Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: Not Forgotten, by Toi Derricotte

We hope you’ll join us this week for a workshop with Toi Derricotte at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, and a reading at 7 p.m. the same day. Visit here for details.

 

antsBY TOI DERRICOTTE

 

I love the way the black ants use their dead.

They carry them off like warriors on their steel

backs. They spend hours struggling, lifting,

dragging (it is not grisly as it would be for us,

to carry them back to be eaten),

so that every part will be of service. I think of

my husband at his father’s grave—

the grass had closed

over the headstone, and the name had disappeared. He took out

his pocket knife and cut the grass away, he swept it

with his handkerchief to make it clear. “Is this the way

we’ll be forgotten?” And he bent down over the grave and wept.

 

 

Toi Derricotte, “Not Forgotten” from Tender. Copyright © 1997 by Toi Derricotte. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, www.upress.pitt.edu. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

 

 

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Posted in poem of the week

Poem of the Week: The Future is an Animal, by Tina Chang

BW Spider Web

 

The Future is an Animal

 

In every kind of dream I am a black wolf

careening through a web. I am the spider

who eats the wolf and inhabits the wolf’s body.

In another dream I marry the wolf and then

am very lonely. I seek my name and they name me

Lucky Dragon. I would love to tell you that all

of this has a certain ending but the most frightening

stories are the ones with no ending at all.

The path goes on and on. The road keeps forking,

splitting like an endless atom, splitting

like a lip, and the globe is on fire. As many

times as the book is read, the pages continue

to grow, multiply. They said, In the beginning,

and that was the moral of the original and most

important story. The story of man. One story.

I laid my head down and my head was heavy.

Hair sprouted through the skin, hair black

and bending toward night grass. I was becoming

the wolf again, my own teeth breaking

into my mouth for the first time, a kind of beauty

to be swallowed in interior bite and fever.

My mind a miraculous ember until I am the beast.

I run from the story that is faster than me,

the words shatter and pant to outchase me.

The story catches my heels when I turn

to love its hungry face, when I am willing

to be eaten to understand my fate.

 

Join us this week as we welcome Tina Chang to MSU. See event page for details.

Posted in Balocating Prize for Poetry, news, Spring Poetry Festival, visiting writers

Spring Poetry Festival Lineup Announced

msu-spring

The Center for Poetry has confirmed the spectacular lineup of poets for the 2017 Spring Poetry Festival. Funded in part by the MSU Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, three poets known world wide will be visiting campus for afternoon conversations and evening performances during the month of April.

Tina Chang, born in New York City, is the first female to be named Poet Laureate of Brooklyn. She currently teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and she is also a member of the international writing faculty at the City University of Hong Kong.

A Michigan native, Toi Derricotte‘s poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, the Paris Review, The New Yorker and Poetry. She also co-founded Cave Canem in 1996, a summer workshop for aspiring African-American Poets.

Mark Doty is the author of three memoirs and nine books of poetry, one of which won the 2008 National Book Award. Doty’s performance will also be coupled with the announcement of the Annie Balocating Prize for Poetry.

Each visiting poet will have an afternoon conversation at 3 pm in Snyder Hall’s LookOut! Gallery and an evening performance at 7 pm in the RCAH Theatre.

For more information on Spring Poetry Festival and the poets, visit the Center for Poetry’s website. 

Posted in news, Uncategorized, visiting writers

Center for Poetry intern wins poetry prize

By Kelsey Block

Visiting writer Sofia Starnes, the poet laureate of Virginia, announced at her reading last night that RCAH Center for Poetry intern Jenny Crakes won this year’s Annie Balocating Poetry Prize.

Crakes said she was both surprised and excited to have won the $500 award.

“The poem was about a road trip that I took with my family last summer in July and we were going to see The Royal Tyrrell Museum,” Crakes said. “It just made me think of watching the mountains as you drive away from them and drive back. They’re sort of just perched there watching you. And when you’re driving back they just appear really shadily on the horizon and you get close and closer. It was just so beautiful.”

Crakes, 21, started as an intern at the center in September. Her work focuses largely on community engagement, and entails conducting workshops with elementary school students and senior citizens at Edgewood Village.

“I think I try to focus on things that will make poetry seem accessible to people, like activities or really specific writing prompts,” Crakes said. “What I really like is seeing how everyone is willing and able to express themselves. Often, I’m surprised by the ideas people come up with so quickly.”

The RCAH and Professional Writing junior said she has been writing since childhood – her first piece was a series based on her twin cousins.

Now, Crakes’ favorite genres are poetry, short stories and plays.

“I love writing purely for the imagination of it, but I’m also really curious about how I can use it in bigger ways,” she said. “I’m really interested in the different ways that creative writing can be used for good in the world – to bring awareness of political issues or how people are feeling in different situations, or whether it’s used to interest people in life again.”

Currently, in honor of National Poetry Month, Crakes is working on a blog. “The April Project” is a collection of previously published poetry juxtaposed with Crakes’ own work. She said she decided to take on the project to inspire herself.

“As I’m going with it, it makes me look at things in the day differently because I’m looking for details or things that might be interesting later,” she said.