2014 Favorites, Poetry, Winter

2014 Favorites: Michelle Chan Brown

It’s that time of year!  We’ve asked guests and contributors we’ve featured on The Blood-Jet Writing Hour in 2014 to share with us their favorite books, literary magazines, and reading series from the year.

This post features poet and editor, Michelle Chan Brown, author of Double Agent.  She writes:

14 Things I loved in 2014

(left to right) Eugenia Leigh, Sally Wen Mao, Michelle Chan Brown and Cathy Linh Che are the Honey Badger Don't Give a B**k Tour!

(left to right:) Eugenia Leigh, Sally Wen Mao, Michelle Chan Brown and Cathy Linh Che are the Honey Badger Don’t Give a B**k Tour!

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(Books featured – left to right): Double Agent by Michelle Chan Brown; Mad Honey Symposium by Sally Wen Mao; Blood, Sparrows and Sparrows by Eugenia Leigh and Split by Cathy Linh Che

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  1. Not to use terms like “fierce” and “stunning,” which are cliches of poetry-love, but to use those terms for the collections of my fellow Honey Badgers. We did an East Coast/South book tour in July; each reading was a chance to marvel at something new. Sally Wen Mao’s “Mad Honey Symposium,” Cathy Linh Che’s “Split” and Eugenia Leigh’s “Blood, Sparrows, and Sparrows.” Get ‘em.
  2. The Young Writers Workshop at the University of Virginia. I was lucky enough to teach there, or be taught, by my students – hilarious, odd, quirky, brilliant, raw. These high school students wrenched me out of any lingering cynicism about the “use” of poetry.
  3. On Being. It’s not just Krista Tippet’s dulcet voice. I turned 33 this year – the Jesus year, yes – and as I try and slow down and observe and construct meaning, these interviews, with poets, monks, yogis, scientists, on everything from the value of play to the importance of community, have been integral for my own spiritual quest. Jennifer Michael Hecht’s interview, against suicide, is a must-listen.
  4. Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for A Time Being. Each section of this complex, accessible, virtuosic novel spurred me to shake my head and wonder, how does she make it look so easy? I interviewed her for Sycamore Review and was humbled by her wisdom and authenticity.
  5. Kundiman
  6. The Pratt Library – specifically, the Poe Room – in Baltimore. A dazzling space, housed in a former department store, and librarians and curators whose grace, warmth, and beautifully-crafted introductions left me wondering – for me? I read with Kamilah Aisha Moon, whose wrenching, lyrical work is another 2014 highlight.
  7. Drunken Boat. It’s difficult to choose what to publish from all the fine work we receive, but I’m particularly proud of the Debt folio, and the poems of Cynthia Cruz and Kara Candito.
  8. Politics and Prose in Northwest DC. It’s the Rolls Royce of independent bookstores. I spent a good portion of my nineties childhood lipping through From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in the dark, fragrant coffee shop below the store and eyeing, indiscreetly, the Eddie Vedder doppelgängers sipping chai . They’ve managed to retain all the magic of those early years, and their reading series, while VIP-heavy brings in Terry Gross’s co-conversationalist and provides an irresistible chance for Beltway-celebrity ogling.
  9. On the other end of the spectrum, the reading series Poetry Sucks! in Nashville, TN. Why don’t I live in Nashville? Go eat a meat and three, and hang out at this record store/music venue/poetry showcase. Tattoos, winged eyeliner, and genuine niceness
  10. Back to DC: Split This Rock is a wondrous organization. As is BloomBars.
  11. This poem, by Laura Eve Engel.
  12. I’ll be moving to Kazakhstan soon (a Fulbright), and although it’s not from 2014, this book by Professor Kate Brown – A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland – has been essential.
  13. The atrium of the American Portrait Gallery, for writing.
  14. With this album, by Aphex Twin.

***

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Michelle Chan Brown’s Double Agent was the winner of the 2011 Kore First Book Award, judged by Bhanu Kapil. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, Cimarron Review, Linebreak, The Missouri Review, Quarterly West, Sycamore Review, Witness and others.

A Kundiman fellow, Michelle received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she was a Rackham Fellow. She was a Tennessee Williams scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received scholarships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Wesleyan Writers’ Conference. Her chapbook, The Clever Decoys, is available from LATR Editions. She lives with her husband, the musician Paul Erik Lipp, in Washington DC, where she teaches, writes, and edits Drunken Boat.

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2014 Favorites, Poetry, Winter

2014 Favorites: Scott Wiggerman

It’s that time of year!  We’ve asked guests and contributors we’ve featured on The Blood-Jet Writing Hour in 2014 to share with us their favorite books, literary magazines, and reading series from the year.

This post features poet and editor, Scott Wiggerman, co-editor of Wingbeats II.  He writes:

In no particular order, here are some poetry books published in the past year that impressed me in various ways:

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  1. Victoria Chang’s The Boss (McSweeney’s, 2013)

Once I got into the rhythm of Chang’s unpunctuated quatrains, I couldn’t put this book down. “The Boss” is a shifting character in every poem in this fascinating collection, sometimes literally a boss at work, sometimes a parent, sometimes the poet herself: “the square / root of 4 remains 2 just as the square root of / the boss is always the boss.”

  1. Max Early’s Ears of Corn: Listen (3: A Taos Press, 2014)

I came for the poetry, but quickly realized that this book was the perfect introduction not only to the culture of the Laguna Pueblo, but also to its language (many pages include a gloss to Laguna terms). An important, fascinating, and beautifully designed first book published by one of the best of the new small presses.

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  1. Jericho Brown’s The New Testament (Copper Canyon, 2014)

Indeed, Brown’s book does play off the Bible (and myth), but it’s also a testament to persistence despite the many obstacles that America places in terms of race and sexuality. Gorgeous writing throughout: “Because I am what gladiators call / A man in love—love / Being any reminder we survived.”

  1. Brian Turner’s My Life as a Foreign Country (W.W. Norton, 2014)

While not technically a book of poetry, Turner’s language is so poetic that I’m including this memoir in my list. Nor is it a typical memoir—Turner jumps in time and place, from Bosnia to Iraq to Cambodia, and from the perspectives of his forbearers, as well as “the enemy.” Strong and resonant, the book proves that one cannot leave war behind.

  1. Ted Kooser’s Splitting an Order (Copper Canyon, 2014)

A long time since Kooser’s last book of poetry, but this was worth the wait, and his brief but precise poems, often centered on time and aging, seemed perfect companions as I turned sixty this year. Deceptively simple, Kooser’s perceptions never fail to connect: “the tree makes its exit with grace, / going down slowly, one piece at a time.”

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  1. Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W.W. Norton, 2013)

Editors Jim Kacian, Philip Rowland, and Allan Burns are to be commended for what is my favorite anthology of the year, a first-rate overview of the centennial of American haiku, from Pound and Lowell, through Snyder and Kerouac, to contemporary masters that most people don’t know (but should). Here’s Allan Burns’ one-word haiku: “leaflight.”

My favorite readings of this year? Two of my poetry idols, Jane Hirshfield and Sharon Olds, at AWP in Seattle—wow! Hearing Olds read “Douche Bag Ode” is something I won’t soon forget. Wang Ping reading from Ten Thousand Waves (Wings Press, 2014) was another AWP highlight. Joy Harjo at Poetry at Round Top was spectacular—a reading which included live and pre-recorded music (all Harjo)—and I loved getting to dance with her at the after-party!

Favorite websites? As someone who writes in form a lot and as someone who has been getting more and more into haiku, I’m often excited by the work in tinywords, The Road Not Taken, A Hundred Gourds, and the always quirky Right Hand Pointing. The Poetry Foundation’s “Poem of the Day” and the Writers’ Almanac are two indispensable sources of poems that come right to my inbox to start each day. And I love Diane Lockward’s wonderful monthly Poetry Newsletter, the basis for her recent book of prompts, The Crafty Poet.

Bookwoman in Austin, Texas

Bookwoman in Austin, Texas

Favorite bookstore? Just one year old, Malvern Books in Austin is truly an independent bookstore; in fact, they only carry titles from independent presses! Even more significant, they’ve quickly become one of the places to host poetry readings and events in Austin, though BookWoman, one of the country’s last remaining feminist bookstores, runs a close second.

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Scott Wiggerman is the author of two books of poetry, Presence andVegetables and Other Relationships, and the editor of several volumes, including Wingbeats: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga, and the brand new Wingbeats II.  Recent poems have appeared in Decades Review, Frogpond, Pinyon Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Good Men Project website, and the anthologies This Assignment Is So Gay andForgetting Home: Poems about Alzheimer’s. He is chief editor for Dos Gatos Press in Austin, Texas, publisher of the Texas Poetry Calendar,now in its seventeenth year. He frequently runs writing workshops, many of which feature exercises from the two Wingbeats volumes.

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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:

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Poetry collections:

Literary Magazines:

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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.

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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.

Bookstore:

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?

Podcast:

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.

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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.

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Winter

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

ruthozeki

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.

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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.

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Winter

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.

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Poetry, Winter

Episode #86: Ross White, editor of ANOTHER & ANOTHER: AN ANTHOLOGY FROM THE GRIND DAILY WRITING SERIES, on Sat. December 8th at 11 am PST/2 pm EST

Join Rachelle as she talks with Ross White, editor of ANOTHER & ANOTHER: AN ANTHOLOGY FROM THE GRIND DAILY WRITING SERIES, on Saturday, December 8th at 11 am PST/2 pm EST.

Click here to listen live.

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Ross White’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in New England Review, Best New Poets 2012, Poetry Daily, and others. With Matthew Olzmann, he co-edited Another & Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series (Bull City Press, 2012). He was the 2012 recipient of the James Larkin Pearson Prize from the Poetry Council of North Carolina and has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

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Poetry, Winter

Episode #75: Jai Arun Ravine, author of “แล้ว and then entwine” and Margaret Rhee, author of ” Yellow/노란/ 노랑/Yellow” on Weds. January 25th at 2 pm PST/ 5 pm EST

UPDATE: The show will go live at 2 pm PST/5 pm EST!

A Tinfish Press double header!

Join Rachelle as she talks with Jai Arun Ravine, author of “แล้ว and then entwine” and Margaret Rhee, author of ” Yellow/노란/ 노랑/Yellow” on Wednesday, January 25th  at 2 pm PST/5 pm EST.

To listen live, click here.

Please copy and paste this link into your browser: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/onword

Jai Arun Ravine - Photo by Paul Ocampo

Jai Arun Ravine is a trans/gender/queer mixed race Thai American writer, dancer, video and performance artist. They are the author of “แล้ว and then entwine” (Tinfish Press, 2011), the chapbook “Is This January” (Corollary Press, 2010) and the graphic poem-novel “The Spiderboi Files.” A recipient of fellowships from ComPeung, Djerassi and Kundiman, their short experimental film on Thai trans-masculinities, Tom/Trans/Thai, recently exhibited at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, Thailand.  You can find their blog here: http://jaiarunravine.wordpress.com/

Margaret Rhee

Margaret Rhee is an interdisciplinary scholar, poet, and media artist.
She has published poetry in the Berkeley Poetry Review, Kartika Review
and co-edited the chapbook anthology, Here is a Pen: An Anthology of
West Coast Kundiman Asian American Poets (Achiote Press). She is the
managing editor of Mixed Blood, a literary journal on innovative
poetics and race, edited by C.S. Giscombe.  Currently, she is a
doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley in Ethnic
Studies, with designated emphasis in New Media and Gender and Women
Studies. Her first poetry chapbook Yellow/노란/ 노랑/Yellow was published
from Tinfish Press. She is a Kundiman fellow.

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