Denise R. Weuve

Ink Damage and Other Permanent Stains

Archive for the tag “Brendan Constantine”

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 Nick himself reading.

Day 9 ~ Brendan Constantine

Brendan ConstantineWell it had to happen, and so it has, today I spotlight the uber talented Brendan Constantine.  If you have not seen him perform/read his work and you had the chance to, you have cheated yourself out of an experience you will not forget. Outside of being an absolutely great feature if you have your own reading you host, Brendan is a teacher. He teaches children, he does workshops at CAFAM (Craft and Folk Art Museum) and he volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Project. My mother has Alzheimer and I often fear this will be my final outcome, and I certainly wish there was a Brendan in my mother’s life earlier. Someone who would help her get out all she had to get out through writing, and feel creative and powerful again. This is what I truly love about Brendan he does that for people. He makes them feel powerful through words whether they are a 10 year old or 80 year old. He brings joy with words. When Brendan submitted his work to Wherewithal, a magazine I co-founded I felt honored that he even knew we existed.

I have gushed over this man enough, just let me say Brendan tours (those of you in the Los Angeles area have about a million opportunities to see him this month, New Your you only have Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival) and when he does catch him, please, it’s for your own good. Until that time, buy Letters to Guns, and then you can also pick up his other two books once you fall in love with his words.


First let me show you Brendan doing his thing so that you want to run out and see him.  This video is from youtube, where you can find many more.


And here is a poem that I was so grateful to him for allowing us to feature on Wherewithal Magazine.



Whatever gets between us and the sky
becomes the sky / It’s how we start to
wish on the flicker in a smoke alarm /
how sometimes the bed seems hidden
under moss / We sit long after the lamps
go down / The park so dark / the moths
dive at our phones / It makes sense to
laugh down the street / The street waits
its turn / then rolls out its black receipt
for things we don’t remember / We
can’t read the numbers / What we owe
is somewhere behind those trees in
the wallpaper / or way the other way

Picking Favorites: Brendan Constantine

All week the hosts of The Long Beach Poetry Festival have picked poets to highlighted as one of their many fabulous readers  today, and still you are reading this blog instead of sitting in the Liberty Gallery on 435 Alamitos Street being awed by the sheer breath of talent captivating your ears, then I give you my pick, Brendan Constantine.

For me, Brendan Constantine does what so many poets are unable to do, bridge the technical detail to performance.  So writers say there is no divide between the two factions, and others acknowledge an extreme divide.  But with Brendan there is no divide.  He is performance, he is technique, he is the love of poetry as art embodied.  Once a couple of years back I asked G. Murray Thomas, who was still working at Barnes and Noble to give me what he thought was the best local poetry on their shelves.  He handed me David Hernandez and Brendan’s Letters To Guns.  the title captivated me, and then the words did the same.  I read as he deftly maneuvered me through his personal poetic journey, the beauty of all the way to the thought-provoking Last Night I Went To the Map of the World and I Have Messages for You.  Impressed I wanted to no more about this man.



Going to Brendan’s website givers you tons of information about the man.  he’s a teacher, a traveler, a performer, a writer, an artist, and most importantly  he’s a philanthropist of good will in the poetic world.  I went to an open mic at the Coffee Cartel in Redondo Beach, that featured Brendan.  He sat on the couch Across from me, and during every open reader he was attentive.  Regardless to who stood at the open mic reading, he found something to enjoy.  Spontaneously and audibly he would mumble, “hmmm….yeah….great”  It became thrilling to hear his acknowledgement of good work as much as his love for the writing.

Are you still reading this? Instead of heading out to see the scheduled evening poets?  What is WRONG with you?  Read this poem by Brendan and move it.

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