Contributor Update, Rae Gouirand: Glass is Glass Water is Water

Glass is Glass Water is Water coverToday we are happy to share news of past contributor Rae Gouirand. Rae’s new collection of poems, Glass is Glass Water is Water, is upcoming from Spork Press. The collection is a queer book of love and skepticism–of figuration, and of the tensions queer women inherit in their relationships to one another and to the culture in which they make their way. In it Rae hopes to suggest something about what we might learn from moments of breakage and failures of resolution about our relationships to meaning itself.

Glass is Glass Water is Water is available for preorder through Spork Press here.

Congratulations, Rae!

Two poems by Rae can be read in Issue 16 of Superstition Review.

Guest Blog Post, Susan Browne: Thanks to a Cockroach and a Cat

 

The cover to "archy and mehitabel."

Picture courtesy of the author.

My love for poetry began when I was eleven. A neighbor, an artist, gave me a book of poems. She must have seen my hunger and fed me. The book was archy and mehitabel by Don Marquis. Archy is a cockroach and Mehitabel is a cat in her ninth life. These two live in a journalist’s house, and when the journalist goes to work, Archy hops up on the typewriter and writes poetry. In a previous life, Archy was a free verse poet. He records his thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and Mehitabel offers him many stories from her treasure trove of nine incarnations. Mehitabel has an exuberance for living, (toujours gai), and so does Archy in his grouchy way, but he has a darker, more philosophical vision. He has to throw himself headfirst onto each key to operate the typewriter, and he can’t make capital letters because he doesn’t weigh enough to hold down the shift key. I was inspired. I read and re-read this book. It was surprising, funny, and took on every subject from the mundane to the celestial. The language was ordinary but also possessed its own original elegance. I loved the flow and construction of the lines down the page and was amazed at the lack of punctuation, how it wasn’t always necessary as I had been taught in school. Poetry was liberty. It was wild. I learned from Archy what I would learn again later from Leonard Cohen who wrote: Poetry comes from a place that no one commands and no one conquers.

I immediately wanted to write it. I remember the day I wrote my first poem, sitting in the living room listening to my parents and their friends talk. It was one of those social occasions where the kid sits there all dressed up and remains quiet. It was raining outside.

Bored, I went over to my mother and asked if I could get a pencil and a piece of paper. I came back into the living room and sat in my chair by the window. The poem I wrote was about the rain. I titled it, “The Rain.” It was fascinating to me, to take what was inside, feelings and thoughts, and connect them with the outside—the rain on the inside and the rain on the outside. I wrote the poem in quatrains—without knowing what a quatrain was—and at the end of every other stanza I repeated: “What’s a poor child to do?”

What can a child do in a world of adults that often seems false, trapped in convention? This was the 1960’s. I didn’t know how to articulate my growing concern about the world that was so troubling. I loved my parents, they loved me, but something was wrong. Many things were not being said, and I felt them. I wanted to be able to name how I was feeling and what I was witnessing, and to do it in an interesting way. I wanted a rhythm to it and some rhymes; I wanted to make pictures in words, with a connection from the inner to the outer landscape. I wouldn’t read Emily Dickinson’s poems until I was in college, but I had the desperate desire to tell my truth and tell it slant. This process would become my way of being in the world.

For years I wrote poetry without any instruction. My father told me he used to find little scraps of paper with writing on them on the floor of my bedroom. When I published my first book, he said he wished he had saved those scraps. That was a sweet idea, Dad, but I don’t think it would have made our fortune. Poetry is a continuous experiment beyond the realm of the marketplace. Alive and ever-changing, shape-shifting. Poetry is beyond anyone’s grasp or control. As a young woman, I adored that about it. So much of life looked like a trap for a woman. Poetry was a place where I couldn’t be hunted down. I wouldn’t let what was wild in me be domesticated out of existence, and every poem I wrote, from a scrap on the floor to a poem published in a literary journal, was an escape hatch.

And yet, poems show us to ourselves; they tell all the truths, the secrets we can barely tell ourselves, so poems are also the opposite of escape.  

At first, poetry had nothing to do with schools or teachers, but then I spent many years studying it. One of my greatest experiences in a poetry workshop was a three day seminar led by Jack Gilbert. I filled two notebooks, writing down what he said. Here are a few lines:

Poetry is a living object.

Get stark, primal energy into the poem.

Good poetry is truly caused by something.

Real surrealism has to have truth in it.

Get away from writing cleverly and write from a deeper place.

One of the functions of poetry is to teach people feeling, to reawaken feeling.

I can never get to the end of learning my craft. It’s infinity on fire. And as a fellow poet said to me recently after I complained about my frustrations with my work and about the art in general, “Susan, it’s just a poem.”

What? I spent hours, days, weeks, months trying to get this poem to fly, and it’s just a poem? I thought he’d lost his mind.

But he’s right. And I could relax and start again, ever the novitiate.

When I write, I don’t throw myself headfirst onto my keypad like Archy. But I admire him for it, finding his own writing process and doing what he has to do:

they

are always interested in technical

details when the main question is

whether the stuff is

literature or not

expression is the need of my soul

i was once a vers libre bard

but i died and my soul went into the body of a cockroach

it has given me a new outlook upon life

i see things from the under side now

Poetry is the beauty and the burning. It’s silence to sound and seed to sunlight. A way of being intimate with all things, of praising them, a way to think and feel far into things. Poetry pinches us awake, sings to us in strange and familiar melodies. It belongs to everyone.

 

Contributor Update, Rosanna Oh: Erasures Exhibition

Rosanna OhToday we are happy to announce news about past contributor Rosanna Oh. Rosanna’s poetry will be the subject of an upcoming poetry exhibition, titled Erasures, at the Queens Historical Society in New York City on December 2, 2018.

Erasures takes its title from a poem by Rosanna Oh, and it refers to a key theme throughout the work that is featured in this exhibition. The poem, in which a daughter reflects on her father’s and family’s past, considers erasure in the context of immigrant identity and transnational narratives. What does it mean to leave a place in which one’s self is rooted? Who or what gets left behind — and, conversely, carried over to the new country?

The exhibit also includes the work of writers who have greatly influenced Rosanna. Loide Marwanga is the exhibition designer.

Opening Reception
Date: December 2, 2018
Time: 2:30 pm ET
Venue: The Queens Historical Society
143-35 37th Avenue
Flushing, NY 11354

Refreshments will be served

Congratulations, Rosanna!

Contributor Update, Jess Williard: Unmanly Grief

Unmanly Grief CoverToday we are excited to announce future contributor Jess Williard’s upcoming book. Jess’ collection of poetry, Unmanly Grief, will come out March, 2019 and is now available for preorder through the University of Arkansas Press and Barnes and Noble. Unmanly Grief has also been recently selected by Billy Collins as the finalist for the 2019 Miller Williams Poetry Prize. Congratulations, Jess!

One poem by Jess is upcoming in Superstition Review’s Issue 22.

 

Authors Talk: Stan Sanvel Rubin

Today we are pleased to feature author Stan Sanvel Rubin as our Authors Talk series contributor. In this podcast, Stan discusses two of his poems, “Entre Des Etrangers” (the meaning of which is “Between Strangers”) and “Tickle.”

Stan states that these poems “weren’t written together, although they were written fairly close in time.” While he continues that these poems weren’t “meant to be paired,” he describes how each “holds the page in a similar way— that is, they have a similar visual weight.” Each poem also has 14 lines; which, Stan admits, is unique considering that he is “instinctively drawn to 13-line units.” He emphasizes the fact that “Tickle” is a single-sentence poem, while “Entre Des Etrangers” is broken up into several sentences, and that this structure serves to reflect the overall meaning of each piece. While Stan continues that these two poems “are not sonnets, and they’re not trying to be,” he describes how both poems are “examples of what lyric poetry is especially about— the creation of a sound body…what you might call the music of each poem.”

“Each poem has some connection to narrative,” Stan continues. While “Entre Des Etrangers” , he states, “has a kind of embedded story involving two strangers coming together….’Tickle’ has a narrative instance of a young boy having just caught a trout, and holding that trout in his hand.” While each poem differs in terms of plot, Stan declares that the significance of both pieces goes “beyond the particular actions of the participants of the poem,” and is “owned again by… the way sound and words can be put together and juxtaposed in somewhat complex ways.”

You can read Stan’s two poems, “Entre Des Etrangers” and “Tickle,” in Issue 19 of Superstition Review.

 

#ArtLitPhx: Poetry of Witness with Andrea Scarpino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Event Description:

Poetry of Witness. Poetry as Trace with Andrea Scarpino

Date: Friday, November 16, 2018, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Piper Writers House, 450 E Tyler Mall, Tempe, AZ 85281
Individual Course Cost: $119 Regular, $107 ASU, $99 Student
Two-Course Bundle: $210 Regular, $189 ASU, $175 Student

Poetry of the Body with Andrea Scarpino takes place the following day, Saturday, November 17, 2018 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Both classes can be bundled for additional savings.

To learn more and register, visit http://piper.asu.edu/classes/andrea-scarpino/two-poetry-workshops

About the Class:
The poet Carolyn Forché describes poems of witness as bearing “the trace of extremity within them . . . the poem might be our only evidence that an act has occurred.” Traditionally, this has meant bearing witness to atrocities like war or genocide, but we will take a more expansive look at the form and how to bear witness to our own lives and to our own stories. This could include bearing witness to homophobia or racism, environmental degradation, or sexual harassment (#metoo), but it could also include bearing witness to difficult relationships, to a health crisis, or to the death of someone we love. In this workshop, we will read and discuss poems of witness, generate our own poems of witness through writing prompts, and workshop our writing together.

About the Instructor:
Andrea Scarpino is the author of the poetry collections Once Upon Wing Lake (Four Chambers Press, 2017), What the Willow Said as it Fell (Red Hen Press, 2016) and Once, Then (Red Hen Press, 2014). She received a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and an MFA from The Ohio State University. She has published in numerous journals, is co-editor of Nine Mile Magazine, and served as Poet Laureate of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula 2015-2017. Her upcoming edited anthology is Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (MSU Press).

Contributor Update, Kamilah Aisha Moon: Poem-a-Day

Kamilah Aisha MoonToday we are glad to announce that past contributor Kamilah Aisha Moon’s poem, “Taking out the Trash,” was the poem of the day yesterday, October 24, 2018, for Poets.org. You can read and listen to the poem at Poets.org.

Congratulations, Kamilah!

Four poems by Kamilah can be read in Issue 10 of Superstition Review.