Monday, April 13, 2015

Isn't Everything Poetry? - At Curious Fox Books

What would National Poetry Month be without attending at least one poetry reading, even if it is in a country that does not celebrate April as National Poetry Month?

Though I am not writing a poem-a-day as part of NaPoWriMo, I did want to attend as many literary events as I could. This first one of April being the monthly “Isn’t Everything Poetry?” night at Curious Fox Books in the Neukölln neighborhood of Berlin.

Jason Francis Mc Gimsey
The first reader of the evening was Jason Francis Mc Gimsey, co-editor of the Paris-based literary journal Paris Lit Up, in celebration of the launch of the journal's second issue, which includes two writers familiar to me – Margo Berdeshevsky and Lesley Wheeler. Jason read a powerful short story of his and talked about the origins of the journal, which publishes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, translations, and art. The annual journal grew out of the open mic organized by the Paris Lit Up writing community. Jason also brought copies of Flying Home, the first book published by Paris Lit Up Press. Flying Home is an artistic collaboration pairing 55 works of art by Sig Bang Schmidt with poems by Steve Dalachinsky.

Alistair Noon
The event’s second reader was Alistair Noon, a U.K.-born poet and translator who has lived in Berlin since the 1990s. Alistair read from his translations of poems by Osip Mandelstam, one of which is published in the new issue of Paris Lit Up.

From ‘Out of the gypsy tents…’

Through the gypsy tents on the darkening street, I’ll dash
after the withered cherry branch inside the black carriage,
after the snow-filled bonnet and the noise like a millstone.

All I recall was how they misfired, those chestnut locks
so smoky with bitterness—or was it ant’s acid?
Their amber dryness will stay on my lips.

Nisha Bhakoo
Nisha Bhakoo performed her work as the third featured reader. Nisha is a poet from Brighton, U.K., who has lived in Berlin for about a month. Her rhymes had a hip-hop edge to them and poem titles included ‘Half Human,’ ‘About Living above a Sex Shop,’ and ‘This Toothless Night.’

From ‘This Toothless Night’

This toothless night
has a playful clock—
you hear the tick
but miss the tock.

The final featured reader, Rosie Allabarton, is also originally from the U.K. but now lives in Berlin. She is a graduate of the Birkbeck Creative Writing M.A. program. Many of Rosie’s poems were thematically linked by their attention to place, with titles including ‘Munich,’ ‘Budapest,’ and ‘Tempelhof,’ while other poems intimately addressed an unknown “you”.
Rosie Allabarton

From ‘Autumn #4’

… we watched the moon, a soft face
on the folding paper lake
our hands heavy and still on the tracks:
would the Autumn
be so inclined as Summer
was obliging?

I am very glad for the opportunity to purchase a copy of the new issue of Paris Lit Up, which is now being stocked by Curious Fox Books. Since I couldn’t be at AWP to spend my year’s earnings at the Book Fair, I could at least pick up a literary journal close to home, and get to know some of the European writers with whom I am not familiar. You can find out more about the Paris Lit Up community, open mic scene, magazine, and press, at

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bang, Brady, and Stonecipher in Berlin

There are several English-language bookstores in Berlin, and a few of them host occasional readings by visiting or resident writers whose works or translations are published in English. I am fortunate to live within walking distance of Saint George's English Book Shop, in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood.

Andrea Brady
On Thursday, March 26, Saint George’s hosted a reading by three poets – Mary Jo Bang, Andrea Brady, and Donna Stonecipher. While I've seen Donna read in Berlin on previous occasions (and had the pleasure of being 'on the same bill' as her in January at Saint George's), I had never seen Mary Jo, nor Andrea, read from their work.

The store was packed when I arrived, so I snatched up one of the last remaining free seats. By the time the reading started, it was standing room only. Shane Anderson, an American writer and translator living in Berlin, organized the event and introduced the readers.

Andrea Brady started the evening by reading selections from several of her books, including her chapbook Dompteuse (BookThug, 2014), which is a sequence of poems in response to the photomontages of Hannah Höch. She ended her reading with sections from her book Mutability: Scripts for Infancy (Seagull Books, 2012), a collection of poetry and prose on the early years of motherhood. She teaches at the Queen Mary University of London and is the director of the Archive of the Now, an online repository of contemporary poets reading their work.

from Mutability

Your dark eyes fix the borders of light and shadow, mesmerized in a sticky fixation on contrasts, the first resolution you'll learn to make. It isn't devotion, fascination or dependency but a kind of regard which honours, the curve of chin into hair, seams. Generally you don't complain, even when we lift you from the bath, whitening your hand when you shake with primitive tremors: to make anything worse for you is only forgivable if we can wrap you up in adult fortitude after, singing to warm you.

Mary Jo Bang
The second reader of the evening was Mary Jo Bang, who read poems from her new collection, The Last Two Seconds (Graywolf, 2015). Mary Jo teaches at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri, and is temporarily living in Berlin on a fellowship from the American Academy of Berlin. She is the author of six previous books of poetry, including Elegy (Graywolf, 2009), winner of
the National Book Critics Circle Award.

from The Last Two Seconds

The Earthquake She Slept Through (excerpt)

                        She slept through the earthquake in Spain.
The day after was full of dead things. Well, not full but a few.
Coming in the front door, she felt the crunch of a carapace

under her foot. In the bathroom, a large cockroach rested
on its back at the edge of the marble surround; the dead
antennae announced the future by pointing to the silver mouth

that would later gulp the water she washed her face with.
Who wouldn't have wished for the quick return
of last night’s sleep?...

The final reader of the evening was Donna Stonecipher, who read from her new collection Model City (Shearsman Books, 2015). Donna is the author of three previous books of poetry, including The Cosmopolitan (Coffee House Press, 2008), winner of the National Poetry Series. Donna lives in Berlin and teaches poetry workshops through The Reader Berlin.

from Model City

Model City [50] (excerpt)
Donna Stonecipher

It was like walking past a building that had been built by one regime and then used by three regimes in succession, and thinking about the idea of ownership, of a building as an exoskeleton of a regime.


It was like thinking about the building that you call home as an exoskeleton you do not in any sense own, unlike a snail's exoskeleton; about the ownership of attachment, the attachment to ownership.


It was like remembering pulling empty snail-shells from wildflower leaves one summer, and remembering that even snails don't own their own homes, that one doesn't even own one's own skeleton.

Because there are not a lot of readings in the city by English-language writers, it felt very decadent to me to be able to buy three new books in one night! They will escort me into National Poetry Month (April!) quite nicely.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Call for Submissions - My Cruel Invention - A Poetry Anthology

I am very pleased to be editing a new anthology of poetry for Meerkat Press. The publisher has announced the Call for Submission, and here is the info... Please consider sending poems! And spread the word about this CFS!


Meerkat Press is pleased to issue a call for submissions of poems for an anthology to be called My Cruel Invention. Poems may be about real or imagined inventions, as well as real or fictional inventors. The anthology will be edited by Bernadette Geyer, author of The Scabbard of Her Throat and What Remains.

Contributors will receive their choice of $5 or a print copy of the anthology.

For complete guidelines, check out the press web site at

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reminder -- Update Links in Your Marketing Materials

As I prepare to lead a new round of workshops, I am going through the course materials and checking to make sure all of the links still work, and still point to the articles and/or infographics I want them to point to.

Let this serve as a quick reminder to you -- it's a great idea to routinely go through your web site, blog, business handouts (whatever materials you may use on a regular basis) and check all of the links.

You might be surprised how quickly pages disappear from web sites, or URLs change. Many times you can find the same material on another page of the web site. Sometimes, it's gone forever.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Upcoming Workshops I'll Be Leading -- Registrations Now Open

Get Writing!

I will be leading several workshops up to summer break. Registrations are now open for the following:

Poetry Exercises to Jump-Start Your Muse - I
Begins: 2 March 2015 (4 weeks) via "Women on Writing"
Are you tired of sitting around waiting for the muse to bring you the gift of an idea for a poem? Jump-start your muse with this workshop. For four weeks, you will receive inspiration for generating new poems, ideas you can return to time and time again to reinvigorate your writing. Themed lessons will be posted weekly, featuring example poems, articles, essays, and links to additional reading. Participants will submit drafts weekly for thoughtful, individual feedback from the instructor. US$100.00. For more info or to register, visit

Establishing Your Online Presence
Begins: 2 March 2015 (4 weeks) via "The Writer's Center"
Afraid to dive into the waters of social media for fear of getting all wet? In just four weeks, this workshop will get you established and provide you with an overview of ways writers use the internet and social media to cultivate an audience for their work (e.g., Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.). Participants will receive feedback from fellow classmates and the instructor in response to weekly assignments. US$195.00 (members of The Writer's Center receive a discount). For more info or to register, visit

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Quick Social Media Marketing Tips

Two social media marketing tips based on issues I've run into this week on Twitter:

1. When you tweet a link, always check it as soon as you tweet it to confirm a) that it works; and b) that it goes to the correct page.

2. USE THE RETWEET WISELY AND JUDICIOUSLY! I admit I do not log on to Twitter very often. So, when I do, I have days when I see many things that I want to "favorite" or "retweet". But I am very picky about what, and how often, I retweet. It is very frustrating when I log on for my 10 minutes of scrolling and most of my Twitter feed is taken up by one single person who has retweeted everything they've seen in a single hour. If you do that, I am sure to unfollow you immediately. I like a good retweet and have found many good news items that way. However, if I am logging on one time a day, and there are more than 1000 people I follow, I would like to see items posted by more than just one retweet-happy handle. Don't abuse the retweet!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Memorable Quotes from "Henry Miller on Writing"

In Henry Miller on Writing, Thomas H. Moore edited together a broad selection of texts on the subject of writing from the great body of published works by Henry Miller, including letters and excerpts from novels.

As I read the collection of writings on the theme, I was struck by many of the texts and anecdotes, and wanted to highlight some of them here in my blog, including his thoughts on censorship and obscenity, which continue to be all-too-relevant.

"A great work of art, if it accomplishes anything, serves to remind us, or let us say to set us dreaming, of all that is fluid and intangible. Which is to say, the universe." (pg. 23)

"Since I was convinced that I could write about anything under the sun, and excitingly, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to make up a list of themes which I thought of interest and submit them to editors of magazines in order that they might select what appealed to them. This entailed writing dozens and dozens of letters. Long, fatuous letters they were, too. It also meant keeping files, as well as observing the idiotic rules and regulations of a hundred and one editorial bodies. It involved altercations and disputes, fruitless errands to editorial offices, vexation, disgruntlement, rage, despair, ennui. And postage stamps! After weeks of turmoil and effervescence there might appear one day a letter from an editor saying that he would condescend to read my article if and if and if and but." (pg. 39)


1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to "Black Spring."
3. Don't be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
5. When you can't create you can work.
6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
8. Don't be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
9. Discard the Program when you feel like it--but go back to it the next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards." (pg. 161)

"Viscount Brentford is the gentleman who tried to protect the English public from such iniquitous works as Ulysses and The Well of Loneliness. He is the type, so rampant in the Anglo-Saxon world, to which the words of Dr. Ernest Jones would seem to apply: 'It is the people with secret attractions to various temptations who busy themselves with removing these temptations from other people; really they are defending themselves under the pretext of defending others, because at heart they fear their own weakness.'" (pg. 178)

"The sordid qualities imputed to the enemy are always those which we recognize as our own and therefore rise to slay, because only through projection do we realize the enormity and horror of them." (pg. 183)