A big box of my new chapbook arrived this week. I’m still feeling completely stunned by it. Teeth & Teeth is the winner of the Charlotte Mew Prize, selected by poet Natalie Diaz and published by Headmistress Press. Here’s how Ching-In Chen describes it:
Robin Reagler’s Teeth & Teeth is a wild-mouthed dispatch from the cities of mourning we all inhabit, a desperate love letter to the waiting selves which grow out of exile from normalcy. In the face of the wearing down of the body, despite loss, these poems demand gratitude for the fierce habits of the living. —Ching-In Chen
book cover, the sea that surrounds us by Maureen Drennan
Photographer Maureen Drennan was featured in a recent Huffington Post piece on artists repositioning themselves for the upcoming Trump presidency. I was moved by her strength and faith in the power of the artist.
“I believe the role of an artist is more important than ever and ideally should compel and challenge us to think in different ways. Artists can be powerful dissenters and transgressive to political and societal conventions.
Good art often comes from an uncomfortable place. While it can be painful to explore, the creation and consumption of such art can be very therapeutic. In such a divisive time that we live in, the hardest thing we can do is to show compassion to those in opposition to our beliefs.”
Although Drennan’s art does not read as perhaps obviously political, there is an immediacy and an unapologetic honesty that graces her portraits. She explains,
”I feel enormously privileged to be an artist and to have met and photographed such inspiring people. My goal is to deepen my understanding of other people’s experiences and share those stories with a wide audience. Stories and narrative foster empathy and compassion, something that is sorely needed during this contentious time of anti-immigrant rhetoric. My advice to fellow artists is to not be afraid to explore things that are uncomfortable.”
With writing by quantum computer scientist Dominic Walliman and designed and illustrations by Ben Newman, this is a wonderful way to make discoveries. Science should be a revelation of wonders, and this book delivers.
If you are planning to writing a poem a day in April, there are sources of inspiration all around. Starting in the most obvious place, check out the NaPoWriMo site. You will find everything you need to get started. Add your blog to the list of participants and join the community of writers.
There are also poetry prompts being published on blogs across the Internet. Check out:
When stuck (which will be soon enough) I plan to use The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice by Kelly Agodon and Martha Silano (Two Sylvias Press). Feel free to share your fave NaPo links here.
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has gained momentum over the past decade, and a number of best-selling novels–Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern– began in this veritable boot camp for writers. The appeal lies in the short intense nature of the project, with the product being a 50,000 word first draft. Daily word count goals keep you on track, and the NaNo site provides a supportive community. November is almost upon us. Perhaps THIS year is YOUR year?
I’m on of those people who loves reading books about the places I travel while I am traveling. Therefore I love the idea of choosing a novel for each of the 50 US states. Maybe one day I’ll make my own list. In the meantime, check out this literary tour of America from QwikLit.
It is impossible to contain all of the United States of America in one novel. From Alabama to Wyoming, there is little to connect every work here except for the fact that they are, well, American. But if you’re currently sitting on your front porch, looking for an escape to anywhere in America, be it the Everglades of Florida, the beaches of Southern California, or even the cold, merciless terrain of Alaska — then worry not: we have found some of the finest works of contemporary literature this country has to offer, and placed them all on one comprehensive list. Enjoy!
Don’t let the title fool you; John Green places his main character, the biography-obsessed prep-school student called Miles, in the middle of a love triangle centered around an Alabamian prep school. Green has a knack for channeling the ‘coming-of-age’ to…
Brian Dettmer sculpts with books and paints with the words on the page. Literally. Dettmer describes the motivation behind his work this way:
The book’s intended function has decreased and the form remains linear in a non-linear world. By altering physical forms of information and shifting preconceived functions, new and unexpected roles emerge. This is the area I currently operate in. Through meticulous excavation or concise alteration I edit or dissect communicative objects or systems such as books, maps, tapes and other media. The medium’s role transforms. Its content is recontextualized and new meanings or interpretations emerge.
My chapbook “Dear Red Airplane” arrived in today’s mail. It is published by Seven Kitchens Press. I suppose it’s both good news and bad news that it is already sold out. Seven Kitchens is a micro-press and they specialize in artful booklets in small print runs. If you’d like to request a second run, you can do so here.
A red woodpecker scales the live oak, while I sleep,
the phone rings makes its erasures:
a dream in which I’m revising a list with my father—gone
the way of whole neighborhoods in the Bronx.
Robert Moses shrugs his concrete shoulders Robert Moses, I say, drop the knife.
In the summer of 2001, I lived in the Bowery, took photographs
of police call boxes,
took the train through Newark, NJ: warehouse, community college, broadface
of the projects irregardless of choices. I was a lonely child, loved looking
at things no one would notice: Rahway, Linden, Elizabeth: the many-eyed,
bricked-up, gold-domed, on the platform waiting.
So far as we feel sympathy, we are not accomplices.
Thick rain and tree roots knuckle the sidewalk.
In Newark, NJ, the sidewalks were slate gray, dark as thunderheads
big bang big theory of charge/discharge.
As a child, I thought I could save my mother’s life by stepping in front of her.
If the heron comes in low over the marshes, if it shadows the car as you drive
west toward the sea, breakwater holding the lip of the coming tide
at bay while the autumn sun cast one gold and pink sheen over the grasses
like a spell, like all the secrets you tell
yourself while driving; if the heron comes in low, great wings beating the air
slowly as a woman beats rugs on a line, having pulled them from the basement
readying the house for winter (it is a fine, warm day but she is not fooled,
having lived her whole life here she knows what’s just beyond the cusp
of October); if you stop the car and, getting out, watch the bird hover and dip
and disappear below the horizon of the tall grass, wait then, just wait:
before the sky loses its light for good, and your hands grow unusually chill
in the new air, the head of the heron will bob like a buoy back out of the grass
again, as if it had always been there, still as a road sign, and there
it will remain, unfazed, patient and voracious
in this splendid world.
the rustle of a Sunday bundle of newspapers tucked under my father’s arm stop
and no father walking toward me stop
on the branch only oak leaves reddening as wind ripens their talent for exodus stop
on the lawn a scatter of wrens head-down but tail-erect stop
no bringing back the other world though every silence sounds for it stop
soft hiss then only all the rattle of useless memory caught in the unwieldy bundle of his dying stop
where I’ve tied it stop
waiting for the proscenium that the warblers’ song might once again build around me stop
I purse my lips in an exaggerated exorcism of breath please advise
by Rusty Morrison
from the true keeps calm biding its story (Ahsahta Press)