Hughes and blues

September 19, 2018

Thanks to a couple of posts from Open Culture, you can tune in to the sound of Langston Hughes reading his work to the sound of the blues. In “Same In Blues/Comment On Curb” Hughes reads to the sounds of Charles Mingus on bass and Jimmy Knepper on trombone. In the recently remastered “Harlem In Vogue: The Poetry And Jazz Of Langston Hughes” hear Hughes reading with Mingus and the Horace Parlan Quintet and with Leonard Feather’s All-Star Sextet. And in this CBC Vancouver 1958 broadcast of “The 7 O’Clock Show” Hughes recites his poem, “The Weary Blues” (1925) to jazz accompaniment by the Doug Parker Band.



September 16, 2018

2018 Merit Award
By Stephen Palmer

The car I live in
gray as my futureless life
rain on the windshield.

Green dumpster cardboard
shelters me between downpours
I can’t stop the wind.

Constant daily wait
charging phone on bus stop time
wheelchair in the rain.

Sun is my alarm
campsite my sanctuary
downpour dictates pain.

Lines for soup kitchen
queuing up at the mission
showers at the Y.

Voices surround me
torrent within me surges
melancholy rage.

. . . . .
I was inspired to write “Homeless” because it’s something I know about and I wanted to give voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. Having nowhere to go in foul weather, as in Bellingham, is the most miserable existence a person can have when they’re homeless.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Stephen Palmer. Broadside illustrated by Kim Wulfestieg.

The National Book Foundation has announced the National Book Award longlists in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature. The poetry judges, Mary Jo Bang, Ken Chen, Elise Paschen, Danez Smith, and Stephen Sparks, selected the following poets/books:

  • Rae Armantrout, Wobble (Wesleyan University Press)
  • Jos Charles, feeld (Milkweed Editions)
  • Forrest Gander, Be With (New Directions)
  • Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin Books / Penguin Random House)
  • J. Michael Martinez, Museum of the Americas (Penguin Books / Penguin Random House)
  • Diana Khoi Nguyen, Ghost Of (Omnidawn Publishing)
  • Justin Phillip Reed, Indecency (Coffee House Press)
  • Raquel Salas Rivera, lo terciario / the tertiary (Timeless, Infinite Light)
  • Natasha Trethewey, Monument: Poems New and Selected (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Jenny Xie, Eye Level (Graywolf Press)

The finalists will be announced on October 10 and the Sixty-Ninth National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner will be held at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, and will also be live-streamed online in its entirety.

on poetry

September 11, 2018

“Teach this poem to forgive itself, so it will stop beating me up from the inside.”
Ryler Dustin
(b. September 11)

. . . . .

on poetry

September 10, 2018

“Words were her plague and words were her redemption.”

(September 10, 1886 – September 27, 1961)

. . . . .

The Perfect Cover*

September 9, 2018

2018 Walk Award
By Felicia Clemmons

Cover your head,
so no one touches your hair.

Cover your body,
don’t tempt anyone.

Cover your skin,
so they don’t know you’re not white.
Wouldn’t want another tragic accident.

Cover your tears,
with a smile.

Cover your sadness,
with no eye contact.
Because then, they’d see it.

Cover yourself completely.
Become invisible.
Clothe yourself in darkness.
Become smaller, less intimidating.
There, now you’re perfect.

. . . . .
*Copyright 2018 by Felicia Clemmons. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

poetry for sale

September 8, 2018

While you were busy writing poems, the world of poetry-for-sale went crazy. See for yourself: visit Etsy and search for poetry book. Among today’s 11,065 Results are numerous current books, zines, and journals, as well as a variety of writing/editing services, antique and vintage books for sale, book jewelry and bookmarks, assorted book-ish gifts, and even “vintage colorful poetry books” suggested as décor for attractive home staging.

And that doesn’t even include the general category poetry, or poetry journal, or poetry posters, art, broadsides, etc.

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