Swing your arms, stretch a little. Keep walking and untie the sweater. Think about how much you hate it, how the shade makes you look like you are recovering from flu. Green was never your color. It amazes you all over again that he did not know that. What a moron. Think about how you wish you’d never met him. Think about how good a bagel and bacon sandwich would be. Regulate your breathing and pick up the pace. Throw that motherfucker of a sweater to the side of the path.
“We are all drawn to stories of tragedy and trauma, almost always for a sense of comfort—to know that someone else has gone through what we have gone through and survived. Or to know that someone else has gone through something far worse so that we can feel better relatively. Or to experience the pleasures of sadness and pain from a distance. We look for this pleasure in our novels, our movies, our television shows, and even in our comedy. But when we read about a tragedy like Deraniyagala’s, it rewires the way we look at the world. She herself asks, “How is this me? I was safe always. Now I don’t have them, I only have terror, I am alone.” It is far from comforting. It makes us scared.”—Diksha Basu reviews Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala
National Poetry Month Day 15: "Exercises in Breathing" by Kimberly Southwick
knowing the rules is not enough. when it snows, it doesn’t always mean it. when it snows, sometimes it snows for the museums and sometimes it snows for the papers and sometimes it snows for only her majesty, the sea.
following the rules is not enough. when he breathes— remember this one please—when he breathes he breathes for himself. when he breathes he doesn’t breathe for her or for you or for his son or for his future sons, when he breathes, he breathes for how it feels to be standing in the public gardens knee-deep in snow, smoking a cigarette and watching the statues still and cold and unbreathing and having it mean something.
breaking the rules is not enough. the sea is his mother. the sea gives back in fish. the sea tells you: this is what your voice sounds like. the sea reminds you to breathe. the sea, the sea. she knows the rules are never enough.
“Authors regularly valorize or demonize the teacher—the teacher is used as a foil to better understand some other protagonist. But Beyond Folly, which progresses chronologically through a school year, from the annual Substitute Orientation to eight vastly different classrooms, is about the interior life of the teacher, not the student. Every school and every assignment, from librarian to AP English teacher to Computer Lab specialist, works predominantly as a way for the reader to better understand what makes Hagardy tick. A conversation with an Advanced Placement English Class highlights his consuming nostalgia: “It used to be that ideas were not pulled from thin air and sculpted flimsily into ‘art’.””—Joseph Bien-Kahn reviews Beyond Folly by Emil DeAndreis.
NATIONAL POETRY MONTH DAY 14: “THE VINDICATION OF JUDAS”
Forgive me at last, Brother, for the death sentence: a kiss that revealed me, an act of obedience which began your martyrdom. Who else but you—who loves me still—could I ask to bear blame for my murder for all time? I knew too of the wind of stones conjured by our brothers that would split you like a fig, your blood not grieved but misnamed justice for my flesh’s end. They could not conceive that it was the Great One’s will—not yours— to stage a betrayal with your lips; that you must be sacrificed so I could be.
“I’m beginning to wonder if anyone on TV or the internet is real. I have seen two celebrities in real life – Frank Fontaine and Betty Grable –so I know they’re real at least. Until I see “Enver” in person I can’t verify his existence.”—Ted Wilson Reviews The World #229. Enver Gjokaj gets 4 out of 5 stars.
Antigone’s story has been ripe for adaptation almost since it first appeared. The most popular version of her story came from Sophocles, but Euripedes also penned one (in which Antigone both survives and marries, thanks to some interference from Dionysius). It’s been turned into operas and plays multiple times–Seamus Heaney’s The Burial at Thebes is an extraordinary version of the story, as is Anne Carson’s remarkableAntigonick–and here, a collection of poems titled The Antigone Poems by Marie Slaight.
Each year I know less about myself but the insurance company knows how much my life is worth. This is for those who suffer & endure & laugh about it later. Someone asked, “where do you get your news from if you don’t have a teevee?” It is 7:36 a.m. & I have been awake all night. I am pushing forward, caffeinated & reminding myself: don’t be busy. Busyness is the enemy of art and life. Spring is here, it is Saturday. The clouds make shapes & go.
“I travel a lot and in airports I have the opportunity to see a great many soldiers. Some are in fatigues, bulky backpacks slung over their shoulders. Others are in their dress uniform, everything about them sleek and disciplined, right down to their spit-shined shoes. In airports, I see a lot of gratitude toward these soldiers. As they walk through terminals, people stop to thank them for their service. American Airlines makes a point of offering uniformed soldiers priority boarding. Soldiers can have free access to most airport clubs. These gestures are certainly well-intended, but there is also something hollow to them because they are filled with the misguided idea that we understand what we are giving thanks for and the hope that there might be just recompense for a soldier’s service.”—Read the rest here: The Answers We Look For In War Literature (via roxanegay)
In the beginning—or somewhere in the middle actually—there was a parade. A parade of objects. Around a schoolyard. On a weekday morning, bright but unseasonably cold. At the appointed hour everybody—children, teachers, parents—spilled out of classrooms and cars, and congregated on one side of the blacktop. On the other, the calvacade assembled. My son Jake, nine or ten at the time, got in line as a walkie-talkie: head, arms, and legs sticking out of a box equipped with a long antenna and a speaker/receiver, a slightly sloping grid of black dots, painted on its face: behind him a pencil, number two, mustard yellow, four feet tall; in front of him a violin, a candlestick, a fork, a baseball bat. Also a globe, slightly misshapen. A bowling pin and a bottle of nail polish. Some forty objects, there being forty kids, third and fourth graders, in all.
“After that it was music, or the thought
of music more than words, the token cheese
the human honey more than words”—From “Walking with Cheese” in Red Mavis by Merrill Gilfillan, reviewed by Patrick James Dunagan
“I write in all postures: sitting, standing, leaning over something. I tend toward borrowed or temporary surfaces, fake surfaces: this library, the ‘personal desk’ at the bank, the dashboard in my car. Yesterday I edited something on an armrest. Yeah, I think I did.”—Where I Write #24: I Don’t Know Where I Write by Brendan Constantine
I have just finished your latest book The Saints of Streets, and find I can’t close the book and let it sit on my desk so it and I could sit in silence for a while, making sense of what we’d just shared. I find myself thumbing back through the pages asking questions like, “is ‘Thinking in Sepia’ the lyric?” or is “’Thinking in Sepia’ the narrative?” and “How do I name these poems?” and “How do I tell you what these poems have done to me? Should I?” Give me a minute to collect myself so I can respond with the respect this book deserves. I will write shortly.
“Female sexual hunger is generally portrayed as acceptable when it is about turning on a man as much as it is about a woman getting what she wants. We don’t mind 50 Shades of Grey narratives, where a beautiful young ingénue is taught about her body by an older, controlling sadist, and we accept pop stars like Beyoncé, for whom sexual empowerment means giving sexual access in exchange for putting a ring on it. In Nymphomaniac: Volume I, the female desire to be receptive during sex is not seen as synonymous with the need to submit.”—The Rumpus Review Of Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 by Arielle Bernstein
NATIONAL POETRY MONTH DAY 11: “THE HISTORY OF ASTERISKS” BY ELISA GABBERT AND KATHLEEN ROONEY
It is midnight under the sky’s dome ceiling. The moon speaks, saying nothing of consequence. John Wayne is from Iowa, so we hitchhiked West and I realized I never really loved you. Your skepticism of scientific indices of happiness is probably gendered or otherwise distorted. According to Keynesian economics, demand is erratic, therefore, I am not insane, but merely unsane. I came over all unnecessary. I came, I saw, I licked the mint green ice cream of evanescence. Quivers of gardenias, sheaves of tuberoses, I tripped over the semiquavers. At least I know your home address and some good valedictions: I blow a kiss to you, my friend …
“Within a month of knowing her, Irina had turned me on to shoplifting. I was hooked on the thrill of procuring ordinary and exquisite items. From grocery stores, we lifted packages of string cheese, sprinkled donuts, lipsticks, index cards, disposable cameras, and collars for cats we didn’t own. From boutiques in town, we pocketed perfumes, velvet headbands, French milled soaps, vintage brooches, and pewter key chains engraved with Japanese characters. In the privacy of my dorm—because I didn’t have roommates and Irina had three—we decorated our bodies in our stolen loot and flashed pictures of ourselves with the disposable cameras. We clipped the kitten collars around our ankles, struck slapstick poses with bitten donuts, and collapsed in giggling fits onto my floor. With Irina, I was reckless, the most uninhibited version of myself. Still, even at nineteen, I understood I would mature into a high-functioning adult. I would never have problems with the law. I would not fall apart. This was my rebellion, much abbreviated and heavily photographed.”—Weekly Rumpus Fiction: Ursula Villarreal-Moura
In Episode 10 of Make/Work, host Scott Pinkmountain talks with drummer/composer John Colpitts, aka Kid Millions. Colpitts is a founding member of the band Oneida, but he’s toured and recorded with tons of bands including Yo La Tengo, Spiritualized, Akron/Family, Marnie Stern, The Boredoms, and the Rumpus’s own Rick Moody.
“I have had animals that don’t want to talk about past trauma. That’s the only time they’ll put up a block. If the trauma was intense enough, they don’t want to experience it again nor do they want anyone else to. It is helpful to just respect their boundaries and reassure them that they will be safe.”—The Rumpus Mini-Interview Project #51: Pet Psychic Marla Steele
“The odds will never be in my favor, but there will always be that small percentage of a chance that my small stream of words will wriggle its way into that narrow crevice and break out into the world like a fucking typhoon. And because I have that completely irrational, often unearned ego that all writers need to keep going, I’m always preparing for that ride.”—Solidly Mid-List by Russell Rowland
“So to become a poet in the modern world is to trust that a poem is one of the essential messages you send right back at modernity. A poem is a means to define modernity. And it’s your poems that remind us not only of our individuated ecstasies and trials but also of the shared and granular images and stories of human experience.”—David Biespiel’s Poetry Wire: The Poet’s Journey: Chapter I
“Lazar: In hindsight, I must have been looking for a way to write about Jewishness that somehow managed to minimize irony and self-deprecation. The root was Meyer Lansky and his persisting desire to live in Israel. What about Israel suggested to him a life of dignity, meaning, and value, when he was in no way a pious Jew? That gave me a way to write about any secular Jew’s desire for dignity, meaning, value, etc. By writing about the “bad” man’s search for meaning, I was able to make that search matter in a more dramatic way (for me, at least) than if I had written about a “good” person’s search.
Rumpus: I call myself a bad Jew all the time, although I do not think I am the worst Jew.
Sometimes I’m lucky enough to find a few of the Haggadahs that my family’s been using for decades – the Maxwell House versions that date back to 1932. But usually I give up and begin Googling madly to piece together something customized for my semi-secular and interfaith gathering. Last year our Haggadah revolved around a single quote by the Dalai Lama about how compassion delivers us from isolation.
“True readers always read creatively. Put a penny in the vase. Put a tablet of
aspirin, distilled water preserving the lily until it opens
In the atmosphere ice
crystals act as prisms, light rays refracting mock suns–sundogs–through the
diamond dust.”—From A Conjoined Book by Karla Kelsey, reviewed by Kent Shaw