Denise R. Weuve

Ink Damage and Other Permanent Stains

Archive for the tag “AWP”

Day 13 ~ Nick Flynn

From Nick Flynn's website

From Nick Flynn’s website

Why do I love Nick Flynn? Blame Cathy Smith Bowers. She read a poem of his in class, and well, it became my favorite poem for a good 3 months. I read it to strangers, to friends, and my own students. My poor students, who already question my state of mind, had a stronger reason when I taught “Bag of Mice”. This poem is heart wrenching and I have actually seen visual interpretations of this poem, in a graphic novel, that made it all the sadder. Recently I have included this poem in workshops that I teach outside of the high school environment.

Obviously there is more to like about Nick Flynn’s work than simply that one poem, and from his memoirs to his books of poems there is a stark realism that is refreshing. His poems mix a current political situation, his personal history, and the magic of our confused world, most obviously in “Haiku (failed)” which is anything but a haiku.

There are plenty of chances to see Nick Flynn, he travels quite a bit, and with his new book of poems My Feelings which should have premiered (unofficially) last weekend at AWP, he will be promoting. Earlier this month I spotlighted Brendan Constantine, who will be at Sarah Lawrence the weekend of April 25th for The Poetry Festival. So all you lucky readers in New York, quite a few of the poets I am spotlighting will be heading your way. I wish I were you . . . .

 

This poem appeared in the Boston Review

Forgetting Something

Try this—close / your eyes. No, wait, when—if—we see each other / again the first thing we should do is close our eyes—no, / first we should tie our hands to something / solid—bedpost, doorknob—otherwise they (wild birds) / might startle us / awake. Are we forgetting something? What about that / warehouse, the one beside the airport, that room / of black boxes, a man in each box? I hear / if you bring this one into the light he will not stop / crying, if you show this one a photo of his son / his eyes go dead. Turn up / the heat, turn up the song. First thing we should do / if we see each other again is to make / a cage of our bodies—inside we can place / whatever still shines.

 

And from Youtube.com Nick himself reading.

Day 12 ~ Saeed Jones

Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 10.52.30 PM

I can’t imagine you do not know who Saeed Jones is. You probably do. I can’t imagine not wanting to be Saeed Jones’ friend. You probably are. I can’t imagine what happens in his mind that makes him so damn good. It has to be a beautiful place. I only recently read Prelude to Bruise. I was immediately turned into awe when I read the first poem in the book “Antracite”, the last sentence which rolls over 4 lines Beware/of how they want you;/in this town everything born black/also burns. Nevermind the fact that coverage of young black men being murders adds pathos to these lines, but the lines without that knowledge have such an attachement to not only the poet but the history that it transcends pathos, and brings ethos and logos along for the ride in a beautiful poem. Name a great poem that doesn’t do that? You can’t.

Very dear to my heart is the use of mythology in several of his poems. What if the myths took place in present time? What were the mythological characaters like before their myth? Or what happened to them after the myth was over? Jones wrote a piece called “Daedalus, After Icarus” that is just as moving and tragic as the story we all know of Icarus.

If for any reason you do not have Prelude to Bruise, please BUY it, you need this book in your life. (Cool Factor-He’s Buzzfeed Lit Ed)

 

The first poem is courtesy PBS, Weekly poem and the title of his book

 

Prelude to Bruise

In Birmingham, said the burly man—

Boy, be
a bootblack.

Your back, blue-black.
Your body,                     burning.

I like my black boys broke, or broken.
I like to break my black boys in.

See this burnished
brown leather belt?
You see it, boy?

Are you broke, or broken?
I’m gonna break your back in.

Good boy. Begin: bend
over my boot,

(or I’ll bend you over my lap–rap rap)

again, bend. Better,

butt out, tongue out,
lean in.

Now, spit-shine.
Spit-polish.

My boot, black.
Your back, blue-black.

Good boy.
Black boy, blue-black boy.
Bad boy–rap rap.

You’ve been broken in.
Begin again, bend.

 

And from Youtube, the poem I mention in the first paragraph. Antracite

Day 8 ~ Mary Szybist

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 12.23.31 AMI read Mary Szybist‘s  Incarnadine, for a class in my MFA program. An assignment I do not recall, but the book I do. I was maddeningly in love with what Mary Szybist did with holy Mary and the crossing and the separating of herself and the holy mother in that book. I went to catholic school, was raised in the church so I found automatic familiarity with her work. But what I marvel about was how she did not forget the work behind the poetry. Her notes are extensive and I imagine her research was volumes of material that never even made it into the book.

For those of you going to AWP she will be part of the festivities. Get to her reading, and get to her panel. How do you miss the 2013 National Book Award Winner? Here’s a little information on those:

Saturday, April 11
AWP Conference Events in Minneapolis, MN
9:00 am: Panel on Charles Wright at 80: A Celebration of Poetry and Teaching:
Auditorium Room, Level 1
4:30 pm: Reading and Conversation with Linda Hogan and Eric Pankey:
Main Auditorium, Level 1

If you aren’t going, like my poor hiney here are a couple of poems to make you even sadder

 

Hail

Mary who mattered to me, gone or asleep
among fruits, spilled

in ash, in dust, I did not

leave you. Even now I can’t keep from
composing you, limbs & blue cloak

& soft hands. I sleep to the sound

of your name, I say there is no Mary
except the word Mary, no trace

on the dust of my pillowslip. I only

dream of your ankles brushed by dark violets,
of honeybees above you

murmuring into a crown. Antique queen,

the night dreams on: here are the pears
I have washed for you, here the heavy-winged doves,

asleep by the hyacinths. Here I am,

having bathed carefully in the syllables
of your name, in the air and the sea of them, the sharp scent

of their sea foam. What is the matter with me?

Mary, what word, what dust
can I look behind? I carried you a long way

into my mirror, believing you would carry me

back out. Mary, I am still
for you, I am still a numbness for you.

Source: Poetry (November 2008).

 

 

Apology

I didn’t mean to say so much to you.
I should have thought to let the evening end
by looking at the stars subdued

into their antique blue and alabaster hues.
Such looking would have fit with my intent.
I didn’t mean to speak that way to you.

If I could take it back, I’d take it, undo
it, and replace it with the things I meant
to give—not what I let slip (it’s true)

like any pristine star of ornamental hue.
I do not always do what I intend.
I didn’t mean to say so much to you.

It slipped before I saw, before I knew.
Or do we always do what we intend?
Perhaps it’s true and all along I knew

what I was saying—but how I wanted you.
I should have thought to let the evening end.
The placid stars seemed filled and then subdued
by what I did and did not want to do.

From the book Granted

Found on PBS.org 

Day 7 ~ LeAnne Hunt

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 8.02.37 AMLeAnne Hunt is my friend, and like many of my friends she is also a poet. I met LeAnne at The Ugly Mug readings in Orange, CA. (where I have met a lot of people I really like). She is a scientist (and works in lab coat and everything), a mother, a friend, and a damn good writer. She can often be found at Long Beach’s Poetry Lab, and this week will be found in Minneapolis hanging out with all your lucky folks heading to AWP. Should you be lucky enough to see her there, make friends, she has a great laugh that will always make you feel better, and if you are lucky she will show you some of her poems, but until then here are a couple of poems by the lovely LeAnne.

 

***This first poem appeared on Cadence Collective in 2014:

“Children are vampires,” my friend said.
After the park… the fair… the festival… the zoo… the circus…
the pool party… the playdates…and the birthday parties,
we sprawl in our chairs, like wilted prom corsages
three days after the deflowering and no phone call.
Our daughters whip around us like kites in hurricanes.

I cannot agree.

Children suck the marrow from bones, leach the color from hair,
bleach the skin and drain the life force at its source.
Vampires take only your blood, drink it down and stop;
children take your life and carry it forth.
All of your sins, half of your traits and three-fourths of your gestures
passed on like a virus replicating beyond control.
Vampires are kinder; they provide an end stop to your line.
Children run on and on.

 

***Last year for National Poetry Writing Month, LeAnne let me use this Pantoum on my website for the daily prompts, and now it is here because anyone that can write a form poem well, has my awe.

Letting Go of Stones

I am an empty bag, full of wind and crinkle.
I rattled at each pull until you broke through thin skin.
I learned to twist in your words.
I flung myself off a cliff to float. I held blue.
I gave you two children as promised.

I rattled at each pull until you broke through thin skin.
I learned to twist in your words.
You could not catch my inhaled breath.
I gave you two children as promised.
Wind carries ash the same as it does hope.

You could not catch inhaled my breath.
I flung myself off a cliff to float. I held blue.
Wind carries ash the same as it does hope.
I am an empty bag, full of wind and crinkle.

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