The Journal is one of my favorite lit mags, and I’m happy to have a poem in their new issue, along with some stellar company. I think of their aesthetic as the ideal manifestation of Emily Dickinson’s “tell it slant” advice. Here’s a link to The Journal’s website, if you’d like to check it out: http://thejournalmag.org. And here’s a shot of my poem in their current print edition:
To celebrate hosting the Super Bowl this year, among other lovely happenings, Houston is getting all dressed up in POETRY. I’m thrilled that some of my lines were selected and are now on banners across the city. What a great project. What a great city. Below are a couple of articles about The Houston Banner Project and Figurative Poetics. One of them is by Miah Mary Arnold, curator of the project, and the other is by Clifford Pugh, Editor-in-Chief at CultureMap.
Here are a couple of paragraphs (from Miah’s article in the Houston Chronicle) that tell about the beautiful intent of the project:
“The project is the brainwork of Alan Krathaus and Fiona McGettigan of Core Design Studio. The Houston Downtown Management District wanted to create something bold and inspiring with the new banners they were going to hang, and asked Core for ideas. Their answer — ‘Figurative Poetics’ — was adventurous from the get-go: Whereas most downtowns have banners with simple promotional slogans, McGettigan and Krathaus wondered, what it would be like if Houston’s banners could reveal the city like the complex and unlikely character that it is?
What if walking down the street could be like having a conversation? What if each new path through the city created a new narrative, and each story was as dynamic as the city itself? What if Houston could sing its innumerable voices?”
I’ll share pictures of the banners with my lines when I find them.
I’m thrilled to announce the release of two new interviews for VIDA Voices & Views. The first interview features writer and activist, Cheryl Strayed, who reads from her celebrated memoir Wild and discusses topics ranging from her own feminist origins to the glimmers of beauty, art, and power contained within suffering.
Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Wild, the novel Torch, and two more New York Times bestsellers, Tiny Beautiful Things, which is comprised of advice from her “Dear Sugar” column, and Brave Enough, a collection of her most popular quotes. Celebrated for transforming suffering and loss into power and grace, Strayed’s books have been translated into forty languages. As well, Wild was made into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern and was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. In addition to writing, Strayed is co-host of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, which originated with her “Dear Sugar” advice column on The Rumpus, and she is a long-time feminist activist and one of the first members of VIDA’s board of directors. Critics have called Cheryl Strayed’s work “both a literary and human triumph.” To learn more about Cheryl Strayed, please visit: http://www.cherylstrayed.com
Here are some of my favorite Cheryl Strayed quotes from the episode:
“When I was a kid of just six or seven years old, I learned the word ‘feminism,’ and I’ve been a feminist ever since.”
“Literature is my religion. Books have been the thing throughout my life that have offered the greatest consolation and enlightenment and illumination and all the things that we go to religion or spiritual practice for.”
“Writers get this bad rap, like we’re so competitive and at each other’s throats, and I would say, ‘Yeah, every once in awhile there is somebody who is like that.’ But mostly what I feel is that we go to the same church and we speak the same language and have the same values and beliefs in a deep sort of way. And I feel the presence of that. And I love the sense of community among writers.”
“Life and literature are not about ‘should.’ They’re about who you are really. And who you are really is so much more interesting and complex and beautiful than those artificial surfaces that we all want to show the world.”
“Every decision I make is informed by my feminism. There is no separating me from my feminism. It has informed me from the beginning. Same thing with my femaleness, my fill-in-the-blankness, my being a mom. Certain things enter you that are so central that you are always speaking from that place.”
“I was alone so much, and I was always surrounded with the living world. You know, when you actually decide to believe the truth—that every tree you encounter is a living thing—it changes your perspective on what alone means.”
“The big fear around writing memoir is, ‘Will people judge me?’ And, yeah, some people will. But some people will say ‘Thank you. Thank you for showing a version of yourself that feels true to me—because I am that way too.’ And nobody likes a braggart. Nobody likes someone who is like, ‘Oh no, not me. I’m perfect.’ We like the person at the edge of the party who says, ‘You know, I’ve had four miscarriages’ or ‘I’m divorced’ or ‘I’m in recovery because I used to be a drug addict.’”
“Out of our wounds, if we can get a sense of our power, that’s where our strength rises.”
“At the end of the day, what I realized is that the people who had transformed their lives the most powerfully were the people who came to the realization that that work could only be done by themselves.”
The second interview is the first of a two-part interview featuring poet and editor Don Share. In this segment, Share reads his poem “Food for Thought” from the collection Squandermania and discusses topics ranging the power of the imagination to effect change in the world to Poetry magazine’s open door policy to language’s complicity in the mania for squandering resources.
Beloved poet and Poetry magazine editor, Don Share, was a 2015 recipient of VIDA’s “VIDO” Award for his contributions to American literature and literary community. In addition to being the author and editor of over a dozen books, including Wishbone, Union,Bunting’s Persia, Seneca in English,Squandermania and The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of POETRY Magazine, which he co-edited with Christian Wiman, Share is an accomplished translator, whose renditions of Miguel Hernández were awarded the Times Literary Supplement Translation Prize and the Premio Valle Inclán. As well, Share’s work at Poetry has been recognized with three National Magazine Awards for editorial excellence from the American Society of Magazine Editors, and a CLMP “Firecracker” Award for Best Poetry Magazine. Share is celebrated in the literary community for his generosity, innovativeness, and warm wit.
Here are some of my favorite Don Share quotes from the episode:
“I don’t know of a poet who doesn’t write out of the impulse to say, ‘The world could be better.’ That’s sort of the plot of every decent poem.”
“What we all do when poetry is at its best is activate the imagination—because to solve problems, and to create a world in which any kind of justice obtains, the imagination has to work.”
“The open door doesn’t just mean everybody gets to walk through. What it means is that somebody greets you.”
“People talk about privilege and gatekeeping, but the way I look at it, it isn’t about anything more than my having a chance to put your work in front of a really big audience—and that’s all we exist to do.”
“I ask myself, ‘How can I keep thought going in a world where everything is being squandered relentlessly by all of us?’”
“If you look all over the world, at images from the most troubled places, you see women having to pay the price for the violence that occurs—whether it’s domestic violence or warfare or poverty, it’s women who have to convert all kinds of emotions and disadvantages into a world that makes it possible for somebody else to survive.”
“When people leave the room, and the best poets have spoken to them, they aren’t the same.”
She asked what I’d say to other writers, and I said, “You have the opportunity to thrill someone the way your favorite writers have thrilled you. You have the potential to be someone else’s favorite writer. Isn’t that wonderful?”
Thanks to Cindy Huyser for this interview and these great questions in preparation for tomorrow’s reading.
I’ll be at BookWoman in Austin at 7 PM tomorrow night!
I’m thrilled to announce that I’m hosting a new video interview series for VIDA– VIDA Voices & Views. The programis an interview podcast designed to call attention to a plurality of voices by interviewing writers, editors, publishers, series curators, anthologists, awards committee members, and other dedicated members of the literary community about their own work, vision, and concerns, as well as topics at the forefront of literary activism. The program seeks to foster a better understanding of the literary landscape and the issues facing artists of both genders, as well as to provide nuanced conversation about gender parity, race, disability, LGBTQ, economic, and other crucial issues impacting writers today.
The executive producer of digital media for the program is the very talented RJ Jeffreys, who created a beautiful look for the series. You can read more about Jeffreys and the program here: http://www.vidaweb.org/about-vida-voices-views/.
My first conversation is with the wonderful human and poet Rita Dove. She gives a marvelous reading of her poems “Parsley” and “Claudette Colvin Goes to Work” and discusses topics ranging from literary bias masquerading as objectivity to sharing poetry with preschoolers. You can read more about Rita Dove and the episode here: http://www.vidaweb.org/rita-dove-vida-voices-views/.
As well, these are some of my favorite Rita Dove quotes from the episode:
“My most radical pronouncement, if I were queen or something, would be that anywhere where there is more than one child together—any kind of group, if they have a schedule for the day—to end the day with a poem… sort of like pledging allegiance to the flag.”
“There is not going to be any change unless we can begin to talk about any little fear, any little hatred, any little bias that we might have and to admit that all human beings have them.”
“I wasn’t looking to lard [The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry] with rainbow colors. This is just the way it happened. These were the poems that were being published, and it made me feel hopeful. I said, ‘Look, look! Things are changing here.’”
“I remember what it was like as a child when I was reading poetry and couldn’t find anyone who had my life, who looked like me, who had the same kind of experiences, and how lonely that was …”
“Pulling someone into the spotlight, out of the shadows … I don’t feel that it casts aspersions on those who are already in the sunlight. It’s more like there can never be enough poetry, and there can never be enough heroes.”
“As a writer I couldn’t exist not being honest, totally honest, with the world, and with myself.”
Amazing, amazing, glorious beauty. Via Indiewire’s review, here is Dan Sickles’ lush, primeval, sensuous film interpretation of my short poem “I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast,” shot on location in Puerto Rico. And huge thanks to the good folks at Motionpoems & VIDA: Women in Literary Arts for making this happen!