Dailies 2/23/18


Anna Jackson– Bees, so many bees.

After twenty years of marriage, we walked out
of the bush and on to a rough dirt road
we followed till we saw a pond
we might be able to get to.

Read rest of poem 




Rachel B. Glaser – I AM AN ORCHID

which means I can die at any moment
I’m the most graceful thing in the grocery store
I have several beautiful heads

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Tyree Daye – Field Notes on Beginning


I wear my grandmother’s bones like a housedress through the city. 
Some nights the block tells me all its problems. 
I’ll meet you at the top of the biggest rock in Rolesville 
or on train headed to a reading in Queens, just tell me where. I promise 
to gather your bones only for good. 
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Poetry Diary:

Claude McKay – America

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.




“The idea that all Native American or Muslim American women must be praised for the very fact of publishing a book smacks of the worst sort of condescension”

In Praise of Negative Reviews – Rafia Zakaria – Baffler – 2/21/18

“This new ethic of book reviewing is offered up to protect and assist the unprivileged and the marginalized; and, yes, those whose context and cultures may not be easily relatable may require a bit of extra work from the reader. Yet from there the anti-negative book review cadre argues for limitations on all book reviews. Writing a critical review that dares wonder about the writer’s biography, that goes beyond the page into the suggested and imputed, is not only ‘textual violence’ but a tacit endorsement of inequality, of exclusion, and marginalization.

“It is a clever sleight of hand, stemming in some part from the predilection toward taking offence on behalf of marginalized others while simultaneously suggesting that a lowering of standards, or in this case a deliberate abridgement of the negative review, is what is required to correct the inequities of under-representation and misinterpretation. This is simply not true; for those who belong to these marginalized categories—and I speak as someone who does—critical and informed engagement with their work, along with dialectical challenges to it, is a sign of equality or inclusion. The idea that all Native American or Muslim American women must be praised for the very fact of publishing a book smacks of the worst sort of condescension; the idea that their public positions must receive gentle pats insures their intellectual exclusion.”

Dailies 2/22/18


Jennifer Hayashida – Virginia Street

February on another coast is April
here. Astrology is months: 
you are February, or are you 
June, and who is 
December? Who is books 
read in spring, wingspan 
between midnight 
and mourning
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Tom French – A Rest Stop near Rochester

Buzzards are returning to the hard shoulder.
_____The strapped State is letting nature handle
the road kill we encounter heading south—

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Kimiko Hahn & Tamiko Beyer  – Things that cannot be compared 

    cursory translation of Sei Shōnagon 

Evening and day. Rain and sunlight. Summer and winter. The aged and
young. Laughter and anger. White and black. Loved ones and detested ones.

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Poetry Diary: 

Chase Twichell – Stripped Car

There’s something in me that likes
to imagine the things I’m afraid of,
for example, the future.
I don’t mean the celestial fireworks
from melting reactors, or New York
under six feet of sea water,
but the future in its most intimate,

What happens when a poet’s “life begins to obscure the richness of the work”

 For far too long, Millay’s work has been overshadowed by her reputation. A party girl poet. A sexually adventurous bisexual. A morphine addict. But then Millay also won the Pulitzer for poetry in 1923; the following year, literary critic Harriet Monroe called Millay was “the greatest woman poet since Sappho”. In a review of a 2001 Millay anthology, the Atlantic proclaimed that “the first rule of modern literary biography is that the life renders the work incidental” – but what happens when the life begins to obscure the richness of the work? Focusing on Millay’s relationships with both men and women has been de rigueur for the last half century – so it is high time that her words were allowed the limelight again.

Edna St Vincent Millay’s poetry has been eclipsed by her personal life – let’s change that – Amandas Ong – The Guardian – 2/22/18

North Korean poems written by a poet…or by an idea?

Bandi, translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl  – Blizzard 

blizzard, blizzard, the sound of winter crying

chest pounding, sobbing, the sound of winter crying

spring, summer, fall, and winter—four seasons, and only you

weeping—the indignity of your unfortunate fate

Read rest of excerpt (scroll down) It’s in:

Reading North Korean Poems During the South Korean Olympics – Mythili G. Gao – The New Yorker – 2/21/18

There is no shortage of Bandi skeptics: nearly all of the Korean experts I spoke to or corresponded with for this piece—scholars, translators, political scientists—had reservations. According to the account appended to “The Accusation,” Bandi is a living North Korean writer, employed by the state, who wrote these works in secret, in the late eighties and early-to-mid nineties. (At least some of the poems seem to have been written later, likely in the nineties and early aughts.) “There is speculation that he may be a North Korean refugee, a suspicion that I’ve also harbored,” Lee, who spent many years working closely with North Korean defectors as an activist, told me. Even the writer’s staunchest boosters seem comfortable with the possibility that Bandi might be an idea as much as a particular person: in January, the South Korean human-rights activist Do Hee-yun, one of the only people to have seen the original manuscript, told me that he wondered if Bandi was its sole author, or if the stories perhaps represented the work of a group of writers—some sort of dissident-writers’ collective.

Yay Patricia Smith & Donika Kelly!


Patricia Smith – Black, Poured Directly into the Wound

Prairie winds blaze through her tumbled belly, and Emmett’s
red yesterdays refuse to rename her any kind of mother.
A pudge-cheeked otherwise, sugar whistler, her boy is
(through the fierce clenching mouth of her memory) a
grays-and-shadows child. Listen. Once she was pretty.



Donika Kelly – Self-Portrait as a Door

All the birds die of blunt force trauma—
of barn of wire of YIELD or SLOW
CHILDREN AT PLAY. You are a sign
are a plank are a raft are a felled oak.

Read rest of poem 

‘Incendiary Art’ and ‘Bestiary’ win 2018 Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Awards

Reading the Odyssey w/one’s 12 year old daughter

In Turn Each Woman Thrust Her Head – Kim Todd – Paris Review – 2/15/18

“In the hot attic bedroom in Minneapolis, my twelve-year-old daughter is reading to me from the Odyssey. Curled in the center of the orange paisley chair, she conjures ship-smashing gales, feasts of roast lamb, a mouth full of salt. The words wash over me as I do leg lifts, building strength after breaking a foot, eager to run again. Sweat sticks skin to the polished wood floor. Sparrows chatter and build nests of junk-mail scraps and dryer lint on beams outside, just above the windows. A lock of dark hair hangs in my daughter’s face as she adopts the goddess Athena’s shocked voice. Odysseus has dared to doubt her, and in her wounded pride, she sounds a bit like an aggrieved mother.

“‘Your touching faith! Another man would trust
Some villainous mortal, with no brains—and what
am I? Your goddess-guardian to the end
in all your trials.’

“It’s a story we both love, though this is my daughter’s first encounter with Homer’s original.” 

Dailies 2/21/18


Rickey Laurentiis – 2019

I could string him back up the tree, if you’d like.
     Return his skin’s meaning to an easy distance, coal dust, blaze
And Willie Brown him. You
     Love how the blood muddies the original,
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 J. Allyn Rosser – Self of Steam

mondegreen from a student paper

When thoughts stack up like cinderblock
unfurl your self of steam
which rises over grit and gray and rock

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 Kathleen Winter  – Postcard 1908: Death-tropes of the Feminine 

Shall never forget the spread
we didn’t have.

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Poetry Daily: we now have a therapy fish in the office of the library I work at. 🙂

Toi Derricotte – For Telly the Fish

Telly’s favorite artist was Alice Neel.
When he first came to my house,
I propped up her bright yellow shade with open
window & a vase of flowers (postcard size)

Read rest of poem 





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