Author: Staff

Afterwords: AWP 2014 // Superlatives

by Rich Smith, Contributing Writer For all the general debauchery, hedonism, hooliganism, missed drinks, missed sleep, frowns above triple digit bar tabs, poetrybomb readings, skipped panels, hangovers, retroactive hangovers, I still managed to read, hear, and talk about a whole lot of exciting contemporary poetry and prose. Here’s a roundup of the best moments from the best AWP I’ve ever been to. Best Quote About Seattle: I’m torn between “You mean there’s more than one pie place?” and “That’s the most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen—no, that one is!”

Afterwords: AWP 2014 // Beaker Full of Sarah Shotwell

by Sarah Shotwell, Contributing Writer On Sunday afternoon at SeaTac Airport, I stood in line to board a rickety little plane half-full of writers bound for Los Angeles. It was all too easy to spot them: they had purple-stamped canvas bags slung over their shoulders. They were slowly thumbing expired editions of Tin House and trying to cram conference materials into over-stuffed carry-ons. They were silent and pallid and greasy. Earbuds were stuck in their ears. They shared the countenance of a bunch of introverts, well over capacity. The 2014 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference, hosted by the University of Washington Creative Writing Program, drew more than 10,000 outsiders to Seattle last weekend. Since 1972, AWP has pulled its unwieldy community of writers, publishers, teachers and readers together under one roof for a long weekend of paneling, browsing, networking, reading, and partying. The conference also is the host to the largest book fair in North America, where MFA programs attempt to draw applicants, and where publishers and foundations come to hawk subscriptions, promote …

A Late Winter Reading List: Poet Diana Khoi Nguyen Curls Up with Prose

Greetings, poets + persons of poetic constitution. It’s me, Diana Khoi Nguyen. As a peddler + dabbler/dribbler/lover of poetry, and as earthling, I’ve always wondered about what others (like me and not like me) are reading. As much as I hate/guilty-pleasure-love lists (especially lists of poetry ilk), I am constantly starving to find the next life-altering/favorite-book-of-all-time. Sure, as a poet, I’ve had hundreds of poetry collections recommended to me–and many of these have been especially instrumental to my poet/human-development, but there’s something I discovered within the past 14 months: my brain is wildly stimulated in strange and wondrous ways when I read life-altering fiction and non-fiction. This is where I will admit that I don’t see myself as a well-read person. But I am a lover of books. And I’d like to share with lovers of poetry–some meaningful works of prose that I’ve been reading/read recently. I hope you don’t mind. My hope is that: I can share a book, author, feelings with you that might lead you also to experience feelings. I hope I’m able to bring …

The Fridges of Famous Poets

Curated by Katharine Ogle Associate Editor     Rilke’s Lemon A lemon came home from the grocery, nestled in the net bag with the rest of the produce, but he hadn’t bought it. How did you get here? Rilke puts the lemon in the fridge next to the lemon juice. Someone has cut a slice from it. Like the corpse of a saint, the lemon remains fresh and sweet-smelling for a suspiciously long time. Rilke thinks: Like a girl almost or like the refrigerator gremlins who eat electricity to stay alive, you have to learn to live with longing. You just have to learn to live with longing. Every waking moment, the lemon is rolling slowly looking for the fridge within the fridge that it knows is there. –Sarah Kathryn Moore   All’s Despite (or, Paul Celan’s Fridge) shellacked and scrubbed green, yawning fingernail caught in a sunken jamb, wailing tin mantras; color of fresh- puckered mint on a rubberrack next to two carrots ocher-stain blush in so styrene a crypt (o and who levered …

Afterwords // Naming the Animals: Stephen Burt on The Nearly-Baroque in Contemporary Poetry

By Rich Smith Poetry Northwest Contributing Writer The talk was held in a conference room on the second floor of the Communications Building on the UW Campus. Weird room! (Good light, though. Lots of lamps.) Weird time! 6:00PM on a Friday, a fact that was not lost on Mr. Burt. However, he drew a good crowd—maybe 30 people, nearly all with notebooks on their laps. Burt speaks clearly, loudly, and with authority. He was a casual dresser, though, in a striped long-sleeve shirt, blue jeans, clear-framed glasses, Chuck Taylor’s with colorful laces, and sporting silver nail polish on modestly trimmed nails. I thought the fingernail polish was a nod to the theme of the talk, and I was admiring his commitment to the bit, but when I asked him about the polish later on in the evening he said he just liked to wear it. In short, I was ashamed. Especially three days later, after reading his beautiful essay about the newly released anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. Anyway, the …

Afterwords // Poetry Press Week

by Carrie Kahler Poetry Northwest Staff Writer   Poetry Press Week did not last for a week.  Nor did it showcase presses.  It did, however, have shrimp and a dj. Inspired by New York Fashion Week, Liz Mehl and Justin Rigamonte asked five poets to “use ‘model’ readers to present their newest work to a hand-selected audience of press, publicists, editors, and literary journals.” The poets each designed their own show and secured their own readers, but kept the results secret until sending their representatives down the runway. As the dj faded out, Mathew Dickman opened.  He included seven poems and alternated between simple readings by men and women dressed in black, and performances that enacted each poem’s meaning.  “Take ten paces,” says a reader, and two performers take ten paces. The enactments were the most memorable and served two poems well—“Daily Monster Dance” and “My Childhood is Your Childhood.”  “The Sea, The Ocean, and The Coast,” suffered from an awkward interpretive dance performed nearly in the lap of an older audience member.   This pattern …

2012 Staff Picks: Alexis Vergalla reviews Louise Glück’s collected works

Poems 1962-2012 Louise Glück Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012 By Alexis Vergalla, Poetry Northwest I want to start with a disclaimer: I like Louise Glück’s poetry.  I cannot work in a garden beside someone and not think of her lines from the poem “The Garden in The Wild Iris”: “Look at her, touching his cheek / to make a truce, her fingers / cool with spring rain; / in thin grass, bursts of purple crocus– // even here, even at the beginning of love, / her hand leaving his face makes / an image of departure”.  Glück is intimate and distant; she exposes her narrator with brutal force and yet withholds.  She has an impressive volume of work, and Poems 1962- 2012 contains each book—eleven in total. I read in Glück’s essay “Education of the Poet” that she remembers, verbatim, most of what she’s written.  Perhaps this is possible because much of what she writes circles around the same themes.  I don’t think this is unique in an oeuvre, and I don’t see this as …

2012 Staff Picks: Justin Boening reviews Mark Strand’s Almost Invisible

Almost Invisible Mark Strand Knopf, 2012 By Justin Boening, Associate Editor for Poetry Northwest 2012 was a remarkable year for poetry. From Eduardo C. Corral’s outstanding debut, Slow Lightning, to Jorie Graham’s finest effort in years, Place, there was much that dazzled, provoked, and inspired. When pressed to make a choice, however, as to which 2012 collection could be called my absolute favorite, I landed firmly on a book of poems not even considered a book of poems by its author: Almost Invisible. Mark Strand’s most recent collection of short prose pieces (as he calls them) has all the trappings of his previous attire—the infamously repetitive diction, the drippy nostalgia, and, of course, that hallmark debonair fatalism. But these poems are far from being placid guff. The poems of Almost Invisible are nimble and tonally varied, smart and introspective—the epitome of Strand’s best late-period work. In an episode of the Poetry Foundation’s podcast Poetry Off the Shelf, Vijay Seshadri says of Strand: “…to some extent all of Strand’s poems are about the situation of the …

2012 Staff Picks: Carrie A. Purcell reviews Dean Young’s Bender

Bender: New and Selected Poems Dean Young Copper Canyon Press, 2012 By Carrie A. Purcell, Poetry Northwest Volunteer Coordinator Dean Young’s most recent collection Bender (Copper Canyon 2012) is aptly titled. In this somewhat lengthy collection (it does cover his previous twelve books) Young’s command of discord and resolution are on full display, and the scattershot can make one feel the late-night room spin. Young is after the full force of the world’s oddities; he writes in “Frotage,”  “How goofy and horrible is life. Just look into the faces of lovers as they near their drastic destinations…Just look at them handling the vase priced beyond the rational beneath the sign stating the store’s breakage policy, and what is the rational but a thing we must always break.” Young gleefully “breaks the rational” in Bender.  His narrative voices are by turns drunk, acerbic, wistful, ridiculous, tender. They speak with authority, however, even if only over the non-sequential details of their biographies: “It seemed … all would be familiar as the beloved’s name heard in a crowd, my …