I’m way behind on updating here, but isn’t it always a good day to be a Misfit? I was thrilled to be included among a rock star roster at Misfit Magazine over the summer. Editor Alan Catlin is a class act. I enjoy his editorial letter every issue, and his dedication to supporting intriguing poetry. Such a nice guy.
I had been looking for a meaningful way to support the efforts of those fighting the good fight, and was excited to find a most poetic opportunity care of the Magic City Poetry Festival.
I did some quick research on organizations doing good work in the festival’s home city of Birmingham, Alabama. I sent off a monetary donation. That very evening, I received a beautiful poem from the festival’s executive director, the fantastic poet Ashley M. Jones!
I’d like to share it below. The poem is in conversation with June Jordan’s affirmation poems. If you get in on this support action, you can even suggest a theme for your poem. Doesn’t it feel good to give? To get a personal poem in return, like the credit card ad says: priceless.
I hope you will join the effort, or something else that speaks to you in this moment. Because – say it with me:
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
In the day or two before AWP 2020 was due to start, the San Antonio mayor declared a state of emergency given the presence of the novel coronavirus. It became a smaller, more intimate version of the writers’ conference that can bring some 20,000 writers, educators, and publishers to a U.S. city every year.
Michael McInnis of Nixes Mate Books handed me the very first bundle of copies of my small, intimate debut collection, Bury Me in the Sky. Robert Vaughan of Bending Genres handed me something much larger, but no less intimate – The Bending Genres Anthology. Do you have a copy yet? (CLICK TO ORDER)
This hefty tome contains 250 pages, representing the best of the hybrid creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry that the journal has published since its first issue in January, 2018 by more than 100 authors!
I only joined as a poetry editor shortly before AWP, but am quite proud indeed of my team’s dedication to bringing these worthy voices to the journal’s virtual – and now physical – pages:
Abby Burns and Ade Toke and Alina Stefanescu and Andrew Hahn and Andrew Stancek and Anne Summerfield and Babak Lakghomi and Ben Kline and Benjamin Niespodziany and Brad Rose and Brett Pribble and Brianne Kohl and Cameron Morse and Cathy Ulrich and Chad Lutz and Christine Baerbock and Christopher Bowen and Claire Polders and Constance Malloy and D.S. Maolalai and David Spicer and E. Kristin Anderson and Emily Bertholf and Emily Hoover and Eric Lewis and Erin Anderson and Francine Witte and Freda Epum and Gail Gauthier and Gale Acuff and Gay Degani and Gaynor Jones and Genia Blum and Georgiana Nelsen and Hanna Barry Black and Hannah Cohen and Heidi Neff and Hillary Leftwich and Howie Good and J. Marasa and J. Tarwood and Jacqueline Doyle and Jalayna Carter and James McAdams and Jan Saenz and Jane-Rebecca Cannarella and Jayne Martin and Jeff Porter and Jen Todhunter and Jenn Lee and Jennifer Vanderheyden and Jill Talbot and John Brantingham and John Gray and Jonathan Riccio and Jose Aseguero and Joshua Baker and Jules Archer and Kaj Tanaka and Karen Schauber and Kate Murfett and Katherine Gleason and Kathryn de Lancellotti and Kathryn Kulpa and Kim Magowan and Kirsten Kaschock and Kristen Havens and Kristin Tenor and Kristina Ten and L. Mari Harris and Laura Heckel and Lauren Busser and Lee Patterson and Len Kuntz and Lucinda Kempe and Lucy Zhang and Luke Johnson and Martha Kaplan and Mary Thompson and Matthew Dexter and Meg Pokrass and Michael Grant Smith and Michelle Ko and Michelle Ross and Nancy Iannucci and Nancy Mitchell and Nancy Stohlman and Pique Allens and Rachel Laverdiere and Rachel Tanner and Riham Adly and Robert Scotellaro and Rogan Kelly and Ruth Ticktin and Ryan Skaryd and S. Leavesly and Sam Rasnake and Samina Hadi-Tabassum and Sara Comito and Sara Kuntsler and Sherre Vernon and Shome Dasgupta and Shoshauna Shy and Steven John and Suvi Mahonen and Tara Campbell and Thomas Ferriello and Timothy Liu and Tom Block and Tommy Dean and Vox Populi and Wendy Chirikos and Wendy Oleson and William Soldan and Woody Woodger
Many thanks to Rhino for including “Bury Me in the Sky” in its review series’ 2nd anniversary edition. Reviewer David O’Connor deemed it “the perfect antiserum for isolation.” You may read the review here.
One of my favorite things to happen in the last few weird, hazy, threatening months is this video, produced by my buddy Meg Tuite with Brian Mihok, bringing a pantheon of small press powerhouses together to read one powerful poem.
The piece is “Still Life with Casket in the Distance” from Colin Pope’s Why I Didn’t Go to your Funeral (Tolsun Books). The poetry brought me to tears, but so did the seamless presentation of so many poet friends filmed in their respective places of isolation.
Thanks to Bending Genres Productions for bringing this beauty to life.
Jonathan Cardew has launched a terrific series of video readings from contributors to the wonderful Bending Genres Anthology. What a great idea for the time of quarantine. I was asked to read The Germ Suspended, and decided the bee yard would be the perfect place. You can hear the neighbor kids engaged in some loud horseplay and the planes flying over from Page Field Airport near my Fort Myers home. This poem also appears in my book, Bury Me in the Sky, and came out of an ekphrastic exercise at Synergia Ranch during the 2019 Bending Genres retreat in New Mexico. Maybe I will see you there in September.
If you haven’t picked up the BG Anthology, you are missing out. Find it here.
Roger Williams of Florida Weekly argues, “Every month should be National Poetry Month, just like it should be National Remember-to-Breathe Month or National Bourbon-On-A-Bad-Day Month.”
I think you’ll enjoy his always compelling commentary, in which he kindly names me among some rather more accomplished Florida human beings and poets. Have a read, and if you’re having a bad day, maybe a bourbon to go with it. I hope you find some Light on a Dark Road.
Bending Genres presented an online weekend workshop with the marvelous Alina Stefanescu titled “Subverting the Line Break.” It was a daring exercise for a long-time poet like me to do just what the workshop said. A prose poem called Dark Money was one of several pieces I generated from the workshop. It was then quickly picked up by the always fascinating Pithead Chapel. You can now read Volume 8, Issue 5. Thanks for Dina Relles and the crew there for supporting this new work.
Florida’s known for a lot of things. Sometimes all the things collide in an ecstatic moment of dysfunction at the intersection of migratory routes and entrenched stagnation. Simmering under it all is an undercurrent of devastating natural beauty. Ad astra to this poem. Thanks to the beloved Drunk Monkeys magazine for finding a constellation for it.