Episode #108: Sally Wen Mao, author of MAD HONEY SYMPOSIUM

Episode #108!  TBJ contributor, Muriel Leung interviews Sally Wen Mao, author of MAD HONEY SYMPOSIUM!

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Sally Wen Mao is the author of Mad Honey Symposium (Alice James Books, 2014), which is the winner of the 2012 Kinereth Gensler Award and a Publishers Weekly anticipated pick of spring 2014. Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2013 and is published or forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Guernica, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Third Coast, and West Branch, among others. The recipient of fellowships and scholarships from Kundiman, 826 Valencia, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and Saltonstall Arts Colony, she holds an M.F.A. from Cornell University. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Episode #107: Andy Fitch, author of 60 MORNING TALKS, and a review of Matthew Zapruder’s SUN BEAR

Episode #107!  Featuring an interview with Andy Fitch, author of 60 MORNING TALKS, and a review by David Campos of Matthew Zapruder’s SUN BEAR!

Music by El Amparito and Vic Chesnutt (“Flirted With You All My Life.”)

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Andy Fitch

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Andy Fitch’s most recent book is Sixty Morning Talks. Ugly Duckling soon will release his Sixty Morning Walks and Sixty Morning Wlaks. With Cristiana Baik, he is currently assembling the Letter Machine Book of Interviews. He has collaborative books forthcoming from 1913 and Subito. He edits Essay Press and teaches in the University of Wyoming’s MFA program.

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Matthew Zapruder is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Come On All You Ghosts (Copper Canyon 2010), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Sun Bear (Copper Canyon, 2014), as well as a book of prose, Why Poetry, forthcoming from Ecco Press in 2015. He is also co-translator from Romanian, along with historian Radu Ioanid, of Secret Weapon: Selected Late Poems of Eugen Jebeleanu (Coffee House Press, 2007). His poems, essays and translations have appeared in many publications, including Tin House, Paris Review, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Bomb, Slate, Poetry, and The Believer. He has received a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, a William Carlos Williams Award, a May Sarton Award from the Academy of American Arts and Sciences, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship in Marfa, TX. An Assistant Professor in the St. Mary’s College of California MFA program and English Department, he is also Editor-at-Large at Wave Books. He lives in Oakland, CA.

Review: Fanny Howe’s Second Childhood

 

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Review by Leah Silvieus

Fanny Howe’s latest collection of poems, Second Childhood, refuses to hover ethereally in the heavens and instead trudges through the muck and mud of the world, dreamlike, childlike, and bewildered (to borrow a term from her book of essays, The Wedding Dress). These poems explore the second childhood of aging as a portal to engaging mystically with the world. “Throughout my life I have remained vague and have accepted the humiliation it brought, almost as if stupification were a gift,” Howe writes in the title poem, “I willfully repeat my mistakes over and over and never learn from experience.” Throughout the book the speakers put on their  “second child/hoods” as a monk wears a habit:

 

You might think I am just old but I have finally

decided to make the decision to never grow up, and

remain under my hood.” (“Second Childhood”)

 

Through poems that range from short vignettes to longer, geographically roving meditations, Second Childhood envisions the physical and spiritual worlds as a palimpsest: in each realm’s most profound moments, we see traces of the other.

 

Black winter gardens

engraved at night

keep soft frost

on them to read the veins

of our inner illustrator’s

hand internally light

with infant etching […] (“The Garden”)

 

While the language of Second Childhood is generally spare and quiet, Howe carefully tucks music within the lines, as if encouraging the reader to slow down and look more closely. The assonance and slant rhyme of soft/frost and inner/illustrator’s/internally/light/infant evokes the movement of the spirit inscribing itself on the physical world, like an artist coming to her canvas.

Howe chisels away at romantic notions of mysticism and thus renders her speakers achingly human. They experience moments of transcendence, sure, but they also suffer the tension of being both a physical and spiritual entity, and this conflict generates some of the book’s most poignant moments:

 

[…] shame and loneliness are almost one.

Shame at existing in the first place. Shame at being

visible, taking up space, breathing some of the sky,

sleeping in a whole bed, asking for a share” (“Loneliness”)

 

While this book is sometimes serious in its meditations, it is not without joy. “Figs, bread, pasta, wine and cheese,” Howe writes in “A Vision,” “These are not the subconscious, but necessities.” The gift of aging, of mysticism, and perhaps of being a writer, is being able to perceive both the body and the spirit’s wisdom in each moment:

 

You may be called to a place of banality or genius,

but as long as it is your own happiness that responds to it,

you are available to something inhuman. “A Vision”

 

Second Childhood is less a gift of new insight as it is a gentle welcome to seeing as we have already seen, long ago as children: magic and miracle everywhere, in the wine and the figs, in the winter garden, in the blessedness which is already in us and through us, and everywhere, just waiting to be found.

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Leah Silvieus

 

Leah Silvieus is a poet and interdisciplinary artist whose work has been featured at the O, Miami Poetry Festival and at the Asian American Women Artists Association in San Francisco. She also has received grants and fellowships from Fulbright, Kundiman, US Poets in Mexico, and the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation. Her writing has been featured in Asian American Poetry & WritingCURAThe Collagist, and diode, among others. Currently, she divides her time between Florida and New York where she works in the yacht hospitality industry. You can visit her at http://leahsilvieus.wordpress.com/

Introducing new contributors for The Blood-Jet!

The Blood-Jet Writing Hour is growing!  We’re delighted to introduce our new contributors, Heather Buchanan, David Campos, Muriel Leung, Kenji C. Liu and Leah Silvieus to the podcast and the blog.

Be on the lookout for reviews of Matthew Zapruder’s Sun Bear, Fanny Howe’s Second Childhood, Karen Tei Yamashita’s Anime Wong and interviews with Sally Wen Mao, Andy Fitch and more!

Please welcome…

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Heather Buchanan

Heather Buchanan is the owner of Aquarius Press, now celebrating its 15th year. Willow Books, its literary division, develops, publishes, and promotes writers typically underrepresented in the field; recent collaborations include the publication of Cave Canem XII. A graduate of Wayne State University and the University of Michigan-Dearborn respectively, Heather has taught Composition, English, African American Literature, and World Literature at several colleges and universities. In addition to teaching, Heather presents on arts and literature at conferences across the country, most recently for the Ragdale Foundation. She has directed many events and conferences, including LitFest Chicago, Midwest Poets & Writers Conference, and the Idlewild Writers Conference. A Poet-in-Residence emeritus for the Detroit Public Library system, Heather also served on the Board of Governors for UM-Dearborn’s College of Arts & Sciences Affiliate and was the COO of the Wayne County Council for Arts, History & Humanities. A musician, she is currently working on a World War I centennial book and music project honoring the Harlem Hellfighters. She has been a reviewer for BlogCritics and MyShelf and has blogged for publications such as Poets & Writers.

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David Campos

David Campos is the author of the forthcoming FURIOUS DUSK (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015) winner of the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize. His poems have been publish in The American Poetry Review, Boxcar Poetry Review, Huizache, Miramar, and Solo Novo among many others. He is the Co-host of the literary radio Pákatelas on KFCF 88.1 FM Fresno where he lives and teaches.

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Muriel Leung

Muriel Leung is a multimedia poet and former teaching artist from Queens, NY. Her poetry and essays can be found or is forthcoming in Coconut, TENDE RLOIN, Bone Bouquet, Dark Phrases, and RE/VISIONIST. She is a recipient of a Kundiman fellowship. Currently, she is a MFA candidate in poetry at Louisiana State University where she also serves as the Assistant Editor of New Delta Review.

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Kenji C. Liu

Kenji C. Liu is a 1.5-generation immigrant from New Jersey, now in Southern California. His writing and art arises from his work as an activist, educator, artist, and cultural worker. A Pushcart Prize nominee and first runner-up finalist for the Poets & Writers 2013 California Writers Exchange Award, his writing is forthcoming or published in The Los Angeles Review, The Collagist, Barrow Street Journal, CURA, The Baltimore Review, RHINO Poetry, and others, including the anthologies Dismantle and Orangelandia. His poetry chapbook You Left Without Your Shoeswas nominated for a 2009 California Book Award. A three-time VONA alum and recipient of a Djerassi Resident Artist Program fellowship, he is completing a full-length poetry book. He is the poetry editor emeritus of Kartika Review.

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Leah Silvieus

Leah Silvieus is a poet and interdisciplinary artist whose work has been featured at the O, Miami Poetry Festival and at the Asian American Women Artists Association in San Francisco. She also has received grants and fellowships from Fulbright, Kundiman, US Poets in Mexico, and the Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation. Her writing has been featured in Asian American Poetry & WritingCURAThe Collagist, and diode, among others. Currently, she divides her time between Florida and New York where she works in the yacht hospitality industry. You can visit her at http://leahsilvieus.wordpress.com/

Episode #106: Mari L’Esperance, co-editor of COMING CLOSE: FORTY ESSAYS ON PHILIP LEVINE

Episode #106! Featuring Mari L’Esperance, co-editor of COMING CLOSE: FORTY ESSAYS ON PHILIP LEVINE, and music by El Amparito.

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Born in Kobe, Japan to a Japanese mother and a French Canadian-American father, Mari L’Esperance is the author of The Darkened Temple (awarded a Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and published in September 2008 by the University of Nebraska Press) and an earlier collection Begin Here (awarded a Sarasota Poetry Theatre Press Chapbook Prize). Coming Close: Forty Essays on Philip Levine, co-edited with Tomás Q. Morín, was published by Prairie Lights Books in May 2013. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and recipient of awards from the New York Times, New York University, Hedgebrook, and Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, L’Esperance lives in the Los Angeles area.

Episode #105: Megan Volpert, editor of THIS ASSIGNMENT IS SO GAY

Episode #105!  Featuring Megan Volpert and poems by anthology contributors, Bonnie Kaplan and Douglas Ray.  Music by El Amparito.  

 

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Megan Volpert is the author of five books on communication and popular culture, most notably about Andy Warhol. She has been teaching high school English in Atlanta for the better part of a decade, is currently serving as her school’s Teacher of the Year, and edited the American Library Association-honored anthology, This assignment is so gay: LGBTIQ Poets on the Art of Teaching.

 

 

Episode #104: Feliz Lucia Molina, author of UNDERCASTLE

Episode #104! Featuring Feliz Lucia Molina and music by El Amparito.

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Feliz Lucia Molina was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. A Kundiman and MacDowell Colony Fellow, she holds a BA from Naropa University, an MFA from Brown University, and is a PhD candidate at the European Graduate School. She is an editor at Continentand lives in Los Angeles. UNDERCASTLE (Magic Helicopter Press, 2013) is her first book.