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Reading a Poem: Mannone’s “Carrots”

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scan0002This is another poem I was particularly taken with from the current issue of Red Coyote. (Presented with the author’s permission.)

Carrots

John C. Mannone

My grandfather’s fingers shook a little
until they clamped the base of the plant
as if ready to yank weeds.  Gently,
he coaxed the root to the surface—
the bulbous end cresting loamy clay.
Muted orange poked through the soil
as if a morning sun lifting through mist.
Dirt clung to the carrot.  He rubbed it
off leaving that good scent of earth
on his hands.  He snapped the green leaf
canopy clear off, let it drop to the ground,
and dangled the tapered end in front
of my face.  The tendrils whiskering
the carrot caught the same glints
as grandpa’s white hairs stubbling his chin.
He urged me to take a bite, to feel
that cool crisp flesh of carrot on my tongue,
taste its earthy sweetness.

I was barely six.  His blue eyes winked
with wisdom.  He said carrots were good
for my eyes, that they would help me see
more clearly the world outside this garden.

Here are my thoughts as I read, and reread this poem.  What caught me up first was the detail of slow description of what is a fairly brief event: details like noting when the boy is seeing the bulbous end or the tapering end of the carrot.

Second, the word choices.  “Bulbous” is not a plain word. I particularly notice the way “whisker” is used as a verb and applied to the carrot, not the white hairs on a chin.  The “same glints” on the two caught my attention also, because I’ve seen such glints in early morning sun.

Another good touch is the delaying of the boy’s age until the short second stanza.  Now we meet the one for whom this very ordinary event is not ordinary at all.  And when the poem ends on “the world outside this garden” how could this garden not be Eden?

John C. Mannone has contributed to Sin Fronteras Journal, of which I am one of the editors.  I look forward to seeing more of his work wherever it appears.

Find out how you can contribute to Sin Fronteras Journal at http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com.  Submissions are open until June 30.

Reading a Poem: Barrett’s “The American Dream”

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One of the pluses of getting accepted in a print journal is receiving a small book of poems by many poets, at least some of whom are likely to be new to me.

scan0002I am currently reading my way through the 2017-2018 issue of Red Coyote, out of the University of South Dakota, which includes two of my poems, “Hold On, Let Go,” and “Corners.”

I’m finding a lot to like.  One poet new to me is Carol Barrett.  Of her three poems I am particularly impressed with “The America Dream,” a short and subtle piece.  Here is the poem, by permission of the author:

The American Dream

Frosted grasses
bear the shadows
of pines

once peopling these plains.
Cars laden with dust
loom on every hill

along the path
paved to make our journey
swift.  A bluing sky

melts the crystalline
landscape, and on we plow
oblivious to those

who forage here,
to any shade
or sorrow.

As I was reading this, my mind made a series of pictures, some way off base, it turned out.  In the first stanza—what’s the connection to the title?—the immediacy of the grasses made me think of walking beside them.  Having this image in mind, I saw those looming cars on an Interstate above the path.  Paved?  Yes, where I live they persist in paving walking paths.

It’s only as “swift” sank in, and I felt the distance of “landscape” that I “got it.”  The paved path is a road; I’m on that Interstate, if it is one, not beside it.

Because she doesn’t name it as road, and because she delays the fact that the pines are gone and doesn’t spell out why or how (removed for farming? cut down to build the road?) I have wandered inside her poem and so find myself complicit at the end in all that taking the fast road ignores or denies.

Thank you, Carol Barrett, for this reading experience.  Carol has two books, Pansies, just out, and Calling in the Bones.  I’m looking forward to reading both.

Sin Fronteras Journal Issue #23 is Out

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SF 23 coverSin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Issue #23 has just arrived from the printer.  It features the work of 48 contributors, mostly poets.  Six are from southern New Mexico, seven from other parts of the state, a few more from the greater southwest.  Others are from all over the country, from Washington State to Massachusetts to Florida, and three live beyond our nation’s borders.

Some poems speak directly to southern border issues.  Others focus on different kinds of borders: between people, their communication and miscommunication, or between people and wildlife, or people and their pasts.  The editors were pleased to have a rich mix to draw from.

The cover art is by Deret Roberts, local artist and gallery owner.  You can learn more about his gallery at www.artobscuragallery,com.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this issue, or submit for the next annual issue, go to the Journal’s own website: http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com.  Be sure to check the guidelines and notice that submissions sent to the email address before April 1 will not be read.

 

 

 

 

Celebrating the Kerf

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scan0001I have a poem in the current issue of the Kerf, a small journal out of College of the Redwoods in northern California.  This journal is part of the Del Norte Center for Writing of that college, which is located in Crescent City.

I want to spread the word about this journal because there is a lot I like about it, beginning with the fact that they have chosen a very nice selection of poems in this issue, mostly – but not all – by people I’ve never heard of.  Other features I like:

  • They only do poetry. They take formal as well as free verse poems, and two page poems as well as short ones.
  • They don’t organize the poems in alphabetical order by the poet’s last name; they make creative juxtapositions. (As a poet whose last name begins with Y, I really appreciate finding my poem on page 12.)
  • They often include more than one poem by an author, but put them in separate places.
  • They advertise an interest in “humanity and environmental consciousness” which turns out to have a wide scope.

And they operate without a website or email submissions.  This is one reason I want to spread the word about them.  They advertise annually in Poets & Writers, but they’re hard to find elsewhere.

My poem, Human/Nature, explores some of the contact points between humans and the rest of nature, especially as found here in the rapidly growing city of Las Cruces.  My favorite part, if it is possible to have a favorite part in one’s own poem, is

A puma is sighted near
the new subdivision.
As in a child’s puzzle, which
of these things does not belong?
The puma does not go willingly.

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The reading period for the Kerf is about to begin.  Unsolicited manuscripts are accepted between January 15 and March 31. Include name and address on all manuscripts, enclose an SASE and send to:

the Kerf
College of the Redwoods
883 West Washington Blvd.
Crescent City, CA 95531-8361

A copy of the journal is available for $5.00, a good price for 54 pages of varied and stimulating poems.

Poetry in Las Cruces

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For several years now I have managed a monthly list of local literary events.  It has only now occurred to me that there are readers of this blog who are local who may not know about this list.  So here is the October edition.

And if you’re not local, this may give you a clue that southern New Mexico is a good place for writers.

Kery’s List is a monthly list of literary events in Southern New Mexico, distributed around the beginning of the month from August through May.  The address, if you’d like to be on it, is at the bottom.

 Tuesday, October 9, Branigan Library, 1:30 p.m.

John Coleman II will talk about his book The Outcome . . . One man’s journey to make a difference, a work of political fiction.  The talk will be in the Roadrunner Room of the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library from 1:30 to 2:30 pm.  Refreshments will be served.  John Coleman II is a Naval Academy graduate who has given 24 years of service to his country. He has also rebuilt houses and antique automobiles, climbed the Grand Canyon, owned a deep-sea boat, been a strategic planner and public speaker. He now lives in New Mexico at the base of the Organ Mountains, where he writes both fiction and non-fiction books

 Friday, October 12, Hardman Jacobs Hall, NMSU, 7:30 p.m.

Prose writer Joshua Wheeler will read.  Wheeler is from Alamogordo. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, New Mexico State University and has an MFA in Nonfiction from the University of Iowa. His essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many literary journals. He is a coeditor of the anthology, We Might as Well Call it The Lyric Essay. His first book is Acid West: Essays, of which a reviewer has written “He aims to put Southern New Mexico on the map.”

 Sunday, October 14, Truth or Consequences, 1:00 p.m.

The Black Cat Sunday Poets will continue to meet at the Geronimo Springs Museum on 211 Main Street through the winter, on the second Sunday of the month. Poets are welcome to come read their original work (up to 3 poems.) They offer an appreciative, nonjudgmental listening group & even have coffee & snacks.

Tuesday, October 16, Palacio Bar, 7:30 p.m.

Sin Fronteras open reading.  Bring 3 poems or 5 minutes of prose to read.  Sign up at 7:30, reading begins at 8:00 p.m.

Saturday, October 20, Silver City, 2:00 p.m.

Just Words at the Tranquilbuzz Coffee House, at 112 W. Yankie St., features poets Eve West Bessier and Raven Drake, followed by open mic for poetry and short prose.

Sunday, October 21, Jules’ Poetry Playhouse, Albuquerque, 2:00 p.m.

Las Cruces poets Dick Thomas and Joe Somoza will be doing a poetry reading. Jules’ Poetry Playhouse is at 1001 5th St. NW.

Kery’s List is managed by K. Ellen Roberts Young.  To subscribe, unsubscribe, or contribute information, email: keryslist@cs.com.

 

New Poetry Editor for Sin Fronteras Journal

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Frank reading '15 025

Frank Varela reading in 2015  Photo by Jill Somoze

After the loss of poetry editor Terry Hertzler this spring, we are delighted to have poet Frank Varela step in to help with Sin Fronteras Journal.  Brooklyn born, Frank is the author of four books of poetry, Serpent Underfoot, Bitter Coffee, Caleb’s Exile and, most recently, Diaspora.  His children’s stories have been published by Riverside Publishing Company and Arte Publico Press.  He worked as a librarian in Chicago, where he was named Hispanic Librarian of the Year by the Illinois Secretary of State in 1997.  He now lives in Las Cruces, and is joining Joanne Townsend, former poet laureate of Alaska, and Ellen Young, who does useful things like sending out announcements and downloading the emails, to complete the trio of poetry editors for issue #23.

Submissions to the Journal (poetry or prose) are welcome until June 30.  Go to http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com/submissions and follow the directions.

Weaving the Terrain: Southwestern Poems

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Weaving the Terrain0001Weaving the Terrain is a large collection edited by David Meischen and Scott Wiggerman.  It contains 211 poems, by many poets—a minority of the contributors have supplied more than one poem.  The subject matter ranges across the southwestern states and over many themes.  There are plenty of roadrunners, vultures and coyotes, historical moments both familiar and lesser known, and a lot of sand.  There are personal stories as well, events that “just happen” to take place in a southwestern locale.

The full subtitle is 100-word southwestern poems.  This challenge, it turns out, can be met in many ways, by many shapes and styles.  Instead of the usual blurbs on the back cover, the comments are about the interesting project of fitting poems to this measure.  Every hyphen or article changed the word count.  That effort, however, rarely is visible in the finished product.P1010054

I have a poem in this collection.  It’s in the section called “Half-Lives Slowly Ticking” but is primarily about one of those lesser known historical moments, the feud between cattleman Oliver Lee and lawyer Albert Fountain.

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This book seems to me primarily a book for poets, those who will explore the shapes and guess at the choices of various poems.  But I think it might provide much interest to those who imagine the southwest but have never been there.  A gift for prospective visitors?  Dos Gatos Press managed to keep the price for 235 pages of poetry to a reasonable $19.95.P1010059

I’ve illustrated this report with a few native plants from my garden: apache plume, a cactus, and my mesquite tree.  The tree is just leafing out and that is considered a trustworthy sign that it is safe to put out tender annuals.  Frost is over.

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