Poetry Month Recap

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Now that we have hit May Day here is a recap of our all of Poetry Favorites.

Jess Fraga

Ewald E. Eisbruc

Aline Soules

Darren C. Demaree

Karen Paul Holmes

Meg Eden

David M. Harris

Lindsey Lewis Smithson

Christina Stoddard

Marita Dachsel

Jeannine Hall Gailey

Kimberly Ann Southwick

Sandra de Helen

Jessica Goodfellow

Larry Handy

Jill Alexander Essbaum

Aaron Brame

Jason Dean Arnold

Stacey Balkun

Camerone Thorson

Reb Livingston

Rachel Kann

 Sundress

Coconut

I want to thank all of the poets and publishers who participated. As I’ve said before, Straight Forward would be nothing without the generosity of our community.

Next week we will be sharing our Ultimate Poetry Shopping List which will have all of the suggest books and authors and links to purchase the books. Hopefully you have found, and will continue to find, great things to read. Next time your stumble into something great, let us know.

Poetry Favorites: Rachel Kann

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Who is your favorite living poet? 

Of course it is impossible to choose ONE living poet as my all-time fave. So I will just mention that Tony Hoagland consistently rocks my world.

Who is your favorite dead poet? 
What is your favorite poem of all time? 
What the hell??? FAVORITE POEM OF ALL TIME? Impossible. Ok fine. “Song” by Brigit Pegeen Kelly.
Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind? 
Ellen Bass’s “Like a Beggar” is pretty world-rocking.
Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.
I am gonna go with Katt Williams: Every Day I’m Hustling https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLDitGAUrno  Also any recordings of James Baldwin and also of Langston Hughes.

Poet Rachel Kann is TEDx a modern-day mystic: irreverently reverent and exuberantly human. She’s a Write Club Los Angeles champ and resident writer for Hevria. Her poetry has been featured on Morning Becomes Eclectic on NPR and as The Weather on the podcast phenomenon, Welcome to Night Vale. Her poetry and short story collection, 10 For Everything, is available from Orange Ocean Press. Her writing (poetry and fiction) also appears in journals such as Eclipse,PermafrostCoe ReviewSou’westerGW ReviewQuiddity, and Lalitamba. You can find her work in anthologies including A Poet’s HaggadahWord Warriors from Seal Press, His Rib from Penmanship Press, and Knocking at the Door from Birch Bench Press.

Poetry Favorites: Coconut Books 2015

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Editor’s Note: It has come to our attention that Coconut Books is currently on hiatus. It is sad that a flurry of unsubstantiated  rumors has brought a reputable press that has featured many poets who are active, positive, supportive members of our community. My thoughts are with Coconut and their authors. At this time I am unsure if preorders will still be sold, but you can go and buy previously published books from their catalog. Hopefully we will get more from Coconut soon.

Another Favorite publisher is Coconut Books. On the docket for 2015 they have seven new books ready for preorder. They also offer a Subscription along with a Pick 4 deal. Or, of course, you can order individual titles.

Natalie Eilbert, Swan Feast

Ginger Ko, Motherlover

K. Lorraine Graham, The Rest Is Censored

Gabby Bess, Post-Pussy

James Sanders, Self Portrait in Plants

Leopoldine Core, Veronica Bench

Caroline Crew’s chapbook, CAROLINE WHO WILL YOU PRAY TO NOW THAT YOU ARE DEAD

Poetry Favorites: Wave Books 2015

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Another Favorite for finding new reads is Wave Books. It looks like they have five books lined up for 2015, with a super handy subscription service that will send you new books as they are released, no need to remember order dates!!

Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners

 

Rebecca Wolf: One Morning-

 

Illocality by Joseph Massey

 

To Drink Boiled Snow by Caroline Knox

 

Of Entirety Say the Sentence Paperback, by Ernst Meister (Author), Graham Foust (Translator), Samuel Frederick (Translator)

 

 

Poetry Favorites: The Best American Poetry 2015

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A seminal favorite, the newest Best America Poetry will be out September 8th.

The premier anthology of contemporary American poetry continues with an exceptional volume edited by award-winning novelist and poet Sherman Alexie.
Since its debut in 1988, The Best American Poetry has become a mainstay for the direction and spirit of American poetry. Each volume in the series presents the year’s most extraordinary new poems and writers. Guest editor Sherman Alexie’s picks for The Best American Poetry 2015 highlight the depth and breadth of the American experience. Culled from electronic and print journals, the poems showcase some of our leading luminaries—Amy Gerstler, Terrance Hayes, Ron Padgett, Jane Hirshfield—and introduce a number of outstanding younger poets taking their place in the limelight.

A leading figure since his breakout poetry collection The Business of Fancydancing in 1992, Sherman Alexie won the National Book Award for his novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. He describes himself as “lucky enough to be a full-time writer” and has written short stories, novels, screenplays, and essays—but he is at his core a poet. As always, series editor David Lehman’s foreword assessing the state of the art kicks off the book, followed by an introductory essay in which Alexie discusses his selections. The Best American Poetry 2015 is a guide to who’s who and what’s happening in American poetry today.

You can preorder your copy now. 

Poetry Favorites: New from Graywolf in 2015

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Graywolf has a huge slate of poetry ready for 2015. Visit their website for the full calendar, or check out the titles they have already released this year.

3 Sections, in paperback, by Vijay Seshadri

Station Zed by Tom Sleigh

The Overhaul by Kathleen Jamie

The Last Two Seconds by Mary Jo Bang

Poetry Favorites: Sundress to Publish Three New Titles in 2015-2016

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If you are planning your summer reading check out Amorak Huey’s Ha Ha Thump from our friends at Sundress Publications.

Amorak Huey, a former newspaper editor and reporter, teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. His chapbook, The Insomniac Circus, is forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press. His poems appear in the anthologies The Best American Poetry 2012, The Poetry of Sex, and Poetry in Michigan/Michigan in Poetry, as well as journals such as Rattle, The Collagist, The Southern Review, Poet Lore, Menacing Hedge, and others. Ha Ha Ha Thump is his first full-length collection.

Check out this, and their other pending collections, on their blog: Sundress to Publish Three New Titles in 2015-2016, or visit their store for something to read right now.

Poetry Favorites: Reb Livingston

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Who is your favorite living poet? 

Alice Notley

Who is your favorite dead poet? 

Joyce Mansour

What is your favorite poem of all time?

This is the most difficult question of all time. How could I possibly pick one?

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

Sea of Hooks by Lindsay Hill. It’s been labeled as a novel, which it is — there’s also a very strong poetic component that I believe also makes it poetry. I’m always looking for good “hybrid” genre books and this definitely fits the bill.

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember. 

Just about any Rauan Klassnik reading. I’ve been to several and the audience is always either delighted or completely alienated. I wasn’t at this particular reading, but it’s a good example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hyj3WSMC3kU

 

 

Reb Livingston is the author of Bombyonder (Bitter Cherry Books 2014), God Damsel (No Tell Books 2010), Your Ten Favorite Words (Coconut Books 2007), among other titles. Her work appears in literary magazines and anthologies such as The Best American Poetry 2006, Devouring the Green, The Rumpus Original Poetry Anthology and From the Fishouse. Reb is a contributor to Queen Mob’s Teahouse and curates the Bibliomancy Oracle. She was the editor and publisher of No Tell Books.

Poetry Favorites: Camerone Thorson

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Who is your favorite living poet?

Mary Oliver/Annie Finch – it’s a toss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Shakespeare/Vassar Miller and Michelangelo (yes, THAT Michelangelo) are a close second and third.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite poem of all time?

“Apple” – Brad Leithauser (From Toad to a Nightingale, light verse by Brad Leithauser, Drawings by Mark Leithauser (2007)

 

Fruit of the tree of knowledge?

Boil it down

With sugar and a pinch of cinnamon –

You’re left with an old-fashioned synonym

For nonsense: Applesauce. That’s all. For this we lost

Our digs in Paradise, yielded the crown

Of Heaven to dig a cold and moldy grave?

Bright Eve learned nothing – save

That education isn’t worth the cost.

 

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

The new novel by Jill Essbaum Hausfrau which is classified as a novel but could be read as poetry (imo).

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

Would have to be Jay Z in Vegas two years ago. Hands down.

Poetry Favorites: Stacey Balkun

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Who is your favorite living poet?

Beth Ann Fennelly. Beth Ann’s work and teaching are both electric.

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Adrienne Rich

What is favorite poem of all time?

I’m not sure I can answer this faithfully, but the poem I’ve returned to the longest (probably because it was one of the first poems I’d ever read) is “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

Jamaal May’s Hum. Every poem is so strong, and, as a collection, it’s just stunning.

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

Muzzle/Vinyl Poetry reading at AWP Seattle in 2014. Each reader was phenomenal, and everyone in the room seemed to recognize that we were all a part of something special.

Stacey Balkun received her MFA from Fresno State and her work has appeared or will appear in Muzzle, THRUSH, Bodega, and others. She is a contributing writer for The California Journal of Women Writers. In 2013, she served as Artist-in-Residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Sometimes, she posts things at stacey-balkun.tumblr.com.

Poetry Favorites: Jason Dean Arnold

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Who is your favorite living poet?

There are so many great poets working right now, it may be hard to narrow to one. But, I can include a very diverse cast that includes Dorothea Lasky, Franz Wright, Ed Skoog, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Marie Howe, Zachary Schomburg, Sharon Olds, Bianca Stone, Emily Kendall Frey, W.S. Merwin, Matthew Zapruder, Michael Dickman, Matthew Dickman, Mary Ruefle, Steve Dalachinsky, Matthew Henriksen, Clark Lunberry, Eileen Myles, Heather Christle, Richard Siken, Lucy Brock-Broido, Joshua Beckman, Major Jackson, and on and on…

 
Who is your favorite dead poet?
This also may be a long list of names that at least starts with the most recent passing of Seamus Heaney and Galway Kinnell. The diverse list would include more recent poets lost, such as Craig Arnold, Adrienne Rich, Amira Baraka, Ruth Stone, Jon Anderson…among many others. The past names that always remain include Paul Celan, Sylvia Plath, Frank Stafford, James Dickey, William Shakespeare, Hart Crane, Cummings, William Stafford, CK Williams, Sexton, Trakl, Goethe, Milton, etc…and on and on…
What is favorite poem of all time?
For a long time, anything by Cummings (1920 Dial Poems) would have been cited…but, I have to admit, this changes almost daily now. Although I never tire of certain poems, my favorite poem on this day (March 24, 2015) is Lasky’s “Georg Trakl in the Green Sun.”
Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?
I am currently reading several books at one time, including The Volta Book of Poets, Cate Marvin’s Oracle, Heather Christle’s Helioscope, Emily Skillings’ Backchannel, and many others. But, these books haunt me now- Breathturn into Timestead (Pierre Joris’ most recent translation of later Paul Celan), Dorothea Lasky’s Thunderbird (with me for a couple of years now…even though she has released Rome since), Matt Rasmussen’s Black Aperture, Ed Skoog’s Rough Day, and the most recent Georg Trakl translation on Copper Canyon, Song of the Departed. I am also carrying a torch for Henri Lefebrve’s The Missing Pieces.
 
Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.
I absolutely love really dynamic poetry readings. That being said, these are few and far between. However, for the fact that these are widely available still, the best are usually within the following podcasts: Tin House Podcast, Phoned-In (unique but older, no longer updated), and Poetry Magazine’s monthly updated podcast. Honorable mention- Scottish Library Podcast…look up the Mary Ruefle and Matthew Zapruder episodes.
Jason Dean Arnold lives with his wife, Anna, and has two daughters, Kendyl and Kaylla. His poetry and other artistic work can be found at- http://temporarytranslation.com/

Dead Poets Poll

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Vote for your favorite dead poet. Don’t see your dearly departed listed? Add their name in the comments and we will spread the word.

Poetry Favorites: Aaron Brame

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Who is your favorite living poet?

Right now, I’d say it’s Ron Rash. Ask me this time tomorrow, and it will probably be different.
Who is your favorite dead poet?
Virgil. I find myself returning to The Aeneid day after day.
What is your favorite poem of all time?
“Hope is the Thing with Feathers” by Emily Dickinson. I am a teacher, and I try to teach this poem to every group of students that comes into my classroom. It doesn’t matter if I’m teaching American literature, British literature, mythology, or current events–I will always find an excuse to share this poem with my students. Young people are adept at hiding the struggles and tragedies in their lives, and I want them to hear Dickinson’s words about the little bird that keeps so many warm.
Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?
I never travel far without Traci Brimhall’s Our Lady of the Ruin. It’s simply inspiring.
 Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.
Have you heard W. B. Yeats recite “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”? Stentorious!
Aaron Brame is a poet and teacher living in Memphis, Tennessee. His work has appeared most recently in Kindred and Pembroke Magazine.

Poetry Favorites: Jill Alexander Essbaum

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Who is your favorite living poet?
Dang it, I love me some Simon Armitage and H.L. Hix.
 
Who is your favorite dead poet?
Hm. I’ve gone through phases. Millay, Plath, LarkinByron.
What is your favorite poem of all time? 
Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?
Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.
I heard Adrienne Rich read once and while I remember little of the actual reading, I do recall with painful clarity a statement (apropos of something too convoluted to recount) she made, a pronouncement directed all and only to me: You must admit everything.  It was a very true moment.
Jill Alexander Essbaum is the author of several collections of poetry (Harlot, The Devastation, Heaven, Necropolis, Oh Forbidden) and her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, as well as its sister anthology, The Best American Erotic Poems, 1800-Present. She is the winner of the Bakeless Poetry Prize and recipient of two NEA literature fellowships. A member of the core faculty at the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program, she lives and writes in Austin, Texas.

Poetry Favorites: Larry Handy

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Who is your favorite living poet?
OTHER THAN MYSELF (I know it sounds arrogant but my philosophy is to be your own greatest fan and this is what gives you the courage to bear your soul), I admire Patricia Smith.
Please check her out: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/patricia-smith

I come from a performance poetry world as well as a literary world. I’ve heard many stage poets critcize page poetry, and page poets criticize stage poetry. And in their criticisms there seems to be no real reconciliation. But when you read Patricia Smith who has been a 4 time National Slam Poetry Champion, and featued in the documentary SlamNation and has also been published in Poetry, Paris Review, Best American Poetry, and has won a Pushcart Prize, a National Book Award, a Gunnenheim Fellowship–the list goes on–she opens your mind to the full possibilities of what a poet can do if they think and write and perform outside the box. Poetry was always born to be out of the box.

Her presence as a poet resonates with me. Going through academia, I have felt that many traditionalists have not fully understood my efforts to link page and stage and I’ve had definately experienced my fair share of negative criticism for it. But I shut people up and shut people down by pointing to Patricia Smith. If ever ever ever I could be the male version of her, I’d be set as a poet and part of my mission would be accomplished.

Who is your favorite dead poet?
Hands down. Pablo Neruda.
I know that if I understood Spanish fluently, I would be able to tap into Neruda’s poetry more deeply, but his works translated by W.S. Merwin alone are enough for me to learn from. He, to me, is what a poetry should be. He embraced his present time, he celebrated the past and wrote of hope for a future. His diversity in themes are what I’m drawn to. His love poems, his political poems, his nature poems are all intertwined. You can write a love poem and sound sappy. You can write a political poem and sound preachy. You can write a nature poems and sound too sentimental. But Neruda understood POETRY. And when POETRY is injected into the love poem, the political poem, and the nature poem, the reader/listener is given the opportunity really get in touch with their feelings on a higher consciousness. We’ve all felt love, or political frustration, or admired nature–but to feel those things we all feel but on a higher conscious level takes a skilled tour guide to take us there. To be a skilled poet is to be a skilled tour guide.

What is your favorite poem of all time?
When I think of ALL TIME I am always drawn to my roots or my childhood or something that transcends image and “looking good or intellectual”. All time for me means something the equivalent of comfort food that brings memories. So I would definately say that the poem “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” by Eugene Field is my favorite of all time. And it’s funny because a lot of my poetry uses the same imagery as that poem. The moon, The night, dreams, the sea, the idea of pursuit. They say that your childhood affects your adulthood and with that I say that children’s poetry is a powerful thing.

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?
Bob Marley was asked who his favorite poet is and he said King David. I have to say the Book of Psalms in the Bible is my favorite book of poetry. Particularly the King James translation. Bob Dylan, Bob Marley were both influened by Hebrew poetry. King David is the Patron Saint of Poets and for good reason. I know many non religious people who still embrace the Psalms. To have that type of transcendence is wonderful. But for me it is something that I meditate on weekly. The same questions that we ask today, the same joys, and frustrations that we feel today are all expressed in the Psalms. And it isn’t just poetry to be pretty. It isn’t just poetry for the sake of wordplay. There is meaning. A lot of academic heads don’t like to use that M word: “meaning” when speaking of poetry, but truthfully isn’t that what we are all in someway seeking?

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.
Me and my band Totem Maples did a show at the Rainbow Room on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. This was back in the early 2000s. The event was called Poetic License. And it was organized by poets Larry Jaffe and Brandon Backhaus. The purpose was to put poetry in the same venues that rock artists played in. Poetry had been for a long time kept in colleges and coffeehouses. Why not read your poetry at a rock club. And so a bunch of Southern California poets read and perfomed.

Poetry Favorites: Jessica Goodfellow

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Who is your favorite living poet? 
Anne Carson (with close runner-up Cole Swensen)
Who is your favorite dead poet? 
 What is your favorite poem of all time?  
Today the answer is Li-Young Lee’s “One Heart” (but it could be a different answer tomorrow). You can read it here: http://www.poetrysociety.org/psa/poetry/poetry_in_motion/atlas/stlouis/one_heart/
Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?
 
Sarah Vap’s End of the Sentimental Journey
Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.
Anne Carson’s reading of excerpts from “Possessive Used As Drink (Me)”  in May 2007. Reading accompanied by Merce Cunningham Dance Company. You can see an excerpt here: PLAY – UM PLAY Gallery: Recipe
Jessica Goodfellow‘s books are Mendeleev’s Mandala (Mayapple Press, 2015) and The Insomniac’s Weather Report (Isobar Press, 2014)Her chapbook, A Pilgrim’s Guide to Chaos in the Heartland, won the 2006 Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, and NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac. Jessica received the Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from the Beloit Poetry Journal. Her work is being made into a short film by Motionpoems (May 2015). She has graduate degrees from Caltech and the University of New England. She lives and works in Japan.

Poetry Favorites: Sandra de Helen

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Who is your favorite living poet?

Maybe Sheila Black. Although I adore Sharon Olds and Mary Oliver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Emily Dickinson

What is your favorite poem of all time?

Sharon Old’s poem Diagnosis

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your

mind?

Turiya Autry’s  Roots, Reality & Rhyme

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

It was a slam. I wish I’d written down the name of the poet, because I haven’t seen her again.

Poetry Favorites: Kimberly Ann Southwick

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Who is your favorite living poet?

I couldn’t possibly pick just one. But, gun to my head, if you forced me… Robert Hass— his body of work is so vast. All the contemporary poets I read more regularly than I read Gilbert are all so great that I couldn’t really choose between them, so it’s easier to pick someone with an immense and excellent body of work, like Hass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Jack Gilbert

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite poem of all time?

“Directive” by Robert Frost

 

 

 

 

 

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

I read Corey Zeller’s Man Vs. Sky & Matt Rasmussen’s Black Aperture both pretty close to one another– Zeller’s is a collection of prose poems from the point of view of his friend who committed suicide, and Rasmussen’s is a collection of poems about his brother’s suicide many years ago. They’re both kind of singing a melody through my brain in tangent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

Alice Notley read at Rowan University in 2011 and then at AWP Chicago 2012– she was absolutely wonderful both times, especially, though, in Chicago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kimberly Ann Southwick is the founder and editor in chief of the biannual print literary arts journal Gigantic Sequins. Her second poetry chapbook efs & vees comes out summer 2015 from Hyacinth Girl Press. Visit her online here, and follow her on twitter, too: @kimannjosouth // buy every song by patsy cline, her chapbook out in 2014 from dancing girl press, here.

Poetry Favorites: Jeannine Hall Gailey

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Who is your favorite living poet?

Tough one! Can it be a tie between Matthea Harvey/Dana Levin/Denise Duhamel/Dorianne Laux/Louise Gluck/Margaret Atwood? (Um, that’s a lot of ties, I know!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Probably Lucille Clifton, closely followed by Louis Simpson.

 

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite poem of all time?

“My Father in the Night Commanding No” by Louis Simpson. It’s brilliant. I memorized it when I was eleven.

 

 

 

 

 

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

So many good ones out there right now! The Cardiologist’s Daughter by Natasha K. Moni, and I loved the mermaid poems from Matthea Harvey’s If the Tabloids Are True What Are You?

 

 

 

 

 

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

Some of my favorite memories revolve around unexpected poetry readings. A few years ago, I went to what I thought was going to be a reading by Li-Young Lee at DG Wills Bookstore in San Diego, hosted by Ilya Kaminsky. Li Young Lee didn’t show up, so Ilya asked Jericho Brown, who had just had his first book come out, I think that month, and me to read instead. Listening to Jericho read from “Please” I was so enchanted, I just thought: I am watching a real poetry superstar at the start of his career. (Did I mention San Diego is an unexpectedly great place for poetry readings?)

 

Jeannine Hall Gailey recently served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of four books of poetry: Becoming the VillainessShe Returns to the Floating WorldUnexplained Fevers, and The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, new in 2015 from Mayapple Press. Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry ReviewThe Iowa Review and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is www.webbish6.com. Twitter handle: @webbish6.

 

Poetry Favorites: Marita Dachsel

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Who is your favorite living poet?

Karen Solie

 

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Robert Louis Stevenson

 

What is your favorite poem of all time?

Autumnal by Louise Glück

 

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

MxT by Sina Queyras and Jordan Abel‘s the place of scraps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

In 2010, Trisia Eddy and I co-curated an exhibit and reading on Visual Poetry for the Edmonton Poetry Festival. For the reading, we used a very loose definition of what could be considered visual poetry. Shawna Lemay, Derek Beaulieu, Daniel Scott Tysdal, and Jolanta Lapiak were our readers/performers. Jolanta Lapiak is an Ameslan literary artist/performer and attracted a large deaf audience. She brought an ASL interpreter with her, whose performance of the readings of Lemay, Beauliey, and Tysdal was one of the most exhilarating and inspiring performances I have ever witnessed. And Lapiak’s performance was pure art and incredibly moving–she had me rethinking what poetry can do, what performance means. That night was magic and will never leave me.

 

 

 

 

 

Marita Dachsel is the author of Glossolalia (Anvil Press, 2013), Eliza Roxcy Snow (rednettle press, 2009), and All Things Said & Done (Caitlin Press, 2007). Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Acorn-Plantos Award, Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry and the ReLit Prize, and has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies. Her play Initiation Trilogy was produced by Electric Company Theatre, featured at the 2012 Vancouver International Writers Festival. After many years in Vancouver and Edmonton, she and her family now live in Victoria. She occasionally blogs here: http://maritadachsel.blogspot.ca and you can find her on twitter @maritadachsel.

Poetry Favorites: Christina Stoddard

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Who is your favorite living poet?

My favorite living poet is Traci Brimhall. Both Rookery and Our Lady of the Ruins make my Stuck on a Desert Island list.


 

 

 

 

 

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Among the dear departed, for me the most beloved is Philip Levine. His books are a major reason why I became a poet.

 

What is your favorite poem of all time?

As my favorite poem of all time, I’ll choose the one I recite to myself the most often, which is “Epistle to Be Left in the Earth” by Archibald MacLeish. It’s the first poem I ever memorized and still a poem I am utterly in love with. MacLeish himself had a fascinating career as an arts activist. He was also the first Librarian of Congress to appoint what is now known as the United States Poet Laureate.

 Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

Current book of poetry I can’t get out of my mind: truthfully, there are at least a dozen. But top of the pile right now is Split by Cathy Linh Che. It’s beautiful and brutal all at once.

 

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

Best live poetry reading? Nikky Finney brings it like no one else. If you get the chance, go hear her.

 

Christina Stoddard is the author of Hive, winner of the 2015 Brittingham Prize in Poetry (University of Wisconsin Press). Christina’s work has appeared in various journals including storySouthDIAGRAM, and Spoon River Poetry Review. She is an Associate Editor at Tupelo Quarterly and a Contributing Editor at Cave Wall. Originally from Tacoma, WA, Christina currently lives in Nashville, TN where she is the managing editor of a scholarly journal in economics and decision theory.

Website: http://www.christinastoddard.com/

Twitter: @belles_lettres

Poetry Favorites: Lindsey Lewis Smithson

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Who is your favorite living poet?

There is no way to have one answer for this question. I love Billy Collins because he is approachable- he’s the kind if poet that non-poets and poets alike can read and enjoy. I also love the dark humor in Jennifer L. Knox‘s poetry, and the careful wording in Jill Alexander Essbaum‘s poems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Who is your favorite dead poet?

Sister Syl. I cannot get enough Sylvia Plath. I’ve read every single thing by her that I’ve been able to get my hands on– her fiction, her children’s stories, her poems, her letters, her journals. I even argued in my thesis that her collection The Colossus is more technically advanced than Ariel.

 

 

 

 

 

 What is your favorite poem of all time?

“I Knock at the Door of the Rock” by Wislawa Szymborska. Don’t need to think twice about that one.

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your
 mind?

I just got Barbara Ungar’s Immortal Medusa in the mail and I love it. A little funny, a little sad, and extraordinarily observant. It’s earnest and touching and I don’t think you can ask for more than that.

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

My answer here is tempered by three things: location, starstruck-ness (not a word, I know) and pregnancy hormones. I was three months pregnant when my husband and I saw Billy Collins read at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. The turn out was bigger than they expected so we ended up across the street at a church, which made the whole thing kind of surreal. Afterwards I was hungry (all food expect white rice was gross to me), tired, and starstuck when I asked him sign my book. I remember yammering on and on about the high school students I taught who loved his poetry and would ask me (honestly) to play is 92nd St Y reading. He was so kind and personable and didn’t seem to mind chatting with a sweaty, stammering lady in a dress that was a little too tight.

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Lindsey Lewis Smithson has her MFA from UC Riverside’s Palm Desert Low Residency MFA. She has served as the Poetry Editor and the Managing Editor for The Coachella Review, in addition to having read for Hobart and The Whistling Fire. Some of her poetry has appeared on The Nervous BreakdownThis Zine Will Change Your LifeThe Cossack Review, and Every Writer’s Resource: Everyday Poems.

Poetry Favorites: David M. Harris

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Who is your favorite living poet? 

My favorite living poet is Judy Jacobs, but that’s because she’s my wife. The poets whose work I keep turning to are, at the moment, and Ted Kooser. I could just as easily have said Alicia Ostriker and David Kirby, or Gary Snyder, or any of dozens of others, if you had asked on a different day. I do a weekly radio show about poetry, and nearly every week I discover a new poet whose work is worthy of admiration and envy. But for the moment I keep coming back to Hall and Kooser because they write simply and well about undramatic, ordinary, everyday life, and find meaning in it.

 

 

 

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Today, my favorite dead poet is William Stafford. I’ve been reading his “new” collections as they come out, and trying to figure out how he does what he does. (He’s another one who finds the poetry in the mundane.) I suspect he just had a much finer mind than I have, and a greater talent, but I still enjoy the work. I also get great pleasure from Auden and Basho and . . . well, you get the idea.

The single writer who has most influenced my use of language, however, is P. G. Wodehouse.

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite poem of all time? 

I can’t even pick a poet, much less a poem. However, the one poem that I have memorized is Shakespeare’s Sonnet #18, largely because I used to teach it so often. Two that I used to have memorized, but have lost, are Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” and Yeats’s “The Second Coming.”

 

 

 

 

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind? 

Two books that I’ve read recently haunt me jointly: Otherwise and Without, by Jane Kenyon and Donald Hall. They are, in their ways, both writing about the same subject (Kenyon’s death) from different angles, and they are both scathingly honest in a way that most of the rest of us can aim for, but rarely achieve. Honesty in the face of extreme pain is one of the highest goals of modern poetry.

 

 

 

 

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember. 

The best recorded poetry reading I’ve encountered is anything by Dylan Thomas. I have the complete set of Nonesuch CD’s (in connection with the radio show I collect recordings of poets reading their own work), and Thomas’s voice is almost like music; you can listen through for the sound, then again to follow the lyrics. I’m also very fond of Yeats’s reading of “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” which he prefaces with a little explanation of why he reads it as he does, which has influenced my reading style.

The most memorable live reading is one of my first, an appearance at Rutgers by Andrei Voznesensky, the great Russian poet who was overshadowed by Yevtushenko in the American imagination. He read in Russian, with translations read by our star drama major, and what I most remember is how much of the poetry came through in a language I did not understand. It was a long time before I became serious about writing poetry, but the music of his work stayed with me long enough to establish yet another model for me to strive toward.

 

 

 

 

David M. Harris I have one collection in print (The Review Mirror, Unsolicited Press), I am working on another, an emotional autobiography told in epistolary poems to friends, relatives, and others who have influenced my life. I continue to host Difficult Listening on Radio Free Nashville, WRFN in Pasquo, TN, Sunday mornings from ten to noonCentral(www.radiofreenashville.org).

Poetry Favorites: Meg Eden

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Who is your favorite living poet?

This seems to always be changing for me. Right now I’m on a Les Murray kick, but also love Li-Young Lee, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Ocean Vuong.

 

 

 

 

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Seamus Heaney? Elizabeth Bishop? These kinds of questions are always so hard!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your favorite poem of all time?

Joy Harjo’s “This Morning I Pray for my Enemies.” I have this on my bathroom door so I hope that each morning I wake up, I too can pray for my enemies.

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

I’m reading Les Murray’s newest collected poems series, and since I recently came back from Australia, that’s on my mind. Also Tarfia Faizullah’s Seam, which is a book I’m in the process of reviewing.

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

Joy Harjo at Folger Sheakspeare Library began her reading by playing a song for the Spirit of Poetry. It was the most beautiful song.

 

Meg Eden’s work has been published in various magazines, including Rattle, Drunken Boat, Eleven Eleven, and Gargoyle. Her poem “Rumiko” won the 2015 Ian MacMillan award for poetry, and she has four poetry chapbooks in print. She teaches at the University of Maryland. Check out her work at: www.megedenbooks.com Her newest book, A Week With Beijing, is out now from NEON press: http://www.neonmagazine.co.uk/?p=5032

Poetry Favorites: Karen Paul Holmes

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Who is your favorite living poet? 

So hard to say, it’s a cross between Thomas Lux and Mary Oliver — I know I have eclectic taste!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who is your favorite dead poet? 

Elizabeth Bishop

What is your favorite poem of all time? 

Hmmmm, one of them is “Stag’s Leap” by Sharon Olds

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

Carpatia by Cecilia Woloch

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember. 

David Kirby and Barbara Hamby at the Decatur Book Festival last fall in metro Atlanta. And rivaling that, though entirely different was hearing Mary Oliver live a few years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Paul Holmes is the author of Untying the Knot (Aldrich Press 2014), a story of loss and healing told “with grace, humor, self-awareness and without a dollop of self-pity,” according to Poet Thomas Lux.  Publishing credits include Straight Forward Poetry, Poetry East, Atlanta Review, POEM, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol 5: Georgia. Her book can be purchased at Amazon.

Poetry Favorites: Darren C. Demaree

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Who is your favorite living poet? 

Who is your favorite dead poet? 

What is your favorite poem of all time? 
Robert Creeley “The Whip”

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind? 
Foxes on The Trampoline – Charlotte Boulay

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.
Wanda Coleman “My Car”
Darren C. Demaree is the author of As We Refer to Our Bodies (8th House, 2013), Temporary Champions (Main Street Rag, 2014), “The Pony Governor” (2015, After the Pause Press) and “Not For Art Nor Prayer” (8th House, 2015).  He is the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology.  He is currently living in Columbus, Ohio with his wife and children.

Poetry Favorites: Aline Soules

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Who is your favorite living poet? 
This one’s a toughie, but I think I’ll go with Stephen Dunn.  His work is always amazing to me and while there are many great poets, his poems resonate with me every time.
Who is your favorite dead poet? 
Emily Dickinson.  About once every five years, I get her collected works off my shelf and start reading one a day.
What is your favorite poem of all time? 
Ironically, since I just cited two other poems, it’s Mary Oliver‘s poem that begins:  “Is the soul solid?”  Her success in writing about the intangible soul in tangible ways is mind-blowing.
 Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind? 
The collected works of Gerard Manley Hopkins, another book I revisit regularly.
 Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember. 
I was privileged to be able to listen to Derek Walcott read from Omeros.  His resonant tones matched his work perfectly.
 Aline Soules is the author of Evening Sun: a Widow’s Journey, and Meditation on Woman. Aline’s blog can be found at  http://alinesoules.com.

Poetry Favorites: EWALD E. EISBRUC

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Who is your favorite living poet?

Uwe Carl Diebes

Who is your favorite dead poet?

Vergil

What is your favorite poem of all time?

The Odyssey

Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind?

O, Globe

Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember.

T. S. Eliot reading “The Wasteland”

 

EWALD E. EISBRUC is a poet and a music critic fascinated by German, Italian, and Slavic music. He is an intimate of the poet Waldeci Erebus and feels at home in the Black Forest or the Austrian Alps.

National Poetry Month

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Happy National Poetry Month!

Now, I’m sure we’ve all seen the articles celebrating, or decrying, National Poetry Month. April is either the month in which poetry is brought to the forefront for the general novel reading public’s mind, or it is yet another way to confine poetry- it’s only for academics, it’s only read in April, it’s not for everyone, yada yada yada.

I prefer to celebrate, not to worry and ponder and harp. I love poetry. I think we should have poetry in our lives everyday. There are many fantastic collections in our past and there is wonderful engaging poetry being written this very second. It should all be recognized, whenever we have the opportunity to do so. In support of that idea, that we take time to recognize what we love in our poetic past and what we are helplessly falling in love with in our present, I have asked many of our friends, contributors, and supporters to share the poetry that they love.

Everyday in April we will be sharing Poetry Favorites from writers, publishers and performers. Each post will have links to purchase the books mentioned, and at the end of the month we will share our Ultimate Poetry Shopping List. Each purchase from the posts will serve as a fundraiser for our future contests and issues- Amazon (I know. I know… just wait) will be giving us 4% (approximately $0.50) per purchase.

For those of you who take umbrage with Amazon, which I respect, the Shopping List will provide additional ways to purchase the books listed, including links to publishers and authors. While I appreciate and am thankful for any support that we get during this month, I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to patronize a company they have issue with. Instead, I want to focus on supporting poetry. Every purchase shows the authors, publishers, readers, distributors and the greater reading world that we love poetry, that we read poetry, and that poetry has value.

Additionally, we would like to offer a 25% discount towards any issue of Straight Forward for the month of April. Use the code APRILREADERS in our online store and enjoy one of our previous eight issues.

In the spirit of love, support and the collective passion we share for poetry, let’s all take this month to revisit great poets and surround ourselves with the best verse with can find.

Again, happy National Poetry Month, sincerely,

Lindsey Lewis Smithson

Poetry Favorites: Jess Fraga

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Who is your favorite living poet?

Dr. Mario Rene Padilla

Who is your favorite dead poet? 

W. H. Auden

What is your favorite poem of all time? 

William Butler Yeats’ “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven,” it was part of my wedding vows.
 Current book of poetry you can’t get out of your mind? 
Richard Silken‘s Crush
Best live, or audio, poetry reading you can remember. 
Live poetry… would have been sitting in my creative writing teacher, Dr. Padilla’s class, when he would read example. I have sound recordings of them on my ipod.
 
Jess Fraga received a degree in Mexican-American Studies from CSU-LA in 2009. As an avid reader, and a bilingual writer, Jess draws inspiration from people watching. Jess’ first published work, you’ll never tip a go-go boy in this town again, an anthology about West Hollywood, is available on Amazon under the name Jess Provencio.

Poetry Drinking Game

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Take a shot for each poet you’ve read! If you haven’t had the pleasure, then click on the cover to purchase the book missing from your collection. Remember to drive and read responsibly! To read the full list of Drunk Lit Suggestions visit The Next Best Book Club blog.

 

6705613Bang Ditto by Amber Tamblyn

From “Gene Diamonds”

“She drank an entire bottle of tequila,/then ate the worm at the bottom.”

This collection is a look inside the life of a young actress. It’s smart, trite, fun, thoughtful and maybe a little immature. Basically, it’s what everyone felt like in their 20s, only with better professional connections.

 

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Heart’s Needle by W.D. Snodgrass

From “Returned to Frisco, 1946”

“Served by women, free to get drunk or fight,/Free, if we chose, to blow in our back pay/On smart girls or trinkets, free to prowl all night/Down streets giddy with lights,/to sleep all day,”

Snodgrass is said to be the father of confessional poetry, even though he hated the label. Like most confessional poets there is some mental illness, some obsession, some drugs, and some drinking. Not always the most lighthearted read, but every night out drinking has a few downers.

 

2198068Drunk by Noon by Jennifer L. Knox

Just read the entire book. Every single page. And then get every other book that Jennifer L. Knox has written. Reading Knox’s poetry is kind of like being drunk, without the calories or the hangover.

 

 

 

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Life Studies and For the Union Dead by Robert Lowell From Life Studies

From “To Delmore Schwartz”

“ We drank and eyed/the chicken-hearted shadows of the world./Underseas fellows, nobly mad,/we talked away our friends.”

A confessional poet, like Snodgrass, you’ll find a lot of darkness in Robert’s Lowell’s most famous collection, Life Studies. “To Delmore Schwartz” is one of several poems in the double feature book, the second half being For the Union Dead, that features alcohol, but this is a more light hearted read. The two poets used to be roommates and Lowell chose to give readers a glimpse into the life they led together. “The Drinker” from For the Union Dead is a more sobering look at the effects of alcohol.

 

47730The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton

From “Barefoot”

“Do you care for salami?/No. You’d rather not have a scotch?/No. You don’t really drink. You do/drink me.”

From “Cigarettes and Whisky and Wild, Wild Women”

“Do I not look in the mirror,/these days,/ and see a drunken rat avert her eyes?”

Probably the most difficult poet on the list, Anne Sexton wrote bluntly about mental illness, abuse and sex. She also touched on the highs and lows of drinking. This is the poet you read the day after a binge for a touch of perspective.

 

139864The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara by Frank O’Hara

From “Anxiety”

“I have a drink,/it doesn’t help—far from it!/I/ feel worse. I can’t remember how/I felt, so perhaps I feel better.”

If Anne Sexton is the morning after hangover cure, Frank O’Hara is the party. Often I feel like I’m sitting in a smoky lounge, people watching, nursing a drink and enjoying live jazz when I read O’Hara’s poems.

 

Maggot: Poems 8036027by Paul Muldoon

From “The Rowboat”

“Every year he’d sunk/the old clinker-built rowboat/so it might again float./Every year he’d got drunk/as if he might once and for all write off/every year he’d sunk”

Paul Muldoon is experimenting with form in Maggot, and at times the rhyming lines feel like the chant you would here in a dank pub or at a futbol game.

 

*Poetry Drinking Game Bonus Points* 

75504Read Wallace Stevens, The Collected Poems, because he got into a drunken fight with Ernest Hemingway in Key West and broke his hand on Hemingway’s jaw.

 

 

 

 

 

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Read Selected Poems: Summer Knowledge by Delmore Schwartz because he used to hang out and drink with writers like Robert Lowell, John Barryman and Saul Bellow, and he inspired musician Lou Reed.

Last Minute Love Poems

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[Originally Run on The Next Best Book Blog]

In no particular order, read these with someone you love. Some are sexy, a little racy, while others are quiet and meditative. All of them will get you thinking a little more about that person you’ve given your heart to.

 

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“Folie à Deux Ménage à Trois” from Harlot by Jill Alexander Essbaum

The book is called Harlot and there is a woman hugging a penis on the cover. Nothing could say Valentine’s Day more. This particular poem is full of great rhymes, word play, a killer use of form, plus, as the speaker says “we teeter on the precipice of this suggestions, the three of us.”

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“to love” from Shattered Sonnets Love Cards and Other Off and Back Handed Importunities by Olena Kalytiak Davis

Davis’s “to love” reads like both a breathless declaration of love and a well thought out letter trying to convince another of love. The poem mixes progressive tense verbs and mashed together meanings with meticulous line breaks that leave many things open to interpretation. No matter how you read it though, the speaker is clearly in love.

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“Recipe for a Long, Happy Marriage” from Charlotte Bronte, You Ruined My Life by Barbara Louise Ungar

There is a lot of tongue in cheek humor in “Charlotte Bronte, You Ruined My Life,” which Ungar uses to make her message of love, unrealistic expectations and loss so palatable. Instead of an over effusion of romance “Recipe for a Long, Happy Marriage” literally boils the whole thing down to a few simple steps, and the only ingredient is “Find the right person.”

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“Rise” from Interior with Sudden Joy by Brenda Shaughnessy
Like Barbara Louise Ungar’s “Recipe for a Long, Happy Marriage” Shaughnessy mixes food and love in “Rise.” Instead of a simple formula this poem is laced with double or triple meanings and dark sexy word choices. Depending on your mood you either leave this poem a little turned on, or considering death.

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“Love at First Sight” from Miracle Fair: Selected Poems by Wisława Szymborska

“Love at First Sight” is a beautiful, thoughtful, made-for-TV romance of a poem. Szymborska mediates on the loveliness of chance in life and how the most unsuspecting moments may be the ones that change your life; “Every beginning, after all,/is nothing but a sequel,/and the book of events/is always open in the middle.”
come on
“Letter to a Lover” from Come on All You Ghosts by Matthew Zapruder

“Letter to a Lover,” which appears in Matthew Zapruder’s third collection, Come on All Your Ghosts, illustrates love in every life instead of grand sweeping moments. The speaker opens by saying “Today I am going to pick you up at the beige airport” and then proceeds to list the day-to-day things he is excited to share with the girl. Most love happens around the mundane things, like airport pick ups, but there is something heartwarming in the careful way Zapruder makes these moments shine.
august

“Ignatz in August” from Ignatz by Monica Youn

Monica Youn’s “Ignatz in August,” which is one of a series of poems inspired by the character Ignatz Mouse from the Krazy Kat cartoons, doesn’t sound like something that would initially spark romance or ove, but this short poem is surprising.  Consisting of only six lines, this visceral piece begs to be read between people in love, opening with  “you arch/up off me.”

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“Torch Song for Ophelia” from Torch Song Tango Choir by Julie Sophia Paegle

For the reader in search of a smooth talking man, or who for the woman is just got dumped, “Torch Song for Ophelia” is a Valentine’s Day anthem.  “Forget/about Hamlet./He required too much: air,/ Purgatory, his harpy/whore,/ revenge,/stories” Paegle writes, and then her speaker sweeps Ophelia off of her feet with profusions of love, sex and appreciation.

happiness
“places of happiness” from Forever Will End on Thursday by Nic Sebastian

Despite some tension between the two speakers in “places of happiness,” by Nic Sebsastian, this poem shows two people who really do care about each other.  They travel together, ask about the other’s work, and in the end “on the road to Chittagong/you covered me with your jacket and held/my hand.” This simple gesture, among the unique locations and vivid details, is what makes this poem, and most of the book, special.

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“The Knowing” from Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002 by Sharon Olds

That post coitus snuggle moment, when you (hopefully) amaze at the person you are with is touchingly described in Sharon Olds “The Knowing.” This speaker is in love, in lust, and in like with the person she has just slept with and gladly shares this with the reader in heartfelt detail. At the end of the poem Olds expresses the sentiment I hope we can all share on Valentine’s day:  “I am so lucky that I can know him.”

 

If your love is prose person, not poetry person, read the rest of our suggestions on The Next Best Book Blog in our post “Too Woo or Not to Woo – Love in Literature: Part the Third.”

Submission Notes Option Open Next Week

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Starting on January 5th we will start reading in a new category on Submittable, one that will allow submitters to request notes back on their work.

For a $10 fee we will read your submission, while still considering it for publication, and we will respond back with a full set of MFA style notes and suggestions.

Right now we are predicting it will take a month or less to respond to submitters who request notes, but that time frame may change depending on volume.

I know from personal experience that it is hard, almost disenfranchising, to put so much of yourself into your poetry only to get the cold impersonal form rejection (or sometimes acceptance!) back. We send them out, I know, it’s the business sadly.  I wish we could give everyone notes on every piece, but time and practicality prevent that from happening. This new option will hopefully bring some of the personal back into submitting.

And yes, there is money involved. Straight Forward has always run in the red, no way around that fact. We do it for the love of poetry, but if we could ever climb our way into solvency then we would be able to do so much more for our writers. We’ve got big dreams yo, and most of them involve you.

Submitting with a request for notes helps you get some honest feedback on your writing, it helps us pay our bills, and it helps us find bigger and better ways to promote and support those who we publish. Basically it makes everyone more awesome . And awesome is good.

Buying and Loving, Thanks to Etsy

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Starting today you can buy Issue Eight on Etsy! That’s right, you can buy and download the PDF version our newest issue to read anywhere, at any time.

The list price is $3.99 and we are currently accepting Paypal payments. As our shop expands we will allow additional forms of payment, previous issues and hopefully some super awesome poetry merch.

You can still buy individual issues and subscriptions on LitRagger, which does have a smooth, beautiful reading experience on your iOS devices.

As we continue to grow and to learn I hope to be able provide everyone, both readers and submitters with the best experience possible. If you have any questions, concerns, ideas or just want to say hi, please contact us at straightforward poetry@gmail.com