Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
and it does not fix --
sleeping in the rain
easy does it over
A native of Jones County, Miss., Buck Downs works in Washington DC. He distributes his poetry primarily in the form of postcards, available through free subscription. To subscribe to the postcard list, visit this site: http://buckdowns.com/postcards/
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Um, pants and a shirt
Can you make it more sexy?
And a knit hat
Now you're lying
I'm wearing a poncho
Take it off
I'm taking off my poncho in a really sexy way
It has Velcro and I'm unvelcroing the Velcro
What sound does it make?
A sexy sound like khkhkhkhkh
A velcroey sound
Jessy Randall's collection of poems A Day in Boyland (Ghost Road Press, 2007) was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Her poems and other works have appeared in Asimov's, Coconut, Many Mountains Moving, McSweeney's, and No Tell Motel. She has a young adult novel forthcoming in 2009, and her website is http://personalwebs.coloradocollege.edu/~jrandall.
Monday, December 8, 2008
We spent several days in Cape Town before heading north. Contrary to international banter, the World Cup stadium is indeed shaping up, but the toll on the city's limited electrical resources is just as apparent as the multitude of cranes that loom and swing along the skyline. Before leaving the city, we hiked/climbed up the face of Table Mountain. Along the way, we befriended a gaggle of locals and filled our bellies the following day at their traditional brae (S.A. bbq).
In this case, my father and I were both taking what may seem unadventurous to an outsider-- maleria pills. But we had different types. What he was on I had taken before and it turned my brain into one of those factories from Pink Floyd's The Wall. Sometimes I'd sit and just want to cry. Unfortunatley, I didn't get around to real dramtics like making "line up" art, shaving my eyebrows, or stomping on wine glasses in my bare feet.
And don't forget about snagging your copy of If Poetry. Until soon!
Friday, December 5, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
After helping lug gear and rations into the station from the truck, I shook hands with the soldiers and clambered up to the tenfoot cross at the uppermost cropping of rock in order to gain full vantage. I looked around, up, over, and down. But all I could see was white. Just like the cross, or what it had been once. Now it sported rainbows of graffiti ranging from prophetic to profane. One of the largest appeared in bold black letters.
I looked at my wrist and agreed. I'd forgotten my flashlight at the hospedaje, so I'd need to hoof down to make it back before dark.
The descent was uneventful, but considering it now, I've only been to one other guardtype station (which I'll get to later) and I didn't get a ride up with soldiers. Never even saw any. Just a slew of folk musicians. Inside and out of the pubs. They don't call it Doolin, Ireland for nothing.
My best man, Michael, invited us last February for a week in his motherland during a folk festival. Turns out Michael's relative was none other than Ireland's Whistling Ambassador, Micho Russell.
Although Russell has gone on to play in pastures of evergreen, the music he helped popularize lives and thrives in the pubs. The jams or sessions as I call them go on and on and on, fueled by rudy faces, hot whiskey, and Guiness. The locals, including Michael's uncle, called them something different, something that sounded like an addictive white rock.
(upon spotting us in O'Conner's pub and squeezing his way over)
"Enjoying it then?"
"Yeh, itis a mighty craic."
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
cling from our shirts, we finally spied the summit. The biggest man lit up and motioned me head with his smoke. "Here's the station where all the voices get filtered to code. But you know gringo, it's the same message either way: a man a plan a canal panama."
Monday, December 1, 2008
December 1 and I already need to escape. The Ann Arbor winter with sleeting cold but little snow. Escape back to Panama. Boquete, to be exact. Warm without the blaze. Sweet Boquete, the mountain town in the north where I hiked, met crazy Panamanian birders, toured organic coffee plantations, and spent hours reclined with steaming cups of joe, scribbling in my red notebook under the eye of the looming volcano.
Even then I was escaping. From my summer studying Spanish literature at a language school in San Jose, Costa Rica. I'd gone there because a professor knew a friend who knew the grandson of the Cuban writer whose book I had translated but couldn't publish because I couldn't get the rights. I was assured that the friend of the friend would certainly help me. I quickly discovered that everyone teaching at the language school in San Jose knew somebody who knew somebody and knowing didn't mean squat. It only meant that you had shaken the person's hand or kissed them customarily on the cheek sometime in your long and complicated life.
Anyway, after spending my weekends puking from bus windows en route to swarming beaches where everyone either spoke English or wanted to "practice" some variation of "You want marijuana? You want girl?, You want coke?" Boquete was exactly what I needed.
While I found Costa Rica to be obscenely in-your-face touristy, Boquete has retained most of its charm. As a gringo, I can't help but shy away from what I know and see and experience in my everyday gringtopia back home. That's part of the lure of travel, the unexpected.
Although the gringos have yet to completely overrun the place, I could certainly see our telltale markings on signs as I bussed into town. International firms have purchased entire swaths of land on the mountainsides, invisible from the surrounding roads. They've branded them with ludicrous names like Valley Escondido I and Valley Escondido II (Hidden Valley I and II), as though the name could keep them like Frodo's ring, secret and safe from the surrounding residents and poverty.
One place I did spy gringos, however, was outside the single market store. I stopped across the street at a café first thing after hopping off the bus. I drooled over the entire menu as I prepared to lay down a night's worth of greenbacks. That's right. American coin. But that's another story. Just as I was settling in, several gringo men older than my grandfather caught my eye. They were strolling by, hand in hand with prepubescent native Lolitas. Just the thought made me sour. When the waitress finally twirled out of the kitchen, all I could stomach to order was a chocolate milkshake, which is just as it sounds, milk + chocolate + agitation.
As I sat waiting, I gazed in the direction of Barú, Panama's highest volcano. It was swaddled in clouds, but the following day I planned to hike the winding roads directly up from Boquete. A fellow student in San Jose had told me he went on an overnight guided backpacking trip up the volcano. When I pressed him for details, he confessed that an ATV had carried almost all of the equipment. As I usually look and smell like a mule when backpacking around my fair town, I found his method strange but managed to maintain my strategically poker face.
Although the place I wanted to stay in was completely booked, I found lodging a block further down the dirt road at a small hospedaje (house that rents rooms). My room shared a common area and kitchen with two other rooms. I slept solid, rising before the sun to my chirping wristwatch and readied my daypack to trek to the top of Barú.
Then I heard a woman scream.
Before the Dogs Get Deep
Pitchforked, a boy of eight struts from his mother's hospedaje. He sweats the muddy cul-de-sac to end where the bony dogs crouch in deveined pipes. As he toes the tines, a fer-de-lance that slickcircled the bowl the tourist fled from squatting upon, tumbles limp like the veil, "Only a snake, Miss." It's all he can recall before the dogs perk, pack, and get deep their teeth.
To be continued…
Before the Dogs Get Deep appeared in Sleepingfish .875
New Work by P.F. Potvin in the most recent issue of Sleepingfish ZZZ
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Grace Cavalieri has published several books of poetry. Water on the Sun (Jacaranda Press, San Jose) was listed on Pen American Center’s 2006 Best Books List. Among production awards, her recent play “Quilting the Sun” received a key to the city of Greenville, S.C.. Anna Nicole : Poems (Goss 183: Casa Menendez, 2008)is her latest book. She produces and hosts “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress” for public radio.
http://www.loc.gov/poetry/poetpoem.html (The Poet and the Poem from the LOC)
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Already I can see
the burning of the trees, and
above me only more and more
spun to gold. You used to know
all the best places, the
that cornfield? Perhaps
that is where it all began,
the plowing and the seeding, the
sweat, yours, mine, salting
the earth. Even those
low stone walls, the ones that
stitch a lifetime
into patchwork, I thought
they were the kind that
never fell down.
Kim Triedman has worked in both poetry and fiction. Her first poetry collection – "bathe in it or sleep" – was named winner of this year’s Main Street Rag Chapbook Competition and has just been released by Main Street Rag Publishing Company. In the past year, she’s also been named finalist for the 2007 Philbrick Poetry Award, finalist for the 2008 James Jones First Novel Fellowship, semi-finalist for the 2008 Black River Chapbook Competition and semi-finalist for the 2008 Parthenon Prize for Fiction. Her poems have been published/accepted widely by literary journals and anthologies, including The Aurorean, The New Writer, Byline Magazine, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Journal, Main Street Rag, Poetry Monthly, Current Accounts, Ghoti Magazine, IF Poetry Journal, Great Kills Review, Trespass Magazine, ART TIMES, and FRiGG Magazine. She is a graduate of Brown University and lives in Arlington.
website - www.kimtriedman.net
Main Street Rag on-line bookstore - www.mainstreetrag.com/store/chapbooks.php
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
1. Who is your arch-enemy? Why is this person your arch-enemy?
What makes me happy involves both process and product. I love the moments when a phrase or an idea for a poem comes to mind, or when I make a revision, usually by shortening, that brings the poem closer to its ideal form. I also love the times of reaching mental exhaustion when I have finally written a poem that has been in the back of my mind for years. Then I feel like I am doing something with my life.
As for contemporary American poets, there sure are a lot of them out there. On the formal side, among established poets I would include Timothy Steele, who is continually widening his range of techniques and who seems to widen his range of subjects with every book. Among younger formal poets, I think of Joshua Mehigan, whose first book The Optimist just crackles with music and intelligence. (It is virtually criminal that two other younger formal poets, Kevin Durkin and Melissa Balmain, have not yet found a taker for their book collections.)
Finally, to get out of the English-language ghetto for a moment, it's important to pay homage to the Central and Eastern European poets of the twentieth century. You could start with Rilke and Trakl and go on to Milosz and the postwar poets who worked to maintain their individual consciousness in the midst of totalitarianism. The ability of some of those poets to express strange truths in plain language boggles the mind.
the designer says, protesting two spaces
inserted after each period. Let me tell you what happens
when you do that: In the text you create rivers of light.
But, I want to say, spaces tell me to stop. Breathe.
They are waiters bringing tropical drinks with paper umbrellas. Twin beds
made up perfectly. Binocular lenses that form
one image. Miles of thought
after reading a billboard. The weekend. Systolic and diastolic pumps.
Good fences that make good neighbors. A swim lane’s
quivering blue lines. Deus
Give me a canoe. I will paddle those illuminated waters,
salute capitals and glide over run-on sentences like rapids. Yes,
the river will take me. Past misspellings and dangling participles.
Don’t dam them up. Text is tantric, it must stop
to be savored, to be full. Save the double spaces!
You must be reminded to—as the counterman
sighs when you hunt for change,
Take your time.
Ann Cefola is the author of Sugaring (Dancing Girl Press, 2007) and translator of Hélène Sanguinetti’s Hence this cradle (Seismicity Editions, 2007). Her Web sites are www.anncefola.com and www.annogram.blogspot.com; chapbook: http://www.dancinggirlpress.com/sugaring.html, and translation: http://www.spdbooks.org/root/pages/serp.asp?Title=hence+this+cradle&submit=Search&Author=Firstname+Lastname
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
A. And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon.
Q. Can you explain the success of the religious right?
A. Fanatics have their dreams, wherewith they weave a paradise for a sect.
Q. Have you heard what's going on with the senate elections in Minnesota and Georgia?
A. Those green-robed senators of mighty woods, Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars, Dream, and so dream all night without a stir.
Q. Have you heard of that great If Poetry Journal yet?
A. Hear ye not the hum Of mighty workings?
Q. Thank you very much for your time.
Monday, November 17, 2008
We live in an obvious manor,
if a bit unconventional, capricious.
A well-organized, safe manor.
An easy and conversational manor.
Everyone who visits has good mannerisms.
"What manner of manor is this?" you might ask.
Our manor is in the manner of Modigliani's
milieu. This manor knows nothing of mountains,
little of macaroni, even less of mourning.
Mooching, yes. Schmoozing, even more.
Of mayhem and mealie pudding, an expert.
A man of mangoes and a man of moons talk
man-to-man in the manor about a man of manacles
and a man of mandrakes. We are a family
of manicous, munching minneolas in the mangy manor.
Jordan Sanderson is originally from Hattiesburg, MS, and earned a PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi. His poems have appeared in several online and print journals, including Madhatter's Review, DMQ Review, and Parthenon West Review. He also has poems forthcoming from Double Room and Caketrain. He currently lives in Auburn, AL, and teaches at Auburn University. He has four poems in the previous issue (Issue 9) of Mad Hatters' Review: http://www.madhattersreview.com/issue9/poetry_sanderson.shtml. And two plays in a previous issue (2.1) of Prick of the Spindle: http://www.prickofthespindle.com/drama/2.1/sanderson/the_cow.htm, http://www.prickofthespindle.com/drama/2.1/sanderson/jamaica.htm
Sunday, November 16, 2008
eurethanes in the western outskirts, sitting with hiccups in neon
alcoholic rooms. This city was once an anagram for the poor. The bus
routes traced into air with rust and washed away in the drawl of
american water. Someone left their list of favorite songs in the
frozen food aisle. Big songs lorn in the titty bars where backup
singers follow you home with their hair muffling the russet scrims of
the traveling skyline. There's been a power outage. Smoke rises from a
tire fire. A hundred Days Inn employees enter the throes that comes
with dealing with strangers in the night as the fires are off by dusk
and the nights erase the heat. Pretty soon, you, the backup sigers,
the Days Inn maid staff, the strange firefighters, the tire-fire
onlookers, and myself all gather in the house of whoever has a
generator and we we'll all share stories and occasionally throw up
from the smell of the burning rubber and by morning we'll all be gone.
Carl Annarummo runs the chapbook press "Greying Ghost"
(www.airforcejoyride.com). He currently lives in the Boston area.
Friday, November 14, 2008
One of the books I've enjoyed lately is The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine. It's one of those few books that split the difference well between experimental and emotional leanings. While others are purely dreamlike, others confront real world events like Sept. 11th. Some poems play around with shape, like "Please Present This Card At Ascension Church on Saturday, November the Fourth." This poem does so well while telling the story of a doomed marriage (with satirical humor). He can also make a unconventional chronological list of events related to potatoes emotional and touching. The poem "Proof Text," about the grim survival of a group of oppressed Ukrainians during WWII, is one of his best, both heartfelt about degradation survived but also postmodern in questioning how able we, the privileged, can tell these kind of stories. I really recommend this book.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
alone down a boulevard
or the guy seated
at a table for two
with a glass of wine
and his favorite book.
Those around them will
call it as they understand.
The two individuals
unaware of the spectacle
As if some wind-up toy
marching into walls,
or ending up in a corner
somewhere, waiting on
the great hand of kindness
to set it straight.
I need a lot of things - lips
and fingers waking the body.
And from what?
Call it hibernation,
but never loneliness.
Alan King's current publications include work in Drunken Boat, Alehouse, and Farfelu. Alan King may be found at: http://myspace.com/alanking81, http://pw.org/content/alan_king, and http://www.pw.org/content/alan_king.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
and a pocket full of
Today the sun is out but it's too tired
to give us really
and dim sum
in the air.
My feet are not from here.
I will spend all my money on candy and tarot cards
I will promise to do things that I don't want to do
I will close my ears to the sound of my voice
Dusk is coming on
More hair is left in the brush
Naomi Neal is seventeen years old. She is writing her first novel, a multi-perspective family drama set in Centralia, Pennsylvania, the site of a forty-five-year-old mine fire. She lives in California but plans to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico next year to attend St. John's College. In her spare time, she hikes, collects books, and cooks with friends.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Terence Winch, "Heritage"
Nathan McClain, "A poem with an iron it it"
Kristen Orser, "The Shape of Time: Tuesday"
Natalie Illum, "Why I Never Understood Longitude"
Kate Dougherty, "Sitting on a Curb on a Hot Night"
John Estes, "My initiation into poetry"
Monday, November 10, 2008
what I'm thinking, standing in the kitchen
(in a brief parenthesis of calm in
the afternoon's demands) looking out the
back door's blue-latticed windows at the wet
yard littered with unraked leaves. Marking
the wood fence at the far end—its gnarled and scoured
tones of brown, the spaces between pickets
where slim fingers of lilacs have poked through—
I read it left to right, the fence ending
in exclamation. Shrubs, telephone pole,
a towering tree whose leaves have brightly
yellowed. The tree, what's its name? Already,
there's something I don't know.
Matthew Guenette's first book, Sudden Anthem, won the 2007 American Poetry Journal Book Prize from Dream Horse Press. I have work forthcoming in decomP, Umbrella, and the Versus Anthology (Press 23, 2009).
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of five poetry chapbooks, including the e-book Police and Questions (Right Hand Pointing, 2008), available free at http://www.righthandpointing.com/howiegood/
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Issue Two will include work from these contributors -- as seen in the Contributors' Notes:
Peter Bergquist, who teaches English and Film in Los Angeles, has published poems in several online journals, such as The New Verse News and The Sylvan Echo. Margit I. Berman is a psychologist who lives and works in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Nancy Devine teaches high school English in Grand Forks, North Dakota where she lives with her husband Chuck and their two dogs Yo-yo and Whitey. Kate Dougherty lives, writes, and teaches in Chicago, Illinois. John Estes teaches at the University of Missouri; his chapbook, Breakfast with Blake at the Laocoön, is available from Finishing Line Press. Justin Evans lives and works in the part of Nevada you’ve probably never heard of. Melanie Faith holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina., and published a chapbook, Restless: Relative Poems (Foothills Publishing, 2004). C.S. Fuqua’s work has appeared in a diverse range of publications, most listed at his website http://www.fluteflights.com/CSFUQUA. Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of five poetry chapbooks. Zachary Green is currently studying poetry at Columbia College Chicago and has just published his first book of poetry, The Blankets Caught on Trees. John Greiner has published poetry in The Chopper Journal, Hecale, Sein und Werden, SubtleTea, nthposition, Zygote in my Coffee, Audience, The Beat, Tryst, Psychopoetica, The Blue House, and Inscribed. Randall Horton, originally from Birmingham, Alabama, is a poet and the author of The Definition of Place (Main Street Rag, 2006). Natalie E. Illum is a federal employee and poet with a disability who moonlights as an acrobat and rockstar. Jussi Jaakola is a writer from Finland who hopes your last rhyme is good enough to die with. Frederick (Rick) Lord is the Assistant Dean of Liberal Arts at Southern New Hampshire University, where he also teaches English and serves as poetry editor for Amoskeag, SNHU’s literary magazine. Nathan McClain admits to nothing these poems might imply. Poet and electronic musician Steve Mueske lives in the virtual world at stevemueske.com. Check out more poetry by Gabrielle Myers in Damselfly Press, The Solitary Plover, Caesura, Produce, and Art for Autism. Naomi Neal lives in California, loves the outdoors, and is working on her first novel. Kristen Orser is not so certain and is following no predictable pattern. Allan Peterson’s most recent book is All the Lavish in Common, 2005 Juniper Prize. Recent work in print and online: Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, Boston Review, and Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Adrian S. Potter is a poet whose lame existence is chronicled at http://adrianspotter.squarespace.com. Marian Kaplun Shapiro, a psychologist as well as a poet, is the author of three poetry books, one psychology book, and numerous other publications in both fields. J.D. Smith’s most recent books are Settling for Beauty (www.cherry-grove.com/smith.html) and a children’s book The Best Mariachi in the World (www.raventreepress.com). J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island and has published a novel, nine short story collections, and a poetry collection, An Affection for Precipices (Serengeti Press). Alex Stolis lives in Minneapolis. Kim Triedman was named a finalist for the 2007 Philbrick Poetry (Chapbook) Award, finalist for the James Jones First Novel Prize, and winner of the 2008 Main Street Rag Chapbook Competition; her collection, bathe in it or sleep, will be published by Main Street Rag Publishing Co. in the Fall. Terence Winch’s most recent book of poems is Boy Drinkers (Hanging Loose, 2007); see www.terencewinch.com. Ed Zahniser’s third book of poems, Mall-hopping with the Great I AM, was published by Somondoco Press in 2006, and his e-chapbook Ransacking Desire for that Seed of Contemplation is at www.languageandculture.net.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Issue 2 should be out in a few weeks -- to be mailed out to contributors and to be distributed. If you edit or write for a journal or magazine that reviews journals, please let me know. I'll send you a copy.
I plan on adding 2-3 poems from writers on this Web site each week. This work is outside the print journal. To submit, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and please let me know in the body of the e-mail that it's a submission for the Web site/blog. Please no attachments, insert poems in the body of the e-mail.
I also welcome reviews of books and journals. They can be sent to the same address.
Monday, August 4, 2008
I intend to start some new activities on the If Poetry Journal Blog.
I plan to publish a weekly feature on individual poets, with mini-interviews of the poets to go along with them. I also intend to publicize work by If Poetry Journal writers and promote poetry news and articles in general (on a sporadic basis). Also, occasional cultural links/articles and reviews of books.
So, stay tuned.