last chance

July 14, 2017

PLEASE NOTE: Registration for the August Poetry Postcard Fest CLOSES on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at 12:01am. If you want to play, now’s the time! All the details and a link to the registration page here.

APPF is great. In addition to connecting with poets all over the world and keeping your mailbox busier than usual, you end the month with a chapbook’s worth of draft poems!

Multitudes

July 13, 2017

A few months ago, we introduced the new Doug Luman / Jenni B. Baker project, Container. Container has just announced the completion of its first project in the Multitudes series, #1: Rolodex Series. For these artworks, Container “invited a cohort of eight writers and artists to transform a 500-card Rolodex into a work of written or visual art.”

The resulting one-of-a-kind pieces are breathtaking, and they’re for sale. Visit the Rolodex page and click on the title of each piece to see additional photographs and read the artist’s statement. Inspiring!

on poetry

July 12, 2017

“It was at that age
that poetry came in search of me.”
Pablo Neruda
(July 12, 1904 – September 23, 1973)

. . . . .
quote from Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair

Poets in the Park

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Redmond Association of Spokenword (RASP) this Saturday, July 15, 2017, as Anderson Park in Redmond, Washington, is filled with poetry at Poets in the Park.

There will be readings and performances on two stages, workshops in the workshop cabin, and activities, installations, and vendors throughout the park, plus a poetry book fair. The lineup includes Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall, Redmond Poet Laureate Shin Yu Pai, and an illustrious assortment of poetic voices from around the region.

See the complete schedule on the Poets in the Park page, courtesy of Michael Dylan Welch, who founded and coordinates the annual event.

are you listening?

July 10, 2017

A note from the keyboard: when you’ve put up 2490 posts on the subject of poetry over the course of seven years, it’s surprising to happen upon poetry news that has somehow entirely missed the radar. One such, now happily discovered, is Commonplace. Commonplace features conversations between Rachel Zucker and other poets, exploring advice, lists, anecdotes, politics, phobias, spirituality, and more.

Launched in June 2016 with an interview with David Trinidad, the collection now numbers 32 — the latest last week’s conversation with Laynie Browne. The recorded sessions vary in length, from about an hour to more than two, and make fine listening for all your podcast needs. You can also find Commonplace on Facebook.

What Salmon Know*

July 9, 2017


2017 Merit Award
By Judy Bishop

In autumn, fierce salmon know it is time
to leave the vast, deep oceans and begin the upward
journey through narrow, shallow rivers
back to the spawning beds of their birth.

In winter, fearless women knew it was time
to leave the safety of home and begin the upward
journey through prejudice and bigotry
back to the warm womb of human rights.

Facing predators and log jams
over rushing dams and fisher nets,
red-skinned salmon with torn flesh
battle for graveled streams.

Facing discrimination and fear,
over years of rising up and speaking out,
ubiquitous seas of woven pink hats
marched for peace and love.

“What more will it take?” the women cried.
The ancient, fierce, and wise salmon know.
“Nothing less than everything you have.”

. . . . .
Although Judy Bishop taught English and Creative Writing for years, she is newly published, having won a Merit Award for the Sue C. Boynton Contest for the past two years. She has a Doctorate degree in Education Administration from the University of Washington. In her retirement, she enjoys hiking and gardening. Judy is an active member of the Whatcom Art Guild and sells her photographs and beaded jewelry at the Art Market in Fairhaven.

“My inspiration for ‘What Salmon Know’ came from my participation in the Women’s March this past January. I was so impressed by the energy of the myriad women, men, and children standing up for women’s and human rights. Much of my poetry is inspired by Nature, so the comparison between the march and migrating salmon seemed natural. It occurred to me that we can learn much from the natural world if we take the time to observe and listen.”

. . . . .
*Copyright 2017 by Judy Bishop. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.

Revising revisited

July 8, 2017

This is a guest post by Richard Widerkehr.

I enjoyed reading Bethany Reid’s blog that mentioned Dylan Thomas’s 67 revisions of “Fern Hill,” a poem I’ve loved for a long time. I remember hearing a story told by the poet Erin Belieu, who said that her husband, a writer, looked through her drafts of a poem and said, “I think you had it at the seventh draft, not the twenty-seventh.” It can be hard to tell at the time, and if you can tear yourself away from trying to get it just right, let some time pass, you can sometimes see more clearly what changes need to be made. Also, one change can lead to other ideas, if you let it.

The most helpful thing I heard about revision in the last few years is what Joe Stroud said: If you find yourself grinding away at a poem and can’t get it right, try reworking it in prose, which can give us sensory details we leave out. Since my first drafts are often telegraphic and leave out things the reader needs to know, putting in more can be helpful. If we’ve been to workshops, people will often tell us what can be cut. Sometimes, the hard part is seeing what we left out. We hide the Easter eggs, as Annie Dillard said. She said she asks herself when she thinks she’s done, “What did I leave out?” If it doesn’t go in this poem, it can lead to the next one.

One example of how I did this is how I worked on my long poem, “Her Story of Fire.” Someone told me Alberto Ríos had given an assignment to write one poem and then write the reply or opposite of that poem. What I did was use two speakers with different voices — one was a mentally ill woman, and the other speaker was her brother. One spoke; the other replied, though they often talked past each other. This exercise became the long title poem of my book Her Story of Fire (Egress Studio Press).

I liked Bethany’s suggestions to rewrite a poem in a different form or using different line lengths or stanza patterns. Sometimes I’ve tried that, and I’ve also tried using different pronouns (you, he, she, we) for the narrator. Often I’ve changed the verb tense from past to present if I want more immediacy.

One thing I do in revising that I haven’t heard many other poets do is find a word that sounds like or rhymes with a word that doesn’t work. Yeats changed “a mass of shadows” to “a mess of shadows.” But then I tend to write using sound and rhythm to lead me to what I want to say, so that works for me and helps me discover or uncover the meaning as I go along, which I like to do. When I wrote my novel, Sedimental Journey (Tarragon Books), it started as a short story about a geologist in love with a fictional character. Later, I made plot outlines but didn’t follow them. It took me nine years to finish the book and another fifteen years to find a publisher.

What did I leave out of this short piece? How to persist and keep writing. One thing I’ve done is switch genres when I got frustrated or bored with what I’m doing. My novel started as a fun break from my serious poems, though it changed and became funny-sad as it grew. My new book of poems, In The Presence Of Absence, will come out in September from MoonPath Press, but I don’t know what comes next.

. . . . .
Richard Widerkehr’s new book of poems, In The Presence Of Absence, will come out from MoonPath Press in 2017. He earned his M.A. from Columbia University and won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan. He has two collections of poems: The Way Home (Plain View Press) and Her Story of Fire (Egress Studio Press), along with two chapbooks. Tarragon Books published his novel, Sedimental Journey, about a geologist in love with a fictional character. Recent work has appeared in Rattle, Floating Bridge Review, Gravel, Naugatuck River Review, Cirque, Arts & Letters, and Mud Season Review. He has worked as a writing teacher and, later, as a case manager with the mentally ill.

. . . . .
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