Last Day!

How is it possible that tomorrow is May? The days seem to have accelerated, the year nearly half gone!

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month, which means it’s the last day to enter the Great Poetry Giveaway, dreamed up by the ever-generous Kelli Russell Agodon. Visit her blog, Book of Kells, to see the master list of blogs participating (55!), but, before you do, don’t forget to leave a comment here to enter in my giveaway: 2 books & a subscription.  You only have until midnight tonight (world time — your time — midnight wherever you are). Tomorrow I’ll post the names of the winners.

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Thank you, yes, I spiffed up the place: new theme, new header, new font thanks to Typekit.  Strange to say after two and a half years, but at last this virtual space is beginning to feel less borrowed and more mine.

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Yesterday was a windy day. When I say “windy,” I don’t mean easy breezy. I would say it was about a 7 on the Beaufort Scale. On the Bridge of Flowers, an 8 — that place is a wind tunnel!

Naturally, the boys wanted to be out in it.  They wanted it with the sort of unrelenting, irrational insistence that grew in direct proportion to my efforts to talk them out of it.

I woke up with a cold, so I was already more inclined to be a lay-on-the-couch-and-moan Mama. Stepping out into those gales wasn’t going to be a good time for any of us.

Where did we go? The Bridge of Flowers, of course, because it’s spring, and the tulips and hyacinths have returned the parade of colors to the Bridge after the long gray-scale drought.

It was awful. And even frightening. The wind was cold, unceasing, walking against it like carrying two times my body weight uphill.

But it was worth it. Took the starch right out of the boys — Aidan went right down for a nap when we got home, and Vincent was subdued the rest of the afternoon, playing with his crayons and coloring books when he normally would be wreaking noisy destruction.

This morning, it was actually eerie, walking out into a windless day. The quiet, the ease. The neighbor’s flowering tree had lost all its petals. I could feel the sun, yesterday reduced to light, memory, warm on my skin.

So on this last day of NaPoMo, this perfect spring day, I give you this poem, which feels spring-like to me, and captures both its brilliance and its transcience, its frisson of forboding. It’s by none other than Carmine Starnino, from his book This Way Out. Look for a longer treatment from me about this marvelous Canadian poet soon-ish. Till then:

The Butterflies I Dreamt in Childhood are Here

Look at you, blown in from Christ knows where.
Shoulder to shoulder, silk kissing silk against the asters
in a bunting of open wing and stem, dozens strong,
seemingly self-xeroxed, an apricot spree of yellow
sprayed on green, and lopsidedly clinging as you feed,

afterward ascending on pillars of altitude, a still life.
You have a week at best, and soon the almanac
will catch up even with that good bloom and leave it
twisted shut, like a burr. There’s something else
to consider in the barn-red, hay-green fact of this place:

a sparrow split open near the willows, in full sun.
But no. It’s you I’d rather watch. Heavy enough
to flag a flower, you are large cups of colour set on such
small saucers, coins to keep a child’s eyes closed.

–Carmine Starnino

Collected Poets Series, NPM Ed.

The Collected Poets Series is honored to host four superb poets to celebrate National Poetry Month.

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On Sunday, March 29th, at 7:30 pm, a National Poetry Month Primer with prizewinning poets Martha Collins, author of five collections of poetry including Blue Front, and Lynne Thompson, author of the poetry collection Beg No Pardon, will read from their work.

And then on Thursday, April 2nd, at 7:30 pm, poets Anne Marie Macari, author of She Heads Into Wilderness, and Carey Salerno, author of Shelter, will also read.

Martha Collins is the author of the book-length poem Blue Front (Graywolf, 2006), which won an Anisfield-Wolf Award and an Ohioana Award, and was chosen as one of “25 Books to Remember from 2006” by the New York Public Library. Other awards include fellowships from the NEA, the Bunting Institute, the Witter Bynner Foundation, and the Ingram Merrill Foundation, as well as three Pushcart Prizes, the Laurence Goldstein Poetry Prize, and a Lannan Foundation residency fellowship. Founder of the Creative Writing Program at UMass-Boston and Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin College until 2007, Collins is currently editor-at-large for FIELD magazine and one of the editors of the Oberlin College Press. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lynne Thompson is the author of Beg No Pardon, which won the Perugia Press Book Award in 2007 and the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) New Writers Award in 2008. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her works have been published in numerous literary journals including Indiana Review, PMS, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review, Poetry International, and Calyx, which selected her as a finalist for the Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize (2007). An attorney by training, Thompson lives in Los Angeles, California and is the Director of Employee & Labor Relations at UCLA.

Anne Marie Macari won the APR/Honickman first book prize in 2000 for Ivory Cradle, chosen by Robert Creeley. In 2005 her second book, Gloryland, was published by Alice James Books. Her poems have appeared in many magazines, such as TriQuarterly, Field, The Iowa Review, and The American Poetry Review. In 2005 she won the James Dickey Prize for Poetry from Five Points magazine. Macari has served as core faculty and Interim Program Director of the New England College Low-Residency Program in Poetry. She lives in the Delaware River town of Lambertville, NJ, with her sons and her companion, Gerald Stern.

Carey Salerno is the Acting Director of Alice James Books, a nonprofit cooperative poetry press affiliated with the BFA in creative writing program at the University of Maine at Farmington. Born in Kalamazoo, Carey grew up near Lake Michigan. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University in English and a MFA in Poetry from New England College. Her poems have appeared in Natural Bridge, The Dirty Napkin, and Rattle. Salerno’s first book, Shelter, won the 2007 Kinereth Gensler Award. She lives in western Maine with her husband and dog.

For more information along with selections of the poets’ work, please visit the Collected Poets Series website.

Grilled Cheese with Bacon & Tomato kind of Night.

No poem today. Not even a revision. Back to work where my inbox was filled with nearly 600 emails and my tangible box was just full. But what a glorious day! 80 degrees! On April 18!

This evening Vincent & Lance went for a walk downtown while I started making the season’s first batch of sweet tea (!), and then Vincent & I went out again because he couldn’t get enough of outside. We ate a lovely dinner of grilled cheeses (Mama’s with bacon & tomato) at the Foxtowne Diner, and then we went to the pharmacy where I thought he’d like to sit on a stool at the fountain and eat a chocolate sundae, but he was more interested in the toys.

I bought a pack of sidewalk chalk in preparation for the poem we’re going to write on the sidewalk. Now we have to choose the poem, and then choose the free book we want from Sarabande. And of course not forget to take a picture.

It was a lovely small town New England night. Tomorrow I work for a bit in the afternoon, so I’m thinking it’s a day for revisions. But I hope to continue with NaPoWriMo on Sunday…

Free Book from Sarabande!

I was looking up Gabriel Fried’s book of poems, Making the New Lamb Take (Sarabande Books, 2007) (he’s coming to read at Amherst College on April 22), and stumbled on this tidbit from Sarabande Books’ blog:

April is National Poetry Month, and Sarabande is celebrating by offering a free book for sharing your favorite poem with others. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

1. Chalk two or more lines of your favorite poem on the sidewalk (or anywhere others can read it) during the month of April.

2. Take a picture.

3. Browse through the Sarabande catalog and select a book you’d like to read.

4. Send the photo no later than April 30, along with your book selection, to nickole@sarabandebooks.org or mail it to:

Chalk It Up!
Sarabande Books
2234 Dundee Road, Suite 200
Louisville, KY 40205

5. Sarabande will mail you the book of your choice, free of charge!