Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pocket Poems

For National Poetry Month here is a fun way to participate tomorrow.

Monday, April 15, 2013

ADV. CW Check this out

Remember how we discussed theme journals/anthologies as being good places to try?

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Screeeeeeeech. So the paperwork for Forthmade (pop-up store) indicates an April 22nd turn-in date for our supplies for them.

I will bring the more uniform bottles on Tuesday and with luck, you will be able to do them in time for that deadline.

You can do as few as one for that and as many as two, (let me know for sure as we have to turn in a product count immediately.) And then you have to have the ones done for Poetry Pharmacy, too.

Think about this and let me know what your best strategy will be. Should we plan to have everything ready (Poetry Pharm. and Forthmade) on the same day and then deliver our goods to the store organizers and plan to do our table on 25th (per our initial plan).  Let me know what works for all of you.

Also, if you are feeling kind of daunted about the naming of ills part and selecting a poem, this link  and here, too, will be helpful to you.   You can still have fun naming the ailment or you can just do something like "Prescription for a Birthday."  (Let's plan to have a couple of these in the Forthmade order as I can see someone buying a poem for a birthday friend or family member.)  You might want to think a little more mainstream and practical for the Forthmade, as well as very professional and more uniform and save a bit of the freak-flag stuff for the Poetry Pharmacy at school.

I love our class and am so thrilled to be sharing all of this with you. These are graded assignments so be sure to get them in, finished, nice and on time. And don't forget our reading for the week. Let's have a lively discussion without my having to resort to Brad Paisley to help us out.  ;-)

Friday, April 12, 2013


Abraham Smith is a wizard of words and he keeps them on the move.
The video is not the best quality but he is so exciting to see live that I hope some of it will come through here. He has several books.  A little taste of his poetry on the page can be found here


Hey Gang, While it was fun to be silly and all-pink-baroque-rainbowy-design-critical with you, and while too, I enjoyed the familiarity and playful verbal repartee of such a candid, bright pack of you, I also felt a little remiss. I really did mean to find the poems that I had recalled and to show you how keeping passivity to a minimum, doesn't always seem graceless and can be quite elegant. Also, note that it is impossible not to use some "be verbs."  Like a heavy, sleepiness-inducing seasoning, they should simply be used sparingly.

So that I don't violate anyone's right to publish, I am only including an excerpt of the poem I was hoping to find online in class yesterday.  Here it is:

the pony dream

we know of fragile sounds between
the honey house and pump.  the rusted planks
alace tonight in suckle nests and spores.
how happy the beetles crawl the cockeyed knots
of barn, but the yarrow stalks bendin crisp
still frown.  whose spine frame juts above
the meadow starch?  mine. and what
naked piece of us inside? a grain bag-
vermin slept as mice drag in fresh straw.  
one moment we are, another- the matchbook
is open, a wing flick of hand cup, and a silo’s early
embers glown in fog. sublime now,  our sticky
gems of sky blinkin in tar.  who runs from
the kitchen bringin water pails or ice? 
no one.  the ambulance passes of night.
strangers walkin to, next the gracious
steppin back.   a burn pile creaks above
the chime and cruckus of tin frogs. 
their long unfolded legs, our yellow lit bodies
soft rocking.  the barn burns and all we say
is please- a last lullaby. our flame trickled farm;
a spider candle’s quick climb out the bell curlin
sky.  how separate we become from our self.   

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Prepping for the Pharmacy: Contemporary Lit.

First, here's the link where I got the idea for it.
Now, a poem you might consider for one of your ailments:

In Tennessee I Found a Firefly

Flashing in the grass; the mouth of a spider clung   
          to the dark of it: the legs of the spider   
held the tucked wings close,
          held the abdomen still in the midst of calling   
with thrusts of phosphorescent light—

When I am tired of being human, I try to remember
          the two stuck together like burrs. I try to place them   
central in my mind where everything else must
          surround them, must see the burr and the barb of them.   
There is courtship, and there is hunger. I suppose
          there are grips from which even angels cannot fly.   
Even imagined ones. Luciferin, luciferase.
          When I am tired of only touching,
I have my mouth to try to tell you
          what, in your arms, is not erased.

Let's say I am participating in the event. Say I read this poem on The Poetry Daily site and think maybe it might heal a thing or two.  I might make a label that reads: In Case of Ennui or Remedy for the Wooly Horribles  or Color Capsules for the Beige or any way you want to approach the symptoms that this poem can help alleviate.   I then print the poem in such a way as to be able to nicely fit into the bottle (little scrolls? I guess the length of poem and size of font and bottle will determine this).  We'll add candy to the heart of it (a Hershey's kiss could be a good fit) and send it on its way.  

The main thing to note is that you will be finding poems not writing them for this assignment. The idea is that National Poetry Month should bring more poetry into people's worlds and poetry that might send them to read a whole book by this poet or more poems overall. 

Some sites that might help you find poems that might work for this assignment are the above Poetry Daily, and  Verse Daily.  Also, the Writers' Almanac site daily archives (click on any date to see some of the poems). is loaded with options and even helps you out with themes.
Some poets to consider: Naomi Shihab Nye, Billy Collins, Robert Frost, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Mary Oliver, Adrienne Rich, Paul Guest, Mary Quade,

Poets who often use humor: Bob Hicok, Eliot Khalil Wilson, Joe Wenderoth, Andrew Hudgins, Erica Bernheim,

Friday, April 5, 2013

Why I Love You Guys So Much

So, Contemporary Lit. is going to be busy with our Poetry Pharmacy materials and choosing poems that matter and can cure what ails us will be their charge. Upon leaving Advanced Creative Writing yesterday, the wonderful Alix Ayoub told of a poem that she'd found, a prose poem it turns out, by a poet whose work I love but through which I had not yet encountered this poem. Alix's summary of it nearly moved to me tears and her love for it and the way that three of us hung out after class, Alix, Alicia Kleman (whose writing, like Alix's and Naomo Shihab Nye's adds whole gardens to the world) and me. I felt so happy to be teaching all of those very-you. I would go home, find out a former student of mine had died and that would be sad. But I went thinking about how lucky I am to have people at my job, no less, who pay the right kind of attention to the world.

Check out this poem and thank people like Alix for taking extra time to share it with us.

Gate 4-A
by Naomi Shihab Nye

“This is the world I want to live in.
The shared world."

"Peace" in Arabic - calligraphy by Dr. Shams Anwari-AlhoseeyniWandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning my flight had been detained four hours, I heard an announcement: “If anyone in the vicinity of Gate 4-A understands any Arabic, please come to the gate immediately.”  Well – one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there. An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. “Help,” said the Flight Service Person. “Talk to her. What is her problem?  We told her the flight was going to be late and she did this.”  I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke to her haltingly. “Shu dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-se-wee?” The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the next day. I said, “You’re fine, you’ll get there, who is picking you up? Let’s call him.” We called her son and I spoke with him in English. I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to her – Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for fun. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends.  Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know and let them chat with her? This all took up about two hours. She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life, patting my knee, answering questions.  She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies – little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts – out of her bag – and was offering them to all the women at the gate.  To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the lovely woman from Laredo – we were all covered with the same powdered sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie. And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers and two little girls from our flight ran around serving us all apple juice and they were covered with powdered sugar too. And I noticed my new best friend – by now we were holding hands – had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere. And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought, this is the world I want to live in.  The shared world. Not a single person in this gate – once the crying of confusion stopped – seemed apprehensive about any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too. This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Link to Magazine (Art. Lit. Fashion)

I really want to encourage all of you to start thinking about submissions. Adv. CW, Thursday will be about publishing. (Also, start distributing stories/poems if you hope to get workshopped.)

THIS CONTEST:  (I would help you prepare if you were interested. ADV. CW: We all would help each other.)

 Consider this site as it is loaded with markets of all stripes.

Come Play! National Poetry Month Sites and Daily Writing Prompts


Poetic Asides

Ekphrasis Presentation Essays

For your next assignment, we will ALL be reading ALL of the following.

Groups can use a variety of methods to lead discussion, including quizzes.

Here are the groups and essays to be read:

"Calm Even in the Catastrophe" W.H. Auden,  Group: Caroline, Alicia, Jonathan)

"An Art of Wondering" Robert Duncan,  Group:  Parish, Maxx

"Hopper's World."  Mark Strand, Group"  Hannah, Stephanie, Evin, Angelina

"On Poetry and Painting with a Thought on Music"  Howard Nemerov.  Group: Christine, Sam, Zac and Sarah.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Cloudy Vase

Happy day one of National Poetry Month.