Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Say What You Will by Grace Cavalieri

I miss them. The women of the 50's, plain sheath dresses, large plastic earrings, coifed hair. How they moved in the room. The one with misshapen legs would be complimented for her stockings. The women greet each other and touch hands. I lean my back against the white linen lady, my back against her heart. She places her hand over my shoulder high on my chest and holds me to her. It says I know something bad, I will never tell you. Your husband. There is no redress. How I miss them, the women of the 60's, sandals and long colorful skirts, flopping their brilliance for sale. A high level of amiability, motives for manners, the women of the 80's clicking high heels at meetings, lunch, umbrellas lost in restaurants. They do not like the light, these spirits. I lean back. I can still feel her hand on my chest, they died just when everything was going so well, and she almost a perfect stranger.

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

I'm In No Tell Motel This Week

On a personal note, my poems are up at No Tell Motel this week. I thank Reb for taking them, and I hope you all enjoy them.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bird's Eye by Kim Triedman

The day is still— fly with me.
Already I can see
the burning of the trees, and
above me only more and more
of yellow
spun to gold. You used to know
all the best places, the
See there—
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

An Interview With Super-Poet J.D. Smith

J.D. Smith's books include the collection Settling for Beauty (Cherry Grove Collections, www.cherry-grove.com/smith.html), his first collection, The Hypothetical Landscape (Quarterly Review of Literature Poetry Series), and the edited anthology Northern Music: Poems About and Inspired by Glenn Gould (John Gordon Burke, Publisher). His children’s book The Best Mariachi in the World came out from Raven Tree Press (http://www.raventreepress.com/) in September 2008. His poems have been anthologized in the collections In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare (University of Iowa Press), Poetic Voices without Borders (Gival Press), and Illuminations: Expressions of the Personal Spiritual Experience (Ten Speed Press).

1. Who is your arch-enemy? Why is this person your arch-enemy?
JDS: John Ashbery. I'd better explain that.
I don't bear any ill-will toward John Ashbery the man, who is probably perfectly decent (I've never met him). And I'm not necessarily going to wage war against John Ashbery the poet, though I suspect his work is ultimately a less intellectually profound extension of Wallace Stevens' project of cryptic free association.
But I will dig in my aging heels against Ashbery the pernicious influence, a role he hasn't necessarily chosen. In recent years literary journals have been awash with Ashbery imitations where one line meanders into the next in a way that is not entirely uninteresting but that is ultimately both overly cerebral and quickly forgettable. The reader may get some pleasure from following along, but he is not going to be stirred to the depths of his being. If it hasn't been done already, someone could come up with a random imitation-Ashbery poem generator.
2. Do you fight crime or commit crimes? Why?
JDS: It depends on whether anybody's looking.

Most of the time, though, I like to fight the poetic crimes of undue obscurity and intellectual onanism, on the one hand, and on the other hand the crimes of self-absorption, posturing and sentimentality. Once I'm out of hands I use roundhouse kicks, ninjitsu techniques and assorted weaponry to fight off careless versification and propaganda that tries to pass itself off as poetry.

3. What are your super-powers? How did you get them?

JDS: Invisibility comes to mind right away, though that may just come with the territory of being a writer in this time and place, where writers don't get much attention in comparison to entertainers of one sort or another. This is the business I have chosen, though, and I knew these things going in, so I'll try not to whine too much.

Invisibility aside, my foremost superpower is shape-shifting. I write free and formal verse, and poetry that ranges in tone from the dire to the absolutely silly. When I'm not doing that, I'm writing essays and fiction, including work for children. And that is just within my superhero identity as Writer Guy. As a writer with a day job, I also have to maintain my cover as Salaryman, a mild-mannered editor—except for when I'm an irritable editor—and sustain both halves of my double life.

4. What do you love about poetry?

JDS: I love poetry above all for offering an ongoing sense of discovery and wonder. The world is too much with us, late and soon, as Wordsworth wrote, and anything that prevents our days from turning into a mind-numbing slog must be welcomed. At its best, writing or reading a poem means finding a combination of thoughts or sounds that never existed before, or finding a new way to look at the world. Poetry can transfigure experience and provide a sense of wholeness, as well as give us a sense of the interiority of others as well as afford great pleasure—all in a very short time, with minimal expense and no side effects. Considering how fragmented our schedules are, I am surprised that more people don't read poetry as a kind of mini-vacation.

5. What makes you happy in your writing and what makes you unhappy?

JDS: I'd like to take on unhappiness first, if that's okay. I am continually disappointed that I don't write more and better, and I have problems with procrastination and distractibility. That I haven't taken on a large and ambitious project troubles me as well.
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.

6. Who are your favorite super-poets and what is so super about them?

JDS: Questions like this are my kryptonite. I'm always afraid I'll expose the gaps in my reading and come off as a total dilettante. That said, here goes.

In the English canon I am going to reach way back and give a shout-out to John Skelton. His strings of rhyming short lines explore the possibilities of English in a way that foreshadows hip-hop. I also love the eighteenth-century guys, particularly Alexander Pope, who made sound and thought mutually reinforcing. Of more recent English poets, there's no ignoring Philip Larkin for his clarity and even tenderness as well as his wit.

On this side of the Atlantic, I will reach into the first half of the twentieth century and name Edwin Arlington Robinson. He help to rescue American poetry from the excesses of Victorian-era sentimentality, and he did so in spite of leading an amazingly hard life. Whatever the critical backlash may be these days, I still love the work of Sylvia Plath for the brilliance of its imagery.
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.)

There are quite a few very fine contemporary free verse poets out there, though there a great many more who range from simply boring to flat-out awful. I'll let you come up with your own names on that one. Charles Simic's combination of Eastern European and American sensibilities does a lot for me. I haven't yet read all of Bob Hicok's work, but he has an undoubted ability to make wide-ranging associations that add up to something. His poem "Book Report," which starts with a classroom assignment and moves on to environmental degradation, nearly brought me to tears. Two other super-poets that come to mind are Kevin Prufer, whose work tends toward the expansive and surreal, and Wayne Miller, whose work is more spare and sometimes more direct.
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.

Kerning by Ann Cefola

Don’t give me that stenography crap,
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.
ex machina.

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

Questions for John Keats, a Poet

Q. What did you eat the most as a child?

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

Arrangement #5 by Jordan Sanderson

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

Early Onset Twilight by Carl Annarummo

The history of a city with its lights turned off. Its ghosts clad in
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

The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine by Mark Yakich

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

How to Call It by Alan King

Take the woman walking
alone down a boulevard
of lovers,

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
they've become.

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

Print Submissions for IPJ

If Poetry Journal will accept submissions for the print edition of the journal from Feb. 15, 2009 to April 15, 2009. Until then, print submissions are closed.

My Feet Are Not From Here by Naomi Neal

I have a place to call
and a pocket full of
bus transfers.
Today the sun is out but it's too tired
to give us really
good weather.
There's autumn
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
every day.

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

If Back Cover Issue 2

If Poetry Journal Issue 2 Pushcart Prize Nominations

I am making six Pushcart Prize nominations. Congratulations to the six writers below and their nominated poems:

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

Issue 2 Is Here!

—space between pickets— by Matthew Guenette

I'm going to study the yard. This is

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

WHY THE FACE by Howard Good

Because the road climbs as though attracted by the form of a mountain. Because she has her sleeve rolled up and a snarling dragon tattoo. Because certain lies are best told in legal language. Because the machine accepts only quarters. Because Freud said whether it happens for real or happens in dreams it happens. Because matter echoes like an accidental gunshot. Because the graves are desecrated but the borders guarded. Because it isn’t raining. Because later it might.

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

Chapbooks, Books Sought For Reviews

Hi, If Poetry Journal is seeking to do reviews of chapbooks and collections. If you're interested in sending a copy of your book, please e-mail ifpoetryjournaleditor@gmail.com; I'll send an address to send it to. The reviews are guaranteed to be tactful, truthful, and generous. People put a lot of effort into their work and it deserves to be evaluated carefully and fairly. I will also run a poem or two from the book in other posts. Thanks.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Famous Last Words

One of my favorite recent poetry collections is "Famous Last Words" by Catherine Pierce, winner of the 2007 Saturnalia Book Prize. My favorite section is the third one, which extrapolates poems from several historical characters' last words, including those of Billy the Kid and Isadora Duncan. I like the way Pierce imagines the scenes convincingly, especially the demented George Appel who jokes about being a "baked apple" before his execution. The rest of the book includes everything from love poems to dreamscapes, a variety for lots of different tastes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Arts Club of Washington Reading -- Ted Genoways

I went to a reading at the Art Club of Washington, and one of the poets was Ted Genoways, Editor of VQR and author of "Anna, washing." The book is a sonnet sequence about a Finnish immigrants Anna and Abe Malm, who travel to Alaska during the gold rush in the 1800s. From the first few sonnets I've read (and the ones I've heard) it's a visceral work with remarkable imagery and a great story of surviving obstacles and enduring hardship. I'm looking forward to reading the rest. (The Arts Club is in a building where President Monroe lived after the White House was burned during the War of 1812 -- neat!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Contributors for Issue 2

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

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 ifpoetryjournaleditor@gmail.com 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.