October 31, 2021

Among his many artistic achievements, the poet and artist John Giorno gave us Dial-a-Poem. Launched in 1968 at the Architectural League of New York and expanded over the subsequent years, Giorno’s project used the words and voices of John Ashbery, William Burroughs, John Cage, Allen Ginsberg, Bernadette Mayer, Frank O’Hara, Diane Wakowski, Anne Waldman, and many others. Giorno “released a series of 50 LP and CD albums called The Dial-A-Poem Poets in the 1970s and ’80s, encouraging people to start their own Dial-A-Poem, and use cuts from the albums along with their local poets.”

The success of his idea continues with the Telepoem Booth and Calling the World, among other projects, and a current exhibit at Almine Rech in London has just launched Dial-a-Poem in the UK for the first time.

In honor of the exhibit, CBC Radio’s “As It Happens” interviewed John Giorno Foundation director Elizabeth Dee on October 19, 2021. Listen to the broadcast or read the transcript to learn more about the visionary artist and Dial-a-Poem.

on poetry

October 28, 2021

“A poem will usually go through three to six revisions after I first write it down on paper or directly onto the computer. I can write the most appalling bad first draft, but if I don’t give up too soon, sometimes something can “catch” — a word, a rhythm. The poem can start once I get the sound of it. I revise for speed, rhythm, melody (both sonic and cognitive), and general absence of b.s. and bog. Then I let it sit for a few weeks and revise again. Then maybe I read it at a reading — more revisions! And sometimes I continue revising for subsequent readings of the poem. Sometimes it just hasn’t been a very good from the get-go, or, in the end, I return to the earliest draft, realizing the revisions are what have ruined the poem!”
Sharon Thesen
(b. October 28, 1946)

. . . . .

more poetry titles

October 27, 2021

Pretty soon it will be “Best-of” season, but for the moment, we have a few more October recommendations:

Happy reading!

the poems of November

October 25, 2021

November (coming up before you know it) is National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo. Each November since 1999, NaNoWriMo has put forth a challenge: write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. More than half a million people participated in 2020.

But not all of them were writing novels. Some were writing poetry.

Fifty thousand words of poetry would be a lot (approximately 1666 a day). (For reference, Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” is about 1400 words.)

But the poet’s goal does not need to be a word count. It could be to write a poem each day (as during National Poetry Month), to complete enough poems for a chapbook, to write a series of poems on a theme, or to explore a different form each day. It could also be a time to rediscover and edit previously written poems.

November is right around the corner. What will you make of it?

For prompts, structure, accountability, and encouragement, sign up at NaNoWriMo (it’s free).

winter workshops!

October 23, 2021

The Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest is enormously pleased to have three outstanding poets lined up to teach workshops for Winter 2022.

Saturday, January 29, 2022 – Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest
Saturday, February 5, 2022Seth Harris
Saturday, February 19, 2022Tere Harrison

Please mark your calendar and watch the Workshops page for workshop descriptions and locations as well as instructor bios.

PoetryBridge, virtually

October 22, 2021

Leopoldo Seguel, longtime poet wrangler and Chief Provocateur of West Seattle’s PoetryBridge, has revealed the lineup for the remainder of 2021.

Gathering on Zoom on alternate Wednesday evenings at 7:00pm Pacific, PoetryBridge will feature:

October 27 – Lyn Coffin and Joel Kabakov
November 10 – Mike Jurkovic and Christopher Jarmick
November 24 – Tito Titus and Benjamin Schmitt
December 8 – Sara Marron and Larry Crist
December 22 – Laurel Blossom and Stacy Lawson

An open mic follows the featured readers.

The Zoom links are not posted but are emailed on the morning of the event. To add your name to the email list, send a note to Leopoldo Seguel at info@poetrybridge.net. You can also find more information on Leopoldo’s PoetryBridge Facebook page.

on poetry

October 21, 2021

“I usually read my new poems out loud because something that might look okay on the page might not sound right. Or vice versa, something that sounds good when it’s spoken doesn’t look right when it’s on the page.”
(October 21, 1947 – March 20, 2010)

. . . . .

a visit from Rick Steves

October 20, 2021

Rick Steves may be “America’s most respected authority on European travel,” but Washington state is his home base and poetry is on his agenda. With that in mind, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism invited Rick Steves to sample the local fare, which he did, in three episodes. In the third and final segment, his cultural tour concludes with a poem read by Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest. We don’t get to see Rena, but we get a coastal flyover and we hear her voice as she reads her pantoum, “Focus and Circuli: Songs on the Salmon Scale” beginning at about 04:30 on the video timer.

Inspiration takes form

October 18, 2021

This is a guest post by
Caitlin Thomson Jans

Over the last two years, many writers have struggled to find time, space, energy, and inspiration to write. I am not an exception to this rule. For the first time in many years I considered not writing a poem a day in April. However, when I decided that every poem I wrote should be a formal one, I found a way forward.

Even though I have written poetry my whole life, I didn’t consider writing formal poetry till my mid-twenties. Formal poetry struck me as dated, stiff, and predictable. In the last decade I’ve discovered that I was wrong about every one of these statements, and have come to embrace Golden Shovels, Sestinas, Bops, and Pantoums, among others.

However, this April the form I came to embrace the most was the Zuihitsu.

The Zuihitsu is a Japanese form and genre that is often compared to a lyric essay. Zuihitsu are generally on the shorter side of the essay form, often one page in length, sometimes longer. They are made of fragmented ideas that are only tenuously connected; their order is best described as haphazard.

You can read an excellent example of a Zuihitsu here, by Jenny Xie. It should give you a good feeling for the flow and tone of the form.

The poets Kimiko Hahn and Tina Chang have both crafted some powerful and exhilarating Zuihitsu. Hybrida by Tina Chang is one of the most exciting books of poetry I have read in the last year and I highly encourage anyone interested in writing Zuihitsu to pick up a copy. The Narrow Road to the Interior by Kimiko Hahn was published in 2008 and it was many Westerners’ first exposure to the form.

I really engage with Zuihitsu because even though they are often chaotic and scattered, that approach interacts well with the way my mind works, particularly during times of anxiety. I find that, unlike a more traditional free-verse approach, the first draft of a Zuihitsu is open to a world of possibilities, where one fragment of thought leads to another in an unexpected and exciting way.

I like to write Zuihitsu with a 30-minute timer, but that might just be a personal quirk. I know some writers like having a collection of quotes from other authors to jump off. I encourage you to experiment and find out what works best for you.

– – – – –

Caitlin Thomson Jans is co-founder of The Poetry Marathon, an international writing event. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals including: The Adroit Journal, The Penn Review, Rust + Moth, and Typehouse. For the last nine years she has run Authors Publish Magazine. You can learn more about her writing at her website or read a Zuihitsu she wrote here.

. . . . .
top image: title page of Ogata Gekko’s Zuihitsu
author photo by Jacob Jans


October 17, 2021

We don’t often post job openings here, but this one seemed too good to pass by.

Literary Arts, often seen on these pages, is a dynamic “community-based nonprofit with a mission to engage readers, support writers, and inspire the next generation with great literature.”

Based in Portland, Oregon, Literary Arts is currently seeking a full-time Senior Executive Assistant, reporting to the Executive Director. The application deadline is October 31, 2021, so if you’re interested visit the Open Positions page and follow the link for complete details.

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