Thursday, November 19, 2009

Keith Waldrop Wins National Book Award in Poetry

For more information about the new NBA winner and sample poems, see the National Book Foundation site:
Judges were Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, A. Van Jordan, Cole Swensen, and Kevin Young

Keith Waldrop, Brooke Russell Astor Professor of Humanities at Brown University, has published more than a dozen works each of original poetry and translations. His first book, A Windmill Near Calvary, was shortlisted for the 1968 National Book Award. Recent books include The Real Subject: Queries and Conjectures of Jacob Delafon, with Sample Poems, The House Seen from Nowhere, and a translation of The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire.


EPC/Keith Waldrop Home Page
A resource of the Electronic Poetry Center, an edited site devoted to the presentation of full-text resources for innovative writing.

Keith Waldrop Wikipedia Entry

Keith Waldrop page at

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Judith Roitman will read Nov. 19 new poems: here's her new form

Judith Roitman writes this about her latest poems, which she will read from Nov. 19 in a joint reading with Jim McCrary:

"About 9 or 10 months ago I started writing poems in couplets about unrequited love (which, if you know me, is truly bizarre). They were sort of ghazals (an Arabic form) but without the more formal elements. Here is the first one:


My beloved calls me at home
and I tell him: don’t do it.

I will be thrown into the bat cave.
My money will no longer work.

My tongue will be given to birds
and yours glued to the lamppost.

"They were okay, but felt a little glib. For example, the first line of the last stanza is a mashup of something from a Buddhist precepts ceremony, and the last line is the urban legend about what happens on a winter day if you touch your tongue to metal. They didn’t go deep enough. Reading them I felt like a sculptor looking at a block of stone: there’s something inside and my job is to find it. So I started playing with random generators (input a text and it will rearrange it semi-randomly) and the translation program Babelfish (input text in one language and translate it into another) to shake things loose and see what came out. This gave me raw material derived from the original text, like the separated bones of a skeleton. How do you reassemble it? So I went into collage mode and put things together to get this:


Beloved! says to him
from that house shouting.

Thrown with the bat oyster:
qualitative thing.

Money unable to operate.
Lamppost and tongue binding.

Glued to birds:
don’t do it.

"You can see how the translation program changed things: “bat cave” becomes “bat oyster;” “no longer work” becomes “unable to operate.” Somehow the added strangeness gives depth: an oyster is like a cave, and the juxtaposition makes the bat into its own cave (although I don’t expect anyone to consciously think this — I didn’t until I wrote this); “unable to operate” is a more desperate state than “no longer working;” “binding” is stronger and less derivative than “glued.” And you can also see the effect of collage. For example, “birds” is split off from “tongue” and stands alone (the only noun) in the last stanza, together with the imperative — don’t do it — originally in the first stanza. I don’t know how “qualitative thing” appeared, but am grateful it did. Also, freed this way, I could get rid of many (not all) instances of the smoothing parts of speech — prepositions, connectives; freed from narrative I could get rid of many (not all) verbs, which in turn frees the reader from thinking she needs to create a narrative or, even, the illusion of coherent meaning. "

Jim McCrary Interview & Podcasts available at LJW website

The Lawrence Journal World has an online interview with Jim McCrary and podcasts at this site: http://

Jim is releasing his collected chapbooks in a volume, All That (Many Penny Press). He is an original writer with oblique perspectives that illuminate the larger cosmos. Reading his work reminds me of squinting so I can see periphery and direct images at once. He has an MA from Cal. State U.-Sonoma; he's been publishing, editing, slamming, and proclaiming poetry for about 40 years, I figure.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dear Poetry Friends,

This Ad Astra Poetry Project electronic broadside celebrates the writing of Elizabeth Schultz. She is a talented poet, essayist, and fiction writer. Many people are aware of her distinguished teaching and scholarly career at the University of Kansas, which is highlighted at the University of Kansas Kansas Women’s Hall of Fame website: .

All are invited to hear presentation of her latest book, The White-Skin Deer: Hoopa Stories, Wed., Nov. 18, 7 pm, at the Haskell Cultural Center (at the entrance to campus).

Schultz wrote these stories based on experiences living on the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s land during the 1950s. This was a time period when Bureau of Indian Affairs policies of assimilation were at their height. Like all good fiction, these stories prompt reflection. Embedded within them are the conflicts facing most American tribal peoples at that time and continuing to this day. For further information, see .

Denise Low


Elizabeth Schultz, of Lawrence, combines enthusiasm for art and nature in her writings. As a literature professor at the University of Kansas, she encouraged thousands of students to examine stories closely and then to link observation with reflection. She brings that sense of joyful scrutiny to her creative writings, which include essays and poetry. Often she lings these to nature. Since retirement in 2001, she has continued to be active as a Fulbright scholar, poet, and ecocritic activist. She is a member of the Committee on Imagination & Place and consultant to its press; she also writes for the Nature Conservancy and other organizations.
Schultz delights in patterns, whether crafted by natural processes or artisans. She engages deeply with both, as seen in this poem. A great blue heron’s carcass has an unexpectedly beautiful form. The poet compares it to a macramé dream catcher; crochet-work; an amulet; and also its vertebrae are frets of a guitar. As insects scour its bones, the this erasure creates yet another pattern. And so the poet humanizes an emblem of mortality—the skeleton. The most descriptive words and phrases of the poem are set like gems along strands of short lines, so that “dark amulet,” “polished blade,” and “shining insects,” along with other terms, resound fully.
The poem shows paradox in uncovering aesthetic joy in river refuse. The title is also paradoxical: how does this mostly decayed beast, lodged on a sandbar, tell about the Kansas River? Forces of the river that sustained the living bird cause the final dissolution.

Watching the Kansas River

On a sandbar
a heron is laid
out with care.
A dream catcher,
its design is
pressed into sand.
Its wings stretch
in skeletal symmetry.
Feathers crochet
its light bones.
Its feet curl into
dark amulets,
and its beak is
a polished blade.
Scarabs bead
its intricate fretwork.
the shining insects
devour the design,
releasing the bird
into a river of light.

Education: Elizabeth Schultz received a BA in European History (Wellesley 1958), and MA (1962) and PhD (1967) in English from the University of Michigan. She taught English at the University of Kansas 1967-2001. She has published extensively in the fields of African American fiction and autobiography, nineteenth-century American fiction, American women's writing, and Japanese culture. She was a Distinguished Fulbright Lecturer at the Beijing Foreign Studies Institute (2008) and co-organized an international conference in ecocriticism (2008).
Career: Schultz is the author of Unpainted to the Last: Moby-Dick and Twentieth Century American Art (University Press of Kansas 1995); a memoir, Shoreline: Seasons at the Lake (Michigan St. U. Press 2001); Conversations: Art Into Poetry at the Spencer Museum of Art (2006); poems, Her Voice (Woodley Press 2008); The White-Skin Deer: Hoopa Stories (Mammoth 2009), fiction; and essays in The Nature of Kansas Lands (University Press of Kansas 2009).
©2009 Denise Low AAPP 41 ©2009 Elizabeth Schultz “Watching the Kansas River”

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Harrington, Harris, and Irby to read Nov. 12, 4:30 pm, Spencer Museum of Art

Don't miss this return engagement by three University of Kansas scholars and professors: Joseph Harrington, Billy Joe Harris, and Kennth Irby


At the Ks. Authors Club Conference, I was asked about publishing outlets for poets and literary writers. Here are a few area presses and journals:

BKMK Press, Univ. of Missouri-Kansas City, 5101 Rockhill Rd. KC MO 65110
Cave Hollow Press PO Drawer J, Warrensburg, MO 64093
Green Tower Press & The Laurel Review English Dept., NW Missouri State University, 800 University Dr. Maryville MO 64468
Helicon 9 Editions, 3607 Pennsylvania Ave, KS MO 64111
Mammoth Publications, 1916 Stratford Rd., Lawrence KS 66044
Mid-American Press PO Box 575 Warrensburg MO 64093
Southeast Missouri State University Press and Big Muddy Journal, MS 2650, One University Plaza, Cape Girardeau MO 63701
Time Being Books, 10411 Clayton Rd. Suites 201-203, St. Louis Mo. 63131
Truman State Univ. Press, TSUP Bldg, 100 E Norman St., Kirksville MO 63501
Woodley Memorial Press, Washburn University, Topeka KS 66111
University of Missouri Press, 2910 LeMone Blvd., Columbia, MO 65201

Coal City Review, English Dept., University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045
The Mid-America Poetry Review P.O. Box 575, Warrensburg, MO 64093-0575.O. Box 575,
Flint Hills Review Empria State Univ., 1200 Commercial, Emporia KS 66801
Midwest Quarterly 406B Russ Hall, Pittsburg State U., Pittsburg KS 66762
The Missouri Review, 357 McReynolds Hall, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211
Natural Bridge Journal, English Dept. U of Missouri-St. Louis 1 University Blvd, St. Louis MO 63121
New Letters, U of Missouri-Kansas City 5101 Rockhill Rd., Kansas City Mo 64110