Thursday, July 17, 2014

Poem of the Week: Deborah Ager


Fires on Highway 192

            After Neruda’s “Disasters”

In Florida, it was raining ash because the fire
demanded it. I had to point my car landward
and hope the smoke would part, but it was a grey sea
absorbing my body. Cabbage Palms were annihilated.
Even the Indian River steamed. Black stalks stank.
The condominiums spit smoke into twilight.
Still, a cattle egret landed, preening, in a pasture
filled with embers – the cattle dead or removed.
And I was hungry; there was nothing to eat.
And I was thirsty and raised the river to my mouth.
And I was alone, and there was only that one egret
searching for a cow. The wind was a whisper on my tongue.
Ash on ash. Slumber shallow. I was a frown
in an unfamiliar city after sundown. Vultures circled
like assassins. I made a bed out of the road. I made a pillow
of misery and slept and had no story I wanted to confess.

Used by permission.
From The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry (Bloomsbury, 2013)

Deborah Ager is founding editor of 32 Poems Magazine. Many poems first appearing in the magazine have been honored in the Best American Poetry and the Best New Poets anthologies and on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. Ager is the co-editor of Old Flame: The First Ten Years of 32 Poems Magazine and author of Midnight Voices. Her poems have appeared in The Georgia Review, Quarterly West, Los Angeles Review and Birmingham Poetry Review and have been anthologized in Best New Poets, From the Fishouse, and No Tell Motel. She also co-edited The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, in which this poem appeared.


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Friday, July 11, 2014

Poem of the Week: Najwan Darwish



Sleeping in Gaza

Fado, I’ll sleep like people do
when shells are falling
and the sky is torn like living flesh
I’ll dream, then, like people do
when shells are falling:
I’ll dream of betrayals

I’ll wake at noon and ask the radio
the questions people ask of it:
Is the shelling over?
How many were killed?

But my tragedy, Fado,
is that there are two types of people:
those who cast their suffering and sins
into the streets so they can sleep
and those who collect the people’s suffering and sins
mold them into crosses, and parade them
through the streets of Babylon and Gaza and Beirut
all the while crying
Are there any more to come?
Are there any more to come?

Two years ago I walked through the streets
of Dahieh, in southern Beirut
and dragged a cross
as large as the wrecked buildings
But who today will lift a cross
from the back of a weary man in Jerusalem?

The earth is three nails
and mercy a hammer:
Strike, Lord
Strike with the planes

Are there any more to come?

-Najwan Darwish
Translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid 

Used by permission.
From Nothing More to Lose (New York Review Books, 2014) 
Photo by Véronique Vercheval 



Najwan Darwish, one of the foremost Arabic-language poets of his generation, was born in Jerusalem in 1978. He has worked as the editor of two cultural magazines in Palestine and was a cultural critic for the prominent Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar from 2006 to 2012. Darwish has been an organizer and advisor for many public arts projects, among them the Palestine Festival of Literature. In 2009, he founded a literary press in Jerusalem, and he is currently involved in establishing a new pan-Arab newspaper, where he will be the chief editor of the arts and culture section. Also in 2009, he was on the Hay Festival Beirut’s list of the “best 39 Arab authors under the age of 39.” He currently resides in Jerusalem.

Kareem James Abu-Zeid has translated novels by the Lebanese writer Rabee Jaber and the Sudanese writer Tarek Eltayeb, as well as the poetry collection The Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail. Abu-Zeid also translates from French and German, and has taught university courses in four different languages in Berkeley, Mannheim, and Heidelberg. He works as a freelance translator and editor.


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If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2015 Poetry Contest

Announcing the 8th Annual 
Split This Rock  
Poetry Contest  

Judged by: Natalie Diaz
Natalie Diaz  


Benefits Split This Rock Poetry Festival
April 14-17, 2016
$1,000 Awarded for poems of provocation & witness
   

Prizes: First place $500; 2nd and 3rd place, $250 each. 

Winning poems will be published on www.SplitThisRock.org, winners will receive free festival registration, and the 1st-place winner will be invited to read winning poem at Split This Rock Poetry Festival, 2016.

Up to three honorable mentions will receive signed copies of of Nude Descending an Empire, Sam Taylor’s newest book.

Deadline: November 1, 2014

Reading Fee: $20, which supports Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2016. 

Details: Submissions should be in the spirit of Split This Rock: socially engaged poems, poems that reach beyond the self to connect with the larger community or world; poems of provocation and witness. This theme can be interpreted broadly and may include but is not limited to work addressing politics, economics, government, war, leadership; issues of identity (gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, disability, body image, immigration, heritage, etc.); community, civic engagement, education, activism; and poems about history, Americana, cultural icons.

Split This Rock subscribes to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics. Read it online here.

Submission guidelines:

Submit up to 3 unpublished poems, no more than 6 pages total, in any style, in the spirit of Split This Rock (see above). Please do not put your name or contact information on the poems themselves, only your cover page.



Simultaneous submissions OK, but please notify us immediately if the poem is accepted elsewhere.

Please contact us directly if you are unable to access Submittable at info@splitthisrock.org. 

For more information:   

Friday, July 4, 2014

Poem of the Week: Don Share

Don share by Gesi Schilling  

Pax Americana


July kindles the redneck in me.
I blaze down Interstates
that are viaducts for my beery nerves

and remember what hell these roads
are paved with...
If I don't keep moving,

I could end up divorced, or flat-out broke.
I could end up up-the-creek without a paddle.
I could end up dead and gone and good for nothing.

In the old days,
I was one of the local vandals,
setting fires, tossing cats down perfectly

good well-heads, exploding princely toads.
It was hot and weird,
and Jane and I'd just graduated;

we liked the sound of sirens.
The cops, good old grits, looked the other way.
"Mess up what you can, boy," they'd say

with a wink, "while you can, boy."
Not that there was anything illegal, exactly;
the peace was always kept.

On the main road out of town,
though, battle lines were clearly drawn.
Every night, headlights forced starlight

to bubble up from the tar while in the daytime,
sunshine grew out of crossed mica-slivers.
Violence lulled me.

I had my big wreck and comeuppance that way.
Oh, how I'd wanted to take her out.
It was a scalding Fourth, and we got drunk.

My heart was an oiled engine, racing.
For once, the charm on the rearview failed.
My eyes were bewildered.

All I remember is the taillights
of her father's pickup
before I blew him clear the hell out of sight.

The good old days are over,
and peace is history;
and that's why I left home.

and that's why I have no home.


  
-Don Share    

Used by permission.
From Union (Eyewear Publishing, 2013)     
Photo by Gesi Schilling  

Don Share is the editor of Poetry magazine.  His most recent books are Wishbone (Black Sparrow), Union (Eyewear Publishing), and Bunting's Persia (Flood Editions); he has also edited a critical edition of Bunting's poems for Faber. His translations of Miguel Hernández, awarded the Times Literary Supplement Translation Prize, were recently republished in a revised and expanded edition by New York Review Books.  His other books include Seneca in English (Penguin Classics), Squandermania (Salt Modern Poets), and The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of POETRY Magazine (University of Chicago Press), co-edited with Christian Wiman.
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If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July Sunday Kind of Love

July Sunday Kind of Love
featuring

Deborah Ager 
Rachel Malis 
Yvette Neisser Moreno  
 and  
Kim Roberts

A Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poets Group Reading
  
   July SKOL


Sunday July 20, 2014
5-7pm
Busboys & Poets
2021 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009

Hosted by
Sarah Browning & Katy Richey
$5 online or at the door

As always, open mic follows!
Co-Sponsored by
Busboys and Poets &

Deborah Ager is the author/editor of three books, co-director of the Miller Cabin reading series, and founding editor of 32 Poems Magazine. Her books include The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry (2013) and Old Flame: Ten Years of 32 Poems Magazine (2012).     

Rachel Malis earned her M.F.A. from Arizona State University in 2010 and has been published in the New Mexico Poetry Review, Adirondack Review, Superstition Review, and several others. While completing her master's degree, Rachel received awards and grants to travel to Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Australia, and these adventures have informed her work.    

Yvette Neisser Moreno is the author of Grip (winner of the 2011 Gival Press Poetry Award), and the translator of two volumes of poetry from Spanish. She directs the DC-Area Literary Translators Network (DC-ALT), serves on Split This Rock's Festival Committee, and teaches at The Writer's Center.     

Kim Roberts is the author of four books of poems, most recently To the South Pole, a connected series of blank verse sonnets written in the voice of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott, which will be published in November by Broadkill Press, and Animal Magnetism, winner of the Pearl Prize (Pearl Editions, 2011). She is the editor of the journal Beltway Poetry Quarterly, the anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC (Plan B Press, 2010), and co-editor of the web exhibit DC Writers' Homes. 

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Letter From Kit Bonson, Split This Rock Board Member & Newly Reborn Poet!

Greetings Friend, 

As a Board member of Split This Rock, I spend time throughout the year helping my colleagues assess how well our events have gone and their impact on participants. Since this was a Festival year, it was damn easy to conclude at our Spring Board meeting that we had just put on a kickass gathering of some of the greatest socially-engaged poets in the world

If you were lucky enough to be with us in DC this March, you know exactly what I mean. Not only did the Festival run like clock-work, but the camaraderie between attendees was amazing.

When the Board went around the meeting table after the Festival, sharing what influenced us the most, many mentioned a particular session that moved them. Maybe it was a daring poem that was read, or an intense discussion that made an impression. 

When it came to my turn, though, I shared something a little different. I told my Board friends that over those four days, I'd found my poetic voice again.

STR board
Split This Rock staff & board celebrate after Sunday's final reading at the 2014 festival. Kit is second from the right, in the back row.

You see, I had put away my own writing for almost 20 years, not knowing how to incorporate a lyrical reality with my life as a scientist and an activist. But being among other politically-minded poets changed that. I saw that I could capture the poems in my head in a way that enhanced, not detracted from, everything else that went on in my life.

For me, this is the essence of why Split This Rock is so important. It brought me back to a place of community and artistic expression, in ways that are socially meaningful. I believe it brings all of us home to our commonalities, so that the poems we share help us overcome feeling separated from each other and perhaps even from ourselves.

Which is why I feel so comfortable asking you to donate to Split This Rock as we close out our fiscal year. You are already part of this tremendous community that we happily create and develop. Now I'd like to ask you to support us financially as well.

Please contribute today online. Or you can send a check made out to Split This Rock to: 

1112 16th Street, NW
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036


With gratitude & solidarity,
  
Kit Bonson

Newly reborn poet
Split This Rock Board member

Friday, June 27, 2014

Poem of the Week: Kevin Simmonds

Kevin Simmonds

Ars Poetica



I can write a poem
to the limbs of a grandmother
seeded in a scorched field
where her house stood
before the drone

I can write as her left arm singing
to its hand
Calm now, she's gone

Some man
I'm almost certain
it's a man
can write a memo
about this field
left foot tapping impatiently

His memo isn't a poem
but who said it had to be

  
-Kevin Simmonds 
  
Used by permission.
From Bend to it (Salmon Poetry, 2014)  

Kevin Simmonds is a writer and musician originally from New Orleans. His books include the full-length collections Bend to it (Salmon Poetry, 2014) and Mad for Meat (Salmon Poetry, 2011), and the edited works Ota Benga Under my Mother's Roof (University of South Carolina, 2012) and Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality (Sibling Rivalry Press,  2011). He has composed numerous musical works for voice and chamber ensemble, as well as for stage productions such as the Japanese-Noh inspired Emmett Till, a river and the Emmy Award-winning documentary HOPE: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica. His films have been shown at international festivals, including MIXNYC, SF Frameline, Provincetown International Film Festival, Barcelona's MiMi Festival and Hong Kong's InDPanda. A recipient of fellowships and commissions from Cave Canem, Creative Work Fund, Fulbright, the Pulitzer Center, San Francisco Arts Commission and the Edward Stanley Award from Prairie Schooner, he divides his time between Brooklyn, Japan and San Francisco.

***    

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If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.