Danielle Chapman: “Meet Me in Hollywood”

This month we’re featuring Danielle Chapman’s poem “Meet Me in Hollywood,” which appears in Poetry Northwest Fall-Winter 2008-09 v3.n2. According to Chapman, “If there’s anyone lurking in the shadows of this poem, it’s probably Allen Ginsberg.  I’ve always felt a bit conflicted about his work; of course as a teenager I guzzled down “Howl” as if it were a ritual libation; then, as a college student, I dismissed it as dated and a bit silly; but, when I reread it again as an adult, I was overcome by the power of its ecstatic perception.  While its peyote-dream quality can seem schticky to an ironic reader, it’s ultimately triumphant in harnessing visionary experience, territory which is uniquely suited to poetry.  This poem pays homage to the sort of mystical openness that Ginsberg accessed, but it’s also an indictment of the flophouse romanticism that we’ve inherited from his generation. “

David Ciminello: “Love, Lorena”

“Love, Lorena” appears in the current issue of Poetry Northwest, our sixth in the new series. Of his poem David Ciminello writes, “as a writer I am most concerned with the musicality of language and how certain notes can be struck with the right word choice and word order.I also consider myself a visual writer. I like to work from images.

Susan Kelly-Dewitt: “His Perfume”

“His Perfume” appears in Poetry Northwest Fall-Winter 2008-09 v3.n2, our sixth in the new series. Of her poem Kelly-DeWitt writes, “we usually think of perfume as something attractive—so I wanted to play off of that idea in this poem. It’s a poem about the body as flesh, a thing in and of itself, that has a life of its own apart from the consciousness that inhabits it, with a death and a perfume of its own making. The poem is written in unrhymed tercets; tercets have a shape and pacing I’m comfortable with.

P. K. Page: “Improbable Concept”

For January & February we’re featuring P.K. Pages “Improbable Concept,” which appears in the current issue of Poetry Northwest. Page writes, “‘Improbable Concept’ is written in the seductive and challenging glosa form, which dates back to the l5th century Spanish Court. The lines of the opening quatrain are chosen from the work of another poet; they are followed by four ten-line stanzas, whose concluding lines are taken consecutively from the quatrain; their sixth and ninth lines rhyming with the borrowed tenth—I suppose a liking for crossword puzzles helps!”

W. S. Di Piero: “Raven”

To end the year we’re featuring W.S. Di Piero’s “Raven,” which appears in the current issue of Poetry Northwest. “Years ago I read the opening phrase in a field guide’s description of a raven,” says Di Piero, ” and it stuck with me:  ‘Big black bird.’ I see ravens out my window every day and appreciate their don’t-mess-with-me posture and gliding maneuvers. (Crows don’t glide.) Apparent monochromatic blackness with endless flashing inflections — that’s one definition of good style. They have no songfulness, just a marvelous variety of noises and calls, which recommends them to poetry but not to pretty poetry. “Most of my books contain a poem about a bird, none from a birdbrain’s consciousness, though:  they all in some way are about hunger, appetite, or aspiration that sounds like fury.” Raven Ratso pigeons strictly for the birds. Morning vocalizing to settle one’s nerves. Practice makes perfect. Hello high wire art, and come back O red-tail youth. Upstart. Hair bulbs down there. Feed and need. Sunshine so justified upon my wings and I sing …

JEHANNE DUBROW Discussing Miłosz

A red wing rose in the darkness. — “Encounter” After the red bird rises through the night, it leaves a wing-shaped shadow on the sky. The teacher asks, If the field is dark how can the poet see red flight? and would like one of the boys (his baseball cap pulled low over his eyes) to answer that we know the color of our blood from memory. We don’t need light. A girl would reply the bird predicts both darting hare and man whose gesture follows, a lightning run of fur and tail, the sleek hind legs to leap into the third couplet where we skip across the years, both hare and man now gone only their motions left behind. And then like sudden grassfire the class would understand the poet’s awe, why he writes these words instead of weeping, why the poem must streak by, bleeding and animal but not quick to die. I have tried teaching Czeław Miłosz’s ‘Encounter’ several times, but never with much luck. “Encounter” is a small poem that travels …