Poetry Saturday: Laura Jean Baker

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Moon Over Park Avenue, New York, May 2016

Human Weather (an excerpt)

by Laura Jean Baker

August made a habit: warming our bodies
to the point of sacred.
On Dog Star days for twenty years
we loved to our dew point,
honeyed our moon,
and kneaded our bodies
into the wholesome shape of babies.
Girl-boy-girl
slid into the not-yet warmth
of every other May.

Better late than incomplete,
we made our last
between Autumn sheets; a boy named Frank,
he’d skid across the cusp of June and July.

The poem originally appeared in Calyx, a Journal of Art and Literature by Women, summer 2012.

About Laura Jean Baker: she earned her MFA from the University of Michigan. Her poetry, fiction, and memoir have been published in The Gettysburg Review, Connecticut Review, Cream City Review, Third Coast, Confrontation, and War, Literature, & the Arts.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Wondering About Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 3

It is sweltering here up in the Pasadena Hills, and self feels no inclination to go outside. In the daytime, Pasadena is a sleepy city. At night, everyone drives with fury almost, zipping past slower cars and switching lanes with abandon. Self finds it very disconcerting. Especially as her GPS Navigator tells her where to turn only after she reaches an intersection, at which point she is usually in the wrong lane.

So, no going outside today. She’s re-reading a Calyx poetry anthology, A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-Five Years of Women’s Poetry, which she stumbled across in her house two weeks ago. Here’s the first half of a poem by Sheila Demetre:

A Woman Is Running For Her Life

Under my ribcage a live coal
is singing. It wheedles from its hutch
of bone, glows blue in every kindling breath.

I need these bright shoes to burn up centuries
of inertia, of sickness holding me limp
with forehead ground against my tangled knees.

Celestial now, I’m all brush and sweep.
My elbows scribble, quickening the air I slog.
Don’t touch my sparks, my hieroglyphs of heat.

She absolutely loves the “hieroglyphs of heat.”

Tomorrow is Episode 3 of Game of Thrones. Does Euron die? Does Yara die? Does Ellaria Sand die? Does Olenna Tyrell die? Does Grey Worm die? If Grey Worm dies, will Missandei go crazy? Does Meera Reed die? If Meera dies, does Bran get to have a wheelchair at last? Do we see Gendry (finally? Cause the tweets are getting ridiculous) Do Brienne and Podrick get to spar again? Does Ned Stark come back from the dead? Does Stannis Baratheon come back from the dead? Will we see more of Ser Jorah’s horrible greyscale? Will Sam be retching again? Will Dany continue to be her insufferable self? Will Sansa be more of her cryptic self? Will Jaime continue to be disconcerted? Will Cersei continue to be sarcastic? Will we ever find out which skilled blacksmiths created the Giant Crossbow aka Dragonkiller? Will Arya Stark continue to evolve? Will Wun Wun come back as a wight?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amreadingpoetry: Paula Gunn Allen

An excerpt from Paula Gunn Allen’s Dear World, included in the Calyx anthology A Fierce Brightness: Twenty-Five Years of Women’s Poetry

Dear World:

Mother has lupus. She says that it’s a disease
of self-attack. That it’s like if a mugger broke
into your house and you called the cops
and when they came they beat up on you
instead of the mugger.

I say that makes sense. It’s in the blood,
in the dynamic. A halfbreed woman can hardly
do anything else but attack herself.
Her blood attacks itself. There are historical
reasons for this.

I know you can’t make peace
being Indian and white.

Paula Gunn Allen, who passed away in 2008, was Lakota, Sioux, and Lebanese. She edited several anthologies of critical studies and American Indian fiction. She published two collections of essays, two volumes of poetry — Skins and Bones; Life Is a Fatal Disease — and a novel, The Woman Who Owned the Shadows.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Our Gracious Dorotea”: from Self’s Novel-in-Progress

To help self write a love scene set in 18th century Spain, she turns to poetry.

The title of the chapter she is working on today is Our Gracious Dorotea. The poem is this:

Perhaps because within myself
I had already chosen your portrait
here they are in fields of thought
one thousand and a thousand more red poppies.

— Domenico Adriano, excerpt from Da Papaveri Perversi, transl. from the Italian by Barbara Carle

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Call for Artwork: Jellyfish Magazine

Jellyfish, a poetry magazine, is looking for some collaboration for the layout design issue of ISSUE 15.

Designers, artists, makers, creators — we’d love to see your work!

What do you get? Full credit, of course, a feature page in the issue, and any social media promotion/Jellylove you could wish for!

Deadline for Submissions: July 31, 2017

Submissions should contain the following:

  • Project Title
  • Photo(s) or a link to download or view photos (make sure the photos are high-res)
  • Description
  • A website for contact information

Complete submission guidelines can be found here.

 

Leontia Flynn: The Bloomsbury Hotel, 1939 – 1945

Self cannot believe that the hotel gives away these precious little poetry collections, collections of all the poems written about The Bloomsbury Hotel.

Here’s an excerpt from a Leontia Flynn poem about the hotel during wartime:

Shutter the windows. Tumble down the wall.
Sleep under a curtain in the swimming pool
and shelter in the old gymnasium.
After the talks, the shying and denial,
War has come again. War: the word’s a bomb

on everyone’s lips.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Gelato” by Gerald Stern: The New Yorker, 10 April 2017

Here’s an excerpt from a poem she encountered today in The New Yorker, one in a huge pile that gathered dust while she was on her latest trip:

we turned to Chinese poetry and Kenneth Rexroth’s
“Hundred Poems” and ended up
talking about the Bollingen and Pound’s
stupid admiration of Mussolini
and how our main poets were on the right
politically — most of them — unlike the European
and South American, and we climbed some steps
into a restaurant I knew to buy gelato
and since we were poets we went by the names,
instead of the tastes and colors — and I stopped talking
and froze beside a small tree since I was
older than Pound was when he went silent
and kissed Ginsberg, a cousin to the Rothschilds,
who had the key to the ghetto in his pocket,
one box over and two rows up, he told me.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry About the Bloomsbury Hotel, London

They give poetry books to each guest, which is how self happened upon this poem by Jo Shapcott:

New commission

It’s a hot night. We walk our wheelies from the tube.
The brick walls seep warmth. On the way we smell shop-
flowers through the traffic, hear church bells, loiter
in the odd sweet spot until we’re here, looking up
at a paradox of double steps. Still curbside, we sense
that if there’s a muse of stairways, she lives here,
inside these buildings made of red brick and rain.
Through the doors and we’re inhabiting a chandelier
or library or a chapel or a cave, and our minds flash and glow
with noises, words and tastes until our hearts have softened
inside our bodies and when we leave, the street is silk under
the lamps.

 

#amreadingpoetry: Anne-Adele Wight

  • Imprudent
    you go about like a tiger
    not knowing you stir the real beast.

from “Imprudent,” included in Ann-Adele Wight’s poetry collection, Sidestep Catapult

Poetry Saturday: JOAN McGAVIN’s

Joan’s second poetry collection, Passing Arcadia Close (Oversteps Books) was recently published, and it’s a beauty:

Portrait of the Ferryman (An Excerpt)

A man is dreaming
of the beautiful naked woman
whose face he can’t make out
and of the cottage
they’ll live in where you open
the door and the sound of the sea dances in.

*
A man is praying that
the mad woman he has married
will be cured if they go
to the village
on the bay where the tide whispers
only healing words.

This is Joan, another poet, Jenny Lewis, and Jenny’s granddaughter Abigail at Jenny’s home in Oxford, 2014 or 2015.

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Joan McGavin, Jenny Lewis, and Jenny’s Granddaughter Abigail in Oxford, UK: July 2015

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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