Zach Savich: “Easy, Durable Dreams: Notes on Poetry and Social Media”

In June 2014, poet Mathias Svalina promises to operate a Dream Delivery Service. “I will write the dreams, without consultation with the dreamer, & deliver them daily,” Svalina writes. “Each dream is unique to the dreamer/subscriber.” Subscriptions cost $40 if you live within three miles of Svalina’s house, $55 for everyone else. Dream Delivery Service as social media. * Svalina is an editor with Octopus Books. A while ago, another Octopus editor, Zachary Schomburg, started posting portraits of his friends on his blog, The Lovely Arc. He’d honor each as “Person of the Week” and write a brief profile. “Jesse got Clyde Drexler’s autograph three times between fifth and seventh grade,” Schomburg wrote. “He went to a Waldorf school from kindergarten through third grade, so he learned to knit, crochet, paint with watercolor, sculpt beeswax, play the recorder, and count in German before he learned arithmetic.” “Person of the Week” as social media. * Discussions of social media and poetry often focus on poetry’s absorption of—or reduction to—familiar virtual modes.

The Subvocal Zoo: Bonus Episode – Richie Hofmann Reads “Mirror”

Poetry Northwest‘s monthly podcast series, The Subvocal Zoo, features editors and friends of the magazine interviewing poets. Each episode features lively conversation between writers in a different location. This month’s regular episode, featuring Timothy Donnelly, will be available soon. In the meantime, we’d like to share a great outtake from an earlier episode. This Bonus Mini-Episode features Richie Hofmann reading his poem “Mirror” into the wind on the top deck of a ferry just before debarking in Seattle.

Wendy Willis: “A Million People On One String – Notes on Poetry and Social Media”

These days, it’s all big data all the time. Over the past few months, I’ve seen headlines ranging from “Big Data or Big Brother?” to “Big Data’s Little Brother” to “Big Data at the Oscars.” Just today, I was solicited for a webinar entitled “Big Data is a Big Deal!”(exclamation point theirs). As Duke psychologist and behavioral economist Don Ariely recently quipped on his Facebook page:  “Big data is like teenage sex:  everyone talks about it, nobody knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.” But the big data debate is not entirely made up of cutesy wordplay. Ever since Edward Snowden first started leaking information about the massive U.S. government spying operation, Americans—for the first time in over a decade—started kicking up some real, honest-to-goodness dust about whether the government can do whatever it pleases if it claims to be protecting us from terrorists. And then there’s the “creepy” index that seems to be the new—if somewhat ephemeral—standard for just how far the …

Margaret Ross: “Godwits Migrating”

The other day, I got a phone call from M. He told me what he was doing: “I just did a sketch of the hospital sailing.” “Sailing?” “The sailing, yea.” I remembered a waiting room with a pastel marina nailed to its windowless wall. “Like boats?” “C-E-I-L-I-N-G. Sailing.” Sarah Kane’s play “Blasted” is set start to end in a hotel room. Halfway through, there’s knocking on the door. Instead of opening the door, the person inside knocks back. Two knocks. Then two knocks from outside. Then three from inside. Then three from outside. When the door finally opens, there’s a war going on. The room changes shape: a wall crumbles, a body’s buried in the floor. I wrote this poem after hearing “windows” are cut into cows to study their live-action insides. Between studies, the cuts get plugged with rubber stoppers and the cows, now “window cows,” go about business as usual. The image of a herd of them grazing seems as sad as it does portentous, like all contemporary redesigns of what was once called the natural world. Something knocks …

Tod Marshall: “Never One to Paint Space, I Paint Air “

Bugle is a book about extraction, containment, and transformation.  The epigraph to the collection is from Rimbaud:  “If brass wakes up a bugle, it is not its fault.”  Many of the poems explore extraction and containment gone wrong.  From Butte’s huge copper mine (mix with zinc for brass) to memory’s flawed renderings (raw matter for the imagination), transformations and abuses occur and recur over the course of the book. In this particular poem, I was thinking about a few things:  Fairfield Porter’s insistence upon representational painting during an era that preached abstraction, the frequent suicidal leaps off of the beautiful old bridge near my house, and, I suppose, the metaphysics of a soul somehow being contained in a body.  Somehow, old acquaintances entered the poem, and the soul transformed into Kirk’s being brutally outed.  Throughout drafts, the poem itself clung to a simple sonnet shape—another version of containment in Bugle.  Kevin suggested a few smart edits of the poem that led to the elimination of one of the rhymes in the sestet—another way to show …

The Subvocal Zoo: Episode 4 – Zach Savich

Poetry Northwest‘s monthly podcast series, The Subvocal Zoo, features editors and friends of the magazine interviewing poets during the 2014 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Seattle. Each episode will feature lively conversation between writers in a different Seattle location. Episode 4 features Kevin Craft interviewing Zach Savich. Their conversation takes place at the Washington Convention Center in Seattle. Topics of discussion include George Oppen, where the eyes go after reading a great line of poetry, creative community and collaboration, and Zach Savich’s most recent collection of poetry, Century Swept Brutal.

Matthew Olzmann: “Super Villains”

It feels strange to write an “introduction” for this piece because—while writing the poem—what I thought it was “about” kept shifting. When I thought I was describing old-fashioned, human meanness, what I actually wrote was a mere caricature of that meanness. When I began to humanize that caricature, to make it more tangible and honest, what I wrote was actually about empathy. When I thought I was revising a poem about empathy, it turned into a study of the complicity—the speaker’s or the world’s—that allows the terrible to be terrible. When I went to finish the poem about complicity, a poem about meanness emerged. This poem is a revolving door of those elements, which (in its own way) is probably a more actuate portrayal of that human characteristic I originally set out to describe. (Olzmann) Super Villains The New Face of Evil dreamed it was an eagle ripping the lungs from a sparrow, or it was an altar for human sacrifice, or it was seated at the head of a long table in a boardroom …

The Subvocal Zoo: Episode 3 – Dorothea Lasky

Poetry Northwest‘s monthly podcast series, The Subvocal Zoo, features editors and friends of the magazine interviewing poets during the 2014 Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Seattle. Each episode will feature lively conversation between writers in a different Seattle location. Episode 3 features Ed Skoog interviewing Dorothea Lasky. Their conversation takes place at the Hiram Chittenden Locks in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. It’s a typically steely Seattle afternoon. Topics of discussion include poetry in education, Shelley and Eminem, salmon ladders, and carbonated beverages. And here is a creature that will be discussed but not seen during the interview:

Dorothea Lasky: “Diet Mountain Dew”

Since I was a little girl, Diet Mountain Dew has been my favorite drink. I think I was first attracted to it by its glowing green (it is almost the exact color of early July glowworms) and its off-putting not-totally citrus, but not-not-citrus, taste. Contrary to what some people might tell you, Diet Mountain Dew can be thirst-quenching. As a teenager, I ran insane amounts of miles in the St. Louis humid heat and towards the last few miles I would be dreaming of the cold can of Diet Mountain Dew I could pop open as soon as I got home. Even though it can’t be true, the taste of Diet Mountain Dew was more vital to me in those hot days than water. Back then Diet Mountain Dew was all about desire. Diet Mountain Dew said, “If you work hard you will be rewarded, and thank you.” When I drink Diet Mountain Dew as an adult, it makes me feel like I can see through walls and like for about 90 minutes after enjoying …