Poetry Blog: Brittney Corrigan

Brittney Corrigan is the author of the poetry collections Navigation40 Weeks, and most recently, Breaking, a chapbook responding to events in the news over the past several years. Daughters, a series of persona poems in the voices of daughters of various characters from folklore, mythology, and popular culture, is forthcoming from Airlie Press in September, 2021. Corrigan was raised in Colorado and has lived in Portland, Oregon for the past three decades, where she is an alumna and employee of Reed College. She is currently at work on her first short story collection and on a collection of poems about climate change and the Anthropocene age.

Brittney’s poem, “Whale Fall”, originally published in Thalia:

The ocean’s innumerable tiny mouths
 await the muffled impact like baby birds.
 Sediment clouds up at the deadened

settling, and the flesh is set upon. How
 the weight of loss can be beautiful
in its opening. Luminous worms undulate

like party streamers as isopods
and lobsters arrive to feast. This body
 holds an ecosystem unto itself: species

found nowhere else but here, cleaved
to the sunken remains. Sleeper sharks
 move in slow and gentle, ease

the messy carcass to gleaming bones.
 And then, how the skeletal rafters
of grief fuzz and bloom. How sometimes

the coldest depths allow for such measured
 undoing. All the while hungry lives
swarm and spread, come to stay.

Limpets attach to the unhidden core. Sorrow
 in its abundance crushes, cycles, feeds.
How the body rests, rich in what sustains.

Brittney’s poem, “Iteration”, originally published in Feral:

after the Aldabra rail
One flightless bird evolves twice, before and after extinction.
Collective bodies remember what it is to feel safe.

You remember this, too. Before the world came lapping.

A coral atoll—lagoon brimming with black-tipped sharks,
no people—flourishes. Giant tortoises wander between

turquoise worlds of sea and sky. The birds have no
reason to fly away. A body with no enemies simplifies.

There was a time when you didn’t need wings.

Nothing is wasted. The birds push their long, ruddy necks
through the coastal grass. Nothing chases them down.

There was a time when you never looked behind you.

The first time the ocean takes the island, every species on it
goes extinct. A mass drowning. Thousands of years later,

the water recedes. Fossils and sand surface; flora blooms.
The bird’s white-throated cousins land on the shores.

There was a time when your throat was open to the sky.

The bird evolves again. Again relinquishes its wings.
Again has no enemies. Again is a singular kind of being.

You can do this, too. Sharks circle but can’t cross land.

Bodies remold. Bodies wingless. Bones tell stories. Versions
of stories. You recolonize your body. What it is to survive.

Brittney’s poem, “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit”, originally published in The Wild Word:

The night a neighbor girl knocks on our door,
baby rabbit in the bowl of her hands, I place

it in a darkened box of straw, know it won’t
make it to morning. My grandmother’s tradition

for the first day of each month: stand at the edge
of the bed upon waking, make a wish, yell

Rabbit! Rabbit! Rabbit! and jump. Tiny rabbit
body in my palm, soft and cold and still.

Rabbit sitting on the moon, pestling herbs
for the gods. A chant of white or grey rabbits

to ward off smoke. The Black Rabbit of Inlé:
his taking of this small life, his taking of my

grandmother when I was still small. I must
give this little un-rabbit back to the ground.

Oh, to be so frightened that your heart cannot
go on. But first, I must wake my young child.

On this first of the month, I ease tangles
separate through my hands. Sense something

quivering just beneath what’s real as I leave
the room. From down the hall, I hear

the bedframe sigh. Little undone heart cupped
in my hands. Little voice shouting a herd

of rabbits onto the floorboards. I hop
from foot to foot as they run past.

The following is an interview conducted on April 28, 2021, by Superstition Review‘s Poetry Editor, Carolina Quintero. It is in regards to Brittney’s works, writing process, and inspirations.

Carolina Quintero: Hello, Brittney! Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview with me. I really enjoyed reading your poetry. You have such a passion for animals and our environment and you put their importance into beautiful words. I also thought it was really striking and genius how you connect animal life to human life…Your writing frequently involves animals and the environment. What experiences or special interests have driven you to center your writing around this topic?

Brittney Corrigan: I’ve been drawn to animals and the natural world since I was a small child. I grew up in the gorgeous landscape of Colorado where my family spent a lot of time in the mountains and generally outdoors. And when I wasn’t playing outside or surrounded by a zoo’s worth of pets, I was watching episodes of Wild Kingdom. For years I wanted to become a marine biologist, drawn to the ocean and its creatures from my land-locked home. Though I’ve always felt connected with and protective of the environment, living in Oregon for the past three decades—with its wild coasts, wild animals, and wildfires—has strengthened that affinity and resolve. As the realities of climate change have made their way into my consciousness over the years—from my founding of an “environmental action club” in high school in the 1980s, to my love for the flora and fauna of the place where I live, to raising up my children in a world fraught with natural disasters and extinctions—I wanted to move toward action to preserve this planet and the life forms with which we share it, beginning with bringing awareness to these issues through my writing.

CQ: Your poems carry thorough knowledge about animals and ecosystems. What inspires you to learn about this? 

BC: Voracious curiosity! I subscribe to countless email newsletters that showcase all things weird, wild, and wonderful (such as Atlas Obscura and National Geographic), and I love listening to podcasts of that ilk, as well (such as RadioLab and Ologies). I keep a running document of links to articles and oddities I find particularly fascinating that I come back to time and again to mine ideas for my work. In both my science-oriented poetry and my short fiction, the research is one of my favorite parts of the writing process. I love diving headlong into educating myself about a place or a species that I haven’t encountered before or that I just want to learn more about. In a high school English class, my teacher once presented me with a quote by Henry James: “Be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!” I carry that desire to notice, explore, and elucidate the world around me into my writing life.

CQ: What advocacy do you hope your poems will achieve? What audience do you hope your poems will reach? 

BC: By bringing the plight of various ecosystems and species into my work, I hope to make what can seem like an overwhelming problem to tackle both particular and personal. I think if folks feel connected to the natural world and its creatures in specific, tangible ways, they will want to help and make change in small, meaningful ways. I hope that my poems reach folks of many interests, backgrounds, and generations and move them to learn more, and to do more, to combat climate change, extinction, and the effects of our current Anthropocene age.

CQ: What are your poetic influences as of late?

BC: My current favorite poets are Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Ada Limón, Ross Gay, Natalie Diaz, and Camille Dungy. I’m also enjoying reading essays on topics of extinction and the natural world by writers such as Michelle Nijhuis, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Elena Passarello, Linda Hogan, and Alexis Pauline Gumbs.

CQ: What advice would you give to young writers? 

BC: I would say start with what you know and move outward toward your passions and ideas or topics you want to find out more about. First write for yourself, and then, when you are ready to share your writing with others, find your people. Seek out your fellow writers and readers with whom to share your work. Find a group of folks you trust and can share your roughest drafts with, and also find the mentors whose feedback will help your writing become stronger. And don’t be afraid to write outside of the boundaries you’ve been taught or the parameters you’ve been given. Break the rules and bust the genres open. 

CQ: What are you currently working on in your writing? 

BC: I recently completed a manuscript of poems about climate change, extinction, and the Anthropocene age. I’m now exploring those same topics in my first collection of short stories. As to poetry, I think science, ecology, and the natural world will always find their way into my work. I’m not sure exactly what’s next, but I’ve no doubt it will reveal itself to me, like bright animal eyes blinking out of the dark.

Be sure to check out both Brittney’s website and Twitter.

Contributor Update: Alison Hawthorne Deming

Hello everybody! Today, we here at Superstition Review are thrilled to announce that past contributor Alison Hawthorne Deming, who read for us back in April of 2011, has just been named Regents’ Professor at the University of Arizona, by the Arizona Board of Regents. To be named a Regents’ Professor is the highest honor that can be bestowed on a faculty member in the university system, and we can think of none more deserving than Alison Hawthorne Deming. You can read the full press release here, and if you’re interested in Alison’s work, check out her most recent publications: a new book of poetry titled”Stairway to Heaven,” out now from Penguin (found here), and her collaboration with photographer Stephen Strom, titled “Death Valley: Painted Light” (found here). Congratulations to Alison and the University of Arizona!

Congratulations!
Past contributor for Superstition Review and newly named Regents’ Professor Alison Hawthorne Deming.

Alison Deming reads from ZOOLOGIES Fri Jan 16

zoologies-230Friday, January 16

3:30pm

Alison Deming reads from ZOOLOGIES as part of the ‘Trout Fishing in America: and Other Stories’ exhibit

Top Gallery, ASU Art Museum (51 E. 10th St)

Alison will read at 3:30PM in the ASU Art Museum’s 3rd floor gallery. Prior to her reading, at 2:30PM there will be a participatory reading of species inhabiting the Grand Canyon. Join us for both!

https://asuevents.asu.edu/trout-fishing-america-and-other-stories

Alison Deming is the author of Science and Other Poems (LSU Press, 1994), winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets; The Monarchs: A Poem Sequence (LSU, 1997),Genius Loci (Penguin Poets, 2005), and Rope (Penguin Poets, 2009); and four nonfiction books, Temporary Homelands (Mercury House, 1994; Picador USA, 1996), The Edges of the Civilized World (Picador USA, 1998), finalist for the PEN Center West Award, and Writing the Sacred Into the Real (Milkweed, Credo Series).

The new nonfiction book Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit is out from Milkweed Editions. Deming received an MFA from Vermont College, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, two poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Tucson/Pima Arts Council, and a National Writer’s Voice Residency Award. Her writing has been widely published and anthologized, including in EcotoneThe Georgia ReviewOrionOnEarthIsotopeSouthwestern American LiteratureWestern Humanities ReviewAmerican Poetry ReviewVerse and Universe: Poems on Science and MathematicsThe Norton Book of Nature Writing, and Best American Science and Nature Writing. Former Director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center (1990-2002), she currently is Agnese Nelms Haury Professor of Environment and Social Justice in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona. She lives in Tucson, Arizona and Grand Manan, New Brunswick, Canada.

Poetry Northwest’s Science Issue Explores Poetry & Science

The Science Issue
cover art by Amanda Knowles

Poetry Northwest announced publication of its Spring & Summer 2012 magazine. The Science Issue presents an intriguing exploration of the intersections of poetry and science through works by poet scientists from fields encompassing “astrophysics and quantum mechanics to geology, botany, ornithology, and marine biology” and other related works.

“I’ve always taken a deep interest in the sciences—biology, astronomy, and physics in particular,” says editor Kevin Craft. “And I’m fascinated by the representational overlap between poetry and science: how each serves as an image or model of realities difficult to perceive in any other terms. Also their common capacity to be profoundly misunderstood in the public arena, where nuance and complexity never fare well. With our spring issue, we have a chance to clarify the conversation on both accounts.”

Featured writers include Alison Hawthorne Deming, who read for Superstition Review in the Spring of 2011, Bob Hicok, whose poems were published in SR‘s Issue 2 in Fall of 2008, Linda Bierds, Timothy Donnelly, Amy Greacen, Richard Kenney, Katherine Larson, Sarah Lindsay, and others.

One of these featured writers is Katherine Larson, a molecular biologist, field ecologist and poet who earned a BS in ecology and evolutionary biology and a BA in creative writing from the University of Arizona and an MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia. Larson is the author of Radial Symmetry, a book of poems melding science and poetry. In “Science and Stanzas,” an article she authored for The Scientist magazine, Larson describes how this intersection of science and poetry works. “Whether dosing lung cancer cells or dissecting the branchial heart of a squid, working at the edge of knowledge requires equal measures of perception and imagination, science and art; a balance I hope can be found in the hybrid explorations of Radial Symmetry.”

For more information, see: http://www.poetrynw.org/

Alison Hawthorne Deming Reading Wrap-Up: Myths, Rope and Dog Tags

Deming reading from her manuscript ZOOLOGIES.

Last Wednesday at ASU’s Tempe campus, Superstition Review held the latest event in its reading series with poet, author and educator, Alison Hawthorne Deming. She read a selection of poems from her latest book Rope. She also read a few short prose pieces from her manuscript ZOOLOGIES.

Students, colleagues and friends gathered in the Education Lecture Hall and after a few words from Superstition Review founding editor Patricia Murphy, and a brief introduction from Professor Joni Adamson, Deming took the podium and she read from her writings about the importance of dog tags, modern day Greek myths and finding salty, sea soaked rope on the coast. After the reading and applause she took time to sign copies of her books and speak to colleagues and friends.

Superstition Review staff and interns would like to thank everyone who attended the reading and we would like to extend a special thanks to Alison Hawthorne Deming for coming in to town and sharing her wonderful work with us.

Patricia Murphy discuss the upcoming launch of Issue 7.

Alison signs books.

Local Favorites to Check Out Before the Alison Hawthorne Deming Reading Tomorrow

For a literary mind there’s not much that can top good reads, except maybe good eats, and if you’re going to be in town for tomorrow’s Alison Hawthorne Deming reading you’re probably going to want a little of both. We’ve put together the short, short list of local favorites around ASU for you to check out while you’re in Tempe.

Four Peaks Brewery is less than a mile from campus and boasts great craft brews and really good food. Originally built in 1892, the building that Four Peaks occupies used to be Pacific Creamery and then later Bordens Creamery. Despite the fact that cows used to live there, the exposed red brick, wooden beams and a thirty five foot high glass clerestory is a very appealing place to hang out with friends. Try the Italian Beef Beer Bread or the Salmon BLT, both local favorites. Map here.

1340 East 8th Street #104, Tempe, AZ 85281, (480) 303-9967 ‎

 

photo by metromix.com

The Cartel Coffee Lab is a favorite local hangout for ASU students. Located just a half mile West of ASU’s Tempe campus, you can sometimes smell the aroma of roasting coffee, roasted in house, wafting down the streets. Cartel offers a great cup of coffee or a light snack, if you’re not hungry enough for a full meal. It can be a little bit hard to find though. It’s on the Southwest side of Ash Ave behind Buffalo Exchange. Don’t worry if you can’t find it at first, just follow your nose. Map here.

225 West University Drive, Tempe, AZ 85281, (480) 225-3899

House of Tricks is just a block away from campus. In fact, you can sit on their spacious

photo by domesticbliss

patio and watch ASU students come and go. They have a great lunch and dinner menu that you can enjoy from one of the two converted houses on the property, or on their comfortably shaded patio, the highlight being the bar constructed around an old tree between the houses . And when you’re done with you’re meal you’ll only have to walk about a block to campus. Map here.

114 East 7th Street, Tempe, AZ 85281-3711, (480) 968-1114

 

If none of these places entice you there is always Mill Ave just two blocks from campus. Mill is home to numerous restaurants and eateries, such as RA Sushi, Corleone’s for Philly Cheesesteaks, Irish pub Rula Bula, Gordon Biersch, La Boca pizzeria, My Big Fat Greek Restaurant, P.F. Chang’s, Z-Tejas Southwestern Grill and Robbie Fox’s Public House. Map them all here.

Don’t forget to check out the Facebook page for the Alison Hawthorne Deming reading tomorrow on the Tempe campus at 7 p.m.

Reminder: Alison Hawthorne Deming Reading This Wednesday

This coming Wednesday ASU will be hosting a reading by author, poet and professor of Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, Alison Hawthorne Deming. The reading will take place at Arizona State University on the Tempe Campus in the Education Lecture Hall EDC Room 117 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Check out the Superstition Review Facebook page for full details.

Alison Hawthorne Deming is author of four poetry books, most recently Rope (Penguin Poets, 2009). This was preceded by Science and Other Poems, which won the Walt Whitman Award, The Monarchs: A Poem Sequence, and Genius Loci. She has published three nonfiction books, Temporary Homelands, The Edges of the Civilized World, and Writing the Sacred Into the Real. Among her awards are two NEA Fellowships, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship, Bayer Award in Science Writing from Creative Nonfiction, Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod, and the Best Essay Gold GAMMA Award from the Magazine Association of the Southeast. She is Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona.

 

Alison Hawthorne Deming Reading

This coming Wednesday, April 13, ASU will be hosting a reading by Alison Hawthorne Deming. She will be reading a selection of poems and short prose pieces from her new manuscript, ZOOLOGIES. The reading will take place at Arizona State University on the Tempe Campus in the Education Lecture Hall EDC Room 117. It will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Check out the Superstition Review Facebook page for full details.

Alison Hawthorne Deming is author of four poetry books, most recently Rope (Penguin Poets, 2009). This was preceded by Science and Other Poems, which won the Walt Whitman Award, The Monarchs: A Poem Sequence, and Genius Loci. She has published three nonfiction books, Temporary Homelands, The Edges of the Civilized World, and Writing the Sacred Into the Real. She co-edited with Lauret Savoy The Colors of Nature: Essays on Culture, Identity, and the Natural World, just out in a new expanded edition. Her work has been widely published and anthologized, including in The Norton Book of Nature Writing and Best American Science and Nature Writing. Among her awards are two NEA Fellowships, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship, Bayer Award in Science Writing from Creative Nonfiction, Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod, and the Best Essay Gold GAMMA Award from the Magazine Association of the Southeast. She is Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona.

 

Reminder: Alison Hawthorne Deming Reading

In exactly one week ASU will be hosting a reading by Alison Hawthorne Deming. The reading will take place at Arizona State University on the Tempe Campus in the Education Lecture Hall EDC Room 117. It will take place on Wednesday, April 13th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Check out the Superstition Review Facebook page for full details.

Submission Period Ending March 31st and Alison Hawthorne Deming Reading

The Superstition Review submission period for Issue 7 ends tomorrow March 31st. There is still time to submit for publication. Just make sure you get your submission in on the 31st.  Any later and you will have to wait till Fall to submit.

This has been a great year for literature and our fiction, nonfiction, poetry and art editors have been busy all semester viewing your submissions. With our reading period ending they will soon be turning their attention to making those submissions ready to go print.

In other literary news the upcoming Alison Hawthorne Deming reading at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus is coming up in just about three weeks. The reading will take place in the Education Lecture Hall EDC Room 117. It will take place on Wednesday, April 13th from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Check out the Superstition Review Facebook page for full details.