difficile est proprie communia dicere 
HOR. Epist. ad Pison


Bob Southey! You’re a poet—Poet-laureate,
And representative of all the race;
Although ’tis true that you turn’d out a Tory at
Last—yours has lately been a common case;
And now, my Epic Renegade! what are ye at?
With all the Lakers, in and out of place?
A nest of tuneful persons, to my eye
Like “four and twenty Blackbirds in a pye;

This is my favorite book of Lord Byron’s, which happens to be a collection of his letters and journals. Byron’s Letters and Journals


Speeding Down Poetry Super Highway

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 10.45.33 AMThis week I have the distinct honor of being a featured poet for Poetry Super Highway. Rick Lupert is not only one of the funniest poets I have ever heard read, but also he is an amazing supporter and resource for the local community of writers and beyond.

When you go to the site, to see my latest publication, take a gander at the links that will just  blow your mind with how helpful they are to you as a poet.

Submitting Is the Hardest Thing to Do. . .In Poetry!



Let’s face it, it is difficult to decide to submit your work, your poems, your babies out there to a careless, heartless, ruthless editor.  And what is worse is that ugly NO that comes back more often than not.

Here’s the thing, if you don’t let your poems out there into the world, no one will know how great you are, except you, and maybe a few friends.  To be honest, editors are not (normally) careless, heartless, or ruthless.  Most editors are dying for really good work to hit their inbox, and you could be hiding that poem that will rock their world from them.  I cannot begin to fathom how many magazines and journals are out there waiting for work.  Duotrope (great tool, but does cost $50 a year-worth it if you are going to really use it) might be able to help you a bit, or Poets & Writers for that matter, but I can talk about a few places that I think would be kind to you as you start or continue your journey into the publication world.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 6.58.31 PMLet me start with the guy that I hands down think is the nicest EVER, Russell Streur, and his journal The Camel Saloon.  He has guidelines to follow as all of these will have, but he will also write you back quickly whether it is an acceptance or a rejection.  He also, on rare occasion offers information on new journals.  Big bonus he has a great list of other magazine to check out on the web.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 7.02.56 PMIs your writing a bit dark, maybe twisted, or just simply strange.  Carnival Literary Magazine wants YOU and your work.  Currently the editors are Shannon and Jose Miguel.  I find the work on these pages refreshing and risk taking.  Nothing good happens without risk.

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Next up Gutter Eloquence, founded and edited by Jack T. Marlowe.  This is a quarterly magazine ran by a darn good poet.  the work here is relevant, gritty, hard truths with powerful imagery, more often than not.  Send him work (when not on hiatus) that knock the proverbial socks off.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 7.11.07 PMWe all write about heart ache and heart-break, and Napalm and Novocain wants to hear all about it, in fresh imagery and poems that knock the wind out of the reader.  What is great about this press is Amy Huffman actually has several online magazines catering to different styles of poetry and flash fiction.  Write Haikus? There’s a place for you.  Write nature poems?  She’s got that covered too, and so much more.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 7.13.54 PMEunoia Review has a dear place in my heart, because when Kevin says he wants to help the new writer find a place, he means it.  This is the place that first accepted my work, over two years ago.  And Kevin continues to give new writers a place to call home.  Send to him, and he will respond with lightening speed.  Always kind, even when it’s a no.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 7.24.17 PMNice intelligent people, that love poetry, are not as hard to find as you would imagine.  Take for example Ariana Den Bleyker, who genuinely wants to bring new work to the public.  She does so through her press, and this journal, Emerge Literary Journal.  I should disclose that her New York Press, ELJ, is publishing my debut collection in October of this year.  How much more must I say to prove how nice editors can be?


Before you go off and start sending your work out, still make sure you read the magazines, and their guidelines.  The  quickest way to be rejected is to ignore guidelines.  Most (editors) won’t even read your work if you fail to follow those rules set by the magazines.

Happy Poeting Cats and Kittens.



All pictures from said magazine’s Websites

The Truth and its Deviations in Poetry~By Joy Von Ill

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 2.02.23 PMToday we have a fabulous article written by Joy Von Ill, who holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.  She is a poet  who lives in Omaha, Nebraska.  A small ambling of her work can be found at Fruita Pulp and the end of this GREAT article.  Her work has appeared in various journals and in An Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraskan Women Poets. She also writes three sentence reviews of books.  Now, on to why you are here, the TRUTH.

What I Know About the Truth and its Deviations in Poems

Someone, or a book maybe, said “write what you know.” I started writing about my life. At some point, I found that catharsis was not enough for me. Art was something I wanted to achieve in my writing. As my education continued I learned a few things that I would like to share.

  1. Writing about your life is dangerous.
    • In the book, Women and Poetry: Truth, Autobiography and the Shape of Self by Carol Muske discusses how while working at a women’s prison teaching writing, she advised her students to write the truth of their lives. One of her students wrote a poem about the prison’s denial of her request to attend her daughter’s funeral. The poem was copied and memorized, passed from woman to woman. Eventually, the woman who wrote the poem was put into solitary confinement for inciting a riot. Enraged by the prison’s response, Muske spoke with the warden, who informed Muske that the prisoner who wrote the poem was not allowed to attend the funeral because it was suspected she played a role in the child’s death. As evidence, the warden showed Muske pictures of the dead child’s beaten body and court documents implicating the prisoner’s involvement. This shows the importance of differentiating between the exact truth, the way things actually occurred, and one’s personal truth. Knowing this can change a reader’s relationship to poems that feel “real.” In the case of the example given by Muske, the prisoner writing her personal truth lead to a breakdown of society inside of the prison. Think twice of the consequences of your personal truth.
    • Eventually, at some point, if you are brave enough, you will be judged. The most recent example of this happened to me in a writer’s group where a woman asked, “Did you really kill your pet bird?” Everyone in the room stared at me. My response was to say “If I answer you will that change how you read the poem?” I have found that drawing the reader’s attention to the poem itself and away from your life will distract them from their judgment, but be prepared.
  2. The significance of your truth will be read differently with time. Robin Skelton, in her book Poetic Truth, states “The facts may remain unchanged, but their significance is continually changing.” How a poem is read is always changed by the perspective of the future. It causes me to consider how future events will change how people read my work about struggles that are common in life. Consider how you view a poem about the holocaust now as opposed to someone who would have read it in 1950. There is no way to guarantee readers can connect to your poem in future, but thinking about this view can bring extra depth to your work.
  1. There are different opinions on the artistic nature of the truth.
    • Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 2.11.13 PMIn an interview I did with Fran Higgins she discussed her views on using factual events in her writing. In her poem, “Fanam’s Car Repair & Tow”, which appears in An Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets, she changed or made up details about the garage because she could not remember particulars that would make the poem more impactful. She expressed a sense of falseness about the title, but in this case the title gives the reader a more complete mental image, making the emotional effect of the poem more tangible. As a writer, Higgins tries to be as truthful as possible. She even went so far as to state, “If I am not being true to myself in a poem then I’m not communicating accurately.” Her view of those who change details in their writing was expressed when she said, “Some people are shit poets and don’t communicate. People skirt around the truth because they are afraid of it.” While I respect this point of view, there is more to an experience and a moment than the facts. There are reasons to change events that can heighten the experience of the reader.
    •  In The Triggering Town, Richard Hugo discusses his poem, “The Squatter on Company Land.” In the poem he describes the event of a squatter trying to claim space owned by the airplane manufacturer Hugo worked for. Hugo didn’t know why the company wanted the land the squatter resided on, but cited a “hammer shop” in the poem because “The rhythm seemed to ask for it.” Also, the squatter owned many rabbits, as confirmed by one of the men who worked at evicting the squatter, but it was not a thousand. The hyperbole of the amount of rabbits makes sense to the reader, imagining the squatter as someone who was apart from main stream society. One of the reasons people read poetry is for prosody and the reader’s ability to relate to human experience. These goals are achievable by changing how we as writers report our experiences.
    • There is a deeper goal in poetry than explaining a narrative. In an interview I had with Cat Dixon she discussed T.S. Eliot’s phrase “objective correlative” (from the essay “Hamlet and His Problems”) which translates to using images or events to portray an emotion in literature. There are times when Dixon’s emotions tied to a particular event are more intense than the event would allow her reader to feel when it is expressed in poetry. She then expands the image, changing the even to evoke the emotions she felt in the moment. An example of this would be in her poem, “River”, which appears in An Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets . In the poem Dixon describes being drunk at the shore of the polluted Missouri River. Dixon said that in reality, she did sit by the Missouri River when it was polluted, but she did not go in. She considered going in, but refrained from doing so. Her emotions at the time were powerful and destructive, and she wanted the images to match the intensity of her emotions. Using this technique can create work that has the highest possible amount of impact on the reader.
    •  Changing the events can change the point of view of the poem. In The Art of Attention by Donald Revell, he writes, “How do you go about erasing yourself, how dispose of such a perilous and long-beloved forebear? Look up. Look out.” By removing one’s self from the experience being discussed, a new image and emotion can become apparent. He cites an excerpt from his poem “Heat Lightning,” where he describes his existence in the world. “Next door, in bright sun, a girl on stilts/ is so fabulously illuminated/ she blends into the light below her legs.” By shifting the focus from the “we” previously mentioned in the poem, the reader is able to see a new perspective, the writer’s “saint” and perceived salvation, is that of the girl on stilts. Revell shows an external experience outside of an interaction with a girl on stilts while he is in his office writing. External events can imply what happens internally, and have just as much effect on the reader, as the reader experiences their own emotions about the event.

As you have read, there are multiple ways this information can be applied to your writing life. Each poem that is written about a real life experience drives toward a different level of truth. Some poems can run purely on the universal truth of human experience while others require the structure of the true, factual, real life event to be an effective poem for the general reader. Be cognizant of the needs of the poem. The effects of the experience and personal truth is the best way to create an impactful poem. Be aware of the power of truth, and the power deviation from the truth holds. It can change how you write and ultimately how you connect with the reader.


To see poems by Joy Von Ill, you can visit Fruita Pulp and So to Speak Journal


Day 15~Time to Crunch Some Numbers

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 6.14.23 AMYes, many will tell you how today marks the halfway point of 30 for 30.  If you are like me, you haven’t quite made the 1 per day mark.  I have written 10 out of the 15 and realized that’s 2/3rds.  Not bad, and about what I have left after the Tax Man Cometh in each of my paychecks.  This led me to the realization. . .today is TAX Day. Whether you completed your taxes long ago or are struggling to meet the midnight deadline, you will be hard press to not think of April 15th as Tax Day.  All this made me think we need a prompt about NUMBERS.  So here is the simple prompt:

Write a poem that is obviously about numbers.  That could be time.  It could be a list.  It could be a reflection of your age (tell me that isn’t a number)  Just write with numbers in mind.

Here is my sample from last year, graciously published by Poppy Road Review, “Countdown”.


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Day 13~Give Me a Minute and I’ll Prove You’re a Poet

Screen Shot 2014-04-04 at 10.02.07 PMWelcome to the minute poem.  A sweet concise  diddy that was introduced to me by Cathy Smith Bowers (former Poet Laurette of North Carolina).  This form has no more and no less that 60 syllables in 3, 4 lined stanzas.

It breaks down like this my Poetry Cats and Kittens:

60 syllables

8, 4, 4, 4 first stanza with rhyme scheme aabb

8, 4, 4, 4 second stanza with rhyme scheme ccdd

8, 4, 4, 4 third stanza with rhyme scheme eeff

voila. . .you minute is complete. .

Check out this excerpt from Michael Friedman’s great minute poem, which features 5 minutes..


Excerpt from "Five Minutes of Frustration", by Michael Friedman

Excerpt from “Five Minutes of Frustration”, by Michael Friedman

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