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National Poetry Month: Juan Felipe Herrera

National Poetry Month: Juan Felipe Herrera

April 21 / 18

National Poetry Month! Time to read and get inspired by great poetry with Juan Felipe Herrera.


Credit source: Poetry Foundation

Blood on the Wheel

     Ezekiel saw the wheel,
way up in the middle of the air.
TRADITIONAL GOSPEL SONG

Blood on the night soil man en route to the country prison
Blood on the sullen chair, the one that holds you with its pleasure
Blood inside the quartz, the beauty watch, the eye of the guard
Blood on the slope of names & the tattoos hidden
Blood on the Virgin, behind the veils,
Behind—in the moon angel’s gold oracle hair
                    What blood is this, is it the blood of the worker rat?
                    Is it the blood of the clone governor, the city maid?
                    Why does it course in s’s & z’s?
Blood on the couch, made for viewing automobiles & face cream
Blood on the pin, this one going through you without any pain
Blood on the screen, the green torso queen of slavering hearts
Blood on the grandmother’s wish, her tawdry stick of Texas
Blood on the daughter’s breast who sews roses
Blood on the father, does anyone remember him, bluish?
                    Blood from a kitchen fresco, in thick amber strokes
                    Blood from the baby’s right ear, from his ochre nose
                    What blood is this?
Blood on the fender, in the sender’s shoe, in his liquor sack
Blood on the street, call it Milagro Boulevard, Mercy Lanes #9
Blood on the alien, in the alligator jacket teen boy Juan
                    There is blood, there, he says
                    Blood here too, down here, she says
                    Only blood, the Blood Mother sings
Blood driving miniature American queens stamped into rage
Blood driving rappers in Mercedes blackened & whitened in news
Blood driving the snare-eyed professor searching for her panties
Blood driving the championship husband bent in Extreme Unction
                   Blood of the orphan weasel in heat, the Calvinist farmer in wheat
                   Blood of the lettuce rebellion on the rise, the cannery worker’s prize
Blood of the painted donkey forced into prostitute zebra,
Blood of the Tijuana tourist finally awake & forced into pimp sleep again
It is blood time, Sir Terminator says,
It is blood time, Sir Simpson winks,
It is blood time, Sir McVeigh weighs.
                   Her nuclear blood watch soaked, will it dry?
                   His whitish blood ring smoked, will it foam?
                   My groin blood leather roped, will it marry?
                   My wife’s peasant blood spoked, will it ride again?
Blood in the tin, in the coffee bean, in the maquila oración
Blood in the language, in the wise text of the market sausage
Blood in the border web, the penal colony shed, in the bilingual yard
                    Crow blood blues perched on nothingness again
                    fly over my field, yellow-green & opal
                    Dog blood crawl & swish through my sheets
Who will eat this speckled corn?
Who shall be born on this Wednesday war bed?
Blood in the acid theater, again, in the box office smash hit
Blood in the Corvette tank, in the crack talk crank below
Blood boat Navy blood glove Army ventricle Marines
in the cookie sex jar, camouflaged rape whalers
Roam & rumble, investigate my Mexican hoodlum blood
                    Tiny blood behind my Cuban ear, wine colored & hushed
                    Tiny blood in the death row tool, in the middle-aged corset
                    Tiny blood sampler, tiny blood, you hush up again, so tiny
Blood in the Groove Shopping Center,
In blue Appalachia river, in Detroit harness spleen
Blood in the Groove Virus machine,
In low ocean tide, in Iowa soy bean
Blood in the Groove Lynch mob orchestra,
South of Herzegovina, south, I said
Blood marching for the Immigration Patrol, prized & arrogant
Blood spawning in the dawn break of African Blood Tribes, grimacing
& multiple—multiple, I said
Blood on the Macho Hat, the one used for proper genuflections
Blood on the faithful knee, the one readied for erotic negation
Blood on the willing nerve terminal, the one open for suicide
Blood at the age of seventeen
Blood at the age of one, dumped in a Greyhound bus
Blood mute & autistic & cauterized & smuggled Mayan
& burned in border smelter tar
                    Could this be yours? Could this item belong to you?
                    Could this ticket be what you ordered, could it?
          Blood on the wheel, blood on the reel
          Bronze dead gold & diamond deep. Blood be fast.
Juan Felipe Herrera, “Blood on the Wheel” from Border-crosser with a Lamborghini Dream. Copyright © 1999 by Juan Felipe Herrera.  Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.
Source: Border-crosser with a Lamborghini Dream (University of Arizona Press, 1999)

In the Cannery the Porpoise Soul

In the cannery the porpoise soul
& the shadow fins of spirit boats lie awake
the hundred hooks & flying reels
one harpoon
& the silver fleshing in the nets
the mayor is waiting/counting scales
dreaming new quotas & tuna coasts
(under the table blood & payrolls
swim to the shores on a crucifix of oil)
in the cannery the porpoise soul
steals a dagger forthe engines throat
tuna fins etch an X
on the green stone of the ships floor
there are documents with worker sweat
files & rolled sleeve salt
a spear of sails & anchor years
(lost)
inside the shoulders & against the ropes
(somehow)
a policy gunned the waves back
before the porpoise sea was born
“In the Cannery the Porpoise Soul” from Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems by Juan Felipe Herrera. Copyright © 2008 Juan Felipe Herrera. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press. This material is protected from unauthorized downloading and distribution.
Source: Half of the World in Light (The University of Arizona Press, 2008)

War Voyeurs

for Clara Fraser

I do not understand why men make war.
Is it because artillery is the most stoic example
of what flesh can become?
Is it because the military plan is the final map
drawn by the wisest hunter?
Is it because the neutron ray is the invincible finger
no one will disobey?
or
Is it because the flood of blood is the proper penance
workers must pay for failing tribute at the prescribed
hour?
I do not understand why men make war.
Is it because when death is multiple and expanding, there
among the odd assemblages, arbitrary and unnamed, there
among the shrivelled mountains, distorted and hollow, there
among the liquid farms and cities, cold and sallow, there
among the splintered bones of children, women, men and cattle
there and only there, the eerie head of power is being born?
Is it because submission is the only gesture to be rehearsed,
to be dressed, to be modeled, to be cast, to be chosen
in the one and only one drama to be staged in the theater of
this world, where everyone must act with the backbone humbled
with the mascara of bondage, with the lipstick of slaves under
the light of gentle assassination with applause piercing the ground
forever?
or
Is it because war is the secret room of all things to be kept
sealed and contained, to be conquered and renamed woman
enclosed by an empire of walls, vaults, hinges and locks with
the hot key that men and only men must possess for an eternal
evening to visit and contemplate, to snap open a favorite window
and gaze at the calibrated murder as lovers of beauty?

“War Voyeurs” from Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems by Juan Felipe Herrera. Copyright © 2008 Juan Felipe Herrera. Reprinted by permission of the University of Arizona Press. This material is protected from unauthorized downloading and distribution.

Source: Half of the World in Light (The University of Arizona Press, 2008)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, be blessed!

 

Image source: Los Angeles Times
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Wednz Scene: Writing Contests

Wednz Scene: Writing Contests

April 18 / 18

Hello everyone…it’s Wednesday and looks like this month is halfway over. Hard to believe, but it’s happening. I’m always searching for contests to share with y’all and if there are writers out there who would love to put their story or poetry out there, here is your chance. Thanks to The Writer, they have contests you can enter to get your work noticed.


Credit source: The Writer

The Coming Change

Write a 2,000-word fictional short story using any nuance, definition, or understanding of the word “change.”

Deadline: May 15th, 2018

Grand prize: $1,000 and publication in our magazine

Word count: 2,000 words or less

Other prizes: Our second-place winner will receive $500 and publication on our website, writermag.com; our third-place winner will receive $250 and publication on writermag.com as well.

Not the writing contest for you? Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to hear when we launch a new one.

Click Here to Enter

 

 

2018 Nightjar Review Poetry Contest

Deadline

Monday, April 30, 2018

Categories

Entry Fees

Submit 1 poem for $6, or 3 poems for $15. No entry limits.

Prizes

Winner receives $200 and publication. Two finalists will also receive publication.

Description

2018 Judge: Jericho Brown
Contest submission window: January 30th to April 30th, 2018

Contest Judge: JERICHO BROWN is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, The New Yorker, and Best American Poetry. His first book, Please (New Issues 2008), won the American Book Award, and his second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. He is an associate professor in English and creative writing at Emory University in Atlanta.
Please submit one single poem ($6), a packet of three poems ($15), or any additional poem over a packet of three ($5) in a .doc or .docx file.
$200 cash prize + publication in Nightjar Review will be awarded to the winner.
All entries will also be considered for publication in Nightjar Review. The top two finalists are guaranteed publication.
All submissions must be anonymous: no name or contact information should appear on the poem. Entries must be submitted via Submittable. You may enter simultaneously submitted work as long as you notify us if the work is accepted elsewhere.
1st round of judging will be performed by Nightjar Review Editors and Readers. Finalists (approximately 10 to 12 poems) will then be forwarded to the Contest Judge for the final round of judging.
Winner will be selected by October 30th, 2018, along with two finalists at the judge’s discretion.
Entrants not selected as one of the 10-12 finalists will be notified of contest results and of the editors’ decision about publication of their entries by September 30th, 2018.
Winner and two finalists will be publicly announced by October 30th, 2018.

Contact Information

nightjarreview@gmail.com

Website

http://nightjarreview.com/2018-nightjar-review-poetry-contest.html

 

 

2-4-2 Poetry Contest

Deadline

Monday, May 7, 2018

Categories

Entry Fees

$9.95 to enter this and all contests at FanStory.com

Prizes

$100 Cash Prize

Description

A “2-4-2” is a poem that has three lines. The syllable count is 2-4-2. So the first line has two syllables. The second line has four. The third line has two syllables again. You can write about anything but keep the syllable count in mind while writing.

Contact Information

FanStory.com

Website

http://www.fanstory.com/contestdetails.jsp?id=104802

 

There are more contests. Go to http://www.writermag.com for articles, writing resources, and prompts. Enjoy your Wednesday, be blessed.

 

Image source: unknown

National Poetry Month / Phenomenal Woman & Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

National Poetry Month / Phenomenal Woman & Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

April 6 / 18

Hey…it’s Friday and I did almost forget that this month is National Poetry Month. This month, I will post poetry from such poetry legends like Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Emily Dickenson, E.E. Cummings, and Maya Angelou. Speaking of Ms. Angelou, we just celebrated her birthday recently. She would’ve been 90 years old. Here are a few of her poems that are my favorites…


Credit Source: Poetry Foundation

 

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint, and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)

Caged Bird

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird” from Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? Copyright © 1983 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Random House, an imprint, and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.
Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (Random House Inc., 1994)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, be blessed always!

 

Image source: League of Canadian Poets

A Poem Just Because: Cotton Candy by Edward Hirsch

A Poem Just Because: Cotton Candy by Edward Hirsch

October 5 / 17

Just Because will be another new segment for Shadowboxerinc. It can be a film, a poem, a song, a paragraph from a book, photo…you get the picture. Here I have a poem I want to share with you from Edward Hirsch called Cotton Candy.

 

COTTON CANDY

by Edward Hirsch

We walked on the bridge over the Chicago River

for what turned out to be the last time,

and I ate cotton candy, that sugary air,

that sweet blue light spun out of nothingness.

It was just a moment, really, nothing more,

but I remember marveling at the study cables

of the bridge that held us up

and threading my fingers through the long

and slender fingers of my grandfather,

an old man from the Old World

who long ago disappeared into the nether regions.

And I remember that eight-year-old boy

who tasted the sweetness of air,

which still clings to my mouth

and disappears when I breathe.

 

Hope you enjoyed the poem, enjoy your Thursday, be blessed.

From The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010) by Edward Hirsch. Copyright © 2010 by Edward Hirsch.

Image source: Fungyung.com

Wednz Scene: 14th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival

Wednz Scene: 14th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival

October 4 / 17

Hello…A poetry festival, sounds fun right? Well thanks to the Association of Writers and Writing Program, the 14th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival will be held in Delray Beach, Florida January 15-20, 2018. Here is a peek at what this festival is about.


Credit source: AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Program)

14th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival

Delray Beach, Florida, United States

 

DETAILS

JAN 15  JAN 20, 2018

Festival

APPLICATION DEADLINE: November 10, 2016
TUITION / COST: $895 Poetry Workshops, Auditors $495, Individual Conference $99
SCHOLARSHIP: Available
A small number of partial tuition scholarships are available. Inquire with an application.


CONTACT: Susan R. Williamson, Director
PHONE: 561-868-2063
EMAIL: news@palmbeachpoetryfestival.org
WEBSITE: http://www.palmbeachpoetryfestival.org

Poetry workshops for qualified writers of poetry are limited to 12 participants and 3 auditors. Workshops are 16 total hours over six days. Individual manuscript conferences are also available.

14th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival in Delray Beach, Florida, January 15-20, 2018. Focus on your work with America’s most celebrated poets: Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Chard deNiord, Beth Ann Fennelly, Ross Gay, Rodney Jones, Phillis Levin, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Tim Seibles. Six days of workshops, readings, craft talks, manuscript conferences, panel discussion, social events and so much more. Special Guest, Coleman Barks. Individual conference faculty includes Lorna Blake, Sally Bliumis-Dunn, and Nickole Brown.

Workshop admission is by an application. To find out more, visit http://www.palmbeachpoetryfestival.org.

Faculty

Featured Writers Include:

Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Chard deNiord, Beth Ann Fennelly, Ross Gay, Rodney Jones, Phillis Levin, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Tim Seibles. Six days of workshops, readings, craft talks, manuscript conferences, panel discussion, social events and so much more. Special Guest, Coleman Barks. Individual conference faculty includes Lorna Blake, Sally Bliumis-Dunn, and Nickole Brown.

 

Genres

Poetry

Location

Delray Beach
Florida, United States

 

Palm Beach Poetry Festival

The 14th Annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival in Delray Beach, Florida, January 15-20, 2018. Focus on your work with America’s most celebrated poets: Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Chard deNiord, Beth Ann Fennelly, Ross Gay, Rodney Jones, Phillis Levin, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Tim Seibles. Six days of workshops, readings, craft talks, panel discussion, manuscript conferences: Lorna Blake, Sally Bliumis-Dunn, Nicole Brown; social events, and so much more. Special Guest: Coleman Barks.

Ticketed Festival Events are open to the public and take place over six days and evenings. Workshop admission is by an application.To find out more, visit palmbeachpoetryfestival.org.

 

 

Image source: AWP & unknown

Wednz Scene: Fiction & Poetry Contest

Wednz Scene: Fiction & Poetry Contest

June 28 / 17

Good Morning Wednesday! Literature people this is for you….


cred: awp (association of writers & writing programs)

The New Guard Contests in Fiction and Poetry

Hanover, New Hampshire, United States

 

DETAILS

Center

APPLICATION DEADLINE: August 31, 2017
TUITION / COST: $20 entry fee
SCHOLARSHIP: None Available


CONTACT: Shanna McNair
EMAIL: editors@writershotel.com
WEBSITE: www.newguardreview.com

Two prizes of $1,500 each and publication in The New Guard are given annually for a poem and a short story. Mark Doty will judge the Knightville Poetry Contest; Chris Abani will judge the Machigonne Fiction Contest. Using the online submission system, submit three poems of up to 150 lines each or no more than 5,000 words of prose with a $20 entry fee by August 31. All entries are considered for publication. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Faculty

Featured Writers Include:

Knightville Poetry Contest judge: Mark Doty

Machigonne Fiction Contest judge: Chris Abani

Publisher: Shanna McNair

 

Genres

Poetry, Fiction

Location

The New Guard, Poetry and Fiction Contest
P.O. Box 5101
Hanover
New Hampshire, United States
03755

 


The Writer’s Hotel

TO APPLY TO THE WRITER’S HOTEL 2017, visit http://www.writershotel.com/apply.

Please note that since TWH is a part of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Writers and Writing Conferences community, TWH applicants are eligible for AWP’s Scholarship Competition for conference attendees, where three $500 conference stipend grants are awarded each year to emerging writers of Fiction, Nonfiction or Poetry.

TWH will also award three stipends of $500 on site in NYC, to be announced on the last day of classes. TWH stipend recipients are chosen at our sole discretion. Stipend recipients will be announced on our website.

We also are able to point applicants toward credit opportunities via our billing arm, and we can let you know about affordable hotels nearby.

Click on the links above to get the information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

featured image: WallpaperSafari

Weeknd Scene: 24PearlStreet Online Writing Program

Weeknd Scene: 24PearlStreet Online Writing Program

June 3 /17

Hello! The first Saturday of the month. Found several workshops that may interest future writers. This is part of the 24PearlStreet Online Writing Program at Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.


cred: fine arts work center

SEEING, HEARING, AND LETTING POEMS BE

TROY JOLLIMORE
Poetry
June 19 to June 23, 2017
Tuition Cost: $500
Class Size: 12
Session: Summer
Level: 1-Week Intensive

Many of us have had the experience of sensing a poem hovering at the edge of our peripheral vision, drifting in the margins of being heard, trembling on the verge of announcing itself. You know it’s there, waiting to exist, but how do you write it, how do you actually call it into being? How do we place ourselves in the spot from which we can see that yet-to-be poem, or hear its distinctive music? (“Heard melodies are sweet,” as Keats wrote, “but those unheard are sweeter.”) In this course, we will talk about seeing and hearing: envisioning poems, re-visioning poems, opening our eyes and ears to the world that is, after all, the source of all poems (not to mention where we live). And we will discuss ways to resist or manage some of the most common obstacles to writing successful poems: the temptation to try to force a poem to be something it does not want to be; the perceived obligation to imitate someone else’s voice (including, at times, your own former voices); the fear of venturing into the dark places where poems often find their greatest power.

Students will write a poem per day, five poems total, in response to assignments and prompts the instructor will provide. We will read each other’s poems, as well as poetry and writing about poetry (and, in a couple of cases, writing about things other than poetry – like movies!) by poets including Linda Gregerson, Robert Hass, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Olds, Michael Ondaatje, Mary Ruefle, Evie Shockley, C.D. Wright, and Dean Young.  We will generate new work and new ideas. With luck, we will come away changed.

Each student will receive an email from the instructor at the end of the class, outlining strengths in their work and some ideas for moving forward.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THIS CLASS

BIOGRAPHY

Troy Jollimore’s most recent collection of poetry, Syllabus of Errors, was chosen by the New York Times as one of the ten best poetry books of 2015. His other poetry collections are Tom Thomson in Purgatory, which won the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, and At Lake Scugog. His poems have appeared in publications including the New Yorker, Poetry, The Believer, McSweeney’s, and Subtropics. His most recent books of philosophy are Love’s Vision (Princeton, 2011) and On Loyalty (Routledge, 2012). He has been an External Faculty Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center, the Stanley P. Young Poetry Fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a Guggenheim fellow.

 

 

THE ELEGY & THE EMO POEM: A BATTLE TO THE DEATH: SUMMER

MEG DAY
Poetry
June 19 to July 14, 2017
Tuition Cost: $500
Class Size: 12
Session: Summer
Level: 4-Week Workshop

What is the responsibility of the poet in times of public mourning? Why is it that we turn to poetry during periods of tragedy or deep sorrow? In this course, we will be in conversation with how poetry informs our public & private responses to loss & interrogate the poet’s position as empath, archivist, & town crier. If it is that the poet has a unique responsibility in times of crisis, then how do we ensure our poems are wrought to endure? Together, we will look toward our own history—the pastoral, the eulogy, & the elegy in particular—to construct new fusions of form, content, & figurative language as potential access points to contemplate the ways absence creates presence & explores how grief can often look suspiciously like desire. We will read from a diverse collection of poets, including Terrance Hayes, Tarfia Faizullah, Natasha Tretheway, and Natalie Diaz, in order to both build & dismantle our definition of the elegy.

In addition to submitting work, you will be expected to comment on 1-2 of your classmates’ experiments daily. At the end of the course, I will conduct one-on-one conversations with each student via email to discuss further revisions and how to move forward.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THIS CLASS

BIOGRAPHY

Meg Day is the 2015-2016 recipient of the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, a 2013 recipient of an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, and the author of Last Psalm at Sea Level (Barrow Street 2014), winner of the Barrow Street Poetry Prize and the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award. Day is Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing at Franklin & Marshall College and lives in Lancaster, PA

 

 

 

EXPERIMENTAL WRITING FOR THE NON-EXPERIMENTAL WRITERS

POROCHISTA KHAKPOUR
Fiction
June 26 to June 30, 2017
Tuition Cost: $500
Class Size: 12
Session: Summer
Level: 1-Week Intensive
What does it mean for literature to be experimental? The great Margaret Atwood defines it as: “Fiction that sets up certain rules for itself …while subverting the conventions according to which readers have understood what constitutes a proper work of literature.” In making its own rules, a lot of the old rules must be tossed out, of course, and so this class provides examples of the most innovative, rule-busting, eclectic works of the postmodern, absurdist, metafictional and transgressive canon. We’ll untangle a wild and gutsy array of passages while examining why a non-experimental writer might actually need to investigate the more lawless avenues of prose. We’ll also generate some experimental writing of our own through exercises and workshops. All genres welcome, only open minds required. Each student will receive a letter from the instructor at the end of the class, outlining some strengths in their work and some ideas for moving forward.

BIOGRAPHY

Porochista Khakpour is the author of the forthcoming memoir Sick (Harper Perennial), and the novels The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury, 2014)—a 2014 “Best Book of the Year” according to NPR, Kirkus, Buzzfeed, Popmatters, Electric Literature, and more — and Sons and Other Flammable Objects (Grove, 2007)—the 2007 California Book Award winner in “First Fiction,” one of the Chicago Tribune’s “Fall’s Best,” and a New York Times “Editor’s Choice.” Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in Harper’s, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera America, Bookforum, Slate, Salon, Spin, The Daily Beast, Elle, and many other publications around the world.  She’s had fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the University of Leipzig (Picador Guest Professorship), the Corporation of Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, and Northwestern University’s Academy for Alternative Journalism, among others. Born in Tehran and raised in Los Angeles, she lives in New York City’s Harlem. She is currently writer-in-residence at Bard College.

 

 

 

MAKE IT SING, MAKE IT STRANGE: A SUMMER POETRY LAB

LILLIAN-YVONNE BERTRAM
Poetry
June 26 to July 21, 2017
Tuition Cost: $500
Class Size: 15
Session: Summer
Level: 4-Week Workshop
Into the laboratory, we go! In this course, we are going to utilize techniques and strategies to make our poems sing and to embrace the strange in the process. On the one hand, we will examine the craft of extended metaphor by looking at exemplary poems and mapping how metaphors are constructed. On the other, we will experiment and explore strategies for moving the language in our poems away from the common, away from our easy-to-reach or go-to words and phrases. We will embrace strategies like translation, repetition, n+7, and others to create that “defamiliarization” so crucial to the surprise of poetry. These strategies can be used for both the invention and revision of poems.

BIOGRAPHY

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is a 2014 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Poetry Fellowship. Her first book, But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise, was selected by Claudia Rankine as the 2010 Benjamin Saltman Award winner and published by Red Hen Press in 2012 and was a 2013 poetry nominee for the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award for outstanding works of literature published by people of African descent. Her second book, a slice from the cake made of air (Red Hen Press 2016) is available from Red Hen Press and was recently named one of the best poetry books of 2016 by Entropy Magazine. Her third book, personal science, is available from Tupelo Press. Winner of the 2012 Phantom Limb Press chapbook contest, her chapbook cutthroat glamours was published in 2013. She is one-sixth of the poetry collective, Line Assembly. She has been in residence at the Vermont Studio Center, the Montana Artists’ Refuge, has received fellowships from Cave Canem and the Bread Loaf Writers’ and is the recipient of a United States Embassy grant for a writing residency at the Ventspils Writers’ & Translators House in Ventspils, Latvia, in 2014. The 2009-2011 Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow at Williams College, her poetry, prose, photography, and digital stories have received numerous awards and have appeared widely in journals such as Black Warrior Review, Callaloo, Cream City Review, Court Green, DIAGRAM, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, Indiana Review, jubilat, Mid-American Review, Narrative Magazine, OH NO, Subtropics, Sou’wester, Tupelo Quarterly, Twelfth House, and more. She holds degrees in creative writing from the University of Utah, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Carnegie Mellon University. She was the Viebranz Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at St. Lawrence University for 2015-2016 and is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at UMASS Boston.

 

If your interested in any of these workshops, please click on the links above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

featured images: fine arts work center & Wallpaper Cave

Reflections: Staggerlee wonders by James Baldwin

Reflections: Staggerlee wonders by James Baldwin

Feb. 27 / 17

Hello! I wanted to share a poem by James Baldwin to celebrate Black History. Notice that I didn’t say Black History Month. Black History, Native, Hispanic, Asian…..is all American History. 

Staggerlee wonders – Poem by James Baldwin

I always wonder
what they think the niggers are doing
while they, the pink and alabaster pragmatists,
are containing
Russia
and defining and re-defining and re-aligning
China,
nobly restraining themselves, meanwhile,
from blowing up that earth
which they have already
blasphemed into dung:
the gentle, wide-eyed, cheerful
ladies, and their men,
nostalgic for the noble cause of Vietnam,
nostalgic for noble causes,
aching, nobly, to wade through the blood of savages—
ah—!
Uncas shall never leave the reservation,
except to purchase whisky at the State Liquor Store.
The Panama Canal shall remain forever locked:
there is a way around every treaty.
We will turn the tides of the restless
Caribbean,
the sun will rise, and set
on our hotel balconies as we see fit.
The natives will have nothing to complain about,
indeed, they will begin to be grateful,
will be better off than ever before.
They will learn to defer gratification
and save up for things, like we do.

Oh, yes. They will.
We have only to make an offer
they cannot refuse.

This flag has been planted on the moon:
it will be interesting to see
what steps the moon will take to be revenged
for this quite breathtaking presumption.
This people
masturbate in winding sheets.
They have hacked their children to pieces.
They have never honoured a single treaty
made with anyone, anywhere.
The walls of their cities
are as foul as their children.
No wonder their children come at them with knives.
Mad Charlie man’s son was one of their children,
had got his shit together
by the time he left kindergarten,
and, as for Patty, heiress of all the ages,
she had the greatest vacation
of any heiress, anywhere:

Golly-gee, whillikens, Mom, real guns!
and they come with a real big, black funky stud, too:
oh, Ma! he’s making eyes at me!

Oh, noble Duke Wayne,
be careful in them happy hunting grounds.
They say the only good Indian
is a dead Indian,
by what I say is,
you can’t be too careful, you hear?
Oh, towering Ronnie Reagan,
wise and resigned lover of redwoods,
deeply beloved, winning man-child of the yearning Republic
from diaper to football field to Warner Brothers sound-stages,
be thou our grinning, gently phallic, Big Boy of all the ages!

Salt peanuts, salt peanuts,
for dear hearts and gentle people,
and cheerful, shining, simple Uncle Sam!

Nigger, read this and run!
Now, if you can’t read,
run anyhow!

From Manifest Destiny
(Cortez, and all his men
silent upon a peak in Darien)
to A Decent Interval,
and the chopper rises above Saigon,
abandoning the noble cause
and the people we have made ignoble
and whom we leave there, now, to die,
one moves, With All Deliberate Speed,
to the South China Sea, and beyond,
where millions of new niggers
await glad tidings!

No, said the Great Man’s Lady,
I’m against abortion,
I always feel that’s killing somebody.
Well, what about capital punishment?
I think the death penalty helps.

That’s right.
Up to our ass in niggers
on Death Row.

Oh, Susanna,
don’t you cry for me!

2

Well, I guess what the niggers
is supposed to be doing
is putting themselves in the path
of that old sweet chariot
and have it swing down and carry us home.

That would help, as they say,
and they got ways
of sort of nudging the chariot.
They still got influence
with Wind and Water,
though they in for some surprises
with Cloud and Fire.

My days are not their days.
My ways are not their ways.
I would not think of them,
one way or the other,
did not they so grotesquely
block the view
between me and my brother.

And, so, I always wonder:
can blindness be desired?
Then, what must the blinded eyes have seen
to wish to see no more!

For, I have seen,
in the eyes regarding me,
or regarding my brother,
have seen, deep in the farthest valley
of the eye, have seen
a flame leap up, then flicker and go out,
have seen a veil come down,
leaving myself, and the other,
alone in that cave
which every soul remembers, and
out of which, desperately afraid,
I turn, turn, stagger, stumble out,
into the healing air,
fall flat on the healing ground,
singing praises, counselling
my heart, my soul, to praise.

What is it that this people
cannot forget?

Surely, they cannot be deluded
as to imagine that their crimes
are original?

There is nothing in the least original
about the fiery tongs to the eyeballs,
the sex torn from the socket,
the infant ripped from the womb,
the brains dashed out against rock,
nothing original about Judas,
or Peter, or you or me: nothing:
we are liars and cowards all,
or nearly all, or nearly all the time:
for we also ride the lightning,
answer the thunder, penetrate whirlwinds,
curl up on the floor of the sun,
and pick our teeth with thunderbolts.

Then, perhaps they imagine
that their crimes are not crimes?

Perhaps.
Perhaps that is why they cannot repent,
why there is no possibility of repentance.
Manifest Destiny is a hymn to madness,
feeding on itself, ending
(when it ends) in madness:
the action is blindness and pain,
pain bringing a torpor so deep
that every act is willed,
is desperately forced,
is willed to be a blow:
the hand becomes a fist,
the prick becomes a club,
the womb a dangerous swamp,
the hope, and fear, of love
is acid in the marrow of the bone.
No, their fire is not quenched,
nor can be: the oil feeding the flames
being the unadmitted terror of the wrath of God.

Yes. But let us put it in another,
less theological way:
though theology has absolutely nothing to do
with what I am trying to say.
But the moment God is mentioned
theology is summoned
to buttress or demolish belief:
an exercise which renders belief irrelevant
and adds to the despair of Fifth Avenue
on any afternoon,
the people moving, homeless, through the city,
praying to find sanctuary before the sky
and the towers come tumbling down,
before the earth opens, as it does in Superman.
They know that no one will appear
to turn back time,
they know it, just as they know
that the earth has opened before
and will open again, just as they know
that their empire is falling, is doomed,
nothing can hold it up, nothing.
We are not talking about belief.

3

I wonder how they think
the niggers made, make it,
how come the niggers are still here.
But, then, again, I don’t think they dare
to think of that: no:
I’m fairly certain they don’t think of that at all.

Lord,
I with the alabaster lady of the house,
with Beulah.
Beulah about sixty, built in four-square,
biceps like Mohammed Ali,
she at the stove, fixing biscuits,
scrambling eggs and bacon, fixing coffee,
pouring juice, and the lady of the house,
she say, she don’t know how
she’d get along without Beulah
and Beulah just silently grunts,
I reckon you don’t,
and keeps on keeping on
and the lady of the house say
She’s just like one of the family,
and Beulah turns, gives me a look,
sucks her teeth and rolls her eyes
in the direction of the lady’s back, and
keeps on keeping on.

While they are containing
Russia
and entering onto the quicksand of
China
and patronizing
Africa,
and calculating
the Caribbean plunder, and
the South China Sea booty,
the niggers are aware that no one has discussed
anything at all with the niggers.

Well. Niggers don’t own nothing,
got no flag, even our names
are hand-me-downs
and you don’t change that
by calling yourself X:
sometimes that just makes it worse,
like obliterating the path that leads back
to whence you came, and
to where you can begin.
And, anyway, none of this changes the reality,
which is, for example, that I do not want my son
to die in Guantanamo,
or anywhere else, for that matter,
serving the Stars and Stripes.
(I’ve seen some stars.
I got some stripes.)

Neither (incidentally)
has anyone discussed the Bomb with the niggers:
the incoherent feeling is, the less
the nigger knows about the Bomb, the better:
the lady of the house
smiles nervously in your direction
as though she had just been overheard
discussing family, or sexual secrets,
and changes the subject to Education,
or Full Employment, or the Welfare rolls,
the smile saying, Don’t be dismayed.
We know how you feel. You can trust us.

Yeah. I would like to believe you.
But we are not talking about belief.

4

The sons of greed, the heirs of plunder,
are approaching the end of their journey:
it is amazing that they approach without wonder,
as though they have, themselves, become
that scorched and blasphemed earth,
the stricken buffalo, the slaughtered tribes,
the endless, virgin, bloodsoaked plain,
the famine, the silence, the children’s eyes,
murder masquerading as salvation, seducing
every democratic eye,
the mouths of truth and anguish choked with cotton,
rape delirious with the fragrance of magnolia,
the hacking of the fruit of their loins to pieces,
hey! the tar-baby sons and nephews, the high-yaller
nieces,
and Tom’s black prick hacked off
to rustle in crinoline,
to hang, heaviest of heirlooms,
between the pink and alabaster breasts
of the Great Man’s Lady,
or worked into the sash at the waist
of the high-yaller Creole bitch, or niece,
a chunk of shining brown-black satin,
staring, staring, like the single eye of God:

creation yearns to re-create a time
when we were able to recognize a crime.

Alas,
my stricken kinsmen,
the party is over:
there have never been any white people,
anywhere: the trick was accomplished with mirrors—
look: where is your image now?
where your inheritance,
on what rock stands this pride?

Oh,
I counsel you,
leave History alone.
She is exhausted,
sitting, staring into her dressing-room mirror,
and wondering what rabbit, now,
to pull out of what hat,
and seriously considering retirement,
even though she knows her public
dare not let her go.

She must change.
Yes. History must change.
A slow, syncopated
relentless music begins
suggesting her re-entry,
transformed, virginal as she was,
in the Beginning, untouched,
as the Word was spoken,
before the rape which debased her
to be the whore of multitudes, or,
as one might say, before she became the Star,
whose name, above our title,
carries the Show, making History the patsy,
responsible for every flubbed line,
every missed cue, responsible for the life
and death, of all bright illusions
and dark delusions,
Lord, History is weary
of her unspeakable liaison with Time,
for Time and History
have never seen eye to eye:
Time laughs at History
and time and time and time again
Time traps History in a lie.

But we always, somehow, managed
to roar History back onstage
to take another bow,
to justify, to sanctify
the journey until now.

Time warned us to ask for our money back,
and disagreed with History
as concerns colours white and black.
Not only do we come from further back,
but the light of the Sun
marries all colours as one.

Kinsmen,
I have seen you betray your Saviour
(it is you who call Him Saviour)
so many times, and
I have spoken to Him about you,
behind your back.
Quite a lot has been going on
behind your back, and,
if your phone has not yet been disconnected,
it will soon begin to ring:
informing you, for example, that a whole generation,
in Africa, is about to die,
and a new generation is about to rise,
and will not need your bribes,
or your persuasions, any more:
not your morality. No plundered gold—
Ah! Kinsmen, if I could make you see
the crime is not what you have done to me!
It is you who are blind,
you, bowed down with chains,
you, whose children mock you, and seek another
master,
you, who cannot look man or woman or child in the
eye,
whose sleep is blank with terror,
for whom love died long ago,
somewhere between the airport and the safe-deposit
box,
the buying and selling of rising or falling stocks,
you, who miss Zanzibar and Madagascar and Kilimanjaro
and lions and tigers and elephants and zebras
and flying fish and crocodiles and alligators and
leopards
and crashing waterfalls and endless rivers,
flowers fresher than Eden, silence sweeter than the
grace of God,
passion at every turning, throbbing in the bush,
thicker, oh, than honey in the hive,
dripping
dripping
opening, welcoming, aching from toe to bottom
to spine,
sweet heaven on the line
to last forever, yes,
but, now,
rejoicing ends, man, a price remains to pay,
your innocence costs too much
and we can’t carry you on our books
or our backs, any longer: baby,
find another Eden, another apple tree,
somewhere, if you can,
and find some other natives, somewhere else,
to listen to you bellow
till you come, just like a man,
but we don’t need you,
are sick of being a fantasy to feed you,
and of being the principal accomplice to your
crime:
for, it is your crime, now, the cross to which you
cling,
your Alpha and Omega for everything.

Well (others have told you)
your clown’s grown weary, the puppet master
is bored speechless with this monotonous disaster,
and is long gone, does not belong to you,
any more than my woman, or my child,
ever belonged to you.

During this long travail
our ancestors spoke to us, and we listened,
and we tried to make you hear life in our song
but now it matters not at all to me
whether you know what I am talking about—or not:
I know why we are not blinded
by your brightness, are able to see you,
who cannot see us. I know
why we are still here.

Godspeed.
The niggers are calculating,
from day to day, life everlasting,
and wish you well:
but decline to imitate the Son of the Morning,
and rule in Hell.

Enjoy your Tuesday, be blessed!
featured image: National Jazz Museum in Harlem