Swan, As the Light Was Changing

Fall, when everything was turning
dark. & the fog moved in
like a wolf, circling the park,

& the holiday children parading
in the bodies of witches & bears.
All skins gleamed orange

as the sun made tricks out of us,
brilliant as new coins or foxes
until the sun left, all the way,

& the only light, then, was
the white of the swan,
animal in the park pond. So long—

I held it in my eye the way a person
sometimes carries a flash,
again & again; like light, that swan shape burned

into the screen of my eyes. & when I stood
to leave it, the white peony of its body,
for life, had marked my visions. Now everything

I see, even today, even this “trace”: a swan.

by Aracelis Girmay

‘Swan, As the Light Was Changing’ is copyright © Aracelis Girmay, 2011. It is reprinted by permission of BOA Editions from Aracelis Girmay’s latest book of poems Kingdom Animalia (BOA, 2011).

Aracelis Girmay was born and raised in Southern California, with roots in Puerto Rico, Eritrea, and African America. She is also the author of the collage-based picture book changing, changing, and the poetry collection Teeth, for which she was awarded a GCLA New Writers Award. Girmay has taught youth writing workshops in schools and community centers for the past ten years. She is assistant professor of poetry writing at Hampshire College, and also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Drew University in New Jersey. Kingdom Animalia won the 2011 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, and was recently shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. You can read another poem from the book at BOA’s site here, and watch Aracelis Girmay read from her work here.

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature. By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public. Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations. In 2011, BOA celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary. To find out more about BOA Editions, click here. You can also sign up for the publisher’s newsletter here, find and ‘like’ BOA on Facebook, and follow the publisher on Twitter by searching for @boaeditions.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

The One Who Writes

You write. About the things that already exist.
And they say you fantasize.

You keep quiet. Like the sunken nets
of poachers. Like an angel
who knows what the night may bring.

And you travel. You forget,
so that you can come back.

You write and you don’t want to remember
the stone, the sea, the believers
sleeping with their hands apart.

by Nikola Madzirov

‘The One Who Writes’ is copyright © Nikola Madzirov, 2011. It is reprinted by permission of BOA Editions from Remnants of Another Age, translated by Peggy and Graham W. Reid, Magdalena Horvat and Adam Reed, and with a Foreword by Carolyn Forché. BOA has today featured Nikola Madzirov’s work on its blog.

Notes from BOA Editions:

Born into a family of Balkan Wars refugees in 1973 in Strumica, Macedonia, poet, essayist and translator Nikola Madzirov has emerged as one of the most powerful voices of the new European poetry. His work has been translated into thirty languages and published in collections and anthologies in the US, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Two short films based on his poetry have been shot in Bulgaria and Croatia. Oliver Lake, the contemporary jazz composer who has previously collaborated with Björk and Lou Reed, has composed music based on Madzirov’s poetry, which was performed at the Jazz-Poetry Concert in Pittsburgh in 2008. You can read another poem from Remnants of Another Age here, and a recent interview with Madzirov here. You can also see and hear Madzirov reading from his work in this video from March 2011.

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature. By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public. Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations. This year BOA celebrates its thirty-fifth anniversary. To find out more about BOA Editions, click here. You can also find and ‘like’ BOA on Facebook, and follow the publisher on Twitter by searching for @boaeditions.

Young John Clare

                                   Helpston, Northamptonshire, 1806

Not often do I find a nest fallen
Among seed pods in autumn, three blue-white
Eggs broken, rags of rucked and yellow flesh
And hinge of beak still beckoning ants, but
One egg sealed, the fluids of birdmaking
A milky galaxy bundled inside—
So smooth and dry I want to swivel it
Wholly into my mouth despite dirt-flecks,
Leave the vowel-sheen off the oval shell,
Tumble that globule of starling within
Until its unspooled trill begins to boil,
Slips its bony case and kindles my voice.
O then would I sing! I would have no choice.

by Michael Waters

Welcome to the Poetry Centre’s new series of Weekly Poems. As always, we are most grateful to our publishers for providing us with such good work, and encourage you to read widely amongst their authors. If you use social media and haven’t already ‘liked’ us on Facebook, do look up our page here, and then follow us on Twitter by searching for @brookespoetry. We hope you enjoy this year’s selection of poems.

‘Young John Clare’ is copyright © Michael Waters, 2011. It is reprinted from Gospel Night, published by BOA Editions, 2011.

Michael Waters’ previous book, Darling Vulgarity, was a finalist for the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He has published ten collections of poetry, including five from BOA Editions. In 2004, he chaired the poetry panel for the National Book Awards. He is Professor of English at Monmouth University and also teaches in the Drew University MFA Program in Poetry and Poetry in Translation. Waters lives with his wife, poet Mihaela Moscaliuc, in Ocean, NJ.

You can watch a video of Michael Waters at a BOA event reading from this collection at this page, and read an interview with him at poetrynet.org.

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature.  By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public.  Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations. This year BOA celebrates its thirty-fifth anniversary. To find out more about BOA Editions, click here. You can also find BOA on Facebook, and on Twitter by searching for @boaeditions.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

What Song is Singing in the Silence of the Snow

My Russian neighbors slumber, they lisp and sigh, they snore. They turn over towards what door. Open or closed, in the cathedral that is coughing, in the mine where they dig the ore that shines. That burns like coal, that heats the house of hems, the skirts that bloom in paisley, red, green, and blue as Ukrainian domes, as tattoos faded on the backs of ex-prisoners, sleeping before they wake for the early shift, and the sound of their cars sparking up in the dark, and the snow falling all around in hush. What music is left, this Prokovfiev too much to bear, this Shastokovitch that we share, piano keys that stutter charts, that mutter fields of dark earth, sunflowers, the digging and the ditch, the shovel and the spade, the cut above the shoulder blade, the ladder of a stitch, that leaves a scar, that when touched opens, opens a map of the body’s archipelago, the islands of moles that stretch across the Northern sea of your back, and the snow ghosting against our bedroom window, choreographing its thousand falling stars.

by Sean Thomas Dougherty

If you use social media, you can now find the Poetry Centre on Twitter and on Facebook .

‘What Song is Singing in the Silence of the Snow’ is taken from Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line by Sean Thomas Dougherty. Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd., 2010. The poem is reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.

Notes courtesy of BOA Editions:

Sean Thomas Dougherty is the author of nine books including Nightshift Belonging to Lorca, a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and Except by Falling, winner of the 2000 Pinyon Press Poetry Prize from Mesa State College.  His awards include two Pennsylvania Council for the Arts Fellowships in Poetry. Known for his electrifying performances, he has toured extensively across North America and Europe. He received an MFA in poetry from Syracuse University and lives in Erie, Pennsylvania where he teaches writing workshops.

In his newest book, Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line, from which ‘What Song is Singing in the Silence of the Snow’ comes, issues of identity and the various complexities of social and cultural history remain central to Dougherty’s poetics. Sasha is a powerful, grief-driven, deeply-felt collection that still manages to find the beautiful and the true, the little epiphanies that give our lives meaning no matter how ephemeral they might be. You can find out more about Sean Thomas Dougherty in an interview on this site, hear him read a poem from this collection here, and hear him read poems from earlier collections on this page.

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature.  By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public.  Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations.  To find out more about BOA Editions, click here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

Broken Dolls Day

June 3, Japan

The stitched would never
heal. Nor could the smallest finger

missing of a hand be glued to a pudgy
plastic palm. She lies on her back—bye-bye

It is over. Around her those of the lost
screws, stuck eyes, detached

wires, burnt hair, punctured torso;
brother work, dog work, left out

in the rain. Played out. Over the wood,
wax, plastic, porcelain, papier maché,

straw, leather, resin & cloth,
the four-foot hunchbacked monk

bows his ancient bald head.
O broken ones, we are

the careless world—forgive us
for we wore you as ourselves.

by Jeanne Marie Beaumont

‘Broken Dolls Day’ is taken from Burning of the Three Fires by Jeanne Marie Beaumont. Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd., 2010. The poem is reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.

Notes courtesy of BOA Editions:

Jeanne Marie Beaumont earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University. Her first book, Placebo Effects, was selected by William Matthews as a winner of the 1997 National Poetry Series and was published by W.W. Norton. With Claudia Carlson, she co-edited the anthology The Poets’ Grimm: Twentieth Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales (Story Line). For seven years she was publisher and co-editor of the literary magazine American Letters & Commentary. She has also worked as a proofreader, a medical editor, and an advertising copywriter. She has taught at Rutgers University and the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, and she currently directs the Frost Place Advanced Seminar and serves on the faculty for the Stonecoast low-residency MFA Program.

Burning of the Three Fires, from which ‘Broken Dolls Day’ comes, shows Jeanne Marie Beaumont using her characteristic variety of techniques: dramatic monologues, lists, prose poems, nonce forms, object poems, and ekphrasis, to which she has added an exploration of biography, elegy, and rites. Among its layered themes, this book takes a multifaceted look at womanhood: there are dolls, historic and modern girlhoods, mythic retellings of characters from Goldilocks to the Bride of Frankenstein, emotionally charged domestic trinkets, and even a conversation with Sylvia Plath conducted via an 8-Ball.

You can learn more about Jeanne Marie Beaumont from her website, and read and listen to her poems read by Garrison Keillor here (though you might have to download the free RealPlayer first).

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature.  By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public.  Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations.  To find out more about BOA Editions, click here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

the true color of the sea

1.

sages’ gardens, ginger root, and siren
glow of mist, green tongues of light
smoke and portents arousing hungers
magnolia plumed gold moonstone heart
collecting rain in turtle shell hollows
of shoals and shelter, of stones that sing
of coral, of wine, of luminous unnamed

2.

cinnamon groves, veil of monsoon
moonless midnight’s milky stars
the finest gold dust, tinder, mirror
of angels’ tears, of devils’ blood
of cooing doves, a child’s fine bones
of sugarcane, and fistfuls of salt
of silk brocade, of laughter, of waiting

by Barbara Jane Reyes

From Diwata, by Barbara Jane Reyes. Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd., 2010. ‘the true color of the sea’ is reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.

Notes courtesy of BOA Editions:

Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of two previous poetry collections including Poeta en San Francisco which was awarded the 2005 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. She was born in Manila and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She works as adjunct professor in Philippine Studies at University of San Francisco. You can read an interview with Barbara Jane Reyes here, and find out more about her from her website, where she frequently updates her blog. Reyes also recently contributed to Harriet, the news blog for the Poetry Foundation, and you can find her entry here. There are a number of recordings of Reyes reading at this site (scroll to the bottom of the page).

In her book Diwata, from which ‘the true color of the sea’ comes, Reyes uses such Filipino oral tradition devices as meter, repetition and refrain, call and response, incantatory verses which verge on song, and the pantoum (which has Southeast Asian origins). She frames her poems between the Book of Genesis creation story, and the Tagalog creation myth, placing her work somewhere culturally in between both traditions. Also setting the tone for her stories is the death and large shadow cast by her grandfather, a World War II veteran and Bataan Death March survivor, who has passed on to her the responsibility of remembering. Reyes’ voice is grounded in her community’s traditions and histories, despite war and geographical dislocation.

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature.  By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public.  Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations.  To find out more about BOA Editions, click here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

Anniversary

Didn’t I stand there once,
white-knuckled, gripping the just-lit taper,
swearing I’d never go back?
And hadn’t you kissed the rain from my mouth?
And weren’t we gentle and awed and afraid,
knowing we’d stepped from the room of desire
into the further room of love?
And wasn’t it sacred, the sweetness
we licked from each other’s hands?
And were we not lovely, then, were we not
as lovely as thunder, and damp grass, and flame?

by Cecilia Woloch

From Carpathia, by Cecilia Woloch. Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd., 2009. ‘Anniversary’ is reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.

Notes courtesy of BOA Editions:

Cecilia Woloch was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up there and in rural Kentucky, one of seven children of a homemaker and an airplane mechanic. She attended Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, earning degrees in English and Theater Arts, before moving to Los Angeles in 1979. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University L.A. in 1999. A celebrated teacher, Ms. Woloch has conducted poetry workshops for thousands of children and young people throughout the United States and around the world, as well as workshops for professional writers, educators, participants in Elderhostel programs for senior citizens, inmates at a prison, and residents at a shelter for homeless women and their children. She is the founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild and of The Paris Poetry Workshop, and is currently a lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Southern California as well as a member of the core faculty of the low-residency MFA Program in Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University.

Well-controlled eulogies to her dying father in rural Kentucky, lush lyric and prose poems to lovers and former-lovers in Paris and various Eastern European countries, and compelling anaphoric-based narratives that meander between innocence and experience, body and soul – these are the motifs in Cecilia Woloch’s stirring collection, Carpathia, from which ‘Anniversary’ is taken. You can find out more about Carpathia here, and more about Cecilia Woloch here.

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature. By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public. Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations. To find out more about BOA Editions, click here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

A Diamond is not a Stone

A car is not a purse
I want to say to the man
down the road whose house
is so full of things
he can’t throw away
he buys car after car,
fills them with newspapers
he plans to read, letters
he hopes to answer.

The cars still run
when he abandons them,
weighed down like trees
with too much fruit,
like the trees in his yard.

by Wyn Cooper

© Wyn Cooper, 2010. ‘A Diamond is not a Stone’ is taken from the book Chaos is the New Calm, and reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.

Notes courtesy of BOA Editions:

Wyn Cooper has published four books of poems: The Country of Here Below (Ahsahta Press, 1987), The Way Back (White Pine Press, 2000), and Postcards from the Interior, (BOA Editions, 2005), and, most recently, Chaos is the New Calm (BOA Editions, 2010), as well as a chapbook, Secret Address (Chapiteau Press, 2002). His poems, stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in PoetryPloughsharesThe Southern Review, CrazyhorseSlate, and more than 75 other magazines. His poems are included in 25 anthologies of contemporary poetry, including The Mercury Reader, Outsiders, and Ecstatic Occasions, Expedient Forms.

Chaos is the New Calm, from which ‘A Diamond is not a Stone’ comes, is a book of sonnets and sonnet-like poems, some rhymed, some not. Starting with the idea of the sonnet as a fourteen-line lyric poem, this book plays with the form, putting rhymes in unusual places, inventing new stanza forms, and addressing an unusually broad variety of subject matter. You can find out more about the book here, and more about Wyn Cooper here.

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature. By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public. Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations. To find out more about BOA Editions, visit the website.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

Big Band Theory

It all began with music,
with that much desire to be

in motion, waves of longing
with Nothing to pass through,

the pulsing you feel before
you hear it.  The darkness couldn’t

keep still, it began to sway,
then there were little flashes

of light, glints of brass
over the rumbling percussion,

the reeds began to weep and sing,
and suddenly the horns

tore bigger holes in the darkness—
we could finally see

where the music was coming from:
ordinary men in bowties and black

jackets.  But by then we had already
danced most of the night away.

by Sharon Bryan

Copyright © 2009 by BOA Editions. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.

This poem is taken from Sharp Stars by Sharon Bryan (2009).

Notes from BOA Editions:

Winner of the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award for 2009

As she’s shown throughout her career, Sharon Bryan is a rare breed of contemporary poet.  A practitioner of acrobatic language that probes matters philosophical and psychological, Bryan is also playful and humorous, and this mixture of attributes reveals itself in each of these tightly-knit, succulent poems. Concerned with the interplay of matter and spirit, Bryan’s poems in this collection also address, and sometimes blend, issues of biology, astronomy, and music.  The poems in Sharp Stars, from which “Big Band Theory” is taken, represent more than ten years of work. Of her last book, Flying Blind, published in 1996, Small Press wrote: “In Sharon Bryan’s most effective poems, word play is a matter of life and death… Bryan won’t let any ordinary phrase off the hook as she dangles it, circling in brilliant focus.” Indeed, in Sharp Stars we find her unraveling common phrases or sayings in the all-too-human desire for transcendence, a transcendence Sharon Bryan accomplishes with her own blend of levity and gravitas, always mindful of the complicated, vexing dynamic of body and soul. You can learn more about Sharon Bryan by listening to an interview here.

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature.  By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public.  Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations.  Visit the BOA Editions website to find out more.

River Sonnet

When the old she-salmon swam to my rock
where I had sat to watch her moldering
transform into a fruiting body, clock
of flesh stretched above pale pebbles, ticking
tail where her roe lay like scattered apple
blossoms the rain has adhered to the road
and her great heaving sides stained with the dull
flowering shapes of fungus, I could not know
what secret pain it took for her to nose
against the current there, the large head scarred,
flanks those of a barnacled ship: she rose
from shallow water, a calcified shard
bearing time’s white etchings, and one dark eye—
lidless—that willed I mark her drifting by.

by Keetje Kuipers

© BOA Editions, 2010.

‘River Sonnet’ is taken from Beautiful in the Mouth, and reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.

Notes courtesy of BOA Editions:

Keetje Kuipers is a native of the Northwestern United States. She earned her B.A. at Swarthmore College and her M.F.A. at the University of Oregon. She is currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. In 2007 Keetje was the Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Resident. She used the residency to complete work on her book Beautiful in the Mouth, from which ‘River Sonnet’ comes. This latest collection was awarded the 2009 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize.

Written over the course of five years and a geographic journey spanning Paris to New York to Oregon, Kuipers’ Beautiful in the Mouth examines contemporary female loss in terms of literal and figurative geography: the empty bedroom of a dead child, a clear-cut hillside outside of a logging town. From her own unique perspective, Kuipers continues in the spirit of poets like Elizabeth Bishop to examine how loss forces itself upon unwilling landscapes and how those landscapes must alter to receive that loss.

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature. By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public. Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations. To find out more about BOA Editions, visit the publisher’s website.