Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Languages” by Carl Sandburg

 

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There are no handles upon a language

Whereby men take hold of it

And mark it with signs for its remembrance.

It is a river, this language,

Once in a thousand years

Breaking a new course

Changing its way to the ocean.

It is mountain effluvia

Moving to valleys

And from nation to nation

Crossing borders and mixing.

Languages die like rivers.

Words wrapped round your tongue today

And broken to shape of thought

Between your teeth and lips speaking

Now and today

Shall be faded hieroglyphics

Ten thousand years from now.

Sing—and singing—remember

Your song dies and changes

And is not here to-morrow

Any more than the wind

Blowing ten thousand years ago.

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Posted in Poetic Justice

“Poetic Justice” is in (and on!) the Air

Listen up!

The Center for Poetry has ventured even further to reach audiences of poetry through its new podcast “Poetic Justice.”

Interns Shannon McGlone and Allison Costello combined their love for radio and discussing poetry and social issues to produce a podcast, online for your listening enjoyment.

In the first episode, the hosts talk to the Director of the Center for Poetry, Anita Skeen about her former teacher and literary icon, Margaret Atwood.

Poetic Justice is produced by the RCAH Center for Poetry at Michigan State University. Original music by Shannon McGlone.

New episode available now!

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Recreation” by Audre Lorde

 

audre lorde

Coming together

it is easier to work

after our bodies

meet

paper and pen

neither care nor profit

whether we write or not

but as your body moves

under my hands

charged and waiting

we cut the leash

you create me against your thighs

hilly with images

moving through our word countries

my body

writes into your flesh

the poem

you make of me.

 

Touching you I catch midnight

as moon fires set in my throat

I love you flesh into blossom

I made you

and take you made

into me.

 

Audre Lorde, “Recreation” from The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde. Copyright © 1997 by Audre Lorde. Reprinted with the permission of Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., http://www.nortonpoets.com.

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “I Want To Work in a Hospital” by Cortney Davis

I Want To Work in a Hospital

where it’s okay

to climb into bed with patients

and hold them—

pre-op, before they lose

their legs or breasts, or after,

to tell them

they are still whole.

 

Or post-partum,

when they have just returned

from that strange garden,

or when they are dying,

as if somehow because I stay

they are free to go.

 

I want the daylight

I walk out into

to become the flashlight they carry,

waving it as we go together

into their long night.

 

Poem courtesy of http://www.cortneydavis.com/

Cortney Davis’ Taking Care of Time is the inaugural winner of the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize. This book will be available for sale from Michigan State University Press through their website at www.msupress.org and at bookstores in March 2018.

The RCAH Center for Poetry will represent Wheelbarrow Books at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference in March 2018, where there will also be copies available.

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Mothers” by Nikki Giovanni

the last time i was home

to see my mother we kissed

exchanged pleasantries

and unpleasantries pulled a warm

comforting silence around

us and read separate books

 

i remember the first time

i consciously saw her

we were living in a three room

apartment on burns avenue

 

mommy always sat in the dark

i don’t know how i knew that but she did

 

that night i stumbled into the kitchen

maybe because i’ve always been

a night person or perhaps because i had wet

the bed

she was sitting on a chair

the room was bathed in moonlight diffused through

those thousands of panes landlords who rented

to people with children were prone to put in windows

she may have been smoking but maybe not

her hair was three-quarters her height

which made me a strong believer in the samson myth

and very black

 

i’m sure i just hung there by the door

i remember thinking: what a beautiful lady

 

she was very deliberately waiting

perhaps for my father to come home

from his night job or maybe for a dream

that had promised to come by

“come here” she said “i’ll teach you

a poem: i see the moon

               the moon sees me

               god bless the moon

               and god bless me

i taught it to my son

who recited it for her

just to say we must learn

to bear the pleasures

as we have borne the pains

 

Nikki Giovanni, “Mothers” from My House. Copyright © 1972 by Nikki Giovanni.

Source: The Collected Poems of Nikki Giovanni (2003)

Posted in news

New Year, New Events!

If you’re searching for warmth and comfort during these cold winter months, seek shelter at one of The Center for Poetry’s many 2018 Spring events.

Our monthly Haiku Study Group begins Saturday, January 20th and the annual Festival of Listening is on Thursday, February 22nd.

The Spring Poetry Festival kicks off with Cheryl Clarke on Wednesday, March 28th, with an afternoon conversation and evening performance.

To find out more about events, locations and times, check out our calendar of events.

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “The Snowman,” by Wallace Stevens

sad-snowmanRGB

 

The Snow Man

 

One must have a mind of winter

To regard the frost and the boughs

Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

 

And have been cold a long time

To behold the junipers shagged with ice,

The spruces rough in the distant glitter

 

Of the January sun; and not to think

Of any misery in the sound of the wind,

In the sound of a few leaves,

 

Which is the sound of the land

Full of the same wind

That is blowing in the same bare place

 

For the listener, who listens in the snow,

And, nothing himself, beholds

Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

 

 

From Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, 1954.
Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “For Saundra,” by Nikki Giovanni

tree roots, asphaltFor Saundra

I wanted to write
a poem
that rhymes
but revolution doesn’t lend
itself to be-bopping

then my neighbor
who thinks i hate
asked – do you ever write
tree poems – i like trees
so i thought
i’ll write a beautiful green tree poem
peeked from my window
to check the image
noticed that the school yard was covered
with asphalt
no green – no trees grow
in manhattan

then, well, i thought the sky
i’ll do a big blue sky poem
but all the clouds have winged
low since no-Dick was elected

so i thought again
and it occurred to me
maybe i shouldn’t write
at all
but clean my gun
and check my kerosene supply

perhaps these are not poetic
times
at all

 

From Black Judgement, copyright 1968, Nikki Giovanni

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Break,” by Aracelis Girmay

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Break

By Aracelis Girmay

When the boys are carnivals
we gather round them in the dark room
& they make their noise while drums
ricochet against their bodies & thin air
below the white ceiling hung up like a moon
& it is California, the desert. I am driving in a car,
clapping my hands for the beautiful windmills,
one of whom is my brother, spinning,
on a hillside in the garage
with other boys he’ll grow old with, throw back.
How they throw back their bodies

on the cardboard floor, then spring-to, flying
like the heads of hammers hitting strings
inside of a piano.

Again, again.
This is how they fall & get back up. One
who was thrown out by his father. One
who carries death with him like a balloon
tied to his wrist. One whose heart will break.
One whose grandmother will forget his name.
One whose eye will close. One who stood
beside his mother’s body in a green hospital. One.
Kick up against the air to touch the earth.
See him fall, then get back up.
Then get back up.

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Aracelis Girmay. From The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (Haymarket Books, 2015).

Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: “Hija,” by Ruth Irupé Sanabria

Dust Rays

Hija

Ruth Irupé Sanabria

 

I am the daughter of doves
That disappeared into dust

 

Hear my pulse whisper:
  progre-so
     justi-cia
     progre-so
     justi-cia

 

I have many friends and thirty thousand
Warrior angels to watch
Over my exiled skin.

 

Look what occupies the four chambers of my heart:
re/vo/lu/ción

 

You will know me by this.
I am the daughter that never forgets.

 

 

 From “The Strange House Testifies” (Bilingual Review Press, 2013).