BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Dorianne Laux, who lives in North Carolina, is one of our country's most distinguished poets, and here's a poignant poem about a family resemblance. It's from her book Smoke, from BOA Editions.
Ray at 14
Bless this boy, born with the strong face
of my older brother, the one I loved most,
who jumped with me from the roof
of the playhouse, my hand in his hand.
On Friday nights we watched Twilight Zone
and he let me hold the bowl of popcorn,
a blanket draped over our shoulders,
saying, Don't be afraid. I was never afraid
when I was with my big brother
who let me touch the baseball-size muscles
living in his arms, who carried me on his back
through the lonely neighborhood,
held tight to the fender of my bike
until I made him let go.
The year he was fourteen
he looked just like Ray, and when he died
at twenty-two on a roadside in Germany
I thought he was gone forever.
But Ray runs into the kitchen: dirty T-shirt,
torn jeans, pushes back his sleeve.
He says, Feel my muscle, and I do.
We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2000 by Dorianne Laux, “Ray at 14,” (Smoke, BOA Editions, 2000). Poem reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. Introduction copyright ©2016 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.
Featured in the volume is an interview with Anania as well as several of his poems. Also included are essays on Anania's work: "Modernist Current: Michael Anania's Poetry of the Western Rivers" by Robert Archambeau; "'Out of Dazzlement'...Chiaroscuro Revisited" by Peter Michaelson; "'Energy Held in Elegant Control': Vortex Anania" by Lachlan Murray; "Another Italian-American Poet in Omaha: Italy in Michael Anania's Poetry" by William Allegrezza; "Michael Anania's The Red Menace: A Study in Self-Production" by David Ray Vance; "'Like Hands Raised in Song': Proper Names in Michael Anania's 'Steal Away'" by Lea Graham; "On Michael Anania's In Natural Light" by Reginald Gibbons as well as several more.
"This collection of essays and original work," the editors write, "offers a set of moments in lands (and waters) surveyed by Anania. That land pretends a relentless modernity - one that Anania has evidenced for readers, colleagues, and other artists page by page, line by line. Charles Olson argued that the poet either rides on or digs into the land. This collection of essays and Anania's writings attest that he has done both."
Winner of the 2014 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, Bruce Bond’s Black Anthem, was published this month. The sonnets in the collection are “wide-ranging in their investigations of the body, the psyche, metaphysical hunger, and its place in human conflict.” Black Anthem is available from the University of Tampa Press website in hardcover and paperback.
Ann Clark, Dexter, NY, “Pretend” and Annie Lanzillotto, Yonkers, NY, “Diminished Capacity, an Indictment”
Lynne McEniry, Morristown, NJ, “Splinter”
Maxine Susman, Princeton, NJ, “Thirteen”
A full list of winners and honorable mentions as well as guidelines for this annual contest can be found here.
In June, A Different Wakeful Animal by Susan Cohen was published by Red Dragonfly Press. Winner of the 2015 David Martinson - Meadowhawk Prize, A Different Wakeful Animal “takes on the profound questions in language that catches the ear and the imagination. [ . . . ] A Different Wakeful Animal investigates what perishes and what might remain.”
Readers can grab a copy of Cohen’s poetry collection, and writers can still submit to the 2016 David Martinson – Meadowhawk Prize until August 31.
Looking back to May, Jennifer Barber’s Works on Paper was published by The Word Works. Winner of the 2015 Word Works Tenth Gate Prize. Her third poetry collection, Works on Paper “shows us the power of lyric restraint in the hands of a poet who draws from the well of the small moments of motherhood as well as the sweep of Jewish history.” This year’s Tenth Gate Prize just closed earlier in the month, with results announced on October 1st.
The awards are designed to recognize and encourage authors and illustrators starting out in the field of children's books who share Ezra Jack Keats' commitment to children and diversity. The award is given annually to an outstanding new writer and new illustrator of picture books for children (9 years old and under). Publishers are encouraged to submit works by new writers and illustrators who are committed to celebrating diversity through their writing and art.
To be eligible, writers and illustrators must have had no more than three books published. A selection committee of early childhood education specialists, librarians, illustrators, and experts in children's literature will review the entries, seeking books that portray the universal qualities of childhood, a strong and supportive family, and the multicultural nature of our world. The award includes an honorarium of $1,000 for each winner.
Deadline: December 15, 2016
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
As children, just about everyone has experienced the very real fear of an imaginary monster. But what if our mothers could have spoken to our childhood fears? Carrie Shipers of Wisconsin, the author of Family Resemblances: Poems (University of New Mexico Press), depicts just that when a protective mother talks back to her son's Bogeyman in this fine poem.
Mother Talks Back to the Monster
Tonight, I dressed my son in astronaut pajamas,
kissed his forehead and tucked him in.
I turned on his night-light and looked for you
in the closet and under the bed. I told him
you were nowhere to be found, but I could smell
your breath, your musty fur. I remember
all your tricks: the jagged shadows on the wall,
click of your claws, the hand that hovered
just above my ankles if I left them exposed.
Since I became a parent I see danger everywhere—
unleashed dogs, sudden fevers, cereal
two days out of date. And even worse
than feeling so much fear is keeping it inside,
trying not to let my love become so tangled
with anxiety my son thinks they're the same.
When he says he's seen your tail or heard
your heavy step, I insist that you aren't real.
Soon he'll feel too old to tell me his bad dreams.
If you get lonely after he's asleep, you can
always come downstairs. I'll be sitting
at the kitchen table with the dishes
I should wash, crumbs I should wipe up.
We can drink hot tea and talk about
the future, how hard it is to be outgrown.
We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2015 by Carrie Shipers, “Mother Talks Back to the Monster” (North American Review, Vol. 300, no. 4, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Carrie Shipers and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2016 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.
Winner Christine Poreba for “Negative Miracle”
Finalist Rachel Flynn for “America, February”
Winner Matthew Lansburgh for “The Lure”
Finalist Jacob Appel for “The Dragon Declension”
Finalist Miriam Cohen for “Recess Brides”
Winner Melanie Thorne for “What We Keep”
Finalist Carol Smith for “Tearing Down the House”
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
We hope that you will visit, from time to time, our archived columns at www.americanlifeinpoetry.org, where you may find other poems by the poets we feature. Today's is the third we've published by Sharon Chmielarz. a Minnesota poet with several fine books in print, including The Widow's House, just released by Brighthorse books.
A roadside inn. Lakeside dive. Spiffed up.
End of a summer day. And I suppose
I should be smiling beneficently
at the families playing near the shore,
their plastic balls and splashes and chatter.
But my eye pivots left to a couple;
he is carrying her into the water.
He's strong enough, and she is light
enough to be carried. I see
how she holds her own, hugging
his neck, his chest steady as his arms.
I have never seen such a careful dunk,
half-dunk, as he gives her. That beautiful
play he makes lifting her from the water.
And I suppose I should be admiring
the sunset, all purple and orange and rose now.
Nice porch here, too. Yeah, great view.
But I have never seen such a loving
carrying as he gives her. Imagine
being so light as to float
above water in love.
We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2015 by Sharon Chmielarz, “Fisher's Club,” from The Widow's House (Brighthorse Books, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Sharon Chmielarz and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2016 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.
Mirrors & Prisms feature the work of writers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual, or anywhere under the umbrella term MOGAI (marginalized orientations, gender identities, and intersex). While Nimrod has always published the work of such authors (and indeed James Land Jones, Nimrod''s founder, was himself gay and fought for gay rights in Georgia in the 1970s as a professor of literature), we have never before devoted an entire issue to LGBTQIA writers. To do so now, we believe, is not only to continue Nimrod's tradition of bringing less-heard writers to the literary forefront, but to make clear what Nimrod has always known: that LGBTQIA writers have stories that can make a differences to all readers, of all sexualities and gender identities.See the complete table of contents here with links to some works which can be read online.
To celebrate the anniversary, check out the Spring/Summer 2016 issue, which includes new fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and art, with an anniversary scrapbook that looks back at past anniversaries. The Writers Craft Box features an opportunity for writers to explore the significance of numbers for a prize, and in interviews, Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring, discusses her latest novel, At the Edge of the Orchard, as well as the themes found in her work.
Happy anniversary, The Write Place at the Write Time. We at NewPages wish you many more years to come.
We began with Langston Hughes’s 1921 award-winning poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and the charge to write something in response. There was something in the invitation about nature poetry and how that seemed important, but otherwise the instructions were open-ended (perhaps scarily so). We asked poets of very different styles and sensibilities, only some of whom were already engaged with Hughes’s work: F. Douglas Brown, Jericho Brown, Katie Ford, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Derrick Harriell, Dong Li, Sandra Lim, and Michael C. Peterson. We wanted to see what each of these writers would make. In both the individual poems and the group as a whole, we weren’t disappointed; the poems ask, reach, and posit literary relationship in phenomenally different ways.
The Poetry Marathon is run (no pun intended) by Caitlin Jans (Thomson) and Jacob Jans, two writers and web publishers living in the Pacific Northwest. There is no charge to participate in the marathon, and in 2015, over 300 writers participated from nearly every continent but one (c'mon Antarctica!).
The Poetry Marathon website has an FAQ that answers the burning questions, like: How do I prepare for the Marathon? What if I can't be at a computer all day? What happens to the poems once I post them? and more. The site also features blog posts from previous participants who offer commentary on their marathon experience.
This year, the organizers plan to publish a Poetry Marathon Anthology of poems written during the marathon.
For you newbies, the August PoPo Fest goes like this: You sign up. You get a list of 31 names/addresses of other people who signed up. Starting late July, you write a poem a day on a postcard and mail it off to the next person on the list, so by the end of the month, you will have (hopefully) written and sent 31 poems and (hopefully) received 31 poems.
The poems are not supposed to be pre-written or something you've been working on for months. This is an exercise is the spontaneous, the demanding, the gut-driven, the postcard inspired - whatever it is that gets you to write once a day, each day, and send it off into the world.
New this year: poems from this year’s fest can be submitted for the 1st Poetry Postcard Fest Anthology, a project led by three volunteers.
I've done this event since it began! I don't always keep to a poem a day; sometimes I get ahead one day, or catch up another, with several poems in one day. But I try my best. The event does get me thinking of poetry in my every day, when I rarely have time for it, and writing it down - something I have time for even more rarely.
I've received poems from across the state, the country and around the globe. I've gotten postcards made from cereal boxes, some with gorgeous original artwork, and lots of the lovely tacky tourist cards from travel destinations. I have cards from "famous" poets, and some who have since become more famous, and some never signed, so I'll never know, and it hardly matters. I've gotten poetry. Sent to me directly. From strangers. Lovely, strange, absurd, and funny. Poetry.
It's an amazing event, and I hope you will take the challenge and join in this year. For the first time EVER, the organizers have decided to charge a nominal fee for the event ($10). I can only imagine the amount of work it is to run this (with up to 300 people participating), and keeping up virtual space to promote it. I'm not dissuaded by the fee, knowing the extraordinary event that it is, and knowing I've spent 100 times that on conferences from which I've gotten a great deal less inspiration...
So, please writers, wanna-bes and needs-a-kick-in-the-arsers, poetry lovers, postcard lovers - this event is for you. Join us!
“How You Like”, by Jari Chevalier [pictured], is the winning story for the inaugural Portable Stories contest theme: HUNGER. This story was performed by January LaVoy and runs 23 minutes 52 seconds.
Most of the literature presented comes from the online magazine, Words without Borders. Words Without Borders Campus is asking for your help to reach more students and add new countries and literature to their site. With their collections of literature from Mexico, China, Egypt, and Japan, WWB Campus has already reached more than 1,500 high school and college students in the United States and throughout the world, with access to their site remaining completely free.
To take their program to the next level, WWB Campus is asking its supporters -- readers, educators, and even students – for help with a new crowd-funding campaign and to spread awareness of WWB Campus. WWB Campus would like to double the number of students reached, adding new features to the website, and introducing literature from more countries (Russia, Iran, and West Africa are in the plans). For more information about how you can help, visit the WWB Campus website. You don't have to donate money - using the site and spreading the word about it helps too - #InspireGlobalReaders!
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Someone told about a blind man who stood at a busy intersection, waving toward all the passing cars. When asked why he did that, he said that there might be someone in one of those cars whom he knew and he didn't want to miss the opportunity. Peter Everwine, a California poet, here gives us another such waver, from his book Listening Long and Late, from the University of Pittsburgh Press.
The Girl on the Bullard Overpass
The girl on the Bullard overpass
looks happy to be there, getting soaked
in a light rain but waving her hands
to the four o'clock freeway traffic
in which I'm anything but happy.
You might think she's too dumb
to come in out of the rain, but rain
or shine, it doesn't seem to matter.
She's there most every afternoon,
as if she does this for a living.
Some living, I'd say. Doesn't she ever
get bored, or wish someone would stop
and say, "Where to?" and her life would change?
That's how I'd be, hating the noise,
the stink of exhaust, the press of people.
I can't imagine what her life is;
mine is confused and often fretful.
But there's something brave about standing alone
in the rain, waving wild semaphores
of gladness to impatient passersby
too tired or preoccupied to care.
Seeing her at her familiar station
I suddenly grin like a fool, wave back,
and forgive the driver to my right,
who is sullen and staring as I pass.
I find her in my rear-view mirror,
then head for a needed drink and supper.
I don't know where she goes, but I hope
it's to a place she loves. I hope the rain
lets up. I hope she's there tomorrow.
American Life In Poetry does not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2004 by Peter Everwine, “The Girl on the Bullard Overpass,” from Listening Long and Late (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Poem reprinted by permission of Peter Everwine and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2016 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.
First place: Taiyaba Husain [pictured], of Mumbai, India, wins $3000 for “How You Respond in an Emergency." Her story will be published in Issue 99 or 100 of Glimmer Train Stories. This is Taiyaba's very first published story!
Second place: Edward Porter, of Oakland, CA, wins $1000 for “Storm Dogs” and publication in a future issue of Glimmer Train Stories.
Third place: Anne Vinsel, of Salt Lake City, UT, wins $600 for “Goyische Turkey with Post-its.”
A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.
Deadline soon approaching!
Short Story Award for New Writers: June 30
This competition is held quarterly and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation over 5000. No theme restrictions. Most submissions to this category run 1500-5000 words, but can go up to 12,000. First place prize wins $2500 (increased from $1500!) and publication in Glimmer Train Stories. Second/third: $500/$300 and consideration for publication. Click here for complete guidelines.
The Louisville Review accepts submissions from students in grades K-12 to feature in “The Children’s Corner” section of the journal. In the Spring 2016 issue, four young writers were published:
Kate Busatto, “The Communion”
Kiran Damodaran, “Collision Theory”
Andrew D. Swann, “Jelly Dreams,” “God Didn’t Make the World Round,” and “Worn and Broken”
Isabel Young, “Our Romance is Kamikaze:”
Get a copy of The Louisville Review to check out these new writers.
The June 2016 issue of Poetry features cover art by Anna Maria Maiolino. On Harriet: The Blog, Fred Sasaki provides more information about this artist who, it turns out, also creates visual and written poetry with all her works considered to be “poetic actions.”
Maiolino speaks about her series Photopoemaction, from which the June 2016 cover art comes:
"The photographic series Fotopoemação is a result of the elaboration of images that emerged from my written poems. [ . . . ] These series, other than constituting a challenge to the poetic labour, are efficient instruments of both innovation and freedom. They result from thinking about the things of the world, from the attempt to transform what we live through into consciousness in a poetic operational movement of conduct."
Among the blue-font decorated pages of the latest issue of Ninth Letter, readers will find an art feature and interview with Bert Stabler and Katie Fizdale, a look at Detroit by Caitlin McGuire in the “Where We’re At” section, and the 2015 Literary Award Runners-Up, listed below.
Julie Marie Wade, “The Regulars”
Zach VandeZande, “Status Updates”
Monica Sok, “Here Is Your Name”
Rachael Katz, “All About Flash”