3 Questions for Steve Ausherman

 
 
1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.
 
The poetic line is a beast that snorts and slobbers. It is a mangy-toothy and biting, musky smelling and perfume-like animal that is beautiful to look at (but only from a distance) and is unwilling to allow me to place a bridle within its mouth.
 
In other words, it is something slippery, subject to rapid change, and something that I struggle to control. In times of stress, when the frenetic pace of emails, traffic, bills, grocery shopping, yard work, and the small, biting excesses of daily life threaten to overwhelm me, my journals are filled with short and staccato lines, snippets of thoughts, and cursory descriptions of passing sensory experiences. They are words that often feel unsure, or are aggressive, or simply act as life rafts for me to swim towards in the choppy seas of daily living.
 
In those times when I am relaxed and rested, or have spent time in the mountains, or am sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and the weekend stretches before me like a blank field of freshly fallen snow, my lines become long and full-bodied and stretch out like a person in a standing yoga pose. Even the words that I choose are longer, more subtle and suitable, and have a feeling of “rightness” and ease as they go down on paper.
 
 
2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?
 
I write quite a bit as I walk. Walking has always been a balm and a way to quiet my pacing mind. While hiking in the Sandia foothills, on the streets of Albuquerque at night, or in the high desert mesas, mountains, and dirt roads of the Taos area, I keep a small notepad in my pocket. As my footfalls find pace with my breathing, images and ideas come through me and I find that some of my more interesting poems have their genesis in the experience of walking.
 
There is something about walking and the process of slowly moving through the world, active yet relaxed, engaged yet detached, and allowing the synchronicity of breathe, footfall, arms and eye movement that gives rise to thoughts and imagery. I haven’t found this to be the case with all physical activity. Certainly the experience of going to the gym, or riding a mountain bike, or playing soccer doesn’t stimulate within me poetic thoughts. But the process of walking does. It is the way that I find the relationship between poetry and my body to be the most direct and fulfilling.
 
 
3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?
 
Yes!
 
From the reading public: The lack of people reading, buying or supporting poetry. Maybe poets are part of the problem. Maybe we identify and present ourselves so much as wild, angry, sad, drunken outsiders that it is hard for people to connect. As well, maybe in our efforts to write “poetically” we aren’t being clear with our ideas, and that lack of clarity may simply be pushing away potential readers.
 
From the literary world: Because poets work in shorter forms than novelists, biographers, essay writers or short story writers, I’m afraid that we aren’t taken as seriously for our writing efforts. I feel as if our love of the short form helps to make us seem lazy, undisciplined, and much less hard working than other writers.
 
Economically: As a poet, you can write every day and dedicate your life to your craft and know that, even if you achieve literary success, you will never be able to make a living at it.
 
 
 
             Footprints and the Dark God
                             (for Allen)
 
Rising the rough hills that fall into the Chama River
   A rustling arises from nearby scrub and a flank of brown
Reveals the side of a bear awakened by our footfalls.
   He snorts and turns away, muscled legs lifting him higher.
Tonight the stars will fill the sky and Ursula Major
   Will lift his bulk over the domed hills leaving bear prints
Upon the dark mud of the universe. We are shaking
In our hiking boots. Furry god of the back woods
Cleaving the trail amidst our jaw-dropped wonder.
 
                                                     by Steve Ausherman
 
 
 
 

Gail Rieke Photographs Ra Paulette

Ra Paulette is a mystical sculptor, working in the soft volcanic stone around Ojo Caliente and other environs. I’ve been in one of his caves–the one that was managed by Rancho Encantado–when the public still had access to it. It was like something out of Tolken. To see more, look at Gail Rieke’s blog.

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Haiga by Lorraine E. Leslie

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Bibi Deitz on Secret Writing Spots

Bibi Deitz on Secret Writing Spots

There’s this cafe where I go to write. It’s attached to a hotel, the front part of a restaurant with a bar between the two. Thin linen curtains block extraneous sun and sentries in blue suits and red striped ties prowl the place in search of stray napkins, empty plates. I drink macchiatos. Like anything, my tolerance has increased with time: Two does what one used to. They are served in thick shot glasses, puffs of foam atop creamy espresso like clouds. At six sharp the maître d’ flits around with votives in brass holders, five-pointed flowers cut from the curved metal like tiny ports. Soon after the scent of rioja and bordeaux mingles with the smell of perfume: sandalwood, bergamot, rose. Daytime everyone has laptops on the silver tables. Every now and then the sound of a cocktail shaker interrupts the quiet. Men in suits make deals over beers; bearded men in plaid shirts take business lunches with whiskey.

I was introduced to the cafe by a writer friend when I first moved back to New York. I was staying nearby and would come every afternoon to write. This was back when it first opened and I’d have the full lounge to myself for hours. The word’s out now; but still I can always find a table.

Day and night a golden fireplace glimmers, the best facsimile I’ve ever seen. It could be real until you get up close. Two crystal balls hover below the mantle. Nighttime they lower the lights and everyone’s face glows. I wonder if the fireplace runs around the clock. I want to stay here, creep downstairs at four in the morning in a white robe and sit on one of the leather couches before the hearth, order a hot chocolate. New York dreams: usually possible.

I like to sit in the corner. I like to order a carafe of sparkling water, which comes in a flask of blown blue glass. I sip it all afternoon, sneak cashews from the pockets of my jeans. I’ve been known to rocketship here. Rocketshipping: The delicious feeling of over-caffeination.

By seven it heats up, eight it’s crazy. Sometimes I retire to the dining room for a burger but usually not. It’s a daytime establishment, far as I’m concerned. A venue to write. It’s fun to watch people pour in from the cold, wrapped in wool coats, faces freshly washed, clean fingers, open hearts. When emergency vehicles flash by, the room flickers red as though there were a massive digital fire on the street.

It’s precious, this. To have a cafe at which you can sit from day till well past dusk without being hassled.

When I lived in Santa Fe, I lamented the lack of places like this until Iconik opened. Now I miss that spot, even living in New York. This city needs an Iconik. For now, though, I am quite pleased with this cafe, which shall remain unnamed. In a city like this, such establishments must, lest their popularity eventually outshine their accommodation.

Where do you write in your city or town?

Bibi Deitz lives and writes in Brooklyn. Recent work has appeared in Vice, Bookforum, The Rumpus, Berfrois, Queen’s Mob’s Teahouse and BOMB.

Signs Seen Around Somerville, MA

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Poetry Reading Saturday at Sweet Lily Bakery

THE FAMOUS INTERMEDIATE POETRY CLASS FROM SFCC will be reading at 10am on Saturday at Sweet Lily Bakery
229 A Johnson St
Santa Fe, NM 87501 (Next to Georgia O’K Museum).
Join us for coffee, cookies, and poetry.
It is a nice space, and you can also order soup etc. I expect this to be an intimate setting with a half dozen readers (including several blog contributors). Jump start your weekend creatively! Hope to see you.

Haiga by Barbara Robidoux

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from the hand of the lama
grain by tiny grain of sand
a mandala offered

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