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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.

About the Iris

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The iris in the corner of my yard are out.  I’d been watching them from my desk.  Saturday morning they seemed still very tight.  Sunday afternoon several of them were waving their flags.

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Here are some thoughts on how important such transient beauty is in the scope of our daily lives.  Thanks to a Two Sylvias Press prompt last year on “love and beauty in a terrible world.”

Balancing Act

The blue iris and the white,
white alyssum and purple mat
bloom in sandy spring winds.

Sitting beside you makes even
the building with one wall gone
bearable, though I get up to season

our thick bean soup to unsee
children carried on stretchers
after yesterday’s bombing.

We have news, a mute button,
an off switch.  And a camera
to record the short-lived iris blooms.

Sin Fronteras Journal Issue #22 is Out

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SF22 coverSin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders #22 is out.  It’s hard to believe that this is my seventh year as one of the editors, as other personnel have changed.

Our cover artist for this issue is local artist and poet, Katie McLane.

We have a number of bi-lingual poems and one poem presented complete in both English and Spanish. This is something I have had a major interest in expanding, since a border is, among other things, about language.  We’ve made some progress in this.

Poems about rivers, mountains and desert are included, as are poems about family and about loneliness. There are poems commenting on our own southern border, but also poems about September 11 and current troubles in the Middle East.

If you’d like to submit for Issue #23, consider this: this year’s editors will return next year, so it will give you a sense of what we like if you read a copy of Issue #22.

Submissions open April 1.  More information is available at http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com

Photo and Poem

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Actually, the poem came first.  The photo is an illustration.  It shows approximately the view through the window by my desk, which inspired the poem.

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Rest

Rock walls bound my back yard,
the gray of weathered wood
or a sensible suit, the no-color
of dust on the long disused.
At first, planting my garden,
I thought the walls dull, conceived
a plan to paint their flat stones
southwest yellow or Mexican red.

My limited skill prevented me
from adding such loud color.
The company of a young tree,
tall grasses, suits this border;
I’d have ruined a place of rest,
the calm of gray without pretense.

 

Sin Fronteras Issue #21 is Out

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As one of the poetry editors for Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Journal, I am very happy to report that this year’s issue is now out.

sf 210001The cover art is by Tom Holland (www.tomhollandsouthwestart.com)

This issue includes poetry by:
Michael Berton, Zoë Bird, Terry Blanchard, Janet Cannon, Blair Cooper, Beth Copeland, Erin Cummiskey, Ruth Deming, Claudette Franzoy , Grace Marie Grafton, Richard Green, Kenneth Gurney, Lois Marie Harrod, Lisa Hase-Jackson, Terry Hertzler, Diane Kendig, Sandra Kolankiewicz, Jane Lipman, Nadine Lockhart, Eileen Malone, John Mannone, Jayne Marek, Carolyn Martin, Angela McCabe, LeeAnn Meadows, Mary Oertel-Kirschner, Marilyn O’Leary, Simon Perchik, Claire Scott, Michael G. Smith, Joseph Somoza, Joanne Townsend, Frank Varela, Phyllis Wax, Sarah Brown Weitzman, Michelle Wing, and Matt Zambito

And prose by Reuben Sanchez, Robert Joe Stout and Bill Vernon.

We think we’ve got some good writing here.  To find out more, go to http://www.sinfronterasjournal.com.

Poems on Line

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I have three poems in a brand new online journal, the Ibis Head Review

http://www.theibisheadreview.com/eryoung-sep2016.html

The three poems, “Burned” “Pulled” and “Congruent” are poems I want to include in a book manuscript which includes some very personal poems about my childhood, education and parenting.  (These three fit that later section.)

“Pulled” for example begins,

Tulips are intractable, the wedding florist
says, “They bend as they please,
don’t use them.”

The poem describes the years of a couple largely, not entirely, like my own marriage, and ends:

Fingerprints washed from door sills,
the wall reattached to the flooring, she
discovers they bend toward each other.

I have a second reason for liking this publication.  The masthead for Ibis Head Review uses the Egyptian hieroglyph of an ibis (not, fortunately, just his head).  I have a fondness for all things pertaining to ancient Egypt.

Have a look.

 

 

Written Words in Silver City, New Mexico

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This past weekend I attended the South West Festival of the Written Word in Silver City. Silver City has a lovely compact old downtown, preserved partly by the collapse of main street into a flooding river over 100 years ago. It is now a big ditch.P1000639

Across the ditch from the visitor’s center is an area of art galleries, coffee shops, antique stores and a few other services, on sloping streets and sidewalks with huge steps at some of the corners.  There are even a couple of small independent hotels.  I stayed at the Murray Hotel. P1000629

The Festival of the Written Word is an enormous undertaking. I was told the steering committee consists of 24 volunteers, and many more assist at the event. There were as many as four events – readings, panels, lectures, etc.- going on at once, and one could easily walk from one to another.  At Javelina coffee shop I heard two young poets lamenting lost languages.P1000635

At the Old Elks Lodge, Demetria Martinez talked about writing and activism.P1000634

Later, several writers gathered in the same place to discuss their inspirations and their frustrations.

A sample of the mix of art and artifacts inside Elks Lodge.

A sample of the mix of art and artifacts inside Elks Lodge.

Many local businesses supported the event by hosting programs. At Seedboat Gallery I listened to two poets: Simon Ortiz read about injustices suffered by his Navaho people and the trials of Vietnam vets; Jules Nyquist shared her work in progress about nuclear weapons and their influences.P1000632

And those were just one person’s choices on one day. Between events I noticed some of the decorated walls around town. One building features native shapes.P1000636

Another looks like a Mondrian.P1000638

This weekend event is held every other year. I am looking forward to the next one in 2017.

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