Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

On Intent, Occasion & Poetic Handicaps

I haven’t been writing much poetry lately. Yes there have been distractions – plenty of them actually. But that hasn’t stopped me before from waxing poetic or at the very least trying to. At times in the past, I’ve even been a furtive poet - when I couldn’t for the life of me find the time to sit down and write. It’s sort of like having sex with one’s partner when the children are constantly around – you’ve got to be an opportunist if you’re going to get anything done. So what’s different this time?

Well this is one of the first times that I haven’t been involved in a poetry workshop. This activity in and of itself usually was conducive to the conditions that I needed to write poetry. I guess I thrive on the camaraderie and competitiveness that we associate with these venues. Blogging has taken its toll on whatever poetic predisposition that I can muster at any one point in time. You see I suffer from a poetic handicap. I do not work well in a vacuum. I should and I know that many of you seem to flourish on your own, but I don’t.

There’s no one for me to measure myself to. There is no benchmark to reach or supercede. My problem entirely – I know. Which leads me to the following question: Why is it that intent and occasion seem to be negatively correlated? When intent is present – occasion does not present itself; and conversely when you’ve got nothing better to do you couldn’t write a real poem even if your life depended on it.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Tammy Armstrong

Rogersville: Garage Man's Daughter Back From the City

Exhaustion wraps you like brilliant wrenches
in the too orderly garage
where your uncle who'd fallen asleep at the wheel
in the 70's off the old highway
won't work on blue cars
anything resembling sky, sea, bruise.

I waited past midnight on a milk crate
re-reading outdated Popular Mechanics
staving off your apologies
for the carburetor, the dirt road
without street lamps
my marooning
in a darkness
that cramped and hemorrhaged
cast shadows on the shells of cars--
cumbersome, bovine.

Far from the city
with its unending dog mouth hues
I'm still the daughter of garage men
oil and dust muted in my veins
affection for your grease-stamped knuckles
how you angle your arms away
to keep me clean, unoriented--
your hesitation to bring me back
rural, small town cluttered.

On the drive home
two bucks will run across the line
I'll think stallions, a broken fence
my percolating fear:
just brush fire eyes in high beams
all of it fish tailing the ditches:
your hand on my knee
cupping what I'd forgotten to expect:
how foreign we seem
after ten years in the city.

Excerpt from 'the Dublin Quarterly' : Issue No. 10. Feb. '07-May. '07

Tammy Armstrong's work has appeared in literary journals in Canada, US, UK and Europe. She is the author of Translations: Aistreann (novel), Unravel (poetry) and Bogman's Music (poetry), which was nominated for a Governor General's Award.

John William Waterhouse - (1849-1917)

Miranda - The Tempest (1916)
oil on Canvas - Actual Size: 136cm x 96cm

The Lady of Shalott - Looking at Lancelot (1894)
oil on canvass - actual size: 86cm x 142cm

She left the web, she left the loom,

She made three paces thro' the room,
She saw the water-lily bloom,

She saw the helmet and the plume,
She look'd down to Camelot.

Out flew the web and floated wide;

The mirror crack'd from side to side;
"The curse is come upon me," cried

The Lady of Shalott.

excerpt from: The Lady of Shalott (1842) - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Call For Submissions - NōD Magazine

Hello all,

This is the official call for submissions for Issue 6 of the magazine. This issue will be our second non-English language issue. We are seeking work in any other language but English, even if those languages are "fictional" or respond to language in an innovative way. Please send a maximum of 8 pages of work; screenplay and prose writers, we will consider work up to 1500 words as a general rule. Having said this, we are flexible, so if you have a special piece that operates outside these strictures, let us know; we'll be glad to take a look at it. Graphic artists, please note that we publish any visual work in black and white on a 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 page. When submitting work, please include a short bio introducing yourself and/or your work and an English language translation with any written work: we will not publish anything that has not been translated. Anyone whose work is accepted for publication in NōD will receive a free copy of the issue they are published in. Our commitment to publishing beginning artists alongside veteran practitioners has thus far resulted in an excellent publication.

Finally, because we are a small magazine, we would be delighted if all of you forwarded this announcement to anyone you know who might be interested in submitting work to us or who might just want to know more about what we do. If you have any questions or comments, We'd love to hear them and answer them if we can. We can always be contacted at

Jane Thompson
assistant editor, NōD


In our previous email we forgot to include that the deadline for submissions to the non-English language issue of NōD is February 28th, 2007.

Felicia Pacentrilli
NoD Editor

Monday, January 22, 2007

Poems in Vitro - Vol. 2, No. 3

En Passant


It drifts limply, being pulled
into the eddies of the filtered pump.
Suddenly twitching into life,
its caudal tail steers the goldfish
from the filter’s vortex,
only to resume its dormant state.

The other fish stop by to nudge
its shimmering body with their snouts,
taking nibbles out of its dorsal fin.
Part of its left eye has been scooped out:
the result of a late night cannibalistic raid.

Still it hangs immobile, its body folded
onto itself – the gills slow to react.
The remaining eye bulging out,
lidless against its own expiration.


Her mind floats between dilated pupils
and aqueous humor. Sputum drops
from her chin: a web-like filament,
untended and unheeded by those eyes.

She is strapped down into a mobile chair.
Her hands unable to ferry her across
the room; the hem of her nightdress lifted,
stuck between the grip of thumb and index.

Still, they come to poke her with their thoughts
and their fingers; testing the flaccidity of flesh;
gauging bone loss; weighing her longevity.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Louise Glück

The Red Poppy

The great thing
is not having
a mind. Feelings:
oh, I have those; they
govern me. I have
a lord in heaven
called the sun, and open
for him, showing him
the fire of my own heart, fire
like his presence.
What could such glory be
if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters,
were you like me once, long ago,
before you were human? Did you
permit yourselves
to open once, who would never
open again? Because in truth
I am speaking now
the way you do. I speak
because I am shattered.

From The Wild Iris, published by The Ecco Press, 1992.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Edward Byrne's Blog

The highly respected editor of Valparaiso Poetry Review has started up an editor's blog to complement the semi-annual publication of VPR. "The editor's blog has just begun and will contain ongoing personal commentary about notable recent books of poetry. Since VPR receives many more review copies of new books than can possibly be examined within the journal, the complementary blog is intended to allow for ongoing further discussion and promotion of recommended books. I invite you to check out this new venue." It's located at: One Poet's Notes : Recommended Readings of Recent Contemporary Poetry. So far he's reviewed: Lynda Hull’s - Collected Poems, Brian Turner’s - Here, Bullet, Rebecca Dunham’s -The Miniature Room , & Dave Smith's - Little Boats, Unsalvaged.

Don't forget to visit VALPARAISO POETRY REVIEW . I have a poem in the current issue along with literati such as: Mark Conway, Frannie Lindsay, Jared Carter, Beth Simon, Jeff Knorr, Sarah Brownsberger , E.G. Burrows, Helen Ruggieri, Richard O'Connell, Heidi Czerwiec, Thomas Reynolds, Elizabeth Kirschner, Jason Huskey, Jeanine DeRusha, Nick Bruno , Carol Hamilton, Scott Welvaert, Jordan Sanderson, Rane Arroyo, Taylor Graham, J.D. Schraffenberger, Lynn Strongin. There's an interesting review by Ed. Byrne on CLAUDIA EMERSON’S third collection: "LATE WIFE ".

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Robert Lowell

Sailing Home from Rapallo

[February 1954]

Your nurse could only speak Italian,
but after twenty minutes I could imagine your final week,
and tears ran down my cheeks....

When I embarked from Italy with my Mother’s body,
the whole shoreline of the Golfo di Genova
was breaking into fiery flower.
The crazy yellow and azure sea-sleds
blasting like jack-hammers across
the spumante-bubbling wake of our liner,
recalled the clashing colors of my Ford.
Mother traveled first-class in the hold;
her Risorgimento black and gold casket
was like Napoleon’s at the Invalides....

While the passengers were tanning
on the Mediterranean in deck-chairs,
our family cemetery in Dunbarton
lay under the White Mountains
in the sub-zero weather.
The graveyard’s soil was changing to stone—
so many of its deaths had been midwinter.
Dour and dark against the blinding snowdrifts,
its black brook and fir trunks were as smooth as masts.
A fence of iron spear-hafts
black-bordered its mostly Colonial grave-slates.
The only “unhistoric” soul to come here
was Father, now buried beneath his recent
unweathered pink-veined slice of marble.
Even the Latin of his Lowell motto:
Occasionem cognosce,
seemed too businesslike and pushing here,
where the burning cold illuminated
the hewn inscriptions of Mother’s relatives:
twenty or thirty Winslows and Starks.
Frost had given their names a diamond edge....

In the grandiloquent lettering on Mother’s coffin,
Lowell had been misspelled LOVEL.
The corpse
was wrapped like panettone in Italian tinfoil.

Robert Lowell, “Sailing Home from Rapallo” from Selected Poems. 1976 by Robert Lowell. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC,

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

La Jolie Vierge

RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina artist - Kate Kretz - intrigued by the public obsession with celebrity has found herself feeding that obsession with a painting of actress Angelina Jolie as the Virgin Mary hovering over a Wal-Mart checkout line.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sunday, January 07, 2007


by Gerald Stern

The whole point was getting rid of glut
for which I starved myself and lived with the heat down
and only shaved oh every five days and used
a blunt razor for months so that my cheek
was not only red but the hair was bent not cut
for which I then would be ready for the bicycle
and the broken wrist, for which- oh God-I would be
ready to climb the steps and fight the boxes
with only nothing, a pair of shoes, and once
inside to open the window and let the snow in
and when the fire was over climb down the icy
fire escape and drop the last twenty
feet with notebooks against my chest, bruises
down one side of my body, fresh blood down the other.


Cortland Review - December 2006 - Sonnet Feature

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bev Juno

From left to right - top to bottom:
  1. The Glance
  2. Dream Garden
  3. Prologue
  4. The Reflection
  5. Nude Study III
  6. Emerald
  7. Gilded Lady
  8. Call Me Sometime

For more artwork: JUNO ART - circa (2002 - 2004)

Friday, January 05, 2007

From The: "I Wish That I Had Said That" - File

"When we read texts in poetry workshops, we tend to read singularly and reductively, toward a revision of the poem that yields the story that all can follow. Toward a narrative, a certain coherence. But when we talk of the poems we love, the ones we return to, we often speak as one haunted.

If we, in poetry workshops, when reading poems, look for ways to reveal the fragments of the poem, and to let the breakages speak, we might find our poems becoming larger. So rather than asking a poem to yield itself to our ideas of the necessary surface unity, we open our thoughts to looking for a deep unity behind fragments, our questions and our enjoyment might possibly be enriched. "

-------------------------------------------------John Gallaher

Check out the rest of his post entitled: The Poetry Workshop: a Question

Portrait of a Poet