I got an advance copy of this book months ago and sent it off to a reviewer before I got a chance to get into it, so I didn’t get to read it until I bought a copy at AWP in Seattle some weeks back. Which is cool because I wanted Amaud, who’s been a friend since our Stegner days, to sign it for me. It was worth the wait.

Amaud’s work, since before his first book, has always been spare and taut, with never an extra word in a poem, and he continues that style in Darktown Follies. But even in these tight poems, there’s plenty of space for wordplay. I don’t generally quote poems in these little pieces, but I’m going to now. From “The Front Matter”:

Pity the ringdove, the silver-tongued
Coxcomb, throb and pulse, the hurly
Burly of the hurdy-gurdy man. Pity
The pomp, all the prunes and prisms,
That miscellany of light located beneath
The lips and gums. It’s all that cockeyed
Peacockery, the dumb show high flown,
Guffaw and that garbled moonlight.

Holy shit. Hold on. I mean Holy shit. How does he get all those consonants and vowels bouncing off each other in such a musical way while keeping it so damn smooth? Hell if I know how he does it. All I know is I hope he keeps doing it. Well done, my friend. Well done.

andresc64:

Carl Sagan


We’ve been watching the original Cosmos. It’s so frigging amazing. I love the new one as well, don’t get me wrong, and I won’t try to compare the two, but well, there’s a reason one of our almost 8-week old daughters is named Sagan.

andresc64:

Carl Sagan

We’ve been watching the original Cosmos. It’s so frigging amazing. I love the new one as well, don’t get me wrong, and I won’t try to compare the two, but well, there’s a reason one of our almost 8-week old daughters is named Sagan.

(via dirtymoines)

I both love and hate the concept of this anthology. Here’s what I love: I love the idea of getting people, both writers and critics and not, but especially not, to share and talk about the poems that move them so powerfully that they are choked up by them. This book is set up so that you get to read testimonials of a sort before you read the poem. And the best ones are almost always from the not-writers/critics, because they’re bare open to you, the reader, about why this poem punches them in the stomach.

What I hate about the book: the premise inherent in the title. One, that grown people crying should be a rare thing and two, that it is so remarkable that men could be moved to tears by poetry that it’s worth dedicating a whole book to just men talking about it. It’s a premise that screams patriarchy. When I pulled it out of the envelope from the publisher, I was stunned by it, and when, a day or two later, I asked my wife if she’d seen the book and what she thought, she said she felt insulted by it.

And what aggravates me most about all this is that I want to be able to recommend this book because it’s published in concert with Amnesty International, a group I generally support.

What I want is an anthology like this, that asks people of all orientations to share the poems that move them to tears for whatever reason, and to talk about why they do. I might even ask them to come up with multiple poems—ones that make them cry because they’re sad and others because of the joy they remind the reader of. That would be a book I could recommend enthusiastically. Not so much this one.

lollard:

so i’m gonna preface this by saying it is in no way the same deal as, for example, the blackhawks

but given north carolina’s history 

it is in poor taste to call the team the hurricanes

(yeah, that’s right, i said it)

Isn’t the University of MIami Hurricanes in even poorer taste then?

tontonmichel:

Know your rights.


It’s probably not a good idea to add “because I don’t trust you to do your job fairly.” No matter how true that statement might be.

tontonmichel:

Know your rights.

It’s probably not a good idea to add “because I don’t trust you to do your job fairly.” No matter how true that statement might be.

(via motezart)

"At night, when the birds have quieted and the street lamps are humming, these are the questions that can test you and inspire you as a poet. During the day, when you are at your desk, coffee at hand, face to face with the page or the screen, these are the questions that can be your invitation to write.

No matter the language that you write in, likely you already know that trying to answer these difficult questions becomes the inspiration not just for a single poem but for your lifetime of creative imagination. Your answers may change as you change. They may alter as you evolve as both a person and a poet. But, continuously, they will give your writing its blood and breath, its muscle and sinew, its lines and stanzas, its mind and being.

Your answers will be the imprint of your mind and utterance, which are the very factors that distinguish one poet from another and that have always distinguished one poet from another. Paradoxically, they are the very factors that reveal how all poets are similar.

In other words, your poems will be your answers.”

therumpus:

The Rumblr’s in-house astrologer, Madame Clairevoyant, presents her latest dispatch from the stars:
 Aries: This week, something new will enter your world. This week, the life you’ve been living is going to get shaken up, it’s going to fill with color, it’s going to fill with song. It’s going to feel a little wild and a little scary, maybe, all this newness, all this bright unruly joy. Try to ride it out. Try to keep your eyes open. Try to see every surprise as a gift. Watch everything around you come to life and feel the world moving, feel the world shifting, feel yourself coming into your own.
 Taurus: This week, you might feel like a tangle and you might feel like a mess and this is okay, this is good. It’s a week for trying to embrace your tangled core, for working to embrace your bright messy brain. This is where your best thoughts can come from; this is where your best work can come from, this is what can light you up. Tell stories that don’t have an end and stories that don’t have a plot; sing songs that don’t make sense; draw pictures with so many colors you could almost get a headache.
 Gemini: This week’s going to be about journeys and about adventures and about seeking out the things you most need to live. This week, turn your gaze towards the sea, turn your gaze towards the skies, turn your gaze into your own rich depths. Travel somewhere far enough that the air smells new. Travel somewhere far enough that the light feels soft. Travel somewhere that can change you, somewhere that can speak to you, somewhere that can tell you the way home. Think about Yoko Ono, think about Lynda Barry, read the books that make you believe in magic.
 Cancer: This week the world’s going to open up wide in front of you; the world’s going to show you paths and passageways; the world’s going to give you maps. This week, the world’s going to make it easy for you to move through your days, easy for you to move through your town, easy for your to move through your dreams. Everything’s going to come unstuck this week; and you can travel, you can change, you can find the stories you need. Read books about history. Read books about people weirder than you are.
 Leo: This week is going to be full of surprises; this week is going to be full of treasures; this week is going to be full of joys that do not announce themselves, good things quietly waiting to be found. Try to keep moving. Even the missteps will be like gifts. Even the wrong turns will open doors. Try to be open, try to accept every invitation the world gives you. Try to see each bright good thing for the bright good thing that it is. Spend time with kids. Spend time with dogs. Talk to strangers.
 Virgo: This week, something in the air is going to fill you with bravery, it’s going to fill you with strength, it’s going to make you feel electric and wild. Your imagination is going to be so bright; it’s going to be enough to make you believe in your own future, to make you believe in the future of the whole world. This week, you can things you don’t know how to do yet. You can create what you don’t yet know. You can build the things that you need and the things that do not yet exist.
 Libra: This week might feel like a whirlwind and it might feel like a storm. This week might feel so full and so bright that you can’t sleep, so full and so bright that you can’t even tell what’s real, so full and so bright that you get dizzy just looking out the window at the world. Read everything you can get your hands on, walk all through your town with your eyes wide and your heart open. Fill yourself up with this strange beauty and take care of yourself, eat ice cream, listen to the most tender songs.
 Scorpio: This week, it’s going to be okay to just focus on the details, on your clothes and your hair and the things you eat. It’s going to be okay to focus on the words, rather than the story; it’s going to be okay to focus on the colors rather than the whole picture. It’s a week for putting your energy into getting the details right. Don’t worry so much about the big things, don’t worry about the stars or the sky or the path, just trust that for now, the small things can carry you.
 Sagittarius: This week you might feel pulled at from all sides, you might feel conflicting desires fighting in your guts, you might want so many things that it’s hard to feel whole, hard to stick together, hard to live in a way you can understand. It’s okay, this week, to change as you want. Think of yourself as a story, think of yourself as a riddle, think of yourself as the tides, think of yourself as the moon. Be generous with the people who love you. Listen to songs that make your weird shifting dreams make sense.
 Capricorn: This is a week for private pleasures and quiet immersive joys, it’s a week for doing all the things that make your world light up. Spend your days reading, or walking, or sleeping, or looking at pictures of the sky. Spend your days writing poems that make sense to nobody but you. Do the things that make your life make sense. Do the things that make your dreams long and sweet. Do the things with no purpose other than to make your eyes glow, no purpose other than to make your world feel okay.
 Aquarius: This week is going to be about finding and building the places where you can live. This week is going to be about tearing down the structures that aren’t big enough anymore, the ones with no windows, the ones with no air to breathe. Think about the houses you’ve lived in; think about the kitchens you’ve cooked in, think of all the windows you’ve gazed out of. Spend your days seeking out the places where you can be free and the places where you can be safe. You can find these places if they exist; you can build them if they don’t.
 Pisces: This week, spend your days rekindling the fire that lights you up inside. Don’t let the world make you want to shrink yourself, don’t let the world make you want to become smaller than you are. This week, remember how strange and stubborn and strong you are, remember all the ways that you can glow, all the ways you can light up this world, all the ways you can sing and all the ways you can make noise. This week is for growing to your full size; this week is for taking on your full and truest power.
Today’s image was made specially for Madame Clairevoyant by Jen May.

therumpus:

The Rumblr’s in-house astrologer, Madame Clairevoyant, presents her latest dispatch from the stars:

Aries: This week, something new will enter your world. This week, the life you’ve been living is going to get shaken up, it’s going to fill with color, it’s going to fill with song. It’s going to feel a little wild and a little scary, maybe, all this newness, all this bright unruly joy. Try to ride it out. Try to keep your eyes open. Try to see every surprise as a gift. Watch everything around you come to life and feel the world moving, feel the world shifting, feel yourself coming into your own.

Taurus: This week, you might feel like a tangle and you might feel like a mess and this is okay, this is good. It’s a week for trying to embrace your tangled core, for working to embrace your bright messy brain. This is where your best thoughts can come from; this is where your best work can come from, this is what can light you up. Tell stories that don’t have an end and stories that don’t have a plot; sing songs that don’t make sense; draw pictures with so many colors you could almost get a headache.

Gemini: This week’s going to be about journeys and about adventures and about seeking out the things you most need to live. This week, turn your gaze towards the sea, turn your gaze towards the skies, turn your gaze into your own rich depths. Travel somewhere far enough that the air smells new. Travel somewhere far enough that the light feels soft. Travel somewhere that can change you, somewhere that can speak to you, somewhere that can tell you the way home. Think about Yoko Ono, think about Lynda Barry, read the books that make you believe in magic.

Cancer: This week the world’s going to open up wide in front of you; the world’s going to show you paths and passageways; the world’s going to give you maps. This week, the world’s going to make it easy for you to move through your days, easy for you to move through your town, easy for your to move through your dreams. Everything’s going to come unstuck this week; and you can travel, you can change, you can find the stories you need. Read books about history. Read books about people weirder than you are.

Leo: This week is going to be full of surprises; this week is going to be full of treasures; this week is going to be full of joys that do not announce themselves, good things quietly waiting to be found. Try to keep moving. Even the missteps will be like gifts. Even the wrong turns will open doors. Try to be open, try to accept every invitation the world gives you. Try to see each bright good thing for the bright good thing that it is. Spend time with kids. Spend time with dogs. Talk to strangers.

Virgo: This week, something in the air is going to fill you with bravery, it’s going to fill you with strength, it’s going to make you feel electric and wild. Your imagination is going to be so bright; it’s going to be enough to make you believe in your own future, to make you believe in the future of the whole world. This week, you can things you don’t know how to do yet. You can create what you don’t yet know. You can build the things that you need and the things that do not yet exist.

Libra: This week might feel like a whirlwind and it might feel like a storm. This week might feel so full and so bright that you can’t sleep, so full and so bright that you can’t even tell what’s real, so full and so bright that you get dizzy just looking out the window at the world. Read everything you can get your hands on, walk all through your town with your eyes wide and your heart open. Fill yourself up with this strange beauty and take care of yourself, eat ice cream, listen to the most tender songs.

Scorpio: This week, it’s going to be okay to just focus on the details, on your clothes and your hair and the things you eat. It’s going to be okay to focus on the words, rather than the story; it’s going to be okay to focus on the colors rather than the whole picture. It’s a week for putting your energy into getting the details right. Don’t worry so much about the big things, don’t worry about the stars or the sky or the path, just trust that for now, the small things can carry you.

Sagittarius: This week you might feel pulled at from all sides, you might feel conflicting desires fighting in your guts, you might want so many things that it’s hard to feel whole, hard to stick together, hard to live in a way you can understand. It’s okay, this week, to change as you want. Think of yourself as a story, think of yourself as a riddle, think of yourself as the tides, think of yourself as the moon. Be generous with the people who love you. Listen to songs that make your weird shifting dreams make sense.

Capricorn: This is a week for private pleasures and quiet immersive joys, it’s a week for doing all the things that make your world light up. Spend your days reading, or walking, or sleeping, or looking at pictures of the sky. Spend your days writing poems that make sense to nobody but you. Do the things that make your life make sense. Do the things that make your dreams long and sweet. Do the things with no purpose other than to make your eyes glow, no purpose other than to make your world feel okay.

Aquarius: This week is going to be about finding and building the places where you can live. This week is going to be about tearing down the structures that aren’t big enough anymore, the ones with no windows, the ones with no air to breathe. Think about the houses you’ve lived in; think about the kitchens you’ve cooked in, think of all the windows you’ve gazed out of. Spend your days seeking out the places where you can be free and the places where you can be safe. You can find these places if they exist; you can build them if they don’t.

Pisces: This week, spend your days rekindling the fire that lights you up inside. Don’t let the world make you want to shrink yourself, don’t let the world make you want to become smaller than you are. This week, remember how strange and stubborn and strong you are, remember all the ways that you can glow, all the ways you can light up this world, all the ways you can sing and all the ways you can make noise. This week is for growing to your full size; this week is for taking on your full and truest power.

Today’s image was made specially for Madame Clairevoyant by Jen May.

I probably should have finished this a couple of weeks ago at least, given that it’s the Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection for March, but more because it’s just such a beautiful book. Keetje and I are writer friends, by which I mean we have some shared background (both were Stegners, though at different times), know a lot of the same people, and try to make sure to run into each other at AWP every year. But that’s not why we chose the book for the book club. Actually, I had very little to do with this choice, which is one of the reasons I am so glad I enjoyed it this much. That will also make the author chat next week much more comfortable. :-)

These poems are tight, with razor-sharp images in almost every line. We spend a fair amount of time in Kuipers’s native Montana in this book, but not in a way that exoticizes or romanticizes it. It’s just the ground upon which the poems reside, and that’s good because it’s what’s going on in the poems which is so wonderful in this book. It’s just out from BOA Editions. Check it out.

wildruled:

Remember that wonderful student loan forgiveness program, which allowed you to make income-sensitive payments for 10 years and have your debt forgiven, so long as you work in the public sector? IT’S IN DANGER. They’re going to put a cap on it ($57,500), which is really rather low for undergraduate and graduate loans combined. Please sign this.

Hell yes I signed this. It’s bad enough that adjunct faculty work doesn’t qualify you for the 10 year program because you’re not “full-time.” If anything, the program needs to be more generous, not less.

A couple of things. One, it’s rare that I really want to see the finished copy of a book of poetry if I’ve read the ARC, because the visual elements aren’t generally that different from one form to the next. I suspect that won’t be the case here, because many of the poems in the first half of the book are accompanied by what look like hand drawings with Arabic script in them, which makes me think they’re visual poems. But the reproduction level in the ARC is (I suspect) not of very high quality, and so much of the detail is foggy. I hope it’s sharper in the finished copy because I think it would really add to my enjoyment of the poems.

Two, I’d really like it if there were a translator’s note included with this book, with any book of translation really, because the translator is asm much a part of the process as the poet is, and I love to read their thoughts on the challenges that collaborating with another artist presents. I love it almost as much as I love reading the poems themselves.

I’ve been a fan of Mikhail’s work since The War Works Hard, so I was excited when this book popped up in my mailbox last week. And this book doesn’t disappoint. They travel much of the same ground that her last book did—the loss of her homeland, the violence that caused the loss, and violence in general. MIkhail’s scope is a bit more global in this book, but the basic themes are the same. Some of the poems are taut and spare and others sprawl, but the voice resonates equally throughout.

And the last poem, “Larsa,” is a killer. Grab this book as soon as you get the chance.