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


  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.



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.

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.