Sunday, September 27, 2009

October Sunday Kind of Love With Emily Warn and Randall Horton

Sunday, October 18, 2009, 4 – 6 pm
Busboys & Poets, 14th and V Streets, Washington, DC, (202) 387-7638, info [at]
Sponsored by Busboys and Poets and Split This Rock
Featuring Randall Horton and Emily Warn.
Hosted by Katy Richey and Sarah Browning. Open mike follows. Admission is free with donation.

Randall Horton, originally from Birmingham, Alabama, resides in Albany, New York and is a recipient of the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize. His poetry manuscript The Definition of Place was a finalist for the Main Street Rag Book Award and was published in their Editor’s Select Series in 2006. Main Street Rag is also publishing his second book, The Lingua Franca of Ninth Street, in September 2009. Randall is the current editor of Reverie: Midwest African American Literature and co-editor of Fingernails Across the Chalkboard Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDs from the Black Diaspora (Third World Press, 2007). Randall is also a Cave Canem fellow. Most recently his poems, fiction and nonfiction appear in the following anthologies and journals: Motif: Writing by Ear, Mosaic, Black Renaissance, Crab Orchard Review and The Red Clay Review. Randall teaches at the University of New Haven and is poetry editor of Willow Books.

Marvin Gaye Sings National Anthem at the NBA all-star Game

Life should be so easy as a boy
on swing set thrusting both feet forward, pulling
his face through a breeze, or

to be curled in a lover's arm listening to river swirls'
meditation. War rages against
this lean silk in the spotlight.

Oh how to articulate the madness except
through a drum machine, distant family member
to the djembe-

an electronic beat tingles the ear hole.
Now layer sensation with voice smooth
as hot silver flowing into half-dollars,

brighter than a thousand camera flashes,
& the mirrored shades gleaming
is for others to reflect themselves.

Oh the fork tongue whispering
knows the five-spots festering Southeast DC, has seen
14th Street's hollowed buildings

in a state of rigor-mortis from the 60s: a construct
of crumbling brick structures
held by aging plyboard.

A moon of narcotic drains slowly from the nostrils,
bone bright-numb
as if this may be the apocalypse.

Oh they have chosen a troubled man
to signify Old Glory, which unfurls
if nothing but faithfully.

From The Lingua Franca of Ninth Street, September 2009, Main Street Rag Press, Charlotte, NC. Used by Permission.

Emily Warn is a poet, essayist, teacher, and technologist who most recently served as founding editor of Born in San Francisco and raised in Michigan, she is the author of three books of poetry: The Leaf Path (1982), The Novice Insomniac (1996) and Shadow Architect (2008). Her essays and poems appear widely, including in Poetry, BookForum, Blackbird, Parabola, The Seattle Times, and The Writers’ Almanac. Emily taught creative writing at Lynchburg College and The Bush School, and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She currently divides her time between Seattle and Twisp, Washington.

Elijah's Babble

After my rendition in the cave,
they engraved my name in a pink granite star

on Hollywood Boulevard. People mill about.
I swore fame was someone else's story.

Cameras flash. Some touch my gold letters,
a gravestone in any other setting.

Dizzy and Thelonius said without speaking a word.
Their riffs stopped taxis, got people to tapping

and listening, forgetting their business.
I'm proof that words travel to jazz's galaxy.

Not any words, words that labor where no one speak.
I squandered nights in whiskey bars,

lapped milk that widows left for starving cats,
wandered streets until I could hear what is not;

not the earthquake that sets old clocks and hearts ticking,
not the firestorms that smoked all summer,

not the wind snapping power lines, leaving us in the dark,
but the sound of God almost breathing.

From Shadow Architect, Copper Canyon, 2008. Used by Permission.

NEXT: Sunday, November 15, 4 pm
Luis Alberto Ambroggio, Tara Betts, and Yvette Neisser Moreno!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TransVerse Blog: Thinking about Film and Poetry

I also want to find a relationship in the non-narrative ability of poetry and film. While they both can, and often quite successfully are, narrative projects, poetry by virtue of its concentration of language and form on the page (not just verse, but short blocks of prose because of the plunge into whiteness that follows each one, use the void, the break of the line to create this possibility) can exist in a momentary eternity. That is, one moment that is comprehensibly infinite and universal. Of course, there is a temporality locked into the reading of the poem - you must read one word, one line at a time, there is no way to instantaneously take in the entirety of the poem in an atemporal experience. Rather its the subject matter that, by breaking the bonds of the temporality of the medium, the printed page, can free itself to express something beyond history, beyond time. In the same way, film, while constrained by the linear succession of images on a screen, can yet break these narrative bonds and express something beyond.

From TransVerse. The full entry is very interesting, and I encourage you to go read it. The call for film and video submissions can be found here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

450 Years of Hispanic Poetry - Library of Congress 9/25

In celebration of 450 years of U.S. Hispanic poetry

Chief of the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress.
Member of the North-American Academy of the Spanish Language.
With the participation of the distinguished North American authors:LORI MARIE CARLSON: editor, translator, and novelist. Salient among her many publications is the landmark, award-winning collection, Cool Salsa. She is Lecturer in the Department of English at Duke University.

C.M. MAYO: novelist, fiction writer, poet. Founding editor of the bilingual publishing house Tameme. Editor (and translator in part) of the anthology Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. Her translations of Mexican literary works appear in several anthologies, including Best of Mexican Fiction, New World / New Words, and Reversible Monuments (Copper Canyon), one of the most important anthologies of contemporary Mexican poetry.

YVETTE NEISSER MORENO: poet and translator whose work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Her translation of poet Luis Alberto Ambroggio's Difficult Beauty: Selected Poems was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in 2009. The Palestine-Israel Journal has published her critical work on (and translations of) Palestinian and Israeli poetry. Moreno teaches poetry translation at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD., and has taught poetry in public schools and libraries in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

STEVEN F. WHITE's work as a translator appears in Rubén Darío: Selected Works, Poet in New York by Federico García Lorca, Seven Trees against the Dying Light by Pablo Antonio Cuadra, and The Angel of Rain by Gastón Baquero. He has edited and translated bilingual anthologies of poetry from Nicaragua, Chile and Brazil. His most recent book of poetry is Bajo la palabra de las plantas: poesía selecta, 1979-2009. He teaches at St. Lawrence University.

September 25, 2009 at 12:00 p.m.
Pickford Theater. The James Madison Building, 3rd Floor
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Followed by a reception. R.S.V.P. Cynthia Acosta at (202)707-2013

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jan Beatty at Reynolds Series today at UNK

The University of Nebraska Reynolds Series Presents the Fabulous Jan Beatty today, September 18th, at the Fine Arts Studio Theater University of Nebraska Kearney, hosted by Reynolds Chair, Allison Hedge Coke.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Review of Jan Beatty's latest book Red Sugar

"At the cafe I love Effie the waitress,
how she lets old Carl stay in the shack
behind the house in return for fixing
things that don’t need fixing, her still-
pumped sixty year old arms, she never
asks, just pours my coffee, says

How ya doin honey,

I found out she hates her gay son,
disowned him, should I hate her now?"

This question, asked in the poem “Cave Music – Comet Montana,” extends to all the characters in the poems in Jan Beatty’s latest book, Red Sugar, each one profoundly imperfect, some deeply evil: who should we hate? Who is human, or more so, or less so?

Once asked, it is a question that refuses to be answered. It pushes against the readers as we move through the book, resisting simplicity as the poems hurtle across the page, demanding to be read and reread, leaving the reader breathless. The poems strain against the limits of the page, and Beatty plays with the strain with her line breaks, her lack of pause, her spacing between lines, and the breaking of lines. While some poems look fairly conventional on the page, others use the visual element to help sustain their power. The poem “Flurry”, about a group of young children flocking around a priest who will later be charged with sexual abuse, pushes against the margins of the page; its lines stretch long and are double spaced. The white space creates deep pauses within the frenzied movement of the words of the poem, lending a sense of dread to what takes place.

…mornings, all of us laughing in bunches. & crowding around him each

day the same. flurry. young children. waiting to be scooped up.

(waiting to be thought of). held too tight. youngness. held too

long, kissed. the patting & hair stroking. I am his favorite…

“Flurry” is slow, deliberate, almost hesitant in what it needs to say. The poem that precedes it in the book, “Shooter,” is the opposite. A fantasy about who the speaker will shoot and why (a list that includes rapists, professors who looked down on women, and men who sexually harass employees), “Shooter” does not stop for line breaks; the lines are separated by slashes and keep flowing into each other, unpunctuated, until the end of the poem. The two could not be more visually different, yet they insist on the same sense of urgency. The characters they hold need to be heard, and we the readers need to hear them.

Red Sugar
is about class, women, and blood. Beatty, in an 2008 interview with radio station Classical QED 89.3 Pittsburgh's series Around Town, says that “class runs all through [her] books, in terms of work, in terms of attitude towards work, in terms of survival,” and Beatty claims that this book, unlike Mad River or Boneshaker, her two previous books, tries to get inside the body, into the blood of people, into what drives them. We see these twin themes of class and heritage play out as Red Sugar marches into the center of the gritty side of life and stays, shining stage lights on the personas who exist there, drawing them into character with clear and hard language. Beatty’s profiles of fear, exploitation, sexuality, abuse, drugs, and death give voice to complex lives full of contradictions.

Beatty tells QED that her inspiration lies in blood, or red sugar, and the “stories… we carry within us that are never told and how…those drive us.” Life, for the speakers of the poems in Red Sugar, beats on regardless of hardship, taboo, or morality and doesn’t stop for evil, cruelty, or sadness. It presses on, dirty, sexy, brutal.

Buy this book at The University of Pittsburgh Press.

Katherine Howell is the Blog Goddess and Communications and Development Assistant for Split This Rock Poetry Festival; she lives and writes in Washington, D.C. Other reviews by Katherine can be found here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Poems Against the Regime at Foreign Policy In Focus

Check out Poems Against the Regime at Foreign Policy In Focus.

Iranian American Poets Persis M. Karim, Sholeh Wolpe and Roger Sedarat have poems up at the Foreign Policy in Focus website, edited by Split This Rock co-director, Melissa Tuckey.

Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) is a "Think Tank Without Walls" connecting the research and action of more than 600 scholars, advocates, and activists seeking to make the United States a more responsible global partner. It is a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Call for Film and Video Submissions to Split This Rock

Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Call for film and video

Split This Rock invites poets, writers, artists, activists, dreamers, and all concerned world citizens to submit original films or videos for the 2nd Split This Rock Poetry Festival, to be held March 2010. We are looking for artistic, experimental, and challenging film/video interpretations of poetry that explore critical social issues. Selected work will be screened during the Split This Rock Poetry Festival film program. Entries can be up to 15 minutes long.

See the guidelines and entry form for full details and submission requirements.

Deadline: postmarked by January 15th, 2010
Entry fee: $20.00 (non-refundable)
Notification by February 15th, 2010
Festival dates: March 10th-13th, 2010

Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness invites poets, writers, artists, activists, dreamers, and all concerned world citizens to Washington, DC, for poetry, community building, and creative transformation as our country continues to grapple with two wars, a crippling economic crisis, and other social and environmental ills. The festival will feature readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, film, activism –- opportunities to imagine a way forward, hone our activist skills, and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for social change.

Film & Video Submissions:
We are looking for artistic, experimental, and challenging film/video interpretations of poetry that explore critical social issues. Selected work will be screened during the Split This Rock Poetry Festival film program.

Entries must be submitted on DVD (NTSC only) or CD (.mov format only), no HD formats. Please note: videos with h264, divx compression or any format not mentioned above will not be accepted.

Running time for entries should not exceed 15 minutes.

All entries must be in English.

All work submitted must be original. If portions of the submitted work contain material from third parties, author must have and be able to provide written permission to use such material.

All entries must include:
- Completed entry form
(download at:
- $20 entry fee (check made payable to: Levato Design, Inc.)
- A short synopsis, artist's bio, and artist's statement (on one page only)

Please label all DVDs and CDs with title, running time, director’s name and contact email.

Please mail entries to:
The Poetry Center of Chicago
37 S. Wabash, Suite 704
Chicago, IL 60603
Attn: Francesco Levato/Split This Rock submission


For more information:
info [at] splitthisrock [dot] org

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sunday Kind of Love: Mourning Katrina

Sunday Kind of Love Poetry Series

Mourning Katrina: A Poetic Response to Tragedy

September 20, 4-6 pm

Langston Room, Busboys and Poets

14th & V Streets, NW, Washington, DC

On the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Sunday Kind of Love features Joanne Gabbin (pictured above), director of the Furious Flower Festival of African American Poetry, and contributors to Mourning Katrina: A Poetic Response to Tragedy, edited by Joanne Gabbin. Mourning Katrina is about devastation and mourning, about the failure of humanity to act humanely, about the politics of poverty and race, but it is also about hope and healing. The poets give voice to the rainbow that comes after the storm and the revival of spirit that comes out of the depths of tested faith. All of them share a willingness to see beyond their sorrow to reinvent the spirit of "Laissez les bon temps rouler!" Though human suffering shaped the beginning of this project, the result of it is a morning of hope and inspiration. Co-hosted by Sarah Browning & Katy Richey. Co-sponsored by Busboys and Poets and Split This Rock. As always, with an open mic! For more information: browning [at] splitthisrock [dot] org or 202- 387-7638

A Poem for Senator Kennedy

The Man Who Should Be President
August 28, 2009

In memoriam: Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Feb. 22, 1932 – Aug. 25, 2009

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on,
the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die."

--- speech conceding the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination.

Ted, headlines read of your passing,
Camelot Ends, Again;
Liberal Lion Dies;
A Torch Extinguished –

But we refuse to believe it.
You taught us better than that.
“I speak out of a deep sense of urgency
about the anguish and anxiety I have seen across America.”

The death of our Liberal Lion
Must not nullify his roar.
“The cause endures” in a jungle
Of disease, poverty, unemployment,
And every child left behind.
In a cacophony of conservative voices
You sang of Jefferson and Jackson,
Committed to jobs and health care
While opponents labeled you liberal,
Your laws and causes, Socialism.
But you knew better than that.
Which 300+ bills
You authored and enacted
Into law were written in the reddest ink?:
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965,
National Cancer Act of 1971,
Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986,
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,
Ryan White AIDS Care Act in 1990,
Civil Rights Act of 1991,
Mental Health Parity Act in 1996 and 2008,
State Children's Health Insurance Program in 1997,
No Child Left Behind Act in 2002,
the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009,

Or was it several unsuccessful efforts at immigration reform?
Or Universal Health Care you championed since 1970?
In Camelot you would be King,
In America, the man who should be President.
Contemporary Ben Franklin,
Master Orator, Elder Statesman,
Super Diplomat, The Man
Who got the deed done,
White hopes shrouded
By the black cloak draping
Your desk, formerly your brother’s,
white roses in a black vase – a song of yourself,
The great “I” not individual
But communal, community, America.
Your 46 years in the chamber
Outlasted single- and two-term occupants
Of the Oval Office, 9 to be exact –
there would be no rest
For a Senator whose cigarette box
Engraving read, “The first shall be last.”
Good Catholic, Moses of the United States,
Your Old Testament values
Never shrugged due to New Testament politics,
And none of us have yet seen
The Liberal Land of milk and honey.
Though your body be dead
Your legacy is not.
Out of that deep sense of urgency
The cause must endure.
The sick must not get sicker,
The hungry not get hungrier
While the rich continue getting richer.
You vowed yourself to Whitman’s America,
Gave us a song and a dance and a dream.
Had you been President
America would be coughing less
And missing less time at work.
May every Patriotic American,
With Faith rooted in the Bill of Rights,
Get a tattoo of you on their Left arm,
The one they use in the voting booth,
Hoping to keep the American Dream alive
And showing that “the dream shall never die."

Joe Gouveia writes the monthly poetry column Meter Man for the Barnstable Patriot where this poem first appeared.

ROCKPILE Performance with Burnett Thompson and The New Columbia Orchestra at Busboys and Poets

ROCKPILE is a collaboration between David Meltzer, legendary poet, musician, and essayist, and Michael Rothenberg,poet, songwriter and editor of Big Bridge Press. In the tradition of the troubadour and with the spirit of improvisation and collaboration, the duo will journey through eight U.S. cities and perform poetry, composed on the road, in a spontaneous fusion with local musicians in each city. Washington DC is the 4th stop of the ROCKPILE journey.

When: November 4, 2009 ‐ 9:00 PM

Where: Busboys and Poets 2021 14th St. NW Washington DC (202)387‐9757

Ticket Information: $10 at the door.

ROCKPILE , joins poetry and music and is intended to educate and preserve, as well as create a history of collaboration between musicians and writers. It will help to both introduce and reinforce the tradition of the troubadour, on and off the road, for all generations. The tour will continue to New Orleans, Washington DC, New York, Chicago and St. Louis. Interviews and conversations with the local musicians will take place before the performances and become a part of the “on the road ROCKPILE
journal” as it grows from city to city and evolves with each performance. The ROCKPILE journey will be documented online ( daily performance clips, excerpts from the evolving journal, interviews, video and audio files. The tour will conclude in San Francisco, where poets, songwriters and musicians of the Bay Area and beyond, will gather in the troubadour tradition, to share, through poetry and music, the story of the ROCKPILE journey as a final grand performance.