----POETRY Magazine is my favorite monthly publication, and I've subscribed for years, so — psyched — I ordered, like, a billion contributor copies (shown below). They arrived right before last week's blizzard. Speaking of, I need to go outside now and shovel my driveway for the ninth time in seven days. Brrr... ... and cheers!
I'm very happy to have a poem in the amazing POETRY Magazine this month. It's called "Nano" and you can read it on the Poetry Foundation's website. The poem's epigraph is from a Fresh Air interview with Emily Anthes, author of Frankenstein's Cat, where she talks about not-so-secret Pentagon projects to weaponize animals and turn bugs into tiny surveillance drones. In the same week that I heard this interview, I met a guy who leads a poetry workshop for veterans. He told me that one of the writers in his group is a drone pilot who suffers from PTSD in a uniquely isolated way, at a distance from the other soldiers in the workshop who'd found an easy camaraderie sharing their experiences of "real" combat. Those veterans seemed to disdain the drone pilot's expressions of trauma because he'd executed his tasks at a safe remove — even though the lives at the end of those executions were, obviously, no less real. He constantly doubted the legitimacy of his stress and grief, which made it harder for him to move through it. Thankfully though, the workshop leader seemed to think the poetry was helping the man "have a dialog with his demons, rather than the demons doing all the talking." Well, maybe I've given the whole poem away at this point, but that's where "Nano" came from. Read it HERE.
At 6pm on Wednesday, October 15th, I'll be reading poems and playing a little "music" in Congress Square Park (Portland, Maine), along with Megan Grumbling, Marita O'Neill, Rachel Contreni Flynn, Jefferson Navicky, and more. It's basically a public dress rehearsal for the Belfast Poetry Festival this weekend. Marita, Rachel, and I will be doing a collaborative music/poetry thing where we each composed our own poems using words and phrases from an Exquisite Corpse, which is itself a kind of composite form (this one put together by all the writers in our Portland Poets group). Along with the reading, I'll be triggering and manipulating some samples I've collected or created over the years. Megan and composer Denis Nye will present Persephone in the Late Anthropocene, a verse oratorio with music for violin and cello. And if that's not enough, Jefferson and Caroline Losneck will be performing a poetry-sound collaboration about basketball. It's Wednesday. What else do you have going on?
I'll be taking part in both nights of the Belfast Poetry Festival this year, doing a music/poetry collaboration on Friday night with Rachel Contreni Flynn and Marita O'Neill, and an art/poetry collaboration with my buddy Doug Von (from Chicken 3000) on Saturday night. For Friday night, we've "written" an Exquisite Corpse which will be read to the sounds of some musical samples I've collected over the years. On Saturday night, I'll be reading an erasure poem with animated .gif accompaniment. In between all that, hopefully I'll be on the beach throwing stones into the ocean. I'm really looking forward to seeing a few friends in the poetry world throughout the weekend, and hearing/seeing some whacky stuff. If you're gonna be there too, holler at me! Here's the official announcement from the folks at the Belfast Poetry Festival: The Belfast Poetry Festival marks its tenth year with an extravaganza of new features that celebrate poetry and artistic possibility, Friday and Saturday, October 17 and 18, at the American Legion Hall, the Hutchinson Center, the Belfast Free Library, Waterfall Arts, and throughout downtown Belfast. Doubling its programming from previous years, the 2014 festival will include a Friday night of poetry & performance arts collaborations; performances and a featured workshop with guest celebrity poet Adam Gottlieb, star Chicago slam poet, youth mentor, and activist from the award-winning documentary Louder Than a Bomb; a late night open mic with performance poetry finale from the Poet Rising collective in Portland; writing, performance, and community-building workshops; free youth workshops; a Gallery Hunt featuring the winners of the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest in downtown Belfast art galleries; a panel discussion; and a Saturday night multimedia showcase of poetry and visual art collaborations; all featuring 24 poets, 10 artists, 14 performers, and 8 workshop leaders from across Maine and beyond. Friday, October 17 sees the return of a full night’s showcase of collaborations between poets and performing artists, starting at 6:30 PM at the American Legion Hall, 143 High Street in Belfast. Featuring poetry ranging from political and agricultural anthem and pop culture postmodernism to surrealist fable and mythic juxtaposition, and performance ranging from acoustic folk, interpretive dance, and circus arts to live self-sampling, radio drama, and ambient soundscapes, the Friday showcase includes poet Noah Dudley with dancer Shana Bloomstein; poet and musician Dave Morrison; poets Marita O'Neill and Rachel Contreni Flynn with poet and musician Chris Robley; poet Megan Grumbling with composer Denis Nye; poets Scott Chaskey, Megan Chaskey, and Doug DeCandia with dance act Droplet Dance and musicians The Gawler Sisters and Bennett Konesni; poet Jefferson Navicky with radio producer Caroline Losneck; poet and bassist Isaiah Mansour; and ambient ensemble Algorithm, poet Jacob Fricke with musicians Tom Luther and Michael Whitehead. Friday’s showcase begins with slam poet and rapper Adam Gottlieb and is followed by a lively “Late Night Open Mic” at 9 PM with performance poetry finale at 11 PM featuring TLove, Lady Zen, and Princess from the Poet Rising collective in Portland. Sign language interpreter Anna Perna will provide translation for the hearing impaired. Saturday morning and afternoon, October 18, feature workshops on topics ranging from writing and performance to community building, youth outreach, and the political imagination. Workshops are available for writers of all skill levels and include featured guest workshop Imagining a Future Utopia with Adam Gottlieb; The Fable: Story, Center, Circle, Poem with Bea Gates; Poems from Tarot with Arielle Greenberg; Writing Outside Ourselves: Engaging the World with Kathleen Ellis; Stand Up Poetry with Ellen Sander; Poetry Revolution with Tina ‘TLove’ Smith; and Poetry Rites with Martin Steingesser. Space is limited and pre-registration is required; send $25 payable to “City of Belfast” to Jacob Fricke, Belfast Poetry Festival, P.O. Box 911, Belfast, ME 04915. All 2014 workshop offerings are free to high school and college students; students may email email@example.com to indicate their choices and the school they attend. A panel discussion led by Joel Lipman, Building the Poetry Community: Inviting Collaboration, is free to all. Festival goers might also follow the Gallery Hunt and visit the 10 finalist poems from the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest on display in downtown Belfast galleries; see www.belfastpoetry.com for locations and details, including where to find the winning poem, “Mill,” by Kristen Lindquist of Camden. The festival concludes Saturday evening, October 18 at the Hutchinson Center, 80 Belmont Avenue (Route 3) in Belfast, with a reception (5 PM) and multimedia showcase (6-8 PM) of poetry and visual art collaborations, bookended by two more performances from Adam Gottlieb. Poetry ranges from mythic cycle and nature-based revelation to grammar-based experimental, bop, and algorithm-generated, and art from maskmaking and Dada to photography and color abstracts. The lineup includes poet Kathleen Ellis with artist MaJo Keleshian; poet Cheryl Daigle with artist Kris Sader; poet Carolyn Locke with artists Diane Green Hebert and Victoria Pittman; poet Christopher Robley with artist Doug Von; poet Kristen Case with composer Steven Pane; poet Mark Melnicove with the work of Belfast artist Bern Porter; poet and artist Joel Lipman; and a retrospective of work celebrating the 20thanniversary of the magazine Off the Coast, ‘Maine’s International Poetry Journal,’ presented by editors Valerie Lawson and Michael Brown. Co-sponsored by the Belfast Free Library and the office of the Belfast Poet Laureate, the Belfast Poetry Festival’s events (except workshops) are free and open to the public, though donations are welcome. One of the only community-based, non-academic poetry festivals in the country, the festival received a citation from the City of Belfast in August for ten years of state and local contribution. The 10th annual festival is made possible by grants from the Maine Community Foundation, the Maine Arts Commission, the City of Belfast, Front Street Shipyard, and Bangor Savings Bank, and support from the Belfast Free Library, Waterfall Arts, and WERU. For more information, email Jacob Fricke at firstname.lastname@example.org , see www.belfastpoetry.com, or www.facebook.com/BelfastPoetryFestival.
Terrifying! Next Friday I'll be getting roasted at Literary Death Match.
What is Literary Death Match?4 authors read their own work for 7 minutes or less. They're judged by 3 all-star judges who respond (often comedically) to the work before choosing 2 finalists to compete in the LDM finale, a vaguely literary game (think Pin the Mustache on Hemingway) to decide the ultimate champion. Literary Death Match will be returning to the Space Gallery on September 19th for "a whizbang Maine affair that'll send you into literary throes." JUDGES: Literary Merit: Chris Bowe, co-owner of the majestic Longfellow Books Performance: Rachel Flehinger, improviser and DJ Intangibles: Steve Burnette, actor, improv mastermind and general funnyman READERS: * Christopher Robley, poet, songwriter, producer & winner of Maine Literary Award for Short Works Poetry * Alexander Irvine, award-winning sci-fi/fantasy/comics author of Mystery Hill and The Adventures of Tintin * Liz Peavey, author and winner of Maine Literary Award for Drama (My Mother’s Clothes Are Not My Mother) * one more TBA! Hosted by LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga. Where: Space Gallery, 538 Congress St, Portland (map) When: Show at 7:30pm; doors at 7pm; drinks after Cost: $12 advance; $14 at the door Follow LDM on Twitter: @litdeathmatch
My poem "Eschatology" from the most recent issue of Poetry Northwest was featured last week on Poetry Daily. Last week???!!! (Sorry, Labor Day Weekend kinda barreled over me.) But don't worry. All the poems are archived, so you check it out HERE. See if you can spot the product placement (for which I'll receive no renumeration).
In the early 19th Century, Wordsworth defined poetry as the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling recollected in tranquility. OK, sure — but what is poetry in the age of Social Media? The latest issue of Poetry Northwest poses this question. As editor Kevin Craft says in his intro to the issue: "The constant drive toward public pronouncement often seems to obfuscate the quieter provinces of inner life, where temperament is forged, and patience (with oneself; with one's fellow humans) emerges as a tactile virtue, the proving ground of compassion and common purpose alike." And yet in this zero-tranquility era, where "real life" is squeezed between and into texts, tweets, check-ins, and status updates, plenty of poetry is getting written. Heck, two of my own poems appear in the Social Media-themed issue of Poetry Northwest (Summer & Fall 2014) — though maybe Wordsworth would've taken issue with me calling them "poems." Or maybe if he were alive today he would've just Instagramed his hillside daffodils and written some unrhymed, unmetered lines about abandoned Amazon.com shopping carts instead. Who knows? Anyway, to read my two "social media" poems, along with some crazy good poems by Bob Hicok John Hogan, and more — pick up the Summer/Fall 2014 issue of Poetry Northwest.
I made another of my seasonal pilgrimages to Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon. Here's the damage:
Earlier this summer I played a couple sets of music at a kind of house party/book-launch event for Maine poets Marcia Brown, Bruce Spang, and Betsy Sholl. Here's Marcia reading:
A lovely muggy day in Midtown, which smelled a little like "Pitopia." I was there for BookExpo America, a very non-poetry kinda publishing event.
When my MWPA award arrived in the mail, I'd been hoping for an illuminated leg like in 'A Christmas Story,' but this is nice too. And yes, I AM short.
Another recent purchase. Best title for a poetry collection... ever?
Dinner before my reading on Peaks Island for the Stone Boat Poetry Series was watermelon salad sandwich. Tastier than it might sound or look:
Last weekend I went way up north to the place Mainers inexplicably call "Down East" and spent a few days on the coast with some fine people and poets: Betsy Sholl and her husband Doug, Bruce Spang, Rachel Contreni Flynn, and our host Kathleen Sullivan. We all did a poetry reading on Friday at the Cape Split Chapel:
This was the view from my room the following morning. Hello, quiet!
We spent the rest of the weekend kayaking, hiking (see below), cooking, eating, reading, writing, and talking politics and poetry. Pretty much heaven. Thanks, Kathleen.