Uncategorized, Winter

2013 Favorites: Poet Kamilah Aisha Moon

This year, we asked guests we’ve featured on The Blood-Jet Writing Hour in 2013 to share with us their favorite books, literary magazines, and reading series from the year.

This post features poet and author of She Has a NameKamilah Aisha Moon.  She writes:

2013 will always mean a great deal to me. My collection, She Has a Name debuted in October and the first few months have been quite a ride.  So I’m already looking ahead: New Year’s Eve is a new moon, and the first night of the new year will grace us with the rare beauty of a supermoon. In fact, two supermoons in one month are on the way! But before rushing headlong into January, here are a few things that dazzled in my quadrant of the literary universe (so hard to speak on just a few—not complete at all) in 2013:


Poetry collections:

Literary Magazines:


Muzzle Magazine:  The poems featured in this magazine consistently elicit audible responses from me as I read them on the screen.  The “30 poets in their 30s” series by Laura Swearingen-Steadwell profiled some of the strongest poets emerging today.

Superstition Review: Beautiful, compelling work across genre, you could get lost for hours on this website and be richer for it.


The Sun:  This magazine is always a revelation to me.  The photography and the writing help center and lift me when it arrives each month. A recent essay by Ross Gay, “Some Thoughts on Mercy,” is one not to miss, not that anything should be missed in this gem.

Literary Organizations:

Split This Rock: All of the programming, the web content and the conferences are indispensable—poetry of provocation and witness indeed!splitthisrock

The Academy of American Poets:  Like many others, I start mornings with their “Poem of the Day”, and make it a point not to miss Poets Forum or the other wonderful programs throughout the year.

Cave Canem:  Too much power and beauty to attempt to describe…but I do suggest not missing a Cave Canem event in your area, as well as adding books by past and current faculty and fellows to your reading list.cavecanem

Poetry Society of America: A long-standing celebration of seminal poetry through stellar local and  national programming such as the memorial tribute to Seamus Heaney and the Yet Do I Marvel readings this past year.

Reading Series:poets-house-river-terrace

Poets House: The diverse, engaging readings and exhibits in this beautiful space are indeed a perk of being a New York-based poet.

Page Versus the Stage:  The unique format and interaction of the writers invited to this series is exciting and usually turns traditional notions of what’s considered “Page” and “Stage” on their heads.

Red Sofa Reading Series:  Based in Philadelphia, host Hila Ratzabi has built a great house for poetry that the people come and return to, again and again.


Berl’s Poetry Shop opened in Brooklyn this year!  All things poetry—not just the last row on the 2nd floor in the back. What’s not to like?


Late Night Library is building a wonderful archive of interviews and conversations that are wonderful to listen to late at night or on a lunch break, any time of day.



Kamilah Aisha Moon is the author of She Has A Name (Four Way Books, 2013).  A recipient of fellowships to the Cave Canem Foundation, the Prague Summer Writing Institute, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, and the Vermont Studio Center, Moon’s work has been featured in several journals and anthologies, including Harvard Review, jubilat,Sou’westerOxford AmericanLuminaCallaloo, Essence, Bloom, Gathering Ground, The Ringing Ear and Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry.  A featured poet in conferences and venues around the country, she has also led creative writing residencies for several arts-in-education organizations in diverse settings. She has taught English and Creative Writing at Medgar Evers College-CUNY, Drew University and Adelphi University.  Moon holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

A native of Nashville, TN, Moon currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.


2013 Favorites: Poet Cathy Linh Che

This year, we asked guests we’ve featured on The Blood-Jet Writing Hour in 2013 to share with us their favorite books, literary magazines, and reading series from the year.

This post features poet and author of Split, Cathy Linh Che.  She writes:

2013 was made special because at a reading, a young woman called me “the crying poet.” She’d witnessed me bawling my eyes out at not one, but two of my own readings. I was a bit embarrassed by the nickname, but now it is a moniker I am proud of! If a book or reading is moving, I tear up. It is how I determine whether or not a work is good. Does it move me? And after I put down the work, does it endure?

Here are some works that have moved me in 2013:

1. Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being


Holy shit. This book.

A Tale for the Time Being moves back and forth between two narratives. The first is of a writer named Ruth who lives on Cortez Island off the west coast of Canada—and the second details the life of a teenaged girl named Nao, whose family relocated back to Japan after she lived in the Bay Area for seven years. In Japan, she is the victim of painful bullying, and the novel ticks down her own countdown to suicide.

The writing is sharp and funny and very natural. Unlike many novels I’ve read this year, it seemed uninterested in showing off—and most concerned with paying attention to the things that matter: telling a story about how to live and go on. The mediations lend it a timeless quality, while the discussions of WWII and of the 2011 tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown root the narrative in historical trauma and aftermath.

2. Natalie Diaz’s When My Brother Was an Aztec

Technically, this book was published in 2012 (and I read it in 2012), but the work endures. Natalie Diaz’s magic is her humor, imagination, and formal inventiveness—but above all else, she is a master of the image.

3. Ocean Vuong’s No (YesYes Books)

oceanvuongno“Brooklyn’s too cold tonight
& all my friends are three years away.
My mother said I could be anything
I wanted—but I chose to live.
On the stoop of an old brownstone,
a cigarette flares, then fades.
I walk towards it: a razor
sharpened with silence.
A jawline etched in smoke.
The mouth where I’ll be made
new again.”

Enough said.

4. My favorite reading of the year:

Intersecting Lineages Reading at AWP

I love watching communities of color [folks from Kundiman, CantoMundo, Cave Canem, The Institute of Indian American Arts, and RAWI, the Radius of Arab American Writers] come together to celebrate writing. The poets read works from ancestor writers of a different lineages, then read works of their own.

Kazim Ali recited Lucille Clifton from memory and tore the fucking house down.

5. Finally, I had the privilege of taking part in Race and Belonging: A Protest Poem in Solidarity with Trayvon Martin. This was a unique opportunity to produce community writing in response to the injustice we felt after the Trayvon Martin verdict. Poets from all over the country of many different cultural backgrounds wrote together virtually: twenty-seven pages which can be read here.

2013 was a year of deeply felt literature. I feel so lucky to have had a chance to take part in celebrating, laughing, and mourning with everyone.


Cathy Linh Che is the author of Split (Alice James, 2014), the winner of the 2012 Kundiman Poetry Prize. She received her MFA from New York University and is the recipient of fellowships from The Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, Hedgebrook, Poets House, LMCC’s Workspace Residency. She is currently Program Associate at Poets & Writers’ Readings & Workshops (East) and Manager at Kundiman.


2013 Favorites: Poet and Editor Cati Porter

This year, we asked guests we’ve featured on The Blood-Jet Writing Hour in 2013 to share with us their favorite books, literary magazines, and reading series from the year.

This post features poet and founder and editor of the online journals Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry and Inlandia: A Literary JourneyCati Porter.  She writes:

Because I direct a local literary nonprofit, the Inlandia Institute, my focus tends to be, well, local. My literary life is centered around the organizations that make inlandia-institutewhere I live more literary & lively. This year, I haven’t read nearly as much as I would have liked to, but what I have read has stuck with me, and the lit orgs that I have come to admire most are those that are working as hard as I do to shine a light on a region that is largely overlooked: The Inland Empire, aka Inland Southern California, aka Inlandia.

Thirteen of My Favorite Things:

1. Nicelle Davis’ book is a hybrid fantasy text of pop culture & religion. From
judas“Jesus Propositions Judas with Salvation”: We ought to cut / each other from our skin-tethers— / quit this arithmetic / of oxygen, / rubidium, / and flash of blue.

2. Louise Mathias’ is a gorgeous string of intense, brief lyric poems, like the title poem, “The Traps”: Missy gets tied to the rafters. / She likes the lack of choices, / I’m afraid: one, solitary / hummingbird / per zipcode…

3. Chad Sweeney’s Wolf’s Milk: The Lost Notebooks of Juan Sweeney, a “translation” of one of Sweeney’s ancestors. From the Translator’s Note: “Little is known about the life of Juan Sweeney de las Minas de Cobre. He grew up between Andalusia, Ireland, Oklahoma and Bolivia, lived centuries ago and has yet to be born….”

4. Juan Delgado & Tom McGovern’s Vital Signs, an Inlandia imprint book. It begins with the hand-painted signs and murals found all over San Bernardino. About the El Tigre Market, now gone: On one side of the market someone painted / a row of flower pots, hanging geraniums / for the locals who must now go across town.

5. My offspring, of course: Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry & Inlandia: A Literary Journey. New issues of both of these mags coming soon. Also, Tin Cannon, a publication of PoetrIE. And, I love that Rattle’s editors are now residents of the I.E.!pomeleon

6. Inlandia Institute goes without saying, so instead, I’ll say PoetrIE, another local lit org focused on supporting local writers.

7. Poets & Writers Readings/Workshops program, a major supporter of local literary events. (Thank you, Cheryl & Jamie!)

8. LitLandia – a quarterly reading series that brings together writers from the two lit mags I edit

9. Fourth Sundays at the Claremont Library in Claremont – run by poets Lucia Galloway and Frances McConnel.

10. Gather, a new local reading series curated by writers in the University of California, Riverside’s, MFA program.

11. Cellar Door Books in Riverside.

12. The Frugal Frigate in Redlands.

13. Inlandia Literary Journeys, a joint project between the Press-Enterprise and the Inlandia Institute featuring video interviews, a weekly column, and a group-run blog. (Thank you, P-E!)


DSCN1016_2Cati Porter is the author of Seven Floors Up (Mayapple Press), and the chapbooks small fruit songs(Pudding House, 2008), (al)most delicious (Dancing Girl Press, 2010), and what Desire makes of us, an e-chapbook with illustrations by Amy Payne (Ahadada Books, 2011). Her latest chapbook is The Way Things Move the Dark, (Dancing Girl Press, 2013). She is founder and editor of the online journals Poemeleon: A Journal of Poetry and Inlandia: A Literary JourneyAs the Publications & Programs Coordinator for the Inlandia Institute, she writes for & co-hosts the video interview series for the Press-Enterprise Inlandia Literary Journeys project. She lives in Riverside with her husband and two sons.