Sunday, April 29, 2012

Xánath Caraza’ publishes "Floating Pink Shaman" after art by Thomas Weso in chapbook Corazon Pintado

Mammoth Publications, our small literary press in Lawrence  ( ), is publishing Xánath Caraza’s Conjuro: Poems in September. This will be tri-lingual, in Spanish / English / Nahuatl. Before this comes out, enjoy her work in a new chapbook Corazon Pintado: Ekphrastic Poems (Kansas City: TL Press, 2012). One of my favorites is “Floating Pink Shaman,” based on the artwork of Thomas Pecore Weso. Caraza’s writing derives from her awareness of Indigenous thought: words are tangible objects, not abstractions, and capable of influencing physical reality’s web of interactions. Tom Weso, the artist, was raised by his grandparents on the Menominee Indian Nation reservation in northern Wisconsin, influenced by the Native American Church.

Floating Pink Shaman
            (After “Floating Pink Shaman” by Tom Weso)

A la derecha, tu resplandor

© 2011 Image by Thomas Pecore Weso
Noche rosada de mi primer sueno
Luz nocturna
 lida arena
Hombre mágico que protege
Con las astas del venado
Al cactus de sabidurÍ a eterna
Generaciones de conocimiento
Corren port tus venas
Ser sagrado de arena
Bajo el cielo de la noche, eternal
 © Xánath Caraza

Floating Pink Shaman
            (After “Floating Pink Shaman” by Tom Weso)
To the right your gleaming light
Pink night of my first dream
Loneliness of the desert
Nocturnal light
Warm sand
With the antlers of the deer
Magical man that protects
The cactus of eternal wisdom
Generations of knowledge
Run through your veins
Sacred being of sand
Under the eternal night sky
© Xánath Caraza

© 2012Cover art by Chan
Xánath Caraza, from Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, has lived in Vermont and Kansas City. She has an M.A. in Romance Languages and lectures in Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Missouri-Kansas. Her chapbook Corazón Pintado: Ekphrastic Poems is from TL Press (2012). She won the 2003 Ediciones Nuevo Espacio international short story contest in Spanish and was a 2008 finalist for the first international John Barry Award. She has published fiction and poetry widely in the United States, Mexico and Spain. Caraza is an advisory circle member of the Con Tinta literary organization and a former board member of the Latino Writers Collective in Kansas City. Her Day of the Dead artwork has been exhibited at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City. She has taught in Mexico, China, Spain and the US. Caraza is currently working on First Friday in Kansas City: Short Stories, Flash Fiction and Poetry, forthcoming from Mouthfeel Press in 2013.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG's poem "Landed" mixes whimsy and details of nature

The Poet Laureate of Kansas reads April 25, Wed., at the Lawrence Public Library—see  If you miss this springtime reading, check  for upcoming events. Earlier this spring, she and her husband burned grass as part of the renewal process for prairies. As Poet Laureate, she has brought Kansas writers together as well as state poets laureate from across the country. In 2011, she organized one of the few national gatherings of poets laureate, from Rhode Island, Alaska, Texas, and Alabama, as well as Midwestern states. She recently edited a collection of 150 poems by Kansas poets to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Kansas, Begin Again. She has organized a dozen group readings from this anthology. She has more projects brewing.
In addition to advocacy for writing, she is herself a fine poet. This title poem for the collection Landed (2009) shows her balance of whimsy and observation. She walks the line of sentiment, as she writes a celebratory nature poem. She focuses on specific details, like a field guide, but her language creates the aesthetic. The curve of a crow’s feather, “where it bows,” echoes the “long crescent” of her partner’s body later in the poem. Her personal reflection complicates the descriptive details also, putting them into a larger context. She writes, “whatever we think of love is just the aerial view,” and likewise this poem gives us a new way to view the cedars, grass, wind, and stories about love.


Here everything is a list of its details:
the surface of crow feather where it bows,
or echo of whippoorwill through the closed window
over the bed. The chiggers and the slow-creeping
cedar trees, milkweed webbed with spittlebug,
and the grass above and below ground,
mirroring out from a single point
of root and longing.
I'm landed here, in the center of something
not my own doing, and although I keep thinking
I'm alone, I'm dying, I'm afraid,
I'm making all that up.
The man I love is coming out of the woods,
the long crescent of his body closer, bowing to touch
something, say its name.
When he stands back up, he walks slowly to show me
whatever we think of love is just the aerial view
that tells you nothing compared to the soft green stems
that curl and fall with the wind, compared to how each step
across the grass is a form of falling
out of and into what losses make life possible.
The quick flashes, like the sun balancing
on the lip of the horizon right before
it goes out, like that moment the field golds
everything opaque, like how love strips us
out of the stories we have for love.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the 2009-2012 Poet Laureate of Kansas, and a long-time transformative language artist. She is a poet, fiction and non-fiction writer, teacher, mentor, and facilitator. Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College (where she teaches), and facilitator of Brave Voice workshops.  Forthcoming books are The Divorce Girl, a novel of art and soul, from Ice Cube Books and Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust Survivor and Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds and Found Friendship, from Potomac Press. Other books are Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems, editor, 2011,Woodley Memorial Press; An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate, co-editor with Marilyn L. Taylor, Denise Low and Walter Bargen, Ice Cube Books;  Landed, poetry, Mammoth Publications; The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community & Coming Home to the Body, Ice Cube Books; and The Power of Words: A Transformative Language Arts Reader, co-editor with Janet Tallman, Ice Cube Books. More information is at her website  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tracy K. Smith Wins Poetry Pulitzer for 2012

The Pulitzer Prizes are just now posted. The poetry award, "For a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000)" goes to Tracy K. Smith whose book Life on Mars is from Graywolf Press. The Pulitzer site describes the books as "a collection of bold, skillful poems, taking readers into the universe and moving them to an authentic mix of joy and pain." Tracy K. Smith is assistant professor at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton. She received degrees in English and Creative Writing from Harvard College and Columbia University, and she was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University from 1997-99. Her books are: Life on Mars, Duende, and The Body's Question. Smith is the recipient of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a 2004 Rona Jaffe Writers Award, a 2005 Whiting Award and the 2006 James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, and is the Literature protégé in 2009-2011 cycle of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. She has also taught at the City University of New York, University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia University.
Here's a personal essay by her on the   blog:
Here are some poems on the Academy of American Poetry site:
Here's a 2004 interview link

Two poetry finalists are Forrest Gander's Core Samples from the World (New Directions), "a compelling work that explores cross-cultural tensions in the world and digs deeply to identify what is essential in human experience"; and Ron Padgett's How Long (Coffee House Press), "an enchanting collection of poems that juggle delight, wit and endless fascination with language."


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Philip Kennicott Comments on Question & Answer Hogs

Those of us who attend and occasionally speak at lectures and readings will appreciate this Washington Post columnist's succinct comments about the dreaded monologuer who runs to the microphone after a Personage speaks not to ask a serious question, but rather to vault him/herself into the spotlight with a personal pet theory that most often does not relate to the topic. Kennicott writes: "Suddenly a delightful evening turns into a hostage situation, with angry, garrulous and addled folks in control of the microphone while a roomful of uncomfortable people squirm, look at their shoes and pray that they could silently slip out of the auditorium without seeming rude." Sound familiar? I've seen also many facilitators of Q&As also cut off good discussions in the interest of being fair and getting around to everyone. Most recently, a really qualified person in the audience was placed last in the random democratic crowd and then cut off for lack of time, after many others had nothing to say of interest to anyone outside their own heads. Alas, one cannot control Q&A etiquette, but this is a start. Please everyone, learn to listen, reflect, and then consider your audience. Oops. I believe I have been guilty of poor Q&A behavior on occasion, and I promise to do better! Will you take the pledge with me? Start by reading Kennicott. He's really good.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

To MFA or Not To MFA: Eric Weinstein Says Do It

When teaching, I encourage new writers with the probability that they will learn to write better faster with instruction--like tennis, driving, or anything else. Here is a Ploughshares blog link that gives more specifics on why the MFA is valuable:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Imagination & Place publishes Weather and calls for submissions to Cartography

The work in the fourth Imagination & Place Press anthology imagines weather, both interior and exterior. Edited by Kelly Barth, Imaginaion & Place: Weather's contributors include Dense Dotson Low, Maryfrances Wagner, Walter Bargen, and Richard Schiffman. Cover painting: Lisa Grossman, Lightning III (detail), 2008. $14.95 plus tax, shipping, and handling. Click here to view Table of Contents  Click here for how to purchase I&P Press publications.

August 31, 2012 Call for Submissions: Imagination & Place: Cartography.

The Imagination & Place Press seeks poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and essays for a fifth book in a series of anthologies, to be titled Imagination & Place: Cartography.

The editors write: "We are interested in maps and mapmakers of all kinds. Interpreting imaginatively, your submission should focus on a particular bioregion (e.g., desert, wetlands, mountain, plains, grassland, etc.) that you clearly identify and discuss in your piece.

Please send a cover letter with contact information (name, address, phone number, email), 50-word biography, and a maximum of five poems, a story, or non-fiction piece of 7,000 words or less by hard copy to the following address:
Imagination & Place Press P.O. Box 53 Lawrence, KS 66044. We accept simultaneous submissions. Please inform us if your work has been accepted elsewhere."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Denise Low Postings: Haskell student interviews Sherman Alexie

Denise Low Postings: Haskell student interviews Sherman Alexie

Haskell student interviews Sherman Alexie

The Haskell Indian Nations University newspaper led off with this interview with Sherman after he visited campus. This is also posted on the Native American Journalism Association website. I'm happy for Patricia Tenewasha. Here is my photo from 2010 AWP.