Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Resurrection Yoga” by Dennis Hinrichsen

In celebration of an upcoming visit by Lansing poet Dennis Hinrichsen, we present his poem “Resurrection Yoga” from Kurosawa’s Dog (Oberlin Press, 2009). Dennis will visit the RCAH Center for Poetry on April 1, and at his reading, the Center for Poetry will release handmade broadside sheets with the poem “Resurrection Yoga” printed in-house on the RCAH Art Studio letterpress.

%22Resurrection Yoga%22 by Dennis Hinrichsen


Poem provided courtesy of the author.

Posted in Uncategorized

Center for Poetry celebrates women’s history with Robin Silbergleid reading

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By Kelsey Block

The RCAH Center for Poetry and the MSU English Department celebrated Women’s History Month with a reading and workshop by Robin Silbergleid, associate professor of English and director of creative writing at MSU. A small gathering of about fifteen women joined Silbergleid in the RCAH LookOut! Gallery to discuss ekphrasis (the phenomenon of one art form commenting on another) in her work, Frida Kahlo, My Sister, which was published by Finishing Line Press last June.

The title of the book comments on a triangulated relationship between Silbergleid, her sister, and Kahlo. Some of the poems in the book focus on Kahlo’s work, which famously focuses on the female body, while others are written about Silbergleid’s own miscarriages and her sister’s car accident and resulting disability.

In order to make it easy to have a discussion about ekphrasis, Silbergleid presented photographs of Kahlo’s paintings alongside her work at the reading. Still, she said she doesn’t think ekphrastic writing always needs to be accompanied by the piece that inspired it.

“I hope that the poems kind of stand on their own, because they tell the story of the painting,” Silbergleid said, adding that she often talks about ekphrasis in her classes. “Poems should stand on their own as independent works of art, and if I have a student who says, ‘I need to give you this painting,’ the poem’s not working; they haven’t found the language they need to render that image in a new medium.”

Silbergleid said she was first drawn to Kahlo’s work in the early 2000s, around the time she started writing about infertility and reproductive loss.

“They say you read things at the right time, and it was the right moment for me,” Silbergleid said. “I think if I’d seen her work five years before it would have been stunning, but I don’t know that it would have had the same impact on me… Everything was pointing in that direction for me.”

In the conversation after her reading, Silbergleid showed other works of art that focus on the body, such as the work feminist artist Jenny Saville and menstrual art like “Red Is the Color.” In regard to these works, as well as her own writing, Silbergleid said, “There’s no denying that it’s graphic in terms of talking about bodily stuff, but I don’t think it’s excessive or gratuitous. It needs to be there and these are conversations we need to have culturally, but it’s a tricky thing. Art has to take risks, or what’s the point?” she said. Silbergleid’s The Baby Book will be published by CavanKerry Press in November.

Posted in poem of the week, Uncategorized

Poem of the Week: “The Chairs That No One Sits In” by Billy Collins

You see them on porches and on lawns
down by the lakeside,
usually arranged in pairs implying a couple

who might sit there and look out
at the water or the big shade trees.
The trouble is you never see anyone

sitting in these forlorn chairs
though at one time it must have seemed
a good place to stop and do nothing for a while.

Sometimes there is a little table
between the chairs where no one
is resting a glass or placing a book facedown.

It might be none of my business,
but it might be a good idea one day
for everyone who placed those vacant chairs

on a veranda or a dock to sit down in them
for the sake of remembering
whatever it was they thought deserved

to be viewed from two chairs
side by side with a table in between.
The clouds are high and massive that day.

The woman looks up from her book.
The man takes a sip of his drink.
Then there is nothing but the sound of their looking,

the lapping of lake water, and a call of one bird
then another, cries of joy or warning—
it passes the time to wonder which.

Via Poetry Foundation

Posted in Uncategorized

Voicing Poetry featured on UCLA’s online journal, “Echo”

Composer Philip Rice talks about the process of creating musical pieces based on original poems in the Voicing Poetry collaboration at MSU. Great article, Philip!

Music at Mt. Parnassus


This week, UCLA’s online journal, “Echo,” featured a story about our recent collaboration with the Center for Poetry at MSU, Voicing Poetry. The blog is edited by recent MSU graduate in musicology, Patrick Bonczyk. Check it out via the link below!

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Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Digging” by Seamus Heaney

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, we present this poem by Irish poet Seamus Heaney (1939-2013).

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Via Poetry Foundation

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Keeping Quiet” by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

—from Extravagaria (translated by Alastair Reid, pp. 27-29, 1974)

Via On Being