on poetry

January 20, 2021

“try to put the poetry in the language that we speak, to use that language, take those simple words and make out of them something that is moving, that is powerful, that is there.”
Pat Parker
(January 20, 1944 – June 17, 1989)

The Bear*

January 17, 2021


2020 Walk Award
By Suzanne Harris

If grief is an animal, make it a bear
hibernating cold and hard
in the back-cave of your heart.
In the restlessness of spring,
groggy, hungry, it will rise without warning
gnawing its pain straight through.
There will be no escape
for the soft pulsing of your heart
torn and bled by that bear’s sharp incisors.

Grief, the sinner’s corsage —
unresolved guilt, moments which cut like a knife, then
bleed the loss across frozen expanses of forward-time
dancing with shadows from the past.
Memories sharp like razors slice your disbelief
to emptiness, sullen and alone.
The wind, such cool relief, blows
atoms of your loss across the frozen plain.

Some day you will rise above that bed of sorrow,
the sky so blue and bright
all you can see is white, miracle of sun light.
That bear, sated in the warmth
will sit amongst ripe berries on high hills,
at peace, at one, at last.

*Copyright 2020 by Suzanne Harris. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

on poetry

January 15, 2021

“I really do sincerely feel that bewilderment is at the core of every great poem, and in order to be bewildered, you have to be able to wonder. You absolutely have to be permeable to wonder.”
Kaveh Akbar
(b. January 15, 1989)

. . . . .
photo by Hieu Minh Nguyen
quote

The Park*

January 10, 2021


2020 Merit Award
By John S. Green

She sat on the park bench with a book, a mug of tea,
and short chic hair—fitness, style, grace—all this in
one glance. But what I loved about her was her
children. The young son and daughter were playing

with abandon. He stood on a tree stump and
proclaimed, “Ahoy mates, the pirates are charging—
get ready for battle!” His play-mates drew their
swords. The daughter straddled a branch high up

in a tree and was singing. She waved to a bird
perched above her, and to a squirrel as it scampered
by. Meanwhile, the brother and his jolly men were
in hand-to hand combat with the pirates down by

the park’s pond. The mother lay on the grass and
closed her eyes. Her daughter, down from the tree,
raced over, and jumped on her mom, who shrieked,
and grabbed her little one—they rolled over and over

with continuous laughter. When they stopped, the girl
grabbed a clump of grass, placing in on her mom’s
head, who said, “A crown! Thank you!” The boys
were now knee deep in the water looking for frogs.

*Copyright 2020 by John S. Green. Broadside illustrated by Christian Smith.

Sunday reading series

January 8, 2021

In celebration of Alaska Quarterly Review’s 40th Anniversary, Pièces de Résistance is a free, live, weekly reading series that can be viewed on the AQR site each Sunday at 3:00pm Alaska / 4:00pm Pacific. The series started in October 2020 and will wrap up at the beginning of May, hosted by the Anchorage Museum and moderated by author Heather Lende and AQR Co-founder and Editor Ronald Spatz.

The series is available on YouTube and some of the reading segments have been excerpted here.

on poetry

January 7, 2021

“What I love about drafts is the experimental nature of them. The draft is what you know about writing a poem running up against what you don’t know about the subject. If you’re lucky, you get to surprise yourself.”
Cornelius Eady
(b. January 7, 1954)

. . . . .
photo by Chip Cooper
quote

a few more bests

January 6, 2021

The 2020 best-of posts keep showing up, so here are a few more for your reading list:

a month of inspiration

January 2, 2021

Here is The Guardian’s 31-day literary diet for January, a day-by-day offering of poetry, film, stories, drama, etc., to guide you through the month.

on poetry

January 1, 2021

“The future poem will be — indeed is already being — genetically modified to include sound and moving image, locative media, interactivity and new interfaces. I’m not yet enough of a codger to bemoan these changes, though the condensed and lyrical stanza seems to me a perfect technology, a zen bomb born in a word bud, dense enough to disrupt the waves of textual white noise that pass through our brains at any given moment.”
Ravi Shankar
(b. January 1, 1975)

. . . . .
quote

last best for 2020

December 31, 2020

While the year’s best-of selections may continue into the early months of 2021, this will be our final post for 2020 and the latest collection of favorites.

Happy reading… and Happy New Year!

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