Posted in news, Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize

Noah Davis wins the 2019 (Emerging) Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize

noah-davis

Noah Davis, an MFA candidate in poetry at Indiana University, has been selected by George Ella Lyon as the winner of the 2019 (Emerging) Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize for his collection Of This River.

About Of This River, Lyon said, “Both mythic and rooted, the poems in Of This River  arrive full of bear and deer, blood and muck. Their beauty is taut, tough, unsparing, like the lives of the people who inhabit this Pennsylvania land. Short-Haired Girl dives, hits her head on a rock, drowns. Lovers are sliced by a train. Meanwhile, life goes relentlessly on: coyote speaks about love for his brother, snapping turtle tells of his loneliness, grandma fries up snapping turtle meat for her grandkids standing by the stove. Of This River testifies to the way all life, for good or ill, is interwoven. We need this visionary voice.”

Davis has won a Katharine Bakeless Nason Fellowship from the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference, as well as the Jean Ritchie Appalachian Literature Fellowship from Lincoln Memorial University. His poetry has been published in Orion, North American Review, The Hollins Critic, Atlanta Review, Water~Stone Review, and Chautauqua among others. Davis has received Pushcart Prize nominations for poetry from both Poet Lore and Natural Bridge. His prose has been published in Sou’wester, Kestrel, Chariton Review, The Fly Fish Journal, Anglers Journal, The Drake, Fly Fishing & Tying Journal, and American Angler.

Davis will receive a $1,000 prize, and publication in 2020.

Finalists for this sixth round are 89% by Sarah Cooper, The Pirate Anne Bonny Consults the GPS by Dorsey Craft, Nothing is Always Moving by Nicole Robinson, and What You Call Falling by Yeskah Rosenfeld.

Established in 2016, Wheelbarrow Books is an imprint of the RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU, with publication and distribution by the MSU Press. The Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize is awarded to one emerging and one established poet annually.

 

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Posted in news

MSU Professor Laura Apol named Lansing Poet Laureate

“Passing of the Laurels” celebration set for Friday, May 3, at 5 p.m. in Lansing’s Old Town

laura-apol_lg

Professor Laura Apol (courtesy photo)

Source: LEAP

LANSING, Mich. – The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP), the RCAH Center for Poetry at Michigan State University and the Lansing Poetry Club, are proud to announce the appointment of Laura Apol as the second regional Lansing Poet Laureate. As Poet Laureate, Laura will engage the tri-county region in the literary arts to promote poetry as an art form, expand access to the literary arts, connect the community to poetry and showcase poetry as a literary voice that contributes to a greater sense of place, which supports the attraction of global talent and business.

“The appointment of a poet laureate is both symbolic and tangible—an element that speaks to the value of this region’s place; connecting arts and cultural experiences into daily life—most certainly an amenity that draws and keeps talent in the region,” said Bob Trezise, President and CEO of LEAP. “The past two years with the inaugural Lansing Poet Laureate were wildly successful, and we are eager to see how Laura uses her expertise to connect our region to the world through poetry.”

This new appointment of the Lansing Poet Laureate will continue to stimulate the transformative impact of poetry, creating excitement about the written and spoken word. The Lansing Poet Laureate will serve as an ambassador for poetry within the region for a 2-year appointment and will receive a $2,000 per year stipend from LEAP.

Laura is a longtime Lansing resident and associate professor of literacy and curriculum at Michigan State University’s College of Education. “It’s an honor to be selected as the incoming poet laureate, and I’m looking forward to working with area poets to bring poetry into areas where perhaps it’s something new,” she said. “Poems are about community—they connect us to one another. So much of a place, and people in a place, can be expressed and understood through poetry. I’d love for poetry to be part of the everyday life of the community, so that poems are encountered in unexpected places, and so people who don’t consider themselves to be poets find themselves enjoying poems and perhaps even writing some lines.”

With this appointment, the Lansing Poet Laureate will offer instructional workshops and readings with the public, working to engage all 3 counties within greater Lansing.

“I’m delighted that Laura will be our new Poet Laureate and will work within our communities to help us create poetry that explores the fabric of our lives and our deep connection to this region,” said Ruelaine Stokes, president of the Lansing Poetry Club.

“Here at the RCAH Center for Poetry, we’re thrilled to see Laura as Lansing Poet Laureate. The selection process was robust, with many excellent choices,” said Laurie Hollinger, assistant director for the RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU. “In the end, Laura’s stature as both a nationally renowned poet and her passion for poetry made her the best fit for this role. She will inspire future poets laureate, and I’m excited for our region to have such a gift.”

The community is invited to a celebration of the “Passing of the Laurel” from inaugural Lansing Poet Laureate Dennis Hinrichsen to Laura Apol, who will now follow in his footsteps. The event, which will include a reading by both poets, will take place Friday, May 3, 2019, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. during Arts Night Out in Old Town. This welcoming event will take place at Urban Beat, 1213 Turner Street in Old Town Lansing and will feature a meet and greet with the poet laureates and the project partners.

 

Nothing Begins with Us

By Laura Apol
—not this story or any other.

Andromeda
does not slow her dizzying spin

nor does a field of wheat wait. We catch our plane

in flight; below us, time
fades like a prim border of pines while the sky opens wide as god’s blue eye.

We have far to go, navigating between stars that appear only after dark. The secret names

we were given at birth are cradled in our curved hands.

It is a magic

world now, and we are at
the center, our own lives the map,

our words the edge of a knife we are just beginning to hone.

 

 

 

About LEAP

 

The Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) is a coalition of area leaders partnering to build a stronger community for all–working every day to grow, retain and attract business. Learn more about LEAP at www.purelansing.com

Posted in news

First Book Spine Poetry Contest a Success

IMG_1600

“The Boat of Quiet Hours,” built by Cindy Hunter Morgan as inspiration for our first Book Spine Poetry Contest.

 

While you might not be able to judge a book by its cover, it turns out that you can craft poetry with several covers. That’s what friends and followers of the RCAH Center for Poetry learned when they entered our first ever Book Spine Poetry Contest.

The contest, initiated by interim director Cindy Hunter Morgan, challenges readers to build a poem using lines consisting of book titles. Contestants were tasked with choosing 3-7 books, arranging them in such a way as to display the titles to be read as lines of poetry, and submitting a photo of the constructed poem for consideration.

With 46 entries submitted by 26 people from around the U.S., it was difficult choosing only one winner. Cindy suggested narrowing the widely varied and highly eclectic field down to ten finalists.

In the end, Stephen Rachman, a professor in the MSU Department of English, won with his entry, “Underworld.”

IMG_4034“Underworld,” winner of the Book Spine Poetry Contest, built by Stephen Rachman.

About the winning entry, Cindy shared these comments:

“Underworld,” built by Steve Rachman, is the only entry that uses one book (Underworld) to function visually and formally as a title for the poem that follows, and “Underworld,” as that title, serves as an effective set up for the poem. We love the multiple, simultaneous possibilities of meaning in this poem, and we’re all a little worried about this woman. We wish her well on her journey, and we send congratulations to Steve, who constructed something haunting and evocative with this stack of books.

Cindy had this to say about our finalists:

The nine other entries we’ve listed as finalists are not listed in any particular order. We love these poems for various reasons: vivid imagery, wild juxtaposition, a sense of surprise, use of metaphor, or a kind of philosophical statement the “builder” is able to make with very few moves. We’ve also listed one “Special Mention” poem, which did not meet the requirements of the contest (a minimum of three titles) but feels important and significant because of its message. This “Special Mention” poem was submitted by RCAH Director of Communications Morris Arvoy. Thank you for this poem, Moe.

 

To view all 46 entries, visit our Flickr Page.

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond”

rose

Center for Poetry intern, Amy Potchen, explains her choice of poem: ” A friend showed me this poem last week and I have been in love with it even since. I love the imagery of the rose and the different ways that it is used in this poem. The first flowers of the spring time mentioned in the poem remind me of the flowers that are beginning to pop up around East Lansing.”

Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond

By E.E. Cummings

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

Find this poem online at  www.familyfriendpoems.com

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: excerpt from “Perihelion: A History of Touch”

 

treeThe following poem is an excerpt from the poem “Perihelion: A History of Touch.” The excerpts below are the third and fourth stanzas out of twelve in the poem. This poem is from the book Soft Science (Alice James Books, 2019) by Franny Choi. The original version of this poem is double justified but has been formatted due to the restrictions of this website. You can read the first two parts of the poem on a broadside given out at a reading by the poet on Wednesday, April 17th at 7:00pm in the RCAH Theater, in Snyder-Phillips hall. 

 

Perihelion: A History of Touch

By Franny Choi

                                               Worm Moon

Like any girl, I pulled myself into shreds to test the rumor that

 something with blood like mine could be halved and still whole.

And what did I learn? I buried myself all over the garden, but the

 pieces only sprouted into new riddles: squid leg, spaghetti squash, a

jerking thumb. Their names still sounded like mine; everyone in the

 same dress, chewing dirt to avoid each others’ eyes. I lay down next

to the one beneath the porch, hiding among the oyster shells. Don’t

 cry, I said, but she cried anyway. Her tears fell straight into my eyes.

What a lesson—to watch them float back and forth between us until

we knew each one’s shape. Until we knew, finally, what to do with

them.

 

                                                  Pink Moon
Outside, the colors leapt from the trees. Here, inside, some new

 word was blooming in my underwear—darker than I’d expected. I’d

expected something pink; a slow, sweet trickle. Not this wet tar,

 treacle, dark, like the blood had been stretching inside me for years,

slow-building into a sticky chord, the first falling away. Soil’s been

watered; come play. First stuck, first gum, first hum of pollen,

 calling in the bees and readying to wilt.

 

Find this poem online at https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/144599/perihelion-a-history-of-touch

 

 

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Blind Boone’s Pianola Blues,” by Tyehimba Jess

piano keys

RCAH Center for Poetry intern Amy Potchen discusses this poem: “I love the way Jess uses imagery in this poem. I feel like I’m there with the person playing the piano. This is a poem from Jess’s Pulitzer Prize winning book “Olio.” This Wednesday, April 10th, listen to Jess read his work in the RCAH Theater at 7:00. While there, pick up a free broadside of Jess’s poem “Mark Twain v. Blind Tom.”

Blind Boone’s Pianola Blues

They said I wasn’t smooth enough
to beat their sharp machine.
That my style was obsolete,
that old rags had lost their gleam
and lunge. That all I had
left was a sucker punch
that couldn’t touch
their invisible piano man
with his wind up gut-
less guts of paper rolls.
And so, I went and told them
that before the night was through
I’d prove what the son of an ex-
slave could do: I dared them
to put on their most twisty
tune. To play it double-time
while I listened from another
room past the traffic sounds
of the avenue below.
To play it only once,
then to let me show
note for note how that scroll
made its roll through Chopin
or Bach or Beethoven’s best.
And if I failed to match my fingers
and ears with the spinning gears
of their invisible pneumatic piano
scholar, I’d pay them the price
of a thousand dollars.

And what was in it for Boone?
you might ask…

Might be the same thing that drives men
through mountains at heart attack pace.
Might be just to prove some tasks
ain’t meant to be neatly played
out on paper and into air,
but rather should tear
out from lung, heart and brain
with a flair of flicked wrists
and sly smile above the 88s…
and, of course, that ever-human
weight of pride that swallows us
when a thing’s done just right…
But they were eager to prove me wrong.
They chose their fastest machine
with their trickiest song and stuck it
in a room far down the hall from me.
They didn’t know how sharp
I can see with these ears of mine—
I caught every note even though
they played it in triple time.
And when I played it back to them
even faster, I could feel the violent
stares… heard one mutter
    Lucky black bastard…
and that was my cue to rise,
to take a bow in their smoldering
silence and say, Not luck,
my friend, but the science
of touch and sweat and
stubborn old toil. I’d bet
these ten fingers against any coil
of wire and parchment and pump.

And I left them there to ponder
the wonders of blindness
as I walked out the door
into the heat of the sun.

 

Find this poem online at https://bombmagazine.org/articles/two-poems-17/

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Hammond B3 Organ Cistern,” by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

iced green tea

Amy Potchen, Center for Poetry Intern, discusses this poem: “The poet is able to express a dark topic in such a poetic way. Interns in the Center have recently transformed this poem into a letter-pressed broadside to give out at Calvocoressi’s reading.  Get your broadside on Wednesday April 3rd at 7:00 in the Snyder-Phillips basement theater at the reading.”

 

Hammond B3 Organ Cistern

by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

 

The days I don’t want to kill myself

are extraordinary. Deep bass. All the people

in the streets waiting for their high fives

and leaping, I mean leaping,

when they see me. I am the sun-filled

god of love. Or at least an optimistic

under-secretary. There should be a word for it.

The days you wake up and do not want

to slit your throat. Money in the bank.

Enough for an iced green tea every weekday

and Saturday and Sunday! It’s like being

in the armpit of a Hammond B3 organ.

Just reeks of gratitude and funk.

The funk of ages. I am not going to ruin

my love’s life today. It’s like the time I said yes

to gray sneakers but then the salesman said

Wait. And there, out of the back room,

like the bakery’s first biscuits: bright-blue kicks.

Iridescent. Like a scarab! Oh, who am I kidding,

it was nothing like a scarab! It was like

bright. blue. fucking. sneakers! I did not

want to die that day. Oh, my God.

Why don’t we talk about it? How good it feels.

And if you don’t know then you’re lucky

but also you poor thing. Bring the band out on the stoop.

Let the whole neighborhood hear. Come on, Everybody.

Say it with me nice and slow

      no pills       no cliff       no brains onthe floor

Bring the bass back.          no rope         no hose        not today, Satan.

Every day I wake up with my good fortune

and news of my demise. Don’t keep it from me.

Why don’t we have a name for it?

Bring the bass back. Bring the band out on the stoop.

Hallelujah!

 

 

Published 11/19/2018 in The New Yorker

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “In Which God Shows Me Their Dress,” by Dalton Day

 

sunflower

Center for poetry intern, Lydia Barron, expresses why she chose this poem: “I chose this poem because Dalton Day was my first real experience with queerness, concrete form, and surrealism in poetry. These themes were all things which have influenced me as a poet to look at the world differently and write in a style I feel is more my own, even to make new forms of poetry which are my own.”

 

In Which God Shows Me Their Dress

by Dalton Day

         

Hair reaching into the wind

which isn’t you

          but something

you possess                               and your

                         throat              its

apple hidden in the dirt

which isn’t you

              but something you

                                                     grew out

from                  how it permits

              you to hold the many birds

you breathe into

                               like song

                               like bleeding

                here in this field of sunflowers

you would let me                   die

           here in this ballroom of moons

you would let me                   walk

                                there are beasts

                                 in these woods

                with paws capable of more

noise than yours

This piece was published online in PANK, but Day also has many other collections available for purchase such as Exit, Pursued; Spooky Action at a Distance; and Alternatives. You can find the poet on twitter @lilghosthands and online at tinyghosthands.com.
Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week : “Spring Sunshine,” by Ellen Ni Bheachain

sun
Center for Poetry intern, Amy Potchen, describes why she chose this poem: “Every day for the past few weeks I have been checking the weather forecast to see if my day will be blessed by sunshine. The sunshine of the spring feels warmer to me than any other season because my Michigan body has been deprived of it for so long. This poem seems fitting to how I, and many others living in a cold climate, feel when the sun returns, as it seems to have this week. I enjoy that this poem is lucid and perfectly depicts the feelings surrounded by the beginning of spring.”

Spring Sunshine 

by Ellen Ni Bheachain

After all the chills and winter blues, 
The staying warm and staying in, 
Meetings indoors for outside is cold, 
Then comes the spring sunshine, 

The sun breaks in like a door open wide, 
With the burst of sunlight, 
That lasting and warm, 
Bringing smiles back on peoples faces, 

While in the chilling season it brings, 
Us all to hibernate and stay in, 
Not getting out much as weather is cold, 
Until the spring sunshine brings us back outdoors, 

It is the time for new growth, 
It is the time for new beginnings, 
It is the time for buds to bloom, 
It is the time for nature to sound its sounds of nature again, 

For all the while when we shelter from the chills, 
Winter is chilling, 
And springs getting ready, 
For all the new beginnings, 
Brought forth from the old, 
Of last seasons blossoms, 
Spring will bring new growth from its roots, 
And bloom again with spring sunshine rays, 

Spring will start again, 
And a new year to begin it with, 
That starts with first, 
The spring sunshine, 
Of first days of spring, 
That brings the smile back, 
To all our faces, 
With warm sun rays, 
Of spring sunshine.

found on http://www.poemhunter.com

 

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Jubilee,” by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

A note from the RCAH Center for Poetry’s interim director, Cindy Hunter Morgan: “I love where Calvorcoressi finds music in this world, and I love how (and where) she sees the possibilities for music: in snare drums, yes, but also in hubcaps, trash can lids, and car springs. What are the instruments of this world? Surely there are more available to us than we sometimes realize. This poem is tightly constructed, and in some ways it ghosts the sonnet form. Sonnets are famous for their arguments, of course, but what does Calvocoressi argue for here? Joy.”

NOTE: Gabrielle Calvocoressi will kick off the RCAH Center for Poetry’s Spring Reading Series Wednesday, April 3 with a 3:30 talk in the LookOut! Gallery and a 7 p.m. reading in the RCAH Theater.

 

Jubilee

by Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Come down to the water. Bring your snare drum,

your hubcaps, the trash can lid. Bring every

joyful noise you’ve held at bay so long.

The fish have risen to the surface this early

morning: flounder, shrimp, and every blue crab

this side of Mobile. Bottom feeders? Please.

They shine like your Grandpa Les’ Cadillac,

the one you rode in, slow so all the girls

could see. They called to you like katydids.

And the springs in that car sounded like tubas

as you moved up and down. Make a soulful sound

unto the leather and the wheel, praise the man

who had the good sense to build a front seat

like a bed, who knew you’d never buy a car

that big if you only meant to drive it.

 

“Jubilee” by Gabrielle Calvocoressi, from “Apocalyptic Swing,” © Persea Books, 2009.