How Do I Want To Be Read by Serena Rodriguez

I can remember the first time I read Bluebird, by Charles Bukowski. I was sitting on the floor amidst a loud group of young people, drunk on youth and whiskey. But this poem. It made all the noise in the room, all the laughter and gossip, come to a halt. My heart hit the pause button on this life and I fell into his words. They became entangled within me. They took my breath and tucked it away in some old heartache. His words made me stop. I devoured every single letter, every syllable, and sentence. This. This is how I want the words that I weave to be experienced.

Serena Rodriguez

3 Questions for Nate Maxson

1. What is your personal/aesthetic relationship to the poetic line? That is, how do you understand it, use it, etc.

It’s changed over time but I think of a single line in a poem as being almost like a frame in a film, one motion on the way to a larger object. Or maybe a gear in a machine: each one has to be crafted so that it both stands on its own and so that it moves the entire thing forward. If it’s too concerned with the micro then you end up being too clever for your own good but if it strictly exists to serve the rest of the poem then it can probably be recycled into another line with minimal hurt.

2. Do you find a relationship between words and writing and the human body? Or between your writing and your body?

That’s a difficult question for me because I don’t necessarily write poetry-of-the-body but there is a connection. I draw a distinction between the spirit and the body and the former features more into my writing than the latter. However when I write too much I get physically ill, fever and exhaustion which to some extent I tend to interpret in a somewhat romantic manner which is admittedly a little ridiculous. Maybe it’s the tension between the body and the spirit that makes poetry happen, like the Smiths lyric “does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?”

3. Is there anything you dislike about being a poet?

About being a poet? I like being a poet. It’s being a person that vexes me. I mean, I don’t like the non-place that poetry has in our society right now where all art gets compared to poetry but actual poetry gets left by the wayside. In that way, poetry existing is an act of resistance.

***

Nate Maxson is a writer and performance artist. The author of several collections of poetry, he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

 
The Distance

All the chimneys in this town are expelling their defiance
Constantly against the unmeasured winter
But there are no fireplaces down below
Such simplicities go against the contract
Only smoke here
Because to labor in oblivion/ is to birth an oblivion
Pure blue chemical tidal light: to labor with oblivion/ to burn a green candle
For a pure nothing, a hollow black pomegranate
We would give our meager light
How’s that for a hymn?
I’m new to this industry
But I’m quickly learning
That all original thoughts are reduced to sand and then to glass and then fertilizer
And so on and so on
What do we have left, when we sweep away the crumbs from the table?
 
This disintegration can be either a threat or a mercy
I leave it in your hands, my familiarity: a feather for your instrument
 
(Where have I heard it before?
Silver bird singing to young ears/ I should no longer be able to eavesdrop on such delicacies)
Where the distance backs into itself and each end of the uroboros thinks the other one is a ghost
Where the cold blooded and the shy congregate quietly for Sunday school
:
The dreamland archipelago 

Are You An Introvert or An Extrovert–In Your Poetry?

I’ve read José Angel Araguz for what is now many years–and his essay below asks a fascinating question. Emily Dickinson would be the classic introvert, particularly compared to Walt Whitman. But what about you and me? I’m a sociable introvert. But I think my poetry is usually extroverted. Fun to think about.

What’s Poetry Got to Do With It?: Introversion/Extraversion

musings by José Angel Araguz

Episode 7: Introversion/Extraversion

In this episode I explore ways that the terms introversion and extraversion can be used as a lens with which to read poems.
The Introvert/Extravert Lens
The terms introversion and extraversion were first significantly put into use by Carl Jung and later popularized by personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type indicator. From there, popular culture has redefined the terms over time. In general, an introvert is someone who is more reserved and leans toward solitary behavior, while an extravert is seen as someone who is outgoing, talkative, and energetic. As with any set of categories, the terms are not strict; rather, it is best to consider them as making up two sides of a spectrum on which everyone exists leaning one way or another to varying degrees.
One of the things that helped clear this up for me was seeing how the terms played out in regards to recharging one’s energy. If at the end of the week, you look forward to going out and socializing, and actually come back from said outing recharged, you might be an extravert. Conversely, if you go out on the same outing and come back exhausted, no more recharged than when you started, you might be an introvert. Seeing my introverted tendencies as me meeting my needs (and not necessarily my being antisocial) did worlds for my understanding of myself as an introvert. It also helped me empathize with my more extraverted friends and see them as meeting their own needs as well.
For further clarification (and fun!), Buzzfeed has several quizzes and lists that can help you find out if you are more introverted or extroverted.
Inner & Outer Worlds
To return to Jung, his original concept of the terms had him regarding people as either focused on their inner worlds and thoughts (introverts) at the expense of losing touch with their surroundings, or focused on the external world and being active in it (extraverts) at the expense of losing touch with themselves.
One poet whose work reflects the complexity of the introvert-extravert/inner-outer world spectrum is Emily Dickinson. Due to having lived a life of isolation, Dickinson is often written off as an introvert. Lines like the following would in fact help make the case:
The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside—
The draw of these lines is how they take concrete things (brain, sky) and push them for the abstract meanings they imply. While on the surface the poem appears to be making a case for mind over matter, so to speak, a deeper reading shows something more akin to mind within matter. In one stanza, Dickinson does the poetic equivalent of pulling apart two strong magnets to show what lives between them.
In another poem, Dickinson does a reversal of these moves:
A sepal, petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn—
A flask of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breeze—a caper in the trees—
And I’m a Rose!
Here, the poem travels from the abstract act of naming physical things to the speaker announcing/becoming a rose. A sign of the transformation begins early in the second line in the form of sound, specifically the “z” sound (summer’s, breeze, trees, rose). As the poem develops, this sound travels parallel to the transformation implied in the words, and becomes its own physical presence, especially if read aloud.
In these two poems, one can see how the inner and outer world engage and impel one another, never cancelling each other out. In a similar way, one’s introversion never cancels out extraverted tendencies and needs.
Final Thoughts
Usually my introverted tendencies would have me continue with examples, ruminating over other poems and unpacking what I find there. I am going to push myself to look outward, however, and invite readers to share their thoughts in the comments regarding introversion and extraversion. I also encourage you to, in your writing, push past whatever type you see yourself leaning towards. If you write mainly about inner impressions, take a walk or describe the physical world around you. If you write mainly about the physical world, start with rhetoric or abstract thought. In either case, you might find yourself reflecting your true nature in a new and surprising way.

***

https://thefridayinfluence.wordpress.com/

http://www.cincinnatireview.com/blog/whats-poetry-got-to-do-with-it/whats-poetry-got-to-do-with-it-introversionextraversion/

Beethoven’s Tempest: Poem by Miriam Sagan

pianist in red
plays Beethoven’s “The Tempest”
sometimes
there is sheet music
sometimes you’re driving at night
in fog,
not remembering the rule
about high beams,
the child in the forest
survives
but who left us
and why did they lie
about how breadcrumbs
are permanent as pebbles?
you say you are just an hour
outside of Clayton, New Mexico
and will be home
before I am,
something is missing—
my mother’s memories
my fake pearl earring
the fondness I should have
but like an ellipse
what is gone
flares
crescent moon
as if the sky
were a flag
and the polluted harbor
floated with stars

To read more–http://www.flatbushreview.com/miriam-sagan.html

Hot Springs, Arkansas Poem by Miriam Sagan

I went out
to look for fireflies
but lanterns
lit the ramada
too brightly;
a beautiful large white cat
with pinkish eyes
and piratical black patches
caressed my hand
with his head
and sat patiently
waiting even after
I’d closed the door;
the moon, too, was up
above the tower
of stone
with a slate roof
and someone
unknown
had lit that window
with a red light;
I see your naked back
as you sit at the desk
and tell me
this hot springs town
has everything I love
except the sea

Poetry Month #15: Bad, Bad Bodhisatva by Elizabeth Jacobson

Bad, Bad Bodhisatva

Even though I vowed not to kill
I kill upward of 30 key lime green caterpillars
that are eating my hibiscus hedge down to sticks.
This last one, before I stopped
paused its eating,
lifted its mouth,
and turned its head toward the pressure of the scissors
as I was about to snip it in half.
I saw that it saw me
or felt me
or knew that I was about to harm it,
but I killed it,
ashamed of my human nature
as it leads me,
clear-eyed,
into the snare.

 

***

This poem is forthcoming in the Santa Fe Literary Review, fall 2017