Blatant Bibliophile Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

Meet Inaugural Poet Elizabeth Alexander

Posted by blatantbibliophiles on January 20, 2009

 http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/245

As a Blatant Bibliophile, you may also be a poetry fan, and so you might be wondering about the poem from today’s inauguration. The poem was written and presented by Elizabeth Alexander, who is a multi-talented poet, essayist, teacher, and playwright. Ms. Alexander was born in New York and raised in Washington, D.C. She earned her Ph. D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania and also holds degrees from Yale and Boston Universities.  One of Ms. Alexander’s five books of poetry, American Sublime, was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists and was an American Library Association Notable Book. She is the first recipient of the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship which is awarded for work that contributes to improving race relations. Currently, Ms. Alexander is on the faculty of Yale University.  You can visit her website or read a biography and some of her work at the website of  The Academy of American Poets. Here is the transcript of her poem courtesy of The New York Times as provided by CQ transcriptions:

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Check Out the 2008 Poets Forum from the Academy of American Poets in NYC

Posted by blatantbibliophiles on October 7, 2008

Our friends at The Academy of American Poets are hosting a Poets Forum in New York City November 6-8. The Forum will include a series of public events investigating issues central to contemporary American poetry. In-depth discussions with distinguished poets, readings, and walking tours through literary New York will be included. The price of an all-events pass is $110.00. There will be discussions and readings with such luminaries as Frank Bidart, Victor Herández Cruz, Louise Glück, Lyn Hejinian, Sharon Olds, Ron Padgett, Carl Phillips, Robert Pinsky, Kay Ryan, Gary Snyder, Gerald Stern, Susan Stewart, Ellen Bryant Voigt, and C. K. Williams. Other participants will include Charles Bernstein, Anselm Berrigan, Lucie Brock-Broido, Jordan Davis, Timothy Donnelly, Eamon Grennan, Major Jackson, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, James Longenbach, Cate Marvin, Cecily Parks, Claudia Rankine, Tracy K. Smith, and Tom Thompson. Walking tours will explore the literary history of the West Village, Harlem, Walt Whitman’s SoHo, Brooklyn, and the Museum of Modern Art. Tour guides include poets Anselm Berrigan, Jordan Davis, Cate Marvin, Tracy K. Smith, and Tom Thompson. The Poetry Awards Ceremony will be held Friday, November 7 at 7 P.M. with a reception to follow. Reading and reception for the new fall issue of American Poet, the journal of the Academy of American Poets will be held Saturday, November 8 at 8 P.M. All meeting times are subject to change. Visit the website of The Academy of American Poets for further details.

Posted in Poetry, Reading | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Congratulations to New Poet Laureate Kay Ryan!

Posted by blatantbibliophiles on July 28, 2008

Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan

Kay Ryan was appointed the sixteenth Poet Laureate of the United States on July 17. Ms. Ryan was born in California in 1945 and grew up in the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert. She earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from The University of California Los Angeles. She has lived in Marin County since 1971. Ryan will be featured in the upcoming Poets Forum of the Academy of American Poets in November. Ms. Ryan is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets; you can read her profile on their website, poets.org. Another helpful article is available on the Library of Congress website.
Ryan has published several collections of poetry, including The Niagara River (Grove Press, 2005); Say Uncle (2000); Elephant Rocks (1996); Flamingo Watching (1994), which was a finalist for both the Lamont Poetry Selection and the Lenore Marshall Prize; Strangely Marked Metal (1985); and Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends (1983).

Her awards include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Union League Poetry Prize, the Maurice English Poetry Award, and three Pushcart Prizes. Her work has been selected four times for The Best American Poetry and was included in The Best of the Best American Poetry 1988-1997.

 

Posted in Authors, Poetry, Reading | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Blatant Bibliophiles Welcome Author Kelly Bingham!

Posted by blatantbibliophiles on April 25, 2008

shark

Don’t forget, bibliophiles, on Monday, April 28, and Tuesday, April 29, The Unquiet Library will host author Kelly Bingham, author of Shark Girl, for a discussion and workshop on poetry writing! Here’s a brief synopsis of Shark Girl:

On a sunny day in June, at the beach with her mom and brother, 15-year-old Jane Arrowood went for a swim. And then everything – absolutely everything – changed. Now she’s counting down the days until she returns to school with her fake arm, where she knows kids will whisper, “That’s her – that’s Shark Girl,” as she passes. Poems, letters, telephone conversations, and newspaper clippings look unflinchingly at what it’s like to lose part of yourself – and to summon the courage it takes to find yourself again.

For more information about Kelly, visit readergirlz, where she is this month’s author. There’s a live chat with Kelly TONIGHT AT 9:00 PM on the readergirlz MySpace Forum. There’s also a round table discussion between Miss Erin, Little Willow, and author Lori Ann Grover on Little Willow’s cool book discussion site, bildungsroman. Need more? Check out the great interview on Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog, Cynsations.

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More Poetry!

Posted by blatantbibliophiles on April 21, 2008

mummy

Today’s Poem-a-Day from Poets.org is from Thomas James. Thomas James’s Letters to a Stranger – originally published in 1973, shortly before James’s suicide – has become one of the underground classics of contemporary poetry. According to reviewer Garrett Doherty in Contemporary Poetry, Letters to a Stranger is a book full of solitude and isolation in places where one would not like to be left alone. The speaker is often reaching out to someone, God or otherwise, who is not there. These letters were not necessarily written for us and we do not know who they were truly for. In addition, we do not always get the full story. Perhaps it is fitting that we also do not really know who these letters are from. The letter writer is as much a mystery as the intended recipient. It is up to us to find meaning, without any hints from the sender.

Mummy of a Lady Named Jemutesonekh
XXI Dynasty

by Thomas James

My body holds its shape. The genius is intact.
Will I return to Thebes? In that lost country
The eucalyptus trees have turned to stone.
Once, branches nudged me, dropping swollen blossoms,
And passionflowers lit my father’s garden.
Is it still there, that place of mottled shadow,
The scarlet flowers breathing in the darkness?

I remember how I died. It was so simple!
One morning the garden faded. My face blacked out.
On my left side they made the first incision.
They washed my heart and liver in palm wine—
My lungs were two dark fruit they stuffed with spices.
They smeared my innards with a sticky unguent
And sealed them in a crock of alabaster.

My brain was next. A pointed instrument
Hooked it through my nostrils, strand by strand.
A voice swayed over me. I paid no notice.
For weeks my body swam in sweet perfume.
I came out Scoured. I was skin and bone.
Thy lifted me into the sun again
And packed my empty skull with cinnamon.

They slit my toes; a razor gashed my fingertips.
Stitched shut at last, my limbs were chaste and valuable,
Stuffed with a paste of cloves and wild honey.
My eyes were empty, so they filled them up,
Inserting little nuggets of obsidian.
A basalt scarab wedged between my breasts
Replaced the tinny music of my heart.

Hands touched my sutures. I was so important!
They oiled my pores, rubbing a fragrance in.
An amber gum oozed down to soothe my temples.
I wanted to sit up. My skin was luminous,
Frail as the shadow of an emerald.
Before I learned to love myself too much,
My body wound itself in spools of linen.

Shut in my painted box, I am a precious object.
I wear a wooden mask. These are my eyelids,
Two flakes of bronze, and here is my new mouth,
Chiseled with care, guarding its ruby facets.
I will last forever. I am not impatient—
My skin will wait to greet its old complexions.
I’ll lie here till the world swims back again.

When I come home the garden will be budding,
White petals breaking open, clusters of night flowers,
The far-off music of a tambourine.
A boy will pace among the passionflowers,
His eyes no longer two bruised surfaces.
I’ll know the mouth of my young groom, I’ll touch
His hands. Why do people lie to one another?

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Keep That Poetry Coming!

Posted by blatantbibliophiles on April 18, 2008

Cherry Tomatoes

It’s still National Poetry Month, courtesy of the Academy of American Poets. Today’s poet is Sandra Beasley of Washington, D.C., a recent recipient of the 2008 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. The award, sponsored by Poets & Writers— the nation’s largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers— provides two writers with an honorarium and all-expenses-paid trip to New York City in October to meet with agents, editors, publishers, and other members of the New York literary community. Beasley won the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize for her book Theories of Falling (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2008), selected by Marie Howe. Her poems have also been featured in Verse Daily and Best New Poets (Samovar Press, 2005) and in journals such as 32 Poems, Barrow Street, Blackbird, RHINO, and SLATE. Awards for her work include the 2006 Elinor Benedict Poetry Prize from Passages North and fellowships to Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Millay Colony. She serves on the editorial staff of The American Scholar. You can learn more about her at her website.

Cherry Tomatoes
by Sandra Beasley

Little bastards of vine.
Little demons by the pint.
Red eggs that never hatch,
just collapse and rot. When

my mom told me to gather
their grubby bodies
into my skirt, I’d cry. You
and your father, she’d chide—

the way, each time I kicked
and wailed against sailing,
my dad shook his head, said
You and your mother.

Now, a city girl, I ease one
loose from its siblings,
from its clear plastic coffin,
place it on my tongue.

Just to try. The smooth
surface resists, resists,
and erupts in my mouth:
seeds, juice, acid, blood

of a perfect household.
The way, when I finally
went sailing, my stomach
was rocked from inside

out. Little boat, big sea.
Handful of skinned sunsets.

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It’s National Poem In Your Pocket Day

Posted by blatantbibliophiles on April 17, 2008

 

PocketPoem

Celebrate the power of poetry to both transport a reader and be transported by carrying a poem in your pocket all day on Thursday, April 17, the first national Poem In Your Pocket Day. Join celebrants across the country and share your favorite lines with friends, family, co-workers, and even strangers. Stop by The Unquiet Library to pick up a poem to carry in your pocketof download a selection of pocket-sized poems and poetry ringtones online. Carry the entire collection of over 2,500 poems on Poets.org in your pocket by simply going to www.poets.org/m from any mobile device.

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It’s a Poem!

Posted by blatantbibliophiles on April 16, 2008

birdseed

Are you following Poets.org Poem-a-Day for National Poetry Month? Today’s poem by James Tate is one of those where you can click on the poet’s name to go to the website and read his biography. As an added bonus, you can also hear the poem read aloud.

Father’s Day
by
James Tate

       My daughter has lived overseas for a number
of years now. She married into royalty, and they
won’t let her communicate with any of her family or
friends. She lives on birdseed and a few sips
of water. She dreams of me constantly. Her husband,
the Prince, whips her when he catches her dreaming.
Fierce guard dogs won’t let her out of their sight.
I hired a detective, but he was killed trying to
rescue her. I have written hundreds of letters
to the State Department. They have written back
saying that they are aware of the situation. I
never saw her dance. I was always at some
convention. I never saw her sing. I was always
working late. I called her My Princess, to make
up for my shortcomings, and she never forgave me.
Birdseed was her middle name.

Hear this poem

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A Poem a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

Posted by blatantbibliophiles on April 12, 2008

Today’s poet, Gary Lilley, is originally from North Carolina, where he attended the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He is now a reident of Washington, D.C. whre is is a member of the Writers’ Corps. He has been a recipient of the Washington Commission of the Arts Fellowship for Poetry. A member of the poetry group, The Black Rooster, his work has been published in African American Review, Drum Voice Review, Greensboro Review, and WPFW Anthology. Check out Poets.org, the website of the Academy of American Poets, for more great poetry, and to sign up to receive emails of their Poem-a-Day for the month of April.

Alpha Zulu
by Gary Lilley

I know more people dead than people alive,
my insomniac answer to self-addressed prayers

is that in the small hours even God drinks alone.
My self-portrait; gray locks in the beard, red eyes

burning back in the mirror, the truths of grooves
and nicks on my face, one missing tooth.

I’m a man who’s gathered too many addresses,
too many goodbyes. There’s not much money

or time left to keep on subtracting from my life.
Except for needs I can pack everything I have

into my old black sea-bag. To all the bloods
I’ll raise a bourbon, plant my elbow on the bar

and drink to the odds that one more shot
won’t have me wearing a suit of blues.

I’m so exposed, with you all of me is at risk,
and if that’s only one side of being in love

that’s the one deep down that proves it.
Here you are sleeping with me, narcotic as night,

naked as an open hand, and the skinny of it is,
what makes you think I am afraid of this

when I once lived in a cave, moss on the cold wall,
all my bones scattered across the floor.

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Need Some Poetry?

Posted by blatantbibliophiles on April 11, 2008

poetry

Today’s poet from the Academy of American Poets, Theodore Worozbyt, is a native of Atlanta. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arts Councils of Georgia and Alabama. He teaches writing and literature at The University of Alabama, from which he holds an M.F. A. and a Ph. D. Theodore Worozbyt’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Crazyhorse, Hotel Amerika, Kenyon Review, Kulture Vulture, Mississippi Review Online, New England Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, Smartish Pace, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. His manuscript, A Unified Theory of Light, won the 2005 Dream Horse Press chapbook competition.

Gnosis
by Theodore Worozbyt

Turns out the radiologist didn’t know thing one about radios. I stood there in my stocking feet and waited for the music to begin again. Being generally good with small motors I would mow and mow the lawn stoically with a white hand towel draped around my neck. I was stimulated by the reports of the optical scienteers. Because of the particular reflective and refractive qualities inherent in the molecular structure of the chlorophyll molecule, the wavelength perceived by the human eye as green is in fact repulsed by grass. Thus grass is all other colors. Impossible, impossible! was the catarrh violently discharging itself in the chambers of my thoughts. Grass and vert are green. Reading is black surrounded by white. If not, what? A barely perceptible hum underfoot that turns out to be electricity or some other invisible fluid? A basket heaped with unadjusted watches? The forests filled with white tigers. Fire came from god’s beard. The sun rolled, a chariot wheel flaring its treads across the clouds. Starlight: angelic punctuation on the carbon paper of midnight. New York City sewers crawled with titanic alligators before debunkers in rubber boots stepped in. President Somebody was smoking an Egyptian cigarette and several papers didn’t get signed before the prognosis began to resemble a trumpet: something gold around a hole.

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