Friday, November 24, 2017

On Writing #145 : Josh Massey



Some of my Current Thoughts on Writing
Josh Massey 

When viewed from an adjacent universe, which constellation does our sun fall within? Eye of a Taurus, tip of some Scorpion’s stinger—I think it would depend on which galaxy we’re observing from, and the tint of our space suit visor.

It’s where the sweet spot for writing occurs, it’s a snag of lint in the illogical design wrinkle of a hastily-built house, with the lost pens and socks. 

                                                          *

—Allison, Alison, Alyson, Allie; John, Jon, Jonathan; Sara, Sarah, Cera; Mary, Marie; Navneet, Navpreet, Nanveet; Amie, Aimie, Amy—

Naming’s wild permutations. The only fixed rule the exception. So the grammarian’s wishy-washy responses to site-specific discrepancies that cannot be proved right or wrong except situationally. The comma supposed to offset non-essential or tangential information. But what constitutes secondary information is a matter of opinion. The situation is, as the media says, extremely druid.

When writing fundamentalism, one of the surface glimmers of meaning must be the fun. Putting the fun back in such and such. The plum and plumb in plumbing. This matters as much as the marmoreal rock recalling such and such classic bust. 

                                                          *

Soaking in hot springs near Nakusp and my friend Cory does poem freestyle. He’s a dentist and we’re monkey-like in steam-soaked hemlock canopy of shale hillside. “The hot water trickles, it brickles…” he says, conjuring the barrier of the water pools.

Once in Montreal I used the world dovely. “Lovely, dovely,” I wrote (a long time ago).

Someone says you can’t just say brickles, you can’t just write dovely, in a proper poem. But in this deviation lies the chewing gum the typist needs for blowing peach-coloured loud smackers.

On starboard deck of the ferry in the Hecate Strait yelling into the wailing winds with Haida friend doing same.

Keeping lint ball at bay with lost pen.

Is where I’m at with this whole writing thing these days. 


Josh Massey is the author of two novels, We Will All Be Trees (2009) set in Northern Ontario, and The Plotline Bomber of Innisfree (2015) which is set in Northern British Columbia. His third novel is centred in Vienna. He currently teaches in the English Faculty at Selkirk College, this after a 9-year romance with Northern BC during which he worked forest and river jobs, took an MA in English at UNBC in Prince George and then was news reporter at The Terrace Standard for three years. The geographies of BC are all contiguous in warping perspectives like some mountainous MC Escher. Totally. He shares his work on Twitter @opallachedweem and www.joshmasseyweb.wordpress.com

Thursday, November 16, 2017

fwd: The Poets’ Pathway Poetry Competition



The Poets’ Pathway is asking for new poems about Ottawa, to bring together today’s poets and the poets of yesterday.

The Contest Judge is James Deahl, Poet, Publisher, Editor, Teacher
·        The contest is open to writers who live, or have lived, in Ottawa, or who have a strong connection to Ottawa
·        1st Prize $ 200., 2nd Prize $150., 3rd Prize $100
·        Up to Ten Honourable Mention Awards
·        Each H.M. will receive $25.
·        All winning poems will receive a certificate
·        All winning poems will be published in a chapbook and on the Poets’ Pathway website
·        Each winner will receive a free chapbook and will be able to purchase additional copies at cost

·        Deadline:  Entries must be postmarked no later than Feb. 10, 2018

·        The Award Ceremony will be held in Ottawa in April, 2018

Rules and Guidelines: The Poets’ Pathway Challenge

·        Poems must be inspired by one or two of the lines in the Lampman poem Winter Uplands (below)
·        Poems should in some way reflect the city of Ottawa today
·        The line(s) inspiring the poem should be used in the poem, or used as the title, or as an epigram
·        Poems are not to exceed 40 lines; the stanza breaks count as lines.
·        All styles, subjects, forms and tones are welcome.
·        Poems may not be previously published
 
·        Blind Judging: No author ID can be anywhere on the same page as the poem, back or front

·        . Each contestant should enclose a cover page with
§  The poem title (or first line if there is no title)
§  Writer’s name; address; phone number; email address

·        Entry fee: $10. for a maximum of three poems. Additional poems $2. each.

·        Send entries with payment to:
The Poets’ Pathway Poetry Competition
1217 Maitland Ave
Ottawa, ON
 K2C2C4
 
Questions: Jane Moore at jmoore1217 (at) rogers.com

The poem that inspired the creation of the Poets’ Pathway and its fourteen monuments is Archibald Lampman’s Winter Uplands. 

Lampman, who spent much of his time outdoors, became ill writing this poem in the snow and cold. He died ten days later, on February 10, 1899.
He was 37

WINTER UPLANDS
Archibald Lampman, (1861-1899)

The frost that stings like fire upon my cheek,
The loneliness of this forsaken ground,
The long white drift upon whose powdered peak
I sit in the great silence as one bound;
The rippled sheet of snow where the wind blew
Across the open fields for miles ahead;
The far-off city towered and roofed in blue
A tender line upon the western red;
The stars that singly, then in flocks appear,
Like jets of silver from the violet dome,
So wonderful, so many and so near,
And then the golden moon to light me home--
The crunching snowshoes and the stinging air,
And silence, frost and beauty everywhere.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

On Writing #144 : Marci Nelligan

To whom it may concern
Marci Nelligan


Dear anyone,
I am putting these words together, I am sending them to you, dear someone, in the curve of the oak leaves, where the light dapples into pictograph and memory. What I know of the world comes in at the eyes.  Beech trees, a patch of deer-sucked grass. I am trying to lose my body again,  training my tongue to the filaments of light and root structure.

Dear other,
I am not sure of you. You may/may not ‘get it’. Thin vein of spider thread sinking from the branches.
New moss on the slate rock I drug down that hill.
The shade stalks the sun along the arc of the yard. 

Dear who,
Because of the attic stairs. Because of the flour-dusted past, the futility of it all. Because of the yeast in the air and the tenacity of ghosts.
And how, though I try, I cannot describe a single thing the way it is. Cut an improbable channel through the land and reach me here, amid the chaos and bramble, work piled like wood to last three winters,  children a-yawl and a muddle.
It’s just like farming, you’ll say, and someone’s got to eat.

Dear everyone,
Whereas the history of language is sustenance, you have sustained.  Openly, mustn’t admit to the hope in a wing or the manyness of blackbirds, your body breaking into blossom, the plink plink of spring across its foolish meadows, but when we find ourselves beyond the ears of commerce, we confess like new-found catholics.
 I admit, it’s crazy. I admit, not a single tax break attends this labor.
Yet the thin mewl of a just-made thing.
Must be some reason in it after all.



Marci Nelligan is the author of The Ghost Manada (Black Radish, 2016), Infinite Variations (Black Radish, 2011) and numerous chapbooks, and the co-editor of Intersections, an interdisciplinary book on Jane Jacobs. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boog City, Jacket, the Denver Quarterly, The New Orleans Review, How2, Fledgling Rag, and other journals. She lives in Lancaster, PA with her husband and two daughters, and runs an arts-in-education partnership between Millersville University and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

We Who Are About To Die : Rose Knapp

Rose Knapp is a poet, producer, and multimedia artist. She has publications in Lotus-Eater, Bombay Gin, BlazeVOX, Hotel Amerika, Gargoyle, and others. She has a chapbook with Hesterglock Press and a collection forthcoming with Dostoyevsky Wannabe. She lives in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at roseknapp.net

Where are you now?
I'm currently living in the Chinatown district of Los Angeles.

What are you reading?
I'm currently reading The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature, which is an interesting anthology based broadly around themes of China's relationship to Western individualism, and the ever present tensions between poetic expression, propaganda, and Communist party censorship. With all the debate concerning unity/disunity, I'm revisiting some of the Futurists who had Fascist tendencies like Pound, Loy, and Lawrence, and also some of the Surrealists who had Communist tendencies like Breton.

What have you discovered lately?
Having lived in the Midwest and East Coast previously, I've discovered it's interesting to compare the diverse manifestations of what constitutes 'American' across different regions of the country. Sometimes the stereotypes about what each region values as essential hold true, and sometimes they differ.

Where do you write?
I mainly write in my studio, sometimes when walking at night.

What are you working on? Have you anything forthcoming?
I'm currently working on my second full collection, my first is forthcoming with Dostoyevsky Wannabe.

What would you rather be doing?
If I couldn't write poetry I would be creating electronic music, which I also do.

Three poems posted recently at occulum.

Two poems posted recently at METATRON.

Monday, October 30, 2017

On Writing #143 : Fisayo Adeyeye



On Falling / Failing
Fisayo Adeyeye

Its wings are motionless in the glass— this prehistoric thing almost seems alive, glowing warmly in a translucent orange rock. It’s a photograph someone has sent me online and I can’t keep myself from looking at it, on and off, throughout the day. I have known for a while about fossilized amber, but I’ve never really spent that much time looking this closely. Tree resin that has petrified, turning from sap into stone, and the little hairs, plant tendrils, and skin that are caught in it all carefully preserved. Forever immortalized. It’s fascinating but unsettling, how as the creature becomes aware of its condition, it yanks thin ropes and trails into the gum, the movement seemingly evidence of a fighting. The fossilized amber not only capturing the ending of the thing, but capturing the struggle before the ending. And this really gets me— the idea that the resin captures struggle. Struggle being a thing that resonates so very deeply with me. Something I know intimately as a human being, of course, but even more intimately as a black human being. How that struggle makes a person like fossilized amber, a question. A body congealing into a hypothesis or a kind of magic trick. A way of keeping death, death, while making it look like life.

Amber is, in a way, nature choosing to display what has not escaped / what is weakest / what has failed. And so, fossilized amber almost becomes a kind of monument of failure / of not really succeeding. Some of the best stories, I find, are stories of failure, or underdog stories. Mostly because of the lessons they contain. “Always watch your back.” “Don’t fly too close to the sun.” I love “don’t fly too close to the sun” especially, and the whole story of Icarus, because it’s one of those cautionary tales that doesn’t really seem to work in terms of cautioning anyone. I mean, for all the danger of falling, people still seem to want the feeling of flight. And they still want to be reaching for the sun. People still need to be told not to look directly at the sun, which is amazing. Like when the big eclipse happened, the sun was covered by the moon, but for a few moments. It was a trick and the sun hadn’t gone anywhere. It wasn’t even shielded really, it was still burning, even though it was obscured. This kind of obscuration happens often in fossilized amber. Little bubbles get into the sap and cause clouds as the amber hardens. The term for this kind of cloudy amber is “bastard.” Like to be born of unmarried parents, or to be born without a true mother or father.

When I hear the word bastard, I think Phaethon, a semi-famous Greek hero who was the illegitimate son of Helios (the son of an actual sun). Phaethon’s biggest claim to legend was a story that I consider a pretty interesting depiction of failure. His friends didn’t believe that his father was the sun so Phaethon went to Helios to ask for some kind of proof he could give them. His father told him he was free to ask for anything, so Phaethon decided he wanted to be allowed to drive Helios’ chariot, a vehicle that was supposed to be what carried the sun through the sky. His father didn’t think this was a good idea, but Phaethon begged, so Helios agreed. When Phaethon drove the chariot, the horses didn’t feel his father’s weight and thought the chariot was empty. They went wild. Phaethon became frightened and dropped the reins and the horses went off course. They flew too close to the earth and scorched the ground. The place they scorched supposed to be what is now known as Africa. Their heat is also supposed to be responsible for black skin. Because Phaethon was causing too much destruction on earth, Zeus (father of the gods) had to intervene. He struck Phaethon with a lightning bolt and Phaethon’s burning body fell to the ground. His sisters, when they heard about his death, apparently became so sad that they turned into poplar trees and cried tears of amber. What I find the most interesting about the myth is not really the connections to Icarus, of sons not listening to their father’s, or flying too close or too high or too low. No, what I find most interesting in the myth is the idea of blackening. The myth attempting to explain the creation of black skin and (in a set of images I can’t seem to get out of my mind), providing dual scenes of a father holding his smoldering, black child. Holding his son who had just minutes earlier been striving for something amazing. “the feeling / you get when you are looking / at your child, turn your head, / then, poof, no more child. / that feeling. that’s black.”[1] How there is something about blackness that has always been, in this way, a becoming / an arriving / a not quite yet. And how this striving seems as closely tied to blackness as anything else. The going after something that is deemed higher— further. The moving beyond a position of simply being. And how this sense of struggle is known to us, at the very root of our doing. That as black bodies, we have long sought flight.

Or that as black bodies, we have long sought.




[1] Line from Danez Smith’s “not an elegy for Mike Brown”





Fisayo Adeyeye has works published in Noble / Gas Qtrly, Nailed Magazine, The Birds We Piled Loosely, Print Oriented Bastards, New American Writing, This Magazine, and others. He is the former Poetry Editor of Fourteen Hills, a former Co-Curator of the VelRo Graduate Reading Series. He is the author of Cradles (Nomadic Press).