Tag: poems

time to submit

I can’t remember whether I mentioned that I am now, along with Johannes S.H. Bjerg and Aditya Bahl, one of the co-editors of Bones, which is one of the most exciting, innovative haiku journals around. I’m thrilled to have this chance to work with Johannes and Aditya, two of my favorite poets, and to read so much great poetry.

Our submission period for the next issue starts tomorrow (May 15) and goes through June 15, so please do take a look at some of the previous issues if you haven’t already, check out the submission guidelines, and send us some poetry if what you see looks congenial to you.

 

Summer Visitors

a junicho renku

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summer visitors
the children show off
marble-sized pumpkins

ma

careless laughter
filling blue watering cans

ms

at the Picasso exhibit
a shadow
crosses the wall

ac

in the lake shallows
someone has dropped eyeglasses

ma

the moonlight
wanes
on ranked hay bales

ms

a quick spinal adjustment
for the unfinished scarecrow

ac

the last chapter
I trace letters
on your back

ma

crumpling together
on a bed of fallen leaves

ms

not quite dawn
rushing the bin
to the curb

ac

clack! the llama’s teeth
meet in my migraine headache

ma

pasta al dente
golden courgette flowers
at dusk

ms

tiles swept clean
lean on the broom a moment

ac

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Ashley Capes (sabaki), Max Stites, Melissa Allen

A Hundred Gourds 1.3, June 2012

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By the time this renku appeared in print I’d almost forgotten about writing it. The process of composition was slightly dreamlike, taking place as it did in slow motion, across a span of nine months in 2010-2011, in a collaboration between three very busy people living on three different continents. (Ashley is Australian, Max a U.S. native who’s lived in the U.K. for many years.) Looking at it again brought back pleasant memories of all our discussions and revisions and of Ash’s expert guidance through the sometimes-exciting, sometimes-infuriating restrictions and stipulations of renku. (Ash also frequently guides the development of renku over at Issa’s Snail, in case you’re interested in seeing some of his other work.)

It’s interesting to me how renku, which started, really, as a party game, is more likely these days to resemble a leisurely pen-pal correspondence. When I have, so to speak, “played” renku as a party game — Live! In Person! One Night Only! — I’ve found that my interest in it rises dramatically. It’s not that I don’t at all enjoy the slower, more contemplative pace of long-distance renku composition, but to me, much of the point of renku linking is the real-time, in-person sparking between human minds and the way it both facilitates the creation of poetry and acts as a strikingly effective icebreaker to create a warm, relaxed group dynamic. (If you’re doing it right, that is. I’ve heard of people leading renku sessions in such a stern manner that they made participants burst into tears. That’s a sad story. Don’t do it that way.)

Writing renku long-distance can also, of course, be a highly enjoyable social experience–certainly composing this one was–but I think that for me it allows my perfectionist tendencies too much free rein for it to be entirely comfortable. When you’re composing more in real time, perfectionism is a luxury you can’t really allow yourself. The point is to have fun, not to come up with the most perfect link that could ever be conceived. Also, as far as I can tell, most of the time writing renku is about a thousand times more fun than reading it anyway; the elusive, subjective nature of renku linking, which makes it so much fun and gamelike to compose, also often makes it a challenge to enter into as a third-party reader. This means that the number of people who actually read even any published renku is likely to be vanishingly tiny–even tinier than the number who read haiku. So even more than with most forms of art, I think, the process really is more important than the product.

Your mileage may vary, of course. I guess all I’m trying to say is, if you’ve never joined a live renku party? Try to do that sometime. Also, Ash and Max? It was a pleasure getting to know you. If we’re ever all on the same continent, we’ll have to do this again.

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Please stay on the line…

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…your readership is very important to us.

Floating around out in the Interether right now are some interesting fruits of my labor from earlier this year. Since I’m not coming up with a whole lot of new material at the moment, think of this as hold music. Only, you know, better. I hope.

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  1. Issue 1.1 of Multiverses has been released! I picked out all the haibun, so I really like them all. Some other really talented people picked out the haiku, tanka, haiga, and features, so I like all those too. Seriously, it’s a great selection of poetry and I’m pretty sure I’d be impressed by it even if I weren’t on the editorial staff. Go take a look.
  2. Back in March Aubrie Cox featured on her blog Yay Words! the brilliant new subgenre of doodleku–she drew a doodle for every day and invited her readers to write haiku and tanka linking to it. Now she’s put together an awesome PDF called Things With Wings, containing the doodles and her favorites from among the daily submissions. I really enjoyed this collection because the ku cover a wide stylistic range and the link between doodle and poem is often subtle and thought-provoking. Also, the doodles? Adorable.
  3. Also back in March, I had the honor of judging the Robert Spiess Memorial Award Haiku Competition, which is sponsored by Modern Haiku.  I shared this task with Carlos Colon (a.k.a. Haiku Elvis), so I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that I had a blast. It’s a hard job reading hundreds of great haiku and choosing the best ones, but somebody had to do it. Also, it was kind of cool to be judging a contest honoring a fine editor who lived here in Madison, Wisconsin and published Modern Haiku here for 24 years.

Okay, I’m off to go for a walk and hopefully come up with some ideas for things to put on this blog that I worked on more recently than four months ago. Trust me, an operator will be with you shortly…

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Things

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swallows swooping…
a dent in my memory
that wasn’t there yesterday

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__________________________________________________________

That’s a new genre up there. The YouTube video haibun. The Youbun?

Also…I know. I know. It’s been…forever. I’m sorry I didn’t warn you about the little blog vacation I was going to take. That’s because I didn’t know I was going to take it. But I started a new job and my brain went, whoa. One thing at a time, buster. Whole new lifestyle. Crazy amounts of stuff to learn. Too little sleep. No blogging for you!

There’s still, you know. The newness. And things to learn. So many…things. And sleep, I must figure out what to do about that. But I missed you all. Don’t let me go that long without saying hi again.

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Instamatic

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It was just too damn easy to take pictures then and too damn hard to throw them out. All those packets from the drugstore, full of awkward poses, distorted colors, guillotined heads, red eyes, blurry faces, dim lighting. You looked at them only once—in the car on the way home from picking them up—and winced, all the joy suddenly drained from whatever occasion they had failed to adequately commemorate. But what can you do, it’s family. They’ll be in that box in the basement until you die.

my reflection
in stagnant water
…snow arriving

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last words: four myths

1.

Contrary to rumor, there are many boxes that I haven’t opened. It’s no harder for me to resist temptation than for anyone else. And honestly, I’m still not sure I’m sorry.

leaf skeleton key to an unlocked door

2.

I never expected to look back until I did. My fingers fumbled on the strings; I was suddenly afraid that she had fumbled too. Those last few sour notes still ring in my ears.

long winter evening a song in every shattering

3.

Yesterday we flew pretty close to the sun, but today we’ll fly even closer. The wax is hardening in the molds. We pace restlessly, raising and lowering our arms like fledglings who know they have wings for a reason.

in a sky full of clouds only one cloud white enough

4.

He measures out six seeds for me, six small poison pills, six ways to forget my life, six small deaths for me to die.

…and the last hum of the cicada the same as the first

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Random…

…places where you can find stuff by and about me, lately.

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“Editing Haibun and Tanka Prose: A Haibun Today Colloquium”

18 editors of haibun, including me, share their thoughts on editing haibun in the most recent issue of Haibun Today.

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THF Haiku App

There’s an app for me now. Well, okay, for me and a whole bunch of other poets. A couple of months ago The Haiku Foundation released an updated version of THF Haiku at the App Store. (I reviewed the first version a while back.) There’s a whole new selection of several hundred haiku and one of them is mine. No, I’m not going to tell you which one. You’ll have to go get the app to find out. (It’s free.) Because I’m diabolical like that.

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Sari Grandstaff’s Haiku Library (on Pinterest)

As some of you may know, I am attending library school and some day I even plan to finish. Three of my classmates there started an amazing project last year called the “Library as Incubator Project,” which aims to document and encourage artists who use libraries to inspire and assist them in their work. (That’s my summary of what they do. I hope they’d agree with me.)

Anyway, back in April, which was National Poetry Month, they asked Sari Grandstaff, who is a haiku poet and school librarian, to put together a Pinterest board about haiku. And she did. There’s a link to this blog on it, for which I feel very honored and slightly freaked out. My worlds collide.

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“A meditation on namelessness” and “summer vacation”

On his blog “haiku and commentary and tales,” Jim “Sully” Sullivan writes commentary about various haiku that interest him. More of us should probably do this. A while back (I’m slow, people) Sully wrote about a one-line haiku that I posted on Monostich. Then more recently he wrote about a haiku I published in Kokako and also posted here. He is way more philosophical than me but almost everyone is. I enjoyed reading his commentary.

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When I Dreamed This

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In the first dream I remember — and unlike many of my stories, this one is true — Dracula chained me in my attic. I was five when I dreamed this. Our attic was a large unfinished space that ran the length of the second floor of our house, behind the real rooms where we lived our daily lives. The attic was a shadow house, full of castoff furniture and household belongings. My younger sister and I played there all the time: Hide-and-seek, House, Scare-your-sister. It was dimly lit, and not climate-controlled: in the summer you could hardly breathe there for the heat. It didn’t scare me to be there but I had a proper respect for the place, I took it seriously. I had an unarticulated feeling that things could happen there that couldn’t happen in our house proper, that it was an alternate world full of alternate possibilities.

speeding neutrinos
somebody counts
to ninety-eleven

The details of the dream are fuzzy now but I can remember being wrapped in chains in a back corner of the attic, watching helplessly as Dracula flew in through one of the tiny windows in the form of a bat, then changed into Dracula and taunted me for my helplessness. Was Frankenstein there too? I seem to remember Frankenstein. I begged them to let me go but they wouldn’t. They wanted me to stay in that attic. I wanted to go. We didn’t come to any form of agreement before the dream ended.

rainy day
the storybook’s pages
bleeding

It was a nightmare, of course — I was terrified while it was going on, and shaky when I woke. But though I was so young I took it pragmatically. I knew there was no Dracula and no Frankenstein. I knew no one would chain me in my attic. I didn’t acquire any fear of the place. In fact, I may have spent more time there than ever, now that I could see what it was really good for: It was a breeding ground for stories. Some about things that could never happen, and some about things that almost certainly did.

mousehole
a line of ants
walks out of it

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Where I See Myself (Or, The Current Political Situation)

He stopped in my office one afternoon and began asking the kinds of questions I had always hated. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Where would you go if money were no object? What are your three favorite books, your five favorite songs, your ten best memories? What do you think of the current political situation? Why do you write poetry?

moonlight my reasons unreasonable

I told him I had a lot of work to do and couldn’t talk right now. A little while later I made a trip to the vending machine to get a Snickers bar. He was standing in front of it, trying to decide between Pop-Tarts and Hostess Cupcakes. I made a face. He shrugged. “They’re both terrible, of course. But if you were starving, which one would you choose?”

“I would choose Snickers,” I told him, and retrieved my change from the little hole at the bottom of the machine. I had to ask him to move in order to retrieve my Snickers. Somehow I got my hand stuck in the flap when I was pulling it out, sort of like those monkeys who get their hands caught in jars because they refuse to let go of the banana. I refused to let go of the Snickers. But I finally got my hand out anyway.

He didn’t say a thing.

what’s in between the root and the flower downpour

Back in the office, I opened up Word and started a new document. My Favorite Books. I couldn’t narrow it down to fewer than eighty. Another one. My Favorite Songs. Oh, please. Forget it. Now that we all have iPods we all have five hundred favorite songs. Another one. My Best Memories. I could only think of four. Memories are overrated.

the way birds start singing when you aren’t even thinking about them

I gave up on the lists and worked for a while on a spreadsheet that someone else wanted me to work on. It contained no useful information, but it looked really great. Then I made some phone calls and asked some questions with easy answers. No one appreciates difficult questions, people.

Why do I write poetry anyway?

tennis the ball never occupying exactly the right space

As I left the building he was standing by the entrance with an umbrella, which I never think of bringing. It wasn’t raining, but he held it over my head anyway. “How do you define poetry?” I asked him.

“I’ve given a lot of thought to that,” he told me. “Is this your bus?”

“I’ll just take the next one,” I said. “If money were no object, I would go on a tour of all the major mountain ranges of the world.”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” he said. “I think you write poetry as a substitute for mountains.”

ten times ten is always one hundred secrets you never meant to keep

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