Wednesday, December 2, 2020

New book forthcoming, January 2021

 Hello world,

I am releasing a new collection of poems early January, 2021. It will be titled, DAY & NIGHT. The whole shebang clocks out at 122 pages. This time around I am publishing under the Anvil Tongue Books banner, via Lulu dot com. Hopefully they are a more suitable fit for what I’m trying to do.

I will perhaps plan on another Bloggin’ entry with some poems from that collection sometime soon.

I will definitely plan on another Bloggin’ entry to reveal the cover art for DAY & NIGHT.

The Longest Breath may or may not be unavailable from the amaz0n, again, sometime soon. Thinking about pulling the plug on that project being available on that site, and leaning strongly one way in particular. Definitely after January 2021. Definitely maybe.

 

DC

Thursday, November 12, 2020

A SMALL, WHITE BOTTLE, James Cagney

             I hadn’t seen her in more than 20 years. I had to ask for a hug. She paused, as to think: Did I pack one? We took a breakfast of family drama centered around her aunts' only son and his pack of dogs. He was last to the table, New Girlfriend in his wake. He hugged me, long-time ______ to his aunt and adoptive mother. The 8-year old I once knew is now a hairy, rugged dude who laughs easily since his mother now holds all the reasons to frown. Over breakfast, she fell mute after he sat at the table. She paid the check, financial problems whatever, and in turn was offered not even a crumb-sized Thank You.

But anyway, my friend said. Back to me now, she said.

She passed her phone for a séance of photos -- a white tiger cub in proxy for having no children, her smiling brilliant and alone before a Niagara Falls robed in fog. She waved off photos of her mother and brother taken at the same restaurant where she’d once, foolishly, married.

But anyway, she said. Never mind that, she said.

We ate. When the waiter reached for her untouched plate, she growled un-ironically and kept going. The boy and his lady laughed. The boys’ mother did not. I begged the waiter to stop pouring coffee, even as my friend could not stop talking. So we waited.

After breakfast, the boy showed off his pit-bull terriers. One sociable girl, one suspicious boy, one blue-eyed puppy. The only one who survived, he said, lifting the shivering pup out of my arms.

My friend and I then waved to the boy, the girl, the frowning aunt, and the smiling dogs and drove across a town she hadn’t seen since high school. It was the same and not the same. As we were. Forgot something back at the hotel, she said. As she drove, I rushed my decade summary before she snatched the conversation and ran.

The loneliness of the long distance conversationalist. I, her valet of words.

I sat on the twin bed across from her. Audience to her vaudeville of years.

Mid-monologue, I raise my hand, ask: How do you keep from drowning in your own life?

And right then, she marches over to the dresser to exalt her one, true and faithful God. The One who never falters. In her palm, a small white bottle glowed.

She'd asked her doctor for either the answer to everything or how to make everything stop, and her doctor said: Take These. She talked through me as opposed to with me. Compressed the word suicide into a syllable so small I nearly missed it. But it was there, like a pill rolled beneath an oven. She was dazzling – cursive landscape of hair, triumphant hips. I’ve loved her for a fourth of my life. So what. The friend who dated her back when we were teens, once asked why I never, Why I Never. Whatever I was to her over the years, was nowhere near as devoted as the benediction rattling like keys in her tight little fist.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Excerpt from Dear Continuum by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie



 

One

 

Dear Continuum:

               I got an issue of Poets & Writers in the mail yesterday. I enjoyed what I read, but it was not inspiring at all. It was realistic. It was honest about the uphill battle it is to get a book seen. I know the work of this all too well. But this letter is not about books, this is about voice and the love and armor you will need to have yours heard.

               When I think about being a writer in 2015, being a writer with a Black woman’s voice—as Lucille Clifton said, “I am a black woman poet…and I sound like one.”—with no agent, no powerful mentor opening doors, no financial support, no salary, no benefits, then I realize that this really is a crazy path.

Deciding to be a writer was beautiful. Writing is beautiful. Deciding that my concerns, dreams, hopes, and voice are valid, and committing myself to putting my visions on paper has been a deeply healing experience. This work connects me to people I have never set my eyes on. However, being a writer in a country that does not support art and writing from the heart of my Black woman mama mouth is a struggle that sometimes leaves me speechless. (But the point is to exhaust me/us beyond words, isn’t it? So I rest up and speak on.) Beloved, this landscape is actually more treacherous now than when I started nineteen years ago. I don’t say this to discourage you, I say this because you need to know that you are embarking on the path of most resistance; if you plan to walk it, you need to study and you need to endure.

               Listen, there is all sort of color in academic conferences and departments now. Much of that writing is non-threatening and status quo. It’s the type of work that could have come from 18th-century nowhere. It’s work that no one in our communities or families could wrap around cold shoulders or grasp onto in desperate moments or even nod at in faint recognition. That, we are constantly being told, is poetry. That exsanguinated verse. But you and I both know poetry can be soulful, grounded, gravity-defying and irrepressible. If your poems walk picket lines, work in soup kitchens, gather dandelion leaves, sweat, jump rope, wear stilettos, shout, give birth, watch the phases of the moon, or know that it is appropriate to put flowers in the ocean on New Year’s Eve and pour liquor on the earth before anyone living takes a sip, then supposedly they are not poems. Supposedly, you missed the memo on craft, and your poems will be returned to sender. Save your postage. Honor your time.

               Tap your Cimarron blood, tap the defiant DNA that gives your hair such good posture. Find a community of poets dedicated to writing and walking and being liberation. Study Hughes, Baldwin, Walker, Hurston, Shange, Baraka, Hayden, Dumas, Bandele, Johnson, Girmay, Moore, Rux, Hammad, Clifton, Rich, Boyce-Taylor, Medina, Madhubuti, Brooks, Forche, Ya Salaam, Rojas, Rivera, Knight, Esteves, Kaliba, Simmons, Kaufman, Sanchez, Finney, Betts, Espada, & Perdomo. This is your work and there are so many more to study; you will find them as you make your way. Read, write, edit and find a way—let the poems find their way—get those words read and heard. Find someone unbought to publish your stuff. Be really brave and publish the work yourself, but don’t stop there. Publish the poets around you who stand on the frontlines and refuse to bow down. Publish those mamas bringing their babies to readings, those poets whose works are in anthologies that they read in the food stamp office, those lettered poets who can’t make the rent, those poets with a day job who organize free workshops and salons, those poets who never lose their accents, the ones cast off in a spoken word ghetto because they actually dare to connect with an audience. Publish all of them, who are all of us, who fight this fight because we are determined to keep the doors open for the next generation, and because we would go crazy without our tongues, without our pens braiding the strands of our thoughts into some type of beauty. Not pressing our voices flat. Flat to that white rageless whisper. Not doing that and paying a heavy price.

 

And so it is.

 

One,

Mariahadessa



Two

For the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell and it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.

                                                                                                         - James Baldwin

Dear Continuum:

It was good to receive your letter. I’m glad you were able to use some of my advice on editing. Remember that I can give you suggestions, but you will soon start to find your own rhythm. You asked me so many thoughtful questions; I’ll start with the one about what it means to be a writer.

               I think being a writer means being a person. Being human. Humane. Being engaged. Being open. Curious. Caring. Being able to listen and look deeply. Being an artist means being connected with truth and speaking the truth as it reveals itself to you. Being an artist means that your heart will break, and it will be your work to mend it again and again.

               You are right that my art is one form of my activism. This is because I have been the beneficiary of carefully chosen words delivered with love. Words delivered with love by Alex Haley and Malcolm X cause me to look in the mirror one day and stop frowning at my own face. I understood the history of my nose, mouth, and skin and suddenly, I was proud. Can you imagine? Those same words helped me to revel in the thicket of my hair, stop being ashamed, and I understood then, in a way I had not before, the power of the word. This is called “Nommo” by the Dogon. I attempt to wield my words as wisely as I would any sharp tool. It’s the job of the writer to do this.

               Here is a story for you. A friend and I were talking about faith and natural healing. We were talking about the plants and prayer and our elders and all the wisdom they had that we needed to tap back into. My friend asked me if I’d ever heard of “talking the fire out.” I said I hadn’t. She went on to explain to me that her mother was able to use words—prayerful, intention, words—to make a person’s burn stop stinging and that was called “talking the fire out.” Now this is not fiction. So I said, “wow” because what else do you say to something like that? I remembered wishing I had the ability to “talk the fire out” too, but now I realize that in a way, I do. I realize that many times when I put my pen to paper it is an attempt to write the fire out. It’s an attempt to write the pain, the stinging of some wound or another. So when I decided to be a writer I decided my work would serve this purpose. When my work is not celebrating something, it is bearing witness to pain and the process of the healing which is a celebration of another kind. This is the celebration of resilience and the writing is—no matter how painful the subject matter—a shout of joy at still being here.

               Consider that when you create art, you have medicine in your hands. Consider that you can pull people together for just reasons. What is just? I’d say it is what does not oppress or dismiss the humanity of anyone. What is just is compassionate and of love. I mean real love, which is not always romantic or beautiful. I mean the type of love that wakes up at 4 a.m. to work and provide a better life for a family, the love we saw at marches during the ‘60s, real love that does laundry, brushes hair, tills the soil, plants trees, chains itself to pipelines. Hard love. Difficult conversations and the willingness to sit down at the table and have them. Our writing can be all of that: the conversation, the table and the willingness. When I talk about art and activism, I am talking about love.

               And so, even with all of your pointed questions about editing, knowing when a poem is done, and what to do to become a better writer, I ask you to remember that the life you live is art. Sit with yourself and ask why you want to be a writer. Determine what purpose you want your words to serve in the world.

               Please send me your answer.

 

One,

Mariahadessa



For more information on Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie's Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation, please click here.


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Three Poems by Bill Knott


 POEM IN TIEFMOS


Like sponges dipped in nude
a kiss of guess on the lids-like
discloses its thicket shed, eye-cro meld—
Dawn blinds hair before face
or thornless angelus deceives
but I faint on the figure-eight.
Apparently newshour once came
to complete me but time seems
to indicate moot might intervene
if I with blazing rations wait.  Yet
one little breath is misting itself
in suspension, a snapped off twig
or sap that jumps these yawns:—
art's aspirations leapgap, they make
the ripples on the lake linger
with circle-sorcery.  Kindest
thought when all is lost, stray
dice tossed in a flagmap coffin.
Limbs are lethal clamped in sate—
but elusive lines on our palms
resemble a key's cut, jag-edged
to unlock fate's chain-chart.  Future—
refuting that god who lets opposites
stride your unsaddled carpets.




POEM

To give this offensive death a gesture beyond
its candle-paint, a mist, dawn where night
enough is calm in the midst of vanishing,
being replaced by necessity, time that impaled
incognito your surf-lingering thoughts: or
shallow as snorkel knighthoods, a steady
decay of flesh as cover for, a shirtsense
existence. You outlast all year-end prospects
which eventually beach all that follows us,
a bundle of abbreviations that suddenly
replace the thankyou-writhed witnesses, intrusive
plumage that still invades my evasions—
peach-red kerchiefs tied to my tusks attest
your presence, the resonance your profile
worth. How could it have happened when
I am the same, how could this death have
the faintest taste of ripeness, the harvest
shuddering through heads of others: avid
they speak with a voice whose sighs slope
us toward homage, unique solo conclusive
impending voice that ensures descent, yet
the imminent nexus of this crush is a fizz
lesson leading us home, home always signals
its horizon to close-up, zoom-profile slashed
by blood, by innocence putative limbs substituting
your testifying prudent myth, whose words
always counter my indifference. Days to
love you, years to regret—the last teardrops
facile, leaky faucet concepts fucked continually,
instant island insert, an island discovered
to be without inhabitants is where nature
gathers its examples of us, more paradigms
a slope flowers towards, each foothold
another face, the rockface impervious to solo—
the privacy of the commonplace valued as
omission, found only as the opaque hornclock
levels its gaze lensward: techniques that sever
every sentence from firsthand endeavors,
each unique niche of it forever featured, no,
concealed by empty perspective bleeding true.



POEM

I want to commission a portrait of you
but I have no money and don't know
any painters to do it for free. I don't
want the portrait for myself, no, it would
go to you. I guess I'd like it if you thought
of me each time you looked at it but
probably after a while you would forget
the circumstances of its installment
and only glance at it from time to time
as if it had been there always, an old
heirloom or less, a thing kept not for
any memories it stirs but simply because
it has no practical use and therefore
woud take too much thought to throw away,
too much effort. If it's successful, that is—
And though I have crammed everything
into this portrait which does not exist,
it remains unsatiated, stays compromise.
A thousand campaigns of insightful rummage
cannot glut it, satisfy its imperial essence,
remote ethereal framing. I crave its emptiness,
never-to-be-filledness. It blinks at me,
idol of smithereens, filled with shadow-hush.
Spacial justice, harmonic weight, pinned dream.



To read more poems by Bill Knot, please visit billknottblog.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Cal State Writing Board Letter, Will Alexander


Our present psycho-lingual engulfs the past not unlike a psychic lahar, not unlike an exploded embolism where former states of consciousness can no longer procure the right to organically instruct. We have now entered the realm of alchemical lingual resonance. To attempt to procure a recursive lingual agenda can only be seen via a deprived and disordered instruction. To retreat to the English language as it sought to express itself at the cusp of Jim Crow can nothing other than atrophy the mind. The future is upon us. And this future is not a thriving cliche, or an enabled relic, brought to view to theoretically surmount a destroyed position. Thus we cannot instruct language via the vestiges of a disabled heritage that has no place in the living scheme of our current neural unfolding. For the Cal State lingual environment to retreat into such a debased climate of instruction can not be tolerated or condoned as organic promotion. Decades after Rodney King, and what feels like an eternity after the murder of George Floyd, the recent flowering of the Cal State writing board cannot be defamed by retreat into the minor codes of obstructionist academia. Language should not be instructed from a deadened point of view. Of course I am not speaking from some didactic warren, or some constricting molecular substrate, but from an existential dynamics that now registers by overcoming regressive lingual instruction. The lingual dimension of the Cal State campus represents what I understand to be transmuted planetary English. From Formosa to Persia English there now subsists indigenous planetary expansion not spores that persist and emit themselves from condemned climate proto to Jim Crow. Let us take the English that was Philip Lamantia, or the English that brewed in the cells of Bob Kaufman as living examples. We can no longer breed relics as models for future lingual instruction. And no this is not a cry for blind lingual wandering on my behalf but for an alchemical emergence of world language via the 250,000 terms that flood our language as a wondrous psychic blessing. Evolving students cannot be forced to devolve and swallow old destructive sub-texts. This amounts to nothing other than a deformed and catastrophic gesture that will negatively reflect on itself as a willful squandering of energy during this inflection point as we open onto a newly living planetary history.






Will Alexander- Poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, philosopher, visual artist, pianist, who has authored over 30 books and chapbooks. He has read at venues stretching from Rotterdam to Los Angeles and is currently poet-in-residence at Beyond Baroque Poetry Center in Venice California. In addition to this he is a Whiting Fellow, a California Arts Council Fellow, a Pen Oakland winner, an American Book Award winner, as well being both a recipient of the Jackson Prize for poetry in 2016, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Beyond Baroque Poetry Center in 2018. He resides in Los Angeles.

MYTHAXIS, Rus Khomutoff


I was hand, body, liquid ruled by the dark seas/rapture honeycombed in flesh/crosscurrents of understanding/horrorotica mythaxis grind/describes what the new normal is like/streaming eye of syndication/this is one of those moments when everything coalesces/conversations with the light/wishpenny inflections/give a heart across a hundred evenings in the sire of the battle cry/blood testament life/marathon premium stay true machine sympathy stigma to status story ritual burying the cruel truth/sorry,not sorry celebrity news/what we are doing is harboring the savage point/master of metaphor decium riff/one does not dream, one is dreamed/wisdom in the foam sword words equidistant/calm over everything just like the unspeakable word/and these questions they give us no rest/one indivisible and forever/arm of exuberance, shore of elan/tale of the loop/orbit dance doctor tomorrow/howl of the deranged protocol infinite terrain spawning infinite game/noise of the crimes between us/theartifice.com/override the remembering gain/street fever decennial hybrid mind embrace/jettison the feel phantom drift assuming the mask. Overthrow the self/an airborne disease, a beautiful thing that never happened/glistening in the rays of a distant supernova,mercurial staff take your breath away/pirate blood/nautical dawn/wild blossom/intercept canvas redux,church of trees scream in silence.There was superimposition & worry at a certain hour of the day/hyena season genesis grasp secret psalm in search of duende/this eventuality’s carnival row exit in memory reclaiming time with unexpected grace notes/vagabond of the margins/burning up the green guardian/assignations crestfallen between music & silence/carnivalesque Xerox & infinity/ dimension horizon stasis leak everlasting/cherub chance the undying matter anticipating nowhere/theramin cost victim of illusion priceless channel /follow me into the reprieve best private fantasy times two/taste of holiday gross hesitation/to dance in the dark without fear/imperial violets distant shore/venerable plight/checkered koan/the other side of no tomorrow/the lost symbol/ naked reflections complex crossed/prism walls infolio segmented balsam flex/new letters renaissance hum/a guessing game of infinity/ fastpass body everything/a painted sea of semiprecious stones interrupted by the illusion of time/sentimental rove the beginning/depthcruiser hour of pearl wayward son dispatches/ skin of wind, skin of streams, skin of shadows, the secret of numbers unscrambling the distortions/infinite perimeter/melancholy body sacrilege/tattoo highway insomnia punk/passion post of the absent everyday/venus endeavor ministering blithe spirits/wonderment cyclorama/lost in the omnipresent origin echo unlimited/mirror for mankind/thorn exhortation





My name is Rus Khomutoff and I am an experimental language poet base in Brooklyn, NY. My poetry has appeared in San Francisco review of books, Proprose magazine, Mojave Heart review and Hypnopomp. In 2018 I published my debut collection Immaculate Days (Alien Buddha Press)