Denise R. Weuve

Ink Damage and Other Permanent Stains

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Sixes

This was on Cadence Collective a bit back, and I forgot to re-blog on my blog, so here you go followers. I have to say, it was a poem I actually forgot I had written, and was pleasantly surprised to see again.

Cadence Collective: Long Beach Poets

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Denise R. Weuve

As it was told—he thundered
in the door, brown work boots
bringing in the done day a minute
or ten before six,
ate dinner on the sofa,departed to liberate the neighbor’s garden hoe,
and dug at least six feet down
in our own back yard.There he lined his new walls in black satin,
and residual time, made room for half a dozen
of the finest ladies.
Colored the dirt harem blue so all who entered believed it was for a swim
in one of the six seas he knew.

After six years, she was done,
my mother tired of waiting for him to dredge mud
up the stoop, through the carpets,
and back to her bed, foolishly called out
through the back door to hear only the faint
rumble of laughter percolating
beneath the ground.

It was then she stared out the back door
and…

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Day 22 ~ Jericho Brown

Have you read New Testament?  No?!?  Well today’s Poet Spotlight was going to feature Jericho Brown, I was going to explain how he was a student of Claudia Rankine, and she recommended I read him.  How I am grateful she did, and I was going to praise him.  Then this morning after I wrote the praise and  lead you to the poems “Elegy”  and “Heart Condition” this was in my newsfeed from poetry foundation.  Read this instead, The Contract so much better than anything I could have said and you will fall in love with Jericho because of his love for poetry that will make you jealous that you have never said any of this to poetry, when it has done so much for you.  You can also read the aforementioned poems, because you will need more.

Or watch him here.

Beyond Baroque Annual Poetry Awards

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Last Sunday I had the distinct honor of being invited to the Beyond Baroque Annual Award Banquet in Santa Monica, California. This event host top poets from the area and long standing members of the Beyond Baroque community for a few hours a year to honor two deserving Poets Elena Karina Byrne and Suzanne Lummis in separate categories, Distinguished Service and Outstanding Achievement in Poetry respectively.

When I walked into the Church on the corner of Second and Hill, it all seemed to be a pretty standard evening in store. Long lines of banquet tables. Food set up against a wall. Long line of people waiting for food. Hellos and hugs as people greeted each other. Congratulations being poured out for the winners for the George Drury Smith Awards.

Granted there was a beauty to the facility, stain glasses windows all around and a stage lit in the rose colored hue of sunglasses promising a glorious tomorrow. Two of the largest beach chairs I have ever seen in my life, desperate to be the fade away shot in a female buddy movie. I sat in the back, garnering me a great view of the entire scene that held well over 100 attendees. All, of which, became impressively silent when Brendan Constantine took the stage, as emcee of the festivities. I was impressed, yet not surprised, with his ease in front of the crowd as I have seen him perform his own poetry many times prior. To start the entertainment for the evening Philip Littell serenaded the crowd with everything from Blues to Italian opera. I have never seen Philip perform previously, but surely would make an effort to do so again because even though the songs were not familiar to me, his performance invited me in to experience and love the music the way the people around me did. The guests seemed very connected to the songs, and it was as though Littell was walking them all down memory lane, and I became somewhat sad that I wasn’t being escorted with them.

Soon after Amelie Frank took to the grand podium to introduce the winner of the Distinguished Service Award, Elena Karina Byrne. A more worthy recipient I cannot even begin to consider. Elena has so much history and so many accomplishments in poetry and her tireless effort to promote poetry should have been honored long ago. It is best to allow Amelie to talk about Elena, instead of have me fall upon myself. “Speaking about what it takes to make things happen, Elena has said, “We’re all our own volunteers.”   There is no question that Elena has given generously of her time, her resources, and her talent to keep the writing, publishing, and performance of poetry vital in Los Angeles. She works against daunting challenges. An American cultural climate that continues its spiraling nose-dive to the bottom. A national horror of education. Here in this city, a calcifying gridlock that makes any trip to attend a reading, a lecture, a writing course a logistical burden. But she received this service award tonight because she continues to serve, knowing that the efforts of the passionate, dedicated individual can make a world of difference for many. One of the things I have learned in books I am currently reading about overcoming difficult circumstances is that a key element in anyone’s success is that someone else exists who holds that person in their heart, believes in them, believes in their ability, and carries the hope that they will succeed. It can be a person, a program, a reading, a publication project. Whatever it is, Elena Karina Byrne has held many things in her heart in order to make them happen.”

It was at this moment that the Beyond Baroque Awards became much more than the standard award ceremony. It was at this point that the importance of these awards in the April, National Poetry Month, opened up for all who were fortunate enough to be there to listen. These awards are about fellowship and community. These awards are about the support all writers need to give each other, about the celebration that we all need to share in, in the talent of each other, in the beauty of the art. Amelie wasn’t just introducing Elena Karina Byrne; she was celebrating her and poetry.

This is the beauty I found at Beyond Baroque, a beauty that makes me wish I could find a “Beyond Baroque” everywhere, they are a community that wants to celebrate and support all writers, artist, those of us who need more to survive in this world. They recognize that academia may not be covering all our needs, may not be promoting all of the poets and artist this world has to offer, so instead they do it.

The night continued with Suzanne Lummis being heralded by Bill Mohr as she took home the Outstanding Achievement in Poetry Award. He too honored Suzanne as more than a poet but also a friend to him and the community of poets. Many of her students and admirers were in the audience, and all grateful to call her mentor and friend. It seems to me these awards could have been switched or simply doubled up, because both of these ladies have shown such service to poetry community and seen great achievements to be envied in their own poetry careers.

As the night wound down, it was these words that rung out “We are part of a fellowship of Poets”. And we are, whether we went to the Beyond Baroque George Drury Smith Awards Ceremony or not. Whether we make it to every festival, reading, or buy every book, we have a duty to be a member of the fellowship of poets. We have a duty to be our own volunteers, and let the world know what is out there. Sure you can give out awards, if you are as established at Beyond Baroque, or you can simply post a friends poem on your Facebook Page, or tell someone else who you are reading, or write a poem right now. It’s National Poetry Month, the one month in the year where we are suppose to celebrate what we love, and maybe in that effort we use the internet to become a community, and we learn to celebrate poetry and each other throughout the year.

Day 3~Kim Addonizio

kim-bar13And what if your mom was this cool? What if your mom was a musician, artist, and poet? Kim Addonizio is not your mom, and she certainly isn’t mine, but I like to think of her as the mother of the current crop of Rock and Roll Poets, as I call them. Her work is edgy, or so academia seems to think, but to me it is as REAL as REAL is when waking up in a bed that’s not yours with a tipped over bottle of vodka that you are damn sure hoping poured out onto the floor and not your mouth. Now that good just be me. But these are my favorite poets.

This is a multi talented writer, who has written not just prize-winning poems, but prize-winning essays. She never stops writing, it would appear with her latest publication being a story collection , The Palace of Allusions in 2014 and now Blues Poems and Portraits (2015)

I came to Addonizio in a back-handed way, a student handed me her book, Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within, and I was in love with the ideas she let out and onto me. So then it was to her poetry I ran. It has only been a few years, and still she has become a favorite. Below I give you two of her poems, and urge you to at the very least buy Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within. When I read her poetry I think, if only Anne Sexton were alive to see how far we get to take poetry now, she would be PROUD!
Two of my favorite poems from this poet who knows how to push the edge and sometimes jump right over.

What Do Women Want?

BY KIM ADDONIZIO

I want a red dress.
I want it flimsy and cheap,
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what’s underneath. I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty’s and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I’m the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears about me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want. When I find it, I’ll pull that garment
from its hanger like I’m choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I’ll wear it like bones, like skin,
it’ll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

Kim Addonizio, “What Do Women Want?” from Tell Me. Copyright © 2000 by Kim Addonizio.
found on poets.org, buy the book at www.boaeditions.org.

Source: Tell Me (BOA Editions Ltd., 2000)

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Divine

BY KIM ADDONIZIOOh hell, here’s that dark wood again.
You thought you’d gotten through it—
middle of your life, the ogre turned into a mouse
and heart-stopped, the old hag almost done,
monsters hammered down
into their caves, werewolves outrun.
You’d come out of all that, into a field.
There was one man standing in it.
He held out his arms.
Ping went your iHeart
so you took off all your clothes.
Now there were two of you,
or maybe one, mashed back together
like sandwich halves,
oozing mayonnaise.
You lived on grapes and antidepressants
and the occasional small marinated mammal.
You watched the DVDs that dropped
from the DVD tree. Nothing
was forbidden you, so no worries there.
It rained a lot.
You planted some tomatoes.
Something bad had to happen
because no trouble, no story, so
Fuck you, fine, whatever,
here comes more black trees
hung with sleeping bats
like ugly Christmas ornaments.
Don’t you hate the holidays?
All that giving. All those wind-up
crèches, those fake silver icicles.
If you had a real one you could stab
your undead love through its big
cursed heart. Instead you have a silver noodle
with which you must flay yourself.
Denial of pleasure,
death before death,
alone in the woods with a few bats
unfolding their creaky wings.

—Kim Addonizio

from Best American Poetry 2013

Day 2~Andrew Demcak

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 4.14.42 PMToday I want to profile a man that I consider my friend, Andrew Demcak. I met Andrew (what seems like a million years ago) in college. It was my first day at California State University, Long Beach, and I had signed up for a Creative Writing Poetry class that I had no right to be in. I sat in the corner scared as I watched all these upper classmen come in, and finally just stared down at a blank paper tapping my pen, then Andrew walked in greeting everyone like family members he had not seen in far too long. I looked up and saw hair, wild and spiraling hair, which would take many formations in the time we were in college. Andrew, at that time, I believe was in his 5th year of college, as he decided to take his time, and I was grateful because some of the best times I ever had in college were a direct result of him (particularly when we took Buddhism class together). But what was amazing about Andrew, outside of his hair, was his writing. Even then, sitting in a class with him, I knew he was destined to be a great writer and being his friend was a privilege. Lately he has found his writing leading him to novels, but I want you to see some of his work as a poet.  He does what great poets do, he makes us see images in ways we have not considered, but when he writes them, it is like we should have known all along.  The two poems below are a small fraction of how he will amaze you if you were to pick up his book Night Chant, or any of his books actually.

 

I have picked two that I love below. Enjoy and feel free to friend him on Facebook, or following him on twitter.

 

Threading

Your cancer was trimmed with blue scissors.
You folded like a Parisian rag rug,
a tourist in the sterile, chemo room.
Culled cloth,
 little fugues from fingertips,
tissue patterns issuing from your body.
Radiology, 
loose ends rethreaded.
Stitched with a sash of mango crepe,
costly silk in venous pleats, 
dark yellow.
Your rebirth came as a daffodil cape.

 

Copyright © 2009 Andrew Demcak
All rights reserved
from A Single Hurt Color

 

Stings

Client #15 twitches and sweats. My latest rehab cellmate,
he tells of offering his arm’s white dandelion to any passing
bee. He waits in bloom. Industrial chemicals to needle
into his wilting skin, pollinating him. Miraculous, there he
curls dreaming of that brood chamber: a queen’s poisonous
barb looming over him, weekly visits of waxy syringes and
burnt teaspoons.

 

 

 

You can purchase many of Andrews poetry books on Amazon.
Some are sold out, he’s that amazing!

A Poet a Day!

Picture 2Tomorrow starts another National Poetry Writing Month, and well, I’m pretty giddy. Like many of my Poet readers I will attempt (and as history shows, fail) to write a poem a day. What I love about this month is the amount of Poetry we will find everywhere. I’m pretty sure poems will be posted to trees, in Laundromats, next to the green peppers in the produce section. There will be articles, prompts, and profiles on more websites than I knew existed. It will be a cornucopia of poetry and poetry styles.

Last year I was a part of the prompt game, making sure I posted a different one each day and even had weekend forms.  This year I want to do something a little different so I will spend the next 30 days profiling poem from poets I personally thing are amazing. The kind of poets that write poems I am jealous of. The kind of poets that make my heart beat to a new rhythm as I read their work.  Some of the poets I profile I will have had the great fortune to call friend, some I wish were my friend, and some will never be my friends in this life, but I’m sure they’re waiting for me and Poetry heaven.

So starting tomorrow I will begin posting a poem from a poet you may know, or introduce you to for the first time. The hope is you leave glad you stopped by to celebrate these poets with me.

See you tomorrow!

Poetry in Pasadena

On the 21st of March, Don KingFisher kindly invited me to Pasadena to read from my book, The Truck Driver’s Daughter.  He also video taped the feature, and you can now watch it below.  Many thanks to him and Pasadena for having me.

And Part 2

Coffee Cartel, where poetry is Mob Rule

Tomorrow night I will be at Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach, to promote my book, The Truck Driver’s Daughter.  If you can, come out and join us.  If you like take part in the open mic.

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If you can’t make it, you can always buy the book here.

The Truck Driver’s Daughter Reviewed At POETIX

Many thanks to Murry Thomas for finding someone I did not know to review the book, and super thanks to Nancy Shiffrin for reviewing The Truck Driver’s Daughter.    Read it below, or see it on the actual website!  Then make my publisher happy and buy it here or here

The Truck Driver’s Daughter
Book by Denise Weuve
ELJ Publications

Reviewed by Nancy Shiffrin

Denise Weuve is not afraid. The hard craft of her poems displays her courage. Her themes are addiction, prostitution, lonely motherhood, mostly absent fathers. She wants to be the reason that AA doesn’t work. God is absent from this work, though still hoped for. The poems seem to point to a persona, but I can’t help thinking that most must be autobiographical or very close to Weuve’s personal reality. I love especially the way she describes her mother and grandmother in “When My Mother Danced.”

They were two women
who did not need permission
to pin their paisley dresses
above their knees, whisper
curse words, or dance in each other’s arms.

Weuve is without judgment of the sister who stops to score on the way to rehab and makes her an offer, “You want, it could be stronger.” The poem is called “Cycles” and the extended metaphor of counting days to rehab and counting days to menstruation becomes a recognition of shared experience.

Menstrual cramps are like the pains of withdrawal, her sister bleeds “the blood that is mine/still staining her hands.”

The effects of addiction, the loss of the father, the brother, the grandfather who hanged himself, the mother who tells the poet/daughter “No one will love you/Not without beating you” are graphically portrayed in a number of poems. “Human Anatomy Parts” is the most graphic. The kidney which belonged to an unknown Hispanic woman who might have died in a traffic accident, whose life she the poet can barely imagine, we guess is a real transplant. The liver soaked in vodka, the spleen enlarged, infected, become metaphors for all of the personal physiological losses brought on by alcoholism.

Is Weuve the daughter, the blessed female, who too often walks into the callous hands of men? There is so much hurt, disappointment, so many men who don’t notice when the woman has disappeared. I look for hope in Weuve’s words and don’t find it. I do find hope in the intensity of her talent, her ability to capture in intense figurative language an agony that is too visceral for existence. I recommend this book and look forward to the next one.

A Conversation about The Truck Driver’s Daughter

TTDD CoverThis is a form of review, that I would love to start doing with poet friends about books we have read.

This is from the ELJ Publications website.

…a closer look at The Truck Driver’s Daughter

Behind the Titles: A Closer Look
at The Truck Driver’s Daughter by Denise R. Weuve
Featuring April Jones and Lisa Marie Cole

April:
I love the opening poem in this collection, “When My Mother Danced.” It’s a poem about the narrator’s grandmother and mother dancing because the grandmother had won some chickens from playing Bingo. This sense of freedom and two women being carefree enough to move furniture and dance around the living room is such a beautiful image. It’s also such a stark contrast to the following poem which is about abuse. I think that it says a lot about the collection as a whole. To open with this poem about dancing rather than the next one about abuse says to me that the narrator is going to weave us a story that may be a rollercoaster, but that the foundation of this story is freedom. What thoughts did you have on the first poem? Did it strike you the same way that it did me?

Lisa:
Yes, the opening poem made me feel similarly. Opening with dancing was an interesting choice, given that there is an undercurrent of such violence in this book. But, like a Lana Del Rey song, there is a kind of beauty interspersed among the bruises. The language utilized is powerful, biting, and sharp, sometimes surreal, and the humor is dark and ironic. It is well placed when it does appear, as in the poems “Jesse James 78” and “Human Anatomy Parts.”

April:
What thoughts did you have on “The Haircut?” This poem is about a photograph in which the narrator’s mother captures the clock while trying to get a picture of the narrator’s younger brother. The poem goes on to tell us that her brother, when he grows up, grows his hair out which doesn’t seem all that discouraging until we read the last lines, “Or maybe she just/ wanted to know/ it was ten after four/the day she lost control.” The tragedy is heightened when you realize that just a few lines before when we’re being introduced to the poem that her brother is only two. There’s so much of a story here and so much being left out. I love the balance in this poem. Each poem we learn more and more about loss, but in this particular poem the balance between what is happening, the description of a photograph, and what is actually happening, the mother losing control by some means we aren’t privy to, is beautifully done. It’s so easy to over tell a story, to zero in on the details that you want to highlight so that readers understand just why you feel the way you do, but that often isn’t a great way to tell a story. But in this collection we learn just enough, there’s no over telling of the story, that our heart breaks each time something is lost even if we aren’t sure how it happens.

Lisa:
“The Haircut” was also an interesting poem. What struck me the most about the book were the moments— like in this poem—where a part of the story remained untold, and was left out, like in the poem “The Haircut.” What is the full story here? How did the mother lose control exactly? The poems are gripping enough that I want to know more of the story. Strangely enough, the book makes references to the fact that things are left out, that there are parts missing, in poems like “Reading Carver”:

Between the swigs he grumbled
Carver had it
the less said the better.
So we say nothing.

What I am learning is that what is unsaid is sometimes more powerful than what is said, and perhaps that is what makes this collection fit into the genre of poetry; I think that more of a story can be omitted in poetry, while still keeping the integrity of the story intact. I think that’s what happens in The Truck Driver’s Daughter.The integrity of the story remains strong throughout the text, and though their outlines may be blurry, I start to really care about the characters. In fact, the characters indeed blur into one another. I wonder about the address circuit. Who is the you? The I? The she and he? Who is the mother, the sister, the daughter, the father? Where does one person end and the other begin? Storylines blur like blood lines do in The Truck Driver’s Daughter which makes it all the more riveting.

April:
What are your thoughts on “Heredity?” This is the closing poem of the collection in which we learn about the narrator’s siblings. Her three brothers have grown into their fathers, which is heartbreaking as they aren’t good men, and the fear of cancer the narrator inherited from her mother’s encounter with breast and uterine cancer. The poem compares not only her brothers to their fathers, but also the cancer to the abuse her mother suffered at the hands of the men she loved. I think that the lines, “and this one/ blessed female/ who too often walks/ as pigeoned as you into/ the callous hands of men” is the one that takes my breath away. This woman, this mother that we’ve come to know over the course of this collection has seemingly nothing to show from the live she has lived. But then I think back to the woman dancing with her mother over chickens and I smile. Sure, like has been a series of heart breaks but the woman who danced is still there for me. She loved. Maybe not always the right people, but she loved and she lived and she danced.

Lisa:

“Heredity” was such a dark piece, but what struck me the most here was the last few lines:

You leave her death
neatly wrapped in yearly
visits to the gynecologist,
scraped from the inside out.
Each year she reaches out,
head tilted to the doctor’s whisper,
and does not breathe
long enough to hear,
you are not your mother.

I felt like the emotional center of the book was the mother figure, so to both end on the mother’s death and the proclamation that “You are not your mother” was a strange kind of countering to the rest of the book. It seems like a denouncing of the family, of the mother—a kind of negation of the story. It certainly leaves the book’s readers something to think about.

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