April Is Poetry Month!

POETRY MONTH is almost here!

In the month of April, I hope to post a poem a day.

I’ll be drawing on the blog’s archives, but am also looking to publish YOUR poems. Previously published work is fine. I always like short poetry, or poems tied in to the blog’s themes. Concrete or visual work is welcome too. Lyric poems should be well crafted.



Looking forward to it!



Monday Feature: A Visit from Persephone by Michaela Kahn

A Visit from Persephone


There are some days when the weather just perfectly reflects our inner-life of the moment – Saturday was one of those perfect days for me. It was a cloud-covered, gray day, the moisture in the air gave it almost a hint of sea, with a cold chill (not much over 40) and some intermittent moments of fine, grainy snowfall. Nothing to stick on the ground, just a little breath that’s a reminder that we live at 7000+ feet.

I was never much of a Spring person … I think growing up in Southern California it was just too much like the other seasons, too subtle for me to take much notice. Sure there were flowers that started to bloom in Spring, but in L.A. there are flowers all year. It took moving to Colorado (and later New Mexico, New York, and Wales) for me to start to clue into what the Spring hype was about.

Following a winter when all but the evergreens have lost their leaves, there is a joy to seeing those first green buds on the trees, to the pale little leaves on the wild rose bush, the massive white blossoming of the apricot trees, the little shoots poking up out of the loam.

Spring in the mountain West is always tinged with ice and the knowledge that there will be at least another couple snow storms before the end of May. In New Mexico our Spring is affected by the snowmelt in the Rockies north of us. Up there as the sun begins to melt all the winter ice and snow, the super-cold meltwater makes its way south toward us and effectively changes our weather – we get colder and wetter.

But there is something about Spring chill that isn’t quite the same as Winter or Fall. There’s an energy in it, a stirring. I think it’s the Persephone effect. The Queen of the Underworld has been underground for months, tending to the dead. And just now she has turned her thoughts back toward the surface. She’s begun imagining the colors of Spring’s flowers, she’s begun thinking of new shoots. When she emerges she brings the energy of the dead with her – the chill of the Underworld clings to her. It’s precisely that energy (call it compost if you want) of the dead that allows for germination …

I’ve always celebrated Persephone’s return to the Underworld as representing that much-needed turn inward, down into the unconscious. For one of the first times in my life this year I feel like celebrating her quiet, cold return to the world above ….

Where to submit nontraditional and found poetry

THIS information looks to be about a year old, but is still a great list. Enjoy, and make use of it! The list is from Trish Hopkins who does good work with these compilations–link at end of piece.
Most editors are happy to answer questions regarding submissions. If a lit mag seems like a good fit for your work and it happens to be a collaboration, found poem, or other more nontraditional form, contact them via email or on other social media to ask if they are open to such forms. If you receive a response and can share it with me here, I’ll note it for others in the future.

Most of the listings below have accepted found work or other unusual formats of poetry and/or claim that they will. They are listed alphabetically; some are currently accepting submissions, some are temporarily closed. I’ve also included a link to their Duotrope page, which will allow you to track deadlines if you currently subscribe to Duotrope.
Apeiron Review

Submissions: Open September 1st and close on October 15th: Publication will occur in January. Open February 1st through March 1st: Publication will occur in July.

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/7776

“Apeiron Review is Pennsylvania based literary magazine currently only published online. We publish poetry, prose, and photography from all over the world. We want something real, something beautiful, something ugly, and something that sings to the far reaches of our being. Make us laugh or make us cry, but we want something visceral.”

Submissions: Currently open to poetry submissions through Sunday, May 31, 2015

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/27

“Cicada is a YA lit/comics magazine fascinated with the lyric and strange and committed to work that speaks to teens’ truths. We publish poetry, realistic and genre fic, essay, and comics by adults and teens. (We are also inordinately fond of dark humor and Viking jokes.) Our readers are smart and curious; submissions are invited but not required to engage young adult themes.”
Contemporary Verse 2

Submissions: Accepts submissions for bi-monthly issues, e.g. January 15, 2015 deadline for Jan/Feb issue

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/752

“CV2 is nationally respected for its openness to a diverse range of poets and poetic styles. From fresh to familiar and from traditional lyric to extreme language wrangling—we’re not afraid to take it on.”

Submissions: Rolling submissions, check site for dates.

Duotrope: not listed

“Submit up to 5 poems at a time. We are open to any style.”
District Lit NEW!

Submissions: Reopen on August 1, 2015

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/8508

“We want poems that writhe on the page, that are essential to understand something true and real. We’re open to experimental forms, but generally prefer poems that are grammatically understandable.”

Submissions: Reopening on March 1, 2015

Notes: Per the current editor, they are also open to found poetry, erasures, etc.

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/14258

“We are especially interested in collaborations between two or more writers, or between writers and visual artists. We accept submissions from writers working in English, or translating into English, from anywhere in the world.”

“If your poetry is rough-cut diamonds, slightly off-kilter; if your fiction will make us feel more human and less alone; if you enjoy exploration of new forms at the edges of the literary universe; if you can bring us elegant translations of literature from far corners of the globe; if your nonfiction is wild and honest; if your visual art is raw and earnest…show us. We want to see it.”
ELJ Publications

Notes: Check out their related projects on Duotrope for more details on submitting

Small Reading Fee: $2 (Chapbook)

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/10510
The Fem

Submissions: Submissions are rolling – always free, always open.

“We review works of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and art. We encourage thought-provoking works that highlight the personal experiences of women, LGBTQIA individuals, people of color, people with disabilities, etc. We also encourage experimental pieces that mix genres and show us something new with structure – if it mixes genres, don’t stress – we’ll figure out where to place it.”
Festival Writer

Submissions: Rolling Submission Periods. Check cut-off dates.

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/15782

“Festival Writer is a way to keep the spirit of the Festival of Language moving throughout the year beyond and between appearances at AWP, SSML, and M/MLA. By making available diverse and engaging work, Festival Writer aims to celebrate both established and emerging writers with a variety of voices and is particularly interested in publishing that which is traditionally marginalized.”
Found Poetry Review

Submissions: Will be open to submissions from Sunday, February 1, 2015 through Tuesday, June 30, 2015.

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/5698

“The Found Poetry Review is a biannual print journal celebrating the poetry in the existing and the everyday. We publish found poetry, centos, erasure poems and other forms that incorporate elements of existing texts. Give us your poems made up of lines from newspaper articles, instruction booklets, dictionaries, toothpaste boxes, biographies, Craigslist posts, speeches, other poems and any other text-based source. Only found poems will be considered for publication; original poems, regardless of quality, will not be accepted.”

Submissions: Temporarily closed to submissions

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/1244

“Futurepoem books is a New York City-based publishing collaborative dedicated to presenting innovative works of contemporary poetry and prose by both emerging and important underrepresented writers.”
Ghost Proposal

Submissions: Temporarily closed for submissions, watch for upcoming calls

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/9928

“At Ghost Proposal, we want you to send us your broken packages, your word memories like bathing suits that don’t fit; show us your love handles! We are a journal that seeks to represent a wide range of brain activity and circuitry in poetry, creative nonfiction, and multimedia, so be your own boundary, then cross it.”
Half Way Down the Stairs

Submissions: Quarterly reading periods, see their submission guidelines

Notes: Themed Issues

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/372

“poetry that is fresh and original”
Hotel Amerika

Submissions: Currently open to poetry submissions through Friday, May 1, 2015

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/152

“We welcome submissions in all genres of creative writing, generously defined. We do not publish book reviews as such, although we will consider review-like essays that transcend the specific objects of consideration.”
Hyacinth Girl Press

Submissions: See their main page for open submission calls

Notes: Some themed issues (Bye-bye Bukowski is an erasure themed issue)

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/5486

“Hyacinth Girl Press is a micro-press that publishes up to 6 poetry chapbooks each year. We specialize in handmade books of smaller press runs. We consider ourselves a feminist press and are particularly interested in manuscripts dealing with topics such as radical spiritual experiences, creation/interpretation of myth through a feminist lens, and science.”

Submissions: Temporarily closed to poetry submissions.

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/16129

“Our mission at Jab is, simply, to publish the best poetry being written today. We don’t subscribe to any poetic “movements”, or “schools”. All we want is poetry that jabs. We want pathos. We want anti-ethos, anti-logos. If it sings, we’ll listen. We want you to punch us in the face as hard as you can. We want you to singe our hair and pull our teeth. We want punk. We want movement, dirt, skin, and cigarette burns.”

Submissions: Currently open to poetry submissions through Wednesday, April 1, 2015.

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/16129

“From the first issue onward, jubilat has aimed to publish not only the best in contemporary American poetry, but to place it alongside a varied selection of reprints, found pieces, lyric prose, art, and interviews with poets and other artists. Rather than section off these varieties of work, the magazine creates a dialogue that showcases the beauty and strangeness of the ordinary, and how experiments with language and image speak in a compelling way about who we are.”
Juked NEW!

Submissions: Reading year round

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/960

“We don’t adhere to any particular themes or tastes, but some people tell us they see one, so who knows.”

Submissions: Currently open to poetry submissions through Sunday, February 1, 2015

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/7558

“Kenning wants your page poems & your spoken word poems. We want poetry videos. We want you to surprise us. We want poems that are funny, ferocious, beautiful, passionate, idiosyncratic. We want all forms, styles, and subjects as long as they make for good poems.”
The Museum of Americana

Submissions: Deadline January 15, 2015 for their special music themed issue

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/8159

“Give us love poetry that mixes language cribbed from The Federalist Papers with language cribbed from WWII propaganda posters. We want medicine shows and riverboats, Doo-Wop and Duke Snider. We want aspects of Americana we may not have even heard of yet.”
NonBinary Review

Submissions: Deadline January 15, 2015 for their special music themed issue

Notes: Themed Issues, Paying Market, see previous submission call due June 1, 2015 here.

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/14354

“We want language that makes us reach for a dictionary, a tissue, or both. Words in combinations and patterns that leave the faint of heart a little dizzy. We want insight, deep diving, broad connections, literary conspiracies, personal revelations, or anything you want to tell us about the themes we’ve chosen. Literary forms are changing as we use technology and typography to find new ways to tell stories—for work that doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre, we’ve created a separate category to properly evaluate submissions of a hybrid or experimental nature. Each issue will focus on a single theme.”
Poetry WTF?!

Submissions: Always accepting submissions

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/8159

“Poetry WTF?! is a website for poetry, but not your gran’s poetry. At Poetry WTF?! you will find serious literary remixes, surprising sculptural whiteouts …. and the occasional textual mess. It’s a brave new world.”
The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society

Submissions: Will be open to submissions from Thursday, January 1, 2015 through Thursday, January 15, 2015.

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/13808

“The basic purpose of The Rain, Party, & Disaster Society is to publish works that are unlikely be published by more mainstream publications. The RP&D Society strives to give representation to new ideas and thoughts, to challenge the reader and to question commonly accepted opinions, values, etiquette and ideas. Within our pages, you may find: works that tackle hot-button issues, works presented in a style that is out of the ordinary, works that present the reader with a question or debate, and works that break mainstream rules within their genre.”
Raleigh Review

Submissions: Currently open to submissions through Thursday, April 30, 2015

Small Submission Fee: $3 fee to submit

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/4395

“If you think your poems will make a perfect stranger’s toes tingle, heart leap, or brain sizzle, then send it our way. We typically do not publish avant garde or language poetry and have a general aversion to unnecessarily exclusive work. We do like a poem that causes–for a wide audience–a visceral reaction to intellectually and emotionally rich material.”
Scissors and Spackle

Submissions: Will be open to submissions from Thursday, October 1, 2015 through Tuesday, December 1, 2015.

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/6046

“We welcome the bizarre, in fact, we encourage it. Send us you lists; resumes; transcribed conversations. The surest path to acceptance is the element of surprise.”
Silver Birch Press

Submissions: Search for their themed submissions listed separately on Duotrope.

Note: They have accepted found poetry and reprints of my work in the past and are great to work with.
Split Lip

Submissions: Appears to accept work year-round

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/8215

“Send up to five unpublished poems of face-melting material. Avoid any peppy and rhyming works. We want new, innovative works by fresh voices. Please avoid submitting what we consider “journal entries,” meaning: rants about feelings and how unfair the world is. Poetry Editor Scott Siders wants poems that are “as short and sweet as possible. Be original. Experiment. Take risks.”
Star 82 Review (*82)

Submissions: Poetry only

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/10271

“We are currently accepting work in five separate categories; you may submit in two categories (please see the specific guidelines for each or your work will not be read)… [the categories include] Erasure Text: Find a new, unrelated text in an old text. Also known as altered text: usually a page from a used book or a scan or copy that has been completely transformed with color, collage, sewing, handwriting, mixed-media, or text from other sources. Looking for both visual and verbal impact. (Erasures done only with black Sharpie are unlikely to be accepted.) Send up to two files in one submission.”

Submissions: On-going

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/10271

“the magazine for innovative, experimental, and visual writing”
Third Point Press

Submissions: On-going

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/16610

“We want you to send us the stuff you know is good. We want to see the not-quite-genre and not-quite-literary. We like experiments and minimalism and conceptual writing. We like magical realism and absurdism and underrepresented perspectives. We want you to use your voice and your perspective–not just what’s popular right now.”

Submissions: Poetry only

Notes: I know this editor and he is open to discussion or questions. He has published my found poems and I think he would be open to collaborative work. I do think he would like to see more than one poem, so that he could build a page based on it. Feel free to email him and let him know what you have and see if he has suggestions or interest.

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/14551

“Send poems that speak honestly and clearly, that are understandable, that are unusual, that have the essential mystery of good poetry, that have personality and meaning.”
Vagabonds: Anthology Of The Mad Ones

Submissions: Currently closed for submissions. Will reopen 2015!

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/13124

“Our anthology publishes twice a year. We harbor the mad ones. People who are dedicated to their work to the point that they become misunderstood, or seen as a hot mess of crazy. Our anthology does not seek to break boundaries, we want to break boundaries and go farther. We want the shameless—the deep dark, cigarettes and dirty words combo. Although there is not a set theme of what we’re looking for, we often look at slice of life works.”
Wicked Alice

Submissions: Women writers only

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/1129

“we seek writing that is innovative”
Window Cat Press NEW!

Submissions: Rolling submissions, check for dates

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/16862

“Here, we encourage innovation. Play with form! Celebrate the ways our lives intertwine via the Internet, and bring the fun back to creative expression. Free to submit to and access, Window Cat Press offers a place for young, emerging artists to share quality work as diverse as our audience. We publish a variety of media: cross-genre, collaborations, slam, etc. in addition to more traditional and widely-accepted forms.”
Young Ravens Literary Review

Submissions: Current submission period is open until March 31st, 2015.

Duotrope: https://duotrope.com/listing/16278

“We accept fiction, nonfiction, visual art, and poetry of all flavors, from free verse to found.”

Source: Where to submit nontraditional and found poetry

Typos Everywhere: Dyslexia and Me

Typos Everywhere: Dyslexia and Me
If you are a reader of this blog, you already know I can’t spell. I am dyslexic, and I just don’t see the errors. This morning, I reversed some digits and instead of reaching my heating company I was greeted with a loud ALOHA as I’d dialed Hawaii by mistake. Dyslexia has given me many misadventures, and some shame and embarrassment. The truth is, I don’t mind.
I have mixed dominance (not as sexy as it sounds)—in that although I’m mostly right handed my left hemisphere doesn’t dominate my right. So what? People are always trying to draw on the right side of the brain—I do it naturally. The old theory of dyslexia was that we dyslexics were smart if handicapped—and good at compensating. That is, our intelligence helped us fake what we couldn’t read. Turns out, new thinking says this isn’t true. Dyslexics are just plain intelligent, but in a minority way. We’re not compensating. We’re thinking differently. And apparently this different way of thinking is needed by human kind, and isn’t selected against.That is, no one refuses to have children with you just because you reverse digits.
I’m just speaking anecdotally, but I think dyslexics are sensitive to cause and effect, to patterns, and to disruptions in that field. No doubt at the dawn of human kind we were good at looking out over the savannah and seeing the moving pattern of the speckled or spotted predator. We just couldn’t communicate well about location—was it right or left?
My daughter, not a dyslexic, has guided me many times. I once made her walk AWAY from the steaming public hot springs in Iceland towards the freezing windy bay by insisting we go “right,” and then striding off to the left. Once she overcame my adamant opinion, she pointed out gently that we need to go “the other right” i.e. left to get to soak.
So here’s an interesting twist—my son-in-law has dyslexia. It’s a bond between us. Apparently my daughter likes an independent thinker who needs a bit of help reading WARNING: KEEP OUT! And of course we need her.
So why am I writing this? Just to say, if you see a typo, forgive me. If it seems important, drop me a note. I’ll correct it—and thank you!

Devon Miller-Duggan Contemplates The Black Dog of Depression

Sick Leave

A friend posted on FB today about how wretchedly sick she is. A bunch of folks (students, friends, grandson) have gotten flu this year in spite of having had their shots (proving what they always tell you, which is that the vaccines aren’t 100% protection). Not only do these people feel that staying home is the right thing to do, all the humans with whom they don’t share their viruses are rightly grateful. Flu is a disease, right? You get to be guiltlessly sick and are urged to take care of yourself.

Depression is a disease, too, right? It’s not, in epidemiological terms, contagious. But it is an illness, a system failure, and it makes you as miserable as flu, though not as non-functional. I can’t count the number of people I know who just keep going while depressed. There is no vaccine, but there are medications. Many are convinced that taking medication is a surrender, a failure of character, even people who wouldn’t think of condemning other depressives for doing so.

And the blessed truth about anti-depressants is that they are not “happy pills.” They’re maintenance drugs for a disease that is frequently chronic. Of course, anti-virals for flu are also not perfect. But when you recover from flu, you are not only “better,” you are immune to that particular strain. When anti-depressants function, they mean that you can live and function, which is a powerful kind of “better.” But there is no immunity, and circumstances can override whatever drug(s) had been keeping your difficult balance.

All of which is saying that my difficult balance is not working today. And that, in an act of ferocious rebellion for my Puritan self, I decided to skip a committee meeting at church this evening because I am sick, not with flu, but at heart. I wouldn’t be guilty if I’d stayed home with the flu or a nasty cold, but I will be about this. Maybe not. There are lots of chunks of my life where I don’t have the option of staying home when the Black Dog is eating me alive, and I am mordantly aware of how good I am at faking sanity/health. But just for tonight, I need a sense of agency. I need to choose to stay cocooned where I won’t be watching myself fake my way through time with people and loathing myself for it.

Why so Black-Dog-ridden? Stress, anxiety overload, and a sense of having no agency. The “no agency” thing is different from hopelessness. The two issues over which I have no agency are both subject to hope: my mother’s anguished existence (in my house) will end (hopefully before the stress of it kills me), and I will wake up one morning not praying both that she did not wake and that the day will be a good one for her. Other than promise her that she can be here until the end (many of you are familiar with the long, unhappy story of the attempt to have her live elsewhere, but if you’re not, trust me, it’s not an option). My job situation might improve (though I have many reasons not to succumb to hope—and it’s funny how knowing you shouldn’t waste energy on either worry or hope doesn’t help the brain keep crap secret from your heart). A couple of heavy rejections haven’t helped, but they’re not the drivers here, just more negative noise in a metal-band-chorus of anguished discombobulation and aggressively paradoxical emotions. I have Bach playing on Pandora as I write. Usually, it takes relatively little Bach to convince me that everything will be okay. Today, it just makes me want to cry. But so do Joni Mitchell, Bill Evans, Steeleye Span, and The Chieftans, which pretty much covers my range.

Lots of things do help—writing, walking, being in the classroom, being with my kids and grandkids. Many parts of my life are highly privileged, lushly interesting, and as secure as anyone’s can be, not to mention full of love and friendship and all that stuff that is supposed to make me feel better. And they do. But I always have to come home to my mother, I am likely to always be an adjunct, and my brain chemistry is ALWAYS going to be frangible.

Some of this is genetic predisposition. I have a family tree full of depressives, alchoholics (who doesn’t?), epileptics, migraineurs, and psychics. As nearly as I can understand it, that genetic quirk can be tripped by trauma. Another person with different genetic structures could live my exact life and not be so bedeviled. But me and my genetic imprint, including a tendency to live in my head, we gave birth to mucked up brain chemistry that decades of therapy, several attempts at yoga, a remarkable marriage and family, lots of education and work I love, as well as a metric ton of hard work on my part have not dislodged the chemistry. I just understand all the traumas and their tangled tributaries VERY well.

There are several lists/memes floating around the internet containing things NOT to say to your depressive friends, so I won’t reiterate them here. But let me be clear: I am intensely grateful for my life. And I live much of it in pain. I am exactly the same as someone with intractable post-surgical pain who keeps going. It’s just that she can show you scars. Neither of us is a hero (in my definition, heroes save other people, or provide extraordinary succor in extraordinary circumstances—think Malala Yousefzai or Januscz Korchak), or put themselves in harm’s way for others. Many days are good, most are mixed-but-do-able. But some are like trying to climb mountains with a knife in my heart and huge black mastiffs fastened to both ankles. Yes, it’s a pretty dramatic image. Tough.

I’m a lousy Christian, though I work a little at being a better one. This is only relevant insofar as I need to say that prayer gets me nowhere. I don’t feel singled out for un-love in this, just kind of interested and a little baffled. In my experience, when The Divine wants me to hear, it thumps me pretty hard on the head/heart, but otherwise we pretty much leave each other alone. I think I’d probably have this slightly odd relationship to the Universe even if I were not a depressive. Maybe not. No way to know. I do know that I grew up with an acute sense of having to EARN everything good in my life and that that is, in some cultural way, connected to the overwhelmingly Protestant ethic that runs like an aquifer under everything in American life, or at least in WASP-American life. I believe in Grace (which, by definition, cannot be earned) abstractly and concretely, but none of this changes my cellular conviction that there is something keeping my hands around my throat.

So today the Black Dogs were exercising their jaw muscles, and the knife was turning around and around. Sure, there were triggers, but it’s not like the triggers (my mother was intentionally cruel to one of my daughters, and the stress of the not-knowing about my career path has just hit one of its periodic boiling points) are new, these just happened to coincide with the dogs being hungry. And so I’m going to be Not Okay and stay home from a meeting that doesn’t actually need me. Maybe even a couple of meetings. Maybe the dogs will go to sleep for a bit if I don’t feel like 47 people are asking me for things while I’m just trying to breathe. And I will get through another day. Because that’s what we do, those of us who live with the Black Dogs. We get through.

Some of us recite the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” to ourselves. Sometimes it helps:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

At Vivo Gallery


Join us for our latest show, Giving Voice to Image, at our opening reception on Friday, March 25, 2016, from 5 to 7 pm

For the fourth time ViVO Contemporary artists are collaborating with an award winning group of New Mexico poets giving poetic voice to artistic image in the new show, Giving Voice to Image 4.  This creative alliance draws its inspiration from the ancient Roman poet Horace’s adage, “A picture is a poem without words.” All too often, artistic disciplines remain separate.

Giving Voice To Image 4 is a unique and exciting celebration of the beauty of words and images which explores the ways in which each can intensify the power of the other. Gallery artists and local poets worked together over the past few months to create new works inspired by each other’s conceptual visions.  Emails flew back and forth as the creative process unfolded.  Poets visited ViVO Contemporary as well as the artists’ individual studios to view the artists’ work, discuss themes, and cultivate ideas. The result of this shared effort is an exciting show of new poetry and works of art inspired by and amplified through collaboration.

Both the art and the poetry created from this collaboration will be spotlighted in a series of poetry readings – cum – gallery openings for the show, “Giving Voice to Image 4”, which runs March 24 through May 30, 2016.  Specifically, sculptors, painters, book artists, printmakers, kiln glass artists and mixed media artists from ViVO Contemporary have paired with established and notable New Mexico poets.

Readings by the poets will take place at the gallery on Friday evenings during the show: April 8 and May 6, 5:30 PM

Images above: (from left) Patricia Pierce, Ilse Bolle, Linda PicosClark

Who Am I? Jewish Identity and 30,000 Years of Maternal Mitochondria

I’m in a little group of Jewish women that has been discussing identity.

Who am I?

My name is Miriam. Mir means bitter, bitterness, rebellious people. Miriam is associated with water, a well that follows the Jewish people. If my name were New Mexican, it might translate as bitterwater. My father’s name was Eli. Actually, on his birth certificate, Elias. Our last name is ostensibly Sagan, although we think my grandfather changed it at Ellis Island to match his brother-in-law’s name. My Hebrew name is Miriam bat Eli.
My father was a Levite, from the tribe of Levy. Sagan is a Levite name, meaning lieutenant or helper to the high priest. I’m a Jew through my mother; my tribal affiliation is through my father. My mother’s father was also a Levite, but in orthodox circles you can’t claim that through your mother.
My maternal mitochondria is 30,000 years old. Swabbed from my daughter’s cheek and sent to National Geographic. My foremothers were on the second great migration out of Africa. Into western Europe—what is now Spain. My mitochondria is the most common European type.
My mother’s family was in Spain, expelled in 1492. My four grandparents were Ukranian Jews. My paternal grandmother, aged 13, said she’d kill herself, drown herself in the mill pond, if she couldn’t go to America. She was smuggled across the borderlands of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire buried in a sausage cart. My maternal grandmother was in a pogrom. Men on horseback killed the child standing next to her. She came to Boston.
I carry their ambition and their fear.
My father had a hand disease that the specialist told him was from the gene pool of the Arctic. He asked my father if he was a Cossack. My father was appalled, and said, “No, I’m a Jew!”
My pretty face, my sometimes green eyes, the way I look in a kerchief…these things come to me from rape. I look European by means of the Viking Rus and the marauding Cossacks.
When I was growing up, Jews were not white. In the 1950’s and 1960’s in New Jersey we could not buy houses in certain neighborhoods, join country clubs, and swim in certain swimming pools. We could not attend elite dancing school or presumably date non-Jews.This was a lot better than running from horsemen, but it was still being an outsider.
When I came to New Mexico thirty years ago I became an Anglo. In general, assimilated American Jews now seem little different than “white” people in general. My daughter married into an Irish family. All my nephews have non-Jewish partners. My genes are now in the giant millennial free to be you and me pool. Where perhaps they have always been.