Friday link roundup

February 16th, 2018

I’ve been in Montreal and Quebec with my son and his teammates as they play in the Québec International PeeWee Hockey Tournament on the Swiss Eastern Selects, so I’ve been getting very little reading or writing done. The team did a great job adapting to the smaller North American ice and faster Canadian style of play, and it’s been fascinating to watch them learn and adapt in the middle of a match, but unfortunately they were eliminated from the tournament last night. Between the hockey and the travel and the social outings, I don’t have a lot for you this week but I can recommend:

Amorak Huey’s new Tiny Letter One Poem at a Time.

Pretty much everything in the February issue of Glass: A Journal of Poetry.

This interview with Vievee Francis in the Los Angeles Review of Books. In my view, Vievee Francis is without a doubt one of the absolute best poets out there, and everything she says or writes is worth reading.

For anybody who hasn’t read it, and everybody who has, and for all of us who need it now, and for the sorrow of it all,  “Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild” by Kathy Fish, which first appeared in Jellyfish Review.

I’ve been re-reading The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker and thinking about rhyme and sound and how the music of a poem, the way the sounds of the words resonate with each other, transmits as much emotion and depth as the meanings of the words.

Friday link roundup

February 2nd, 2018

Some of what’s caught my eye this week:

The poem “Firing Squad” by Ilya Kaminsky. I cannot wait for his forthcoming Deaf Republic.

Speaking for forthcoming collections, check out this 2018 poetry preview from Craig Morgan Teicher at NPR. Li-Young Lee! Tarfia Faizullah! Ada Limón! So! Many! More!

This list of journals that pay for poems, from Jessica Piazza.

This essay on writing (and reading) book reviews, by Elisa Gabbert at Electric Lit.

Friday link roundup

January 12th, 2018

Here’s some of what’s been inspiring me this week:

This poem by John Sibley Williams in Thrush.

This interview with Matthrew Zapruder on Commonplace Podcast.

These pictures of what it would look like if birds left tracks in the sky, in National Geographic, via Paul Lisicky’s Twitter (@Paul_Lisicky).

This interview, “Against Explanation,” with Tarfia Faizullah at The Poetry Foundation.

“Revising It Into Something I Can Bear” by Lisa Mecham

September 29th, 2017

Originally published at The Shallow Ends, you can read Lisa Mecham’s poem here.

This poem is small and tight on the page, contained in relatively short lines of even length (4 – 6 words; 4 – 8 syllables) so that it appears as a short column. This sense is enhanced by the first line, “What if instead, a cathedral”, making us think of literal cathedral columns. The title tells us that whatever “it” is, it is painful to the speaker (unbearable), and the poem will be an attempt to recast this “it” into something the speaker can bear to look at. The first lines fulfill this expectation with the gentle imagery of “cherubs and doves, glass stained.” But the poem introduces a shiver with the next lines –

My small back
cool upon the smooth
stones.” –

which both continue with a gentle imagery of smooth stones and allow a glimpse of the unbearable the poem is seeking to revise – “my small back” gives us an image of a child, and in light of the title we begin to suspect the harm done to this child that the poem does not say. This double vision continues with the lines

Look! I too can make
an angel, arms, legs cast

I simultaneously imagine a child making snow angles and a child spread-eagle in a sexual position: the bearable and the unbearable contained in the same lines the way the picture on a tilt card changes with just a slightly different angle. It’s an extraordinary line doing double-work, carrying two completely different meanings with it, both of which are essential to the poem. The childlike innocence of a snow angel cannot be sustained, the shadow is always there –

My sweet one, this baptism
is always gonna hurt.
” –

and the poem which started out reimagining the scene ends with not being able to look away from

“the oval mouth
at the rise of the child’s why.”


Blog version which point-0?

July 29th, 2017

Trying, once again, to revitalize this space. Maybe I will re-create this blog as I re-create myself: six months out from my thesis presentation and one month out from the formal graduation ceremony, I am now a post-MFA-er trying to establish and hold on to the rhythms of a post-MFA creative life, to hold on to that community and to join the larger creative community as well. Freed from the beneficial tyranny of deadlines, will I write more? Less? Differently? Freed from the beneficial tyranny of reading lists, will I read more? Less? Differently?

At any rate, I doubt I have a reader left in the world – freed from an audience, let’s see what happens.

What I’m reading now:

This essay by Adrienne Raphel on the 50th anniversary of the publication of M.S. Merwin’s The Lice. “The most frightening aspect of The Lice,” Raphel writes “is its brutal cyclicality. We have felt these bruises before, felt them disappear, and then been re-bruised.” And it is now my dearest wish that my poetry manuscript one day ends up in Merwin’s compost heap. Read the essay – you’ll understand.

Forest Primeval, always, always Forest Primeval by Vievee Francis. This book has changed my poetry in ways I can hardly describe. I turn to Vievee’s work again and again for lessons in writing into discomfort.

Female Dragonflies Fake Sudden Death to Avoid Male Advances” by Ava C. Cipri in Stirring: A Literary Collection. “Dragonfly, girl, I feel you.”



Oh, boys. And oh boy.

January 27th, 2012

Playdate Friend is over this afternoon – over right now, in fact – and he, SB, and Boychen are raising a ruckus and a half. They played hockey down in the garage for awhile, and did you know that the sound of three boys happily playing hockey in the garage is a dead ringer for the sound of three boys killing each other in the garage? Yes, really. Now they’re playing with dinosaurs, and you know dinosaurs are loud, right, with the roaring and the eating and the running away shrieking, right?

They are loud, my children. Playdate Friend too, who likes to complain about how loud Boychen is (and Boychen is loud – I’m beginning to think we should have his hearing checked because the child is loud) without realizing that he himself is not exactly the quietest earplug in the box.

* * *

Last night waiting to get on the ice for the hockey school the Juniors were warming up. They were doing jump squats while holding a medicine ball, ten in a row, and then after the tenth they handed the medicine ball to the next guy in line and  jumped five hurdles. Not the way runners jump, but from a dead stop. It made me tired just to watch them and made me once again marvel that my boys – my crazy running down the hall pretending to be dinosaurs eating each other boys – are going to turn into men. It’s the chest and shoulders that kill me, the way the boys suddenly fill out, get tall and broad. SB just grows up and up, he’s so wiry and lean I can’t picture him filling out at all.

* * *

I suspect SB’s hockey coach wants to build a goalie out of him. From his birthdate, he’s the perfect pick once the two Bambini boys who are goalies now age into the next group. I don’t know how I feel about this.

* * *

I’m definitely burning the candle at both ends these days. I am tired, so tired, and yet I’m also having fun – the hockey school, making friends with other parents of kids who play with SB, a poetry workshop and lots of drafts coming along – but I am so tired. I need a vacation. (I suspect some of the letting the world rub me the wrong way is a symptom/warning sign of stress.) This can’t go on much longer. Hockey school ends in just over a month, which I am both looking forward to and regretting, as this whole concept of having work colleagues is new and wonderful to me; I think the benefits of the fun I’m having outweigh the added crazy to my schedule, but the crazy is taking its toll.

American football, Swiss-style

April 17th, 2011

The New York Times has an article about the American Football League in Switzerland, but long-time readers might remember I blogged about it first.

Swiss, French, Italian readers please help spread the word about these missing twin girls

February 7th, 2011

Could you Switzerland, France, and Italy based readers please help spread the word about these missing twin 6 year old girls from Switzerland. I’m calling on those three groups in particular because the girls are from Switzerland, they were possibly in Marseille with their father a week ago, and their father committed suicide in the south of Italy Feb 3.

You can find more information, including pictures of the girls, here.


Blog Carnival

December 18th, 2010

The second Language>Place blog carnival is up, and I’m thrilled that my post “Expat Thanksgiving. And Pie.” has been included in the round-up of posts from, and about, around the world. Check out all the pieces here.

Springtime in the city

April 29th, 2009

Bern is a green city, a blooming and blossoming city. There are chestnut trees and lillac bushes, apple trees and blossoming trees and shrubs of all description. It is one of the reasons I love living here; in the middle of my busy urban neighborhood with the butcher and the grocery store and the coffee shops and the whole foods shop on the corner there are crows and magpies and all manner of green things.

There is also pollen.