Magical Poetry: Publication News

The Magic Circle. John William Waterhouse. 1886.

Just in time for the magical Hallowe’en season (oh yes, it’s a full-on season at my house), I am happy to announce that one of my poems, “A Spiral Upward,” will appear in the upcoming fall/winter issue of Witches & Pagans Magazine. I don’t yet know what the release date is, but I’ll announce when it’s available for purchase online and at your local Barnes and Noble bookstore.

“A Spiral Upward” contemplates the central figure in the John William Waterhouse painting The Magic Circle (shown above). That painting has long fascinated and inspired me; it resonates with the part of me that is wild and ritualistic and magical. It evokes the earthy mystique of fairy tales and the strong, mysterious female figure that is the Witch in our collective unconscious. I connect with that, or want to. It’s that felt connection, as well as a moment of enlightenment, that serves as the subject of the poem.

If you can’t tell, I’m thrilled about this news. W&P is a well known, well distributed magazine with a great community of readers and contributors. I’ve been interested in sharing my work with the pagan community for a long time because I think my work — nature-oriented and fairly mystical — would find a wider audience of willing readers there, and I’m glad to be given the opportunity to do so. Hopefully, this isn’t the last you’ll see of me on W&P.

For Your Reading Pleasure

Subprimal Poetry Art, Issue 2 cover art

As promised, I’m announcing the release of my latest published poem, “Snake River 1986,” in Subprimal Poetry Art’s Origins and Destinations issue. The poem is a semi-mythical, earth-centered take on the theme of belonging/foreignness that runs through some of my work.

Growing up in an Army family has always made the answer to the question, “Where are you from?” sound a lot like a Facebook relationship status: It’s complicated. I often want to respond, “What are you really asking–where was I born? Where did I grow up? What place do I call home?” I was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho; I did most of my growing up in Augusta, Georgia, and would consider that my hometown; but, to be honest, I get just as homesick for Germany (where I lived for a total of five years as a kid) as I do for those other places. I feel deeply connected to each of those places but, at the same time, detached from them. I am from many places and from nowhere. Which I think is why the Japanese concept of ukiyo, “floating world” — the sense of impermanence and detachment from a place — strikes me so strongly. While the Tokugawa-period term refers to pleasure-seeking societies detached from the real, natural world, it’s expanded for me as I struggle to attach to places that have defined me and yet do not, in some ways at least, belong to me.

Don’t misunderstand — I don’t regret the lifestyle of my childhood, even if it has made me feel lonely for a sense of rootedness from time to time. It was a gypsy kind of life, one that gave me an opportunity to meet many kinds of people and see quite a bit more of the world than most of my peers. It has allowed me to be fearless when faced with change and the unknown, to be eager to confront Otherness and being an Other. I feel more alive when I’m in a strange place, and I get restless living in one city or town for too long. It’s made me adventurous and strong.

Still, I sometimes find myself yearning for a place where I belong, where the culture is intimate to me and embraces me, that expresses what Wallace Stevens observes in his poem “Anecdote of Men By the Thousand”: “There are men whose words / Are as natural sounds / Of their places / As the cackle of toucans / In the place of toucans.” I don’t know where my words are natural. Maybe they are in some place. Maybe not.

The theme for the issue, Origins and Destinations, addresses “places we come from or are going to… work that deals with traditions, transitions, trials, tribulations, things that are part of our all too human identity, legends of the past, visions of the future.” There’s a lot of strong work in this issue, and many of the poems (including my own) include audio of the poet reading with complementary light, ambient music. I am proud to have my work displayed there, and I hope you’ll check it out. There’s a comments section at the end of each poem — leave a note! You can also leave your thoughts here.

News and Thoughts on Poetry

The Omniformalist Manifesto

I came across a blog post by poet Annie Finch on her website a little while ago, and it’s stuck with me. It reflects many of my own feelings about the poetry community, its relationship with the rest of the world (or the lack thereof), and my personal poetic inclinations. So, en lieu of rehashing what has already been said well by poets more experienced than I, I figured I’d just send readers to the blog post itself. It’s a quick read and well worth the time: Omniformalism Revisited

Annie Finch is one of my favorite poets, partly because of her bold, unique perspective (as an earth-centered, feminist Wiccan poet who is well-respected by the poetry community at large — how rare is that?) but also because of her deep knowledge of poetic forms and her use of them in her work that avoids sounding cliche or stiff. Most of all, I love her fascination with and respect for mystery. I’m glad that formalism has reemerged in the poetry community, not because I dislike free-form poetry (the grand majority of my poems are, in fact, free form) but because I enjoy seeing the new expressions that old forms can take in a modern context. I like play with structure as much as I like deviation from it, which is what Omniformalism is all about — celebrating all forms of poetry.

Upcoming Publication

In May, a poem of mine will appear in Subprimal Poetry Art, an online journal based in Mexico that “looks toward poetry, flash fiction, music, and art work that takes the reader / viewer / listener out of the ordinary and into a place altered from that which they normally experience. In an enjoyable, thought-provoking way.” The next issue will feature not just the text of my poem but also a recording of me reading it. I’ve never done something like that before, so I’m excited about it and look forward to hearing what readers/listeners think. I’ll provide more details when it’s published.

I’ll end with a quote from the above-mentioned manifesto:

We have a madness for poems that pound in the blood, that are moved into three dimensions by the immanent necessities of their form, that know the stubborn patterns and rhythms the world keeps.

American Athenaeum: The Understanders Issue Release

As the title of this post indicates, the winter 2012 issue of American Athenaeum is now available for purchase in both ebook and print form here.

The cover features a starkly beautiful image by award-winning photographer Harun Mehmedinovic and features new poetry, stories, essays and articles by Steven Cramer, William Lychack, Pat Lowery Collins, Jacqueline West and others, alongside well-loved work by revered writers from the past. Our contributors come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, but all share a common desire to understand — themselves, other people, their own and other societies as well as the sometimes frightening, mystifying twists of fate.

I’ve written the editorial for the issue. It represents my continuing efforts to be understanding, to examine what understanding requires of us and what it offers us in return. As the need for understanding and compassion has only grown in our increasingly fragmented, embattled world, we at American Athenaeum are proud and honored to present this issue. We hope it will give you the hope and inspiration to keep pushing toward the better future we all need and deserve.

American Athenaeum’s Colossus is Out!

In this issue, you’ll find poetry, short fiction, nonfiction stories and essays from around the world and across time. From Li Po and Mary Wollstonecraft  to new writers taking memory, cat sanctuaries, Woodstock, aging, pacifism, connections and tensions with nature, urban life, and more as their subjects, I think there’s something in it for everyone. One reviewer of the issue has kindly and aptly referred to it as “a kaleidoscope into our own humanity.” Three of my poems are also included in the issue.

Both e-book and print versions are available, so you can have it just as you like it. I also recommend checking out our Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign page. We’d appreciate it if you donate — and you’ll receive a little something from us in return — or even if you just spread the word about us. Thanks!