Natalya Anderson, curator of the Poetry Extension, was kind enough to interview me recently:
I always had the idea that writing was a long apprenticeship, and I really didn’t start writing until about five years ago. I thought, ‘First I have to read all these books; then I have to open a bookstore.’ In my twenties I did open a bookstore. Then I worked as an editor, so it was, ‘Once I’m done editing, then I’ll write.’ And when I had the bookstore all these people were buying books, and I remember getting this sad feeling of, ‘They don’t even know that I wish I was a writer.’ That started to gnaw at me.
Enormous thanks to Natalya.
Ought not these oldest sufferings of ours to be yielding more fruit by now? Is it not time that, in loving, we freed ourselves from the loved one, and, quivering, endured: as the arrow endures the string, to become, in the gathering out-leap, something more than itself?
For staying is nowhere.
Poetry is so weird & wonderful. I never imagined that writing poems would lead to having a portrait done. This painting is by the multi-talented artist & poet Melanie Janisse Barlow, as part of her Poets Series. In her own words:
“The idea behind the Poets Series is to paint portraits of living poets and let each poet pick the next as a practice of praco-poesis. More simply put, I hoped to create a round robin of poets. I began this work by crowd sourcing poets to begin each branch. I asked the poets who were picked if I could paint a portrait of them, and if they wouldn’t mind selecting the next poet to add to the series. The response has been astounding. As the beginning poets included other poets, and the archive began to grow, branch by branch into an amazing narrative of contemporary poetry. The Poets Series is a celebration of the complex tangle of living poets that belong to a loose archive.”
My first issue as poetry editor of This Magazine features the work of Gwen Benaway.
Gwen Benaway is of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. Her first collection of poetry, Ceremonies for the Dead, was published in 2013 and her second collection of poetry, Passage, was released in 2016 from Kegedonce Press. Her third collection of poetry is forthcoming from Bookthug in 2017/2018.
I can’t recommend Gwen’s latest book, Passage, enough.
A poem of mine is up for a National Magazine Award. The poem is called “Talking w/humans is my only way to learn,” & takes its title from Microsoft’s twitter bot, Tay. That phrase was her mantra in the 24 hours she was… Awake? Alive?
The poem was originally published in The Puritan by guest editor Sonnet L’Abbé, in the Irish journal Banshee, & it’s in my chapbook from last fall, Summer. Enormous gratitude to these publishers & editors.
There are so many great poems on this list, & I am happy to call many of these talented poets my friends.
O hai! I have some news. This Magazine just hired me as the new poetry editor. I’ll be trying hard to keep up w/the great work Dani Couture has been doing there for years. The incoming fiction editor is the excellent Andrew Battershill. You might know this already, but This Magazine has been in print since 1966, & has published some of Canada’s most important & progressive writers.
Some words about Ocean Vuong, Scarborough, Sassy magazine, HMV, Sun Ra, Hawaii, etc, etc. Enormous thanks to Jane Hodgkinson (interviewer) & Adèle Barclay (editor), & the rest of the Rusty Toque crew.
“These poems are coded emergency & emergent code: hail, cut glass, cathedrals, systems, skeletons, & scorched earth. Stevie Howell has found a fault line underwriting Reality & turned this fissure, this terrible brokenness, into a lens. She sees the queasy, exact particular & can phase from its contours into metaphysics & back before we can see the ground shifting. An astonishing debut. An astonishing collection, full stop.”
— Ken Babstock, author of Methodist Hatchet