Given the times we suddenly find ourselves living in, is there even more pressure to write in the moment?
Yes, absolutely. I was thinking so much about how my next book, which is not out yet, is going to be called Scald. [The book came out in February 2017, after this interview.] It’s about feminism and it’s dedicated to three different great feminists. I was so in the zeitgeist of a Hillary Clinton presidency and women, and now I feel so unmoored. But I’m so glad I wrote it when I wrote it because, while I wasn’t thinking of Hillary necessarily when I was writing it, I felt this movement towards women and the feminization of power and saving the planet. Now, we really have to stay in the moment and not stick our heads in the sand. I mean you may have to stick your head in the sand for a week to survive, but then we have to come out strong.
I felt like I often heard people say, “We are having more conversations about race during Barak Obama’s presidency and we will talk more about gender with a female president.” Do you feel like we will talk more or less about gender given the president we ended up with?
He’ll talk a lot less about gender and even his wife will say less. I was reading something just this morning about how she wants to be more like Jackie O. It’s so retro and cultural regression to the max, right? She really wants to go back to the 1960s pillbox hat and not even say anything. We are in big trouble, but I also think because this election is so egregious and Clinton didn’t lose to a man who was moderate or even a Mitt Romney or John McCain, she lost to a misogynist who calls women the worst possible names, I think women are not going to give him a pass. We are going to come back strong, especially since we had a taste of what could have been. I can’t imagine women going, Oh well, we’ll let it go.
I think we’ve been letting it go for decades and centuries and I don’t think we can let it go anymore.
I think that’s also what I admired about your book. You didn’t let it go. You talked about it.
Read the full interview on Aquifer: The Florida Review Online.
Authors whose works are featured in this special issue include: Ocean Vuong, Chen Chen, Rajiv Mohabir, Hoa Nguyen, Kazim Ali, Khaty Xiong, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Zubair Ahmed, Cathy Linh Che, Kimiko Hahn, John Yau, Sarah Gambito, Li-Young Lee, among others. Read the full contents here.
Another slim design, "Serenity Overflowing" by Chris Ogden is the cover photo for issue 12 of One, an online journal of poetry.
The cover of Ragazine.CC, a global online magazine of arts, information & entertainment, is a photo of the German duo Shari Vari, whose music is featured in this issue's special section, "The Summer Seven: Listen to the Best Bands from Europe."
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 2016, over 500 writers started the marathon, but many did not finish. Clearly, this is not an activity for the faint of heart.
Last year, I participated in the half marathon and found it to be demanding, frustrating (sometimes forgetting to write my poem!), but in the end immensely rewarding. I have run marathons and half marathons, and the feeling from finishing the Poetry Marathon was very similar. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment, and at the same time, a bit of sadness that it was over. I had posted poems, offered feedback to others, received comments on mine - just like cheering each other on in a foot race. It was sad to be a part of such an intense, similarly driven community of writers, and then, just be done with them. It's what makes a person want to come back and do it again!
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. If you're not sure about the commitment, just try it for a day on your own. See what it takes to get to the computer once an hour and write a poem (or at least write a poem per hour, because you are allowed to "catch up" at the computer if you can't get to one every hour).
This year, like last year, the organizers plan to publish a Poetry Marathon Anthology of poems written during the marathon. Some writers included in the first anthology: Sheila Sondik, Teri Harroun, Marie Moser, Raven Kingsley, Joan Leotta, J.I. Klienberg, Liam Strong, Will Jackson, Anne McMaster, Ebony Larijani, and Seema Ka.
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.
Last year, poems from contributors were selected for publication in the 1st Poetry Postcard Fest Anthology, 56 Days of August, Poetry Postcards, to be published October 2017.
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 gets 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. There is a nominal fee for the event ($10). I can only imagine the amount of work it is to run this (with 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...anyone else?
So, please writers, wanna-bes and needs-a-kick-in-the-arsers, poetry lovers, postcard lovers - this event is for you. Join us! Registration ends July 18!
But, alas, what about when there is NO response? What about the silence of a Facebook post? "Writers have always known that theirs is a lonely art," Kuebler comments, "but after spending time on Facebook it’s as if we have to learn this all over again. We have to remember that the audience for literature is largely silent; it takes its time."
Read the full editorial here, and Kuebler's closing comment of appreciation for writers, even if it is only ever offered in silence.
Issue 43 of New Orleans Review is themed "The African Literary Hustle" and opens with the editorial by Mukoma Wa Ngugi and Laura T. Murphy, "This Hustle is Not Your Grandpa's African Lit." The two issue editors examine the historical 'presentation' of African literature published in Western culture as "all too often realist, in English, and in the spirit of Chinua Achebe. But romance, science fiction, fantasy, epic, experimental poetry, satire, and political allegory all find expression in Africa, though not necessarily publication." The editors confront this disparity, "Those who are called to write often have to hustle to get recognition by writing a coming-of-age colonial encounter tale or hustle even harder to have their unique voices heard. So the post-Achebe generation writer faces all sorts of firewalls."
Thus, the call went out for this issue, and writers responded with the editors hoping "to provoke some interesting and unpredictable writing and thinking that would reflect and respond to the spirit of the hustle." Oddly enough, the editors note, "eighty percent of the submissions were from white non-African-identifying writers who thought they could hustle their way into a volume of African literature and had no qualms about it." Seriously.
The editors close on the comment, "But what is African literature? Is there, can there be, was there ever and African literature? In asking you have answered your question. African literature is a question. It is an open question that invites, and has to keep on inviting, different geographies, languages and forms."
Thus, this issue of New Orleans Review: The African Literary Hustle.
This Thema cover photo by Eleanor Leonne Bennett made me smile, but then as I read the theme for this issue, it made me laugh out loud: "Second Thoughts." Yup. That's the look.
Danny Ochoa's artwork is featured on the summer 2017 cover of Writing Disorder, an online literary journal. More of his illustrations and comics are included in this issue as well.
The film is about a former Marine - named Paterson (played by Adam Driver) - who lives a quiet, static life, driving a bus in Paterson, NJ, and writing poetry in his "secret notebook." Lines of poetry Paterson thinks and then writes appear in his handwriting across the screen intermittently throughout the movie; the poems themselves were written by poet Ron Padgett. There are references to one of Paterson's favorite poets, William Carlos Williams, with Driver delivering a delightful on-screen reading of "This is Just To Say."
Well received by critics, The New Yorker's Richard Brody wrote: "Paterson is the man of all endurance. He does his dull job without complaining and finds charm and enlightenment in the conversations of passengers and pleasure in repeated viewing of the cityscape of his route. His poetry is imbued with the modest substance of his life."
Some have described the movie as showing the creative process of poetry writing, but I'd say it more accurately reveals the kind of life poets live, with the process of writing poetry often inseparable from the day-to-day, moment-to-moment. And that is the beauty of what Jarmusch has created. He has absolutely nailed it in Paterson.
This past week, Maria Mazziotti Gillan's book of poetry, Paterson Light and Shadow, arrived in the mail. With photographs by Mark Hillinghouse, this beautifully packaged hardcover explores Paterson, NJ, "this once great industrial city, envisioned by Alexander Hamilton as the birthplace of manufacturing in a new nation, a city now home to countless immigrants who still struggle to build lives and survive." Fans of the film, fans of Williams and his own epic poem Paterson will appreciate the creative contributions of Gillan and HIllinghouse to this mystical yet wholly down to earth place.