From Moira Richards:
Like the ages-old ghazal, of which I counted three in this collection, Ren Powell's poetry evokes musicality and sung lament. Like the couplets of a ghazal, the lines of her poems form discrete, seemingly unconnected units that nevertheless resonate a unity through their juxtapositionings. Like one long ghazal, these poems are all strung together on a refrain; on a recurrence of barely suppressed chaos - nightmare, perhaps; not a spoken refrain, but an unspoken refrain - as if the narrator, only by 'negotiating a new language' is able to speak of the unspeakable, to say the unsayable.
Moira Richards, South African poet and author, is the co-editor of Letters to the World: poems from the Wom-po Listserv, a collection of 259 poets spanning 19 countries and five continents
In the Chicago area? Ren Powell will be reading from her new book "Mercy Island" on Wednesday evening and would love to see you there!
POETRY READING/BOOK SIGNING
Lincoln Township Public Library
7:00PM Wednesday, March 9th
Author Rachel Barenblat will be presenting poems, answering questions, and signing books in the Boston area on March 12th and 13th:
* "Lunch and Learn" reading/discussion after services at Bnai Or, the Jewish Renewal congregation of Boston, March 12 (after services - noonish.) Some poems will be featured during the service as well. All are welcome to attend the service (which will be accessible & engaging) or just to come for the lunch-and-learn; if you can, please let me know if you're planning to come so I can let them know roughly how many visitors to expect! And bring a bag lunch.) Andover Newton Theological School, 210 Herrick Road, Newton Centre.
* Reading/signing in the parlor of the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, sponsored by the Jewish Connections group, March 13, 2:30pm. 630 Mass Ave, Arlington Center. (Parking is on the other side of Mass Ave in municipal parking lots -- both directly across Mass Ave and diagonally across the Arlington Center intersection, with an entrance on Route 60/Mystic Street. Parking is free on Sundays.)
One of the most satisfying aspects of editing qarrtsiluni
is that we get to work not only with writers but artists, and to publish their images, building a visual vocabulary that enlarges each issue's theme. This painting, by Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins, is a modern interpretation of the story of the prophet Elijah being fed by ravens, found in the Bible; it appears in "Words of Power."Dave Bonta and I discuss this painting, the Elijah story it illustrates, and raven behavior in a short podcast along with the original post.
We also talk about other paintings of the same story, particularly this one by British painter Albert Herbert, showing a raven giving a man a host-like piece of bread, and end up with stories of talking crows!
Above: Elijah and the Raven by Albert Charles Herbert (1925-2008)Clive Hicks-Jenkins
) has worked as an actor in film and on TV, and was a highly successful choreographer, director, and stage designer before switching his focus to painting in the mid-90s. He has exhibited regularly with the Attic Gallery in Swansea, the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff, Keith Chapman Modern Art in London, and Anthony Hepworth Fine Art in Bath, and has had well-received exhibitions in public galleries. He has been a member of The Welsh Group since 1997, exhibiting with them throughout Wales, in Scotland, Ireland, France and also in the USA, and 56 Group Wales since 2004. In 2008 he was nominated a Royal Cambrian Academician. After working from a studio in central Cardiff for several years, he recently moved to Mid Wales.
It all depends on where you look.Phoenicia editor and publisher Beth Adams takes a close look at the recently-released statistics on the gender
gap in traditional literary journals vs. online publishing, using qarrtsiluni as an example, on her blog The Cassandra Pages
. The conclusions may surprise you!
from Rachel Barenblat's 70 Faces:Torah Poems
, here is OFFERING (BO) We shall not know with what we are to worship the Lord until we arrive there. —Exodus 10:26
Maybe God wants goats
scruffy and bleating.
The richest colors we know.
The taste of coffee, dark and smooth.
Maybe God wants smoke
from the trees our children will fell.
The songs we sing
when it's late and no one can hear.
The Holy One will tell us
what sacrifices are required,
blood or water poured on the altar
sluicing down to the earth below.
Does God want our grief?
Hopes raised, then dashed
like pears against a rock.
Maybe God wants us not to give up.
We must bring all that we are
so when that Voice speaks
we can open our chests
and pull out what's inside.
For a closer view of our most recent book and the people behind it, you might like to listen to the podcast published last week
by Dave Bonta at ViaNegativa. It's an interview/discussion with Rachel Barenblat (left) author of 70 Faces:Torah Poems
, and me, Beth Adams, the book's editor and publisher (at right above). Dave is a great host, and the three of us had an excellent time talking about Rachel's new book, listening to and discussing some of her poems and the texts they respond to, and the often-difficult subjects they bring up and address.
We talked about the patriarchy and violence of the Bible and the problems modern people have relating to a God who supposedly ordered/allowed the wholesale destruction of groups of people, or the dispossession of their land, and how these scriptures relate to the current political situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories -- all subjects that Rachel takes on in her poetry, and are of great interest and concern to me because of my long-term marriage into an Arab-Armenian family. In fact, this sense of grappling with difficult issues and trying to build bridges is a big part of my purpose here at Phoenicia, and one of many reasons why I wanted to publish this book of Rachel's.
At the end of the interview, the conversation turns to publishing and we talk about Phoenicia's first year, what we've learned from it, and our plans for the future. We thank Dave for his generosity in hosting this interview, and hope you'll enjoy it.Note: if you don't want to download the whole podcast, there's a "pause" button on the audio player window, and you can listen in sections if you wish - it will start up where you left off.
From Clayton Michaels' Watermark:without edges
These are the days that call
for a bottle of Sonoma zinfandel,
that beg for the black pepper,
for the anise. Flavors that at least
warm the mouth. I savor each sip
for as long as I can, until the
astringency makes my tongue
feel like cotton.
Snow again today,
then rain, then snow.
These are the days I need
a woman without edges, without
unexpected corners that could
tear or scrape. She might taste like
black pepper and anise,
maybe sandalwood incense,
or blackcurrant with a hint of cinnamon.
All flavors to delight in and hold.
We could ride out
the gathering storms in bed,
getting drunk, reading poetry.
From a distance,
the black type on
the white paper
looks like animal tracks
on the freshly fallen snow.
The Berkshire Eagle has just published an appreciative review
of Rachel Barenblat's 70 Faces:Torah Poems
by a writer of a different faith tradition, who says, in part:"She has also taught me the depth and variety and compassion in the way she practices her faith. It is not the one I grew up with, but she and I think about faith in very much the same way, and reading Rachel's prayers and poems and open letters has shown me a faith that opens continually, that shuts no one out, and that insists on honesty, effort and care. "
An excellent new review
of Dave Bonta's Odes to Tools has just appeared on the blog of poet, theologian, creative writing professor and college administrator Kristin Berkey-Abbott
, who gave several copies as gifts this Christmas. She writes:"It's a great book for those people on your list who see poetry as a hoity-toity exercise that rarely speaks to regular people.Bonta writes a poem for every almost every tool in the shed (unless you've got a really well-stocked shed). His poem "Ode to a Hoe" envisions the hoe as an agent of beginnings--not only the new garden, but also those worms that you chop in half. "Ode to a Measuring Tape" comforts me by asserting "In an old house like this, nothing is square." "Ode to a Shovel" uses the metaphor of stew and of dancing to make me see a shovel in a whole new light. "Ode to a Claw Hammer" ensures I will never see the hammer in the same way again, once I've read Bonta's description of the hammer as "the first / perfect androgyne," a creature that can "give birth to nails."His chapbook is wonderfully accessible, and I mean that in the most positive way. Even those of us who haven't used the tools will likely understand the poems."