Sunday, August 19, 2012

NC Poetry Society Reading at McIntyre's

North Carolina Poetry Society Readings, McIntyre’s Fine Books at Fearrington Village (half-way between Pittsboro and Chapel Hill on Highway 15-501 South)Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 2 PM

Joe Mills: After earning a Ph.D from the University of California, David, Joe Mills joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he currently holds the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities. His books include four collections of poetry: Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet, Love and Other Collisions, Angels, Thieves and Winemakers,and Somewhere During the Spin Cycle. He also has co-written two editions of “A Guide to North Carolina Wineries” with his wife, Danielle Tarmey, and edited a collection of film criticism entitled “A Century of The Marx Brothers.”

Mimi Herman: Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review, The Hollins Critic and other journals. She holds a BA from UNC-CH and a MFA from Warren Wilson College. She has been a writer-in-residence at the Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Vermont Studio Center. She has worked as an arts in education consultant since 1990. She does her own carpentry and plumbing, and can milk a cow and a goat, though not at the same time. Her chapbook Logophilia was published by Main Street Rag.

Scott Owens: The author of multiple poetry collections, Scott is the editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review, author of “Musings”, a weekly column on poetry, founder of Poetry Hickory, VP of the Poetry Council of NC, and a writer of reviews of contemporary poetry. He has been featured on various radio shows, received numerous awards and nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. He teaches creative writing at Catawba Valley
Community College in Hickory, NC. He is the only male poet to be featured with a new book each year of the life of the NCPS Readings at McIntyre’s.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Wild Goose Poetry Review Online

The new Wild Goose is up with poems by Helen Losse, Jessie Carty, Joanne Lowery, Malaika King Albrecht, Pris Campbell, Philip Dacey, Ronald Moran, Al Ortolani, Barbara Presnell, Barbara Gabriel, Michael Beadle, Mimi Herman, Corey Cook, Larry Schug, Robert King, Mark Allen Jenkins, Harry Youtt, Lynn Ciesielski, Janice Sullivan, Maril Crabtree, and Maryfrances Wagner.

There are also reviews of new books by Jessie Carty, Amy Tipton Cortner, and Kimberly Pittman Schulz.

Go to and join the conversation.

To whet your appetite, here is Joanne Lowery's "Give, Present Tense"

Joanne Lowery

This is the mashed potatoes comfort food of books:
my red Latin I from high school
so familiar I know each picture
and remember the row by the windows
where I sat to cipher the mysteries of Rome.
Crisis time I need more than English
to bring serenity, priestess of white temples,
and there is no one to ask, no imperative.
Of course give would be an irregular verb,
of course I give is only two Roman letters.
Future is regular as a dreamer.
But to give to myself now—to meet
my own lack—to command the swirling
emotions to settle, I need only to state
what sitting on my porch in imitation
of caladium or cardinal I can do:
do, I give, and as if running to catch
the ball I’ve just thrown among green leaves
and clear birdsong, I offer up hands:
here it comes back to me from the ruins.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How Poems Get Written


There is not a single answer to that premise. There is not a single answer to anything regarding poetry. Nevertheless, for myself, there is what might be called a pattern that the construction of a poem often follows.

Often, what later becomes a poem begins with a single phrase, line, or image. In the case of the poem below, it was the image of an otherwise non-descript field behind a run-down finishing plant being brought to life by a blossoming of purple flowers.

That phrase, line, or image is then carried around for days, weeks, or months in my notebook, or in my head (admittedly a more risky approach) if I don’t get it written down. In this case, the sentence “Behind the finishing plant a field is bursting open with purple flowers” sat in my notebook for several months.

Over time, the phrase, line, or image accumulates other phrases, lines, or images until a sense of weightiness or significance or cohesion develops. Sometimes that happens gradually, sometimes in a burst, and sometimes not at all. In this case, it was a burst. I was actually standing on a dock outside the Comfort Suites in New Bern, NC, listening to the sounds of several types of birds when the phrase “meaningful noise” sprang to my mind, along with the idea that we hear such noise better with our eyes closed.

I quickly jotted down the first stanza, changing the birds to ones whose songs I felt comfortable describing. The idea of “meaningful noise” clicked with the idea that those purple flowers I had noticed months ago were also somehow meaningful. So, I joined the first stanza with that previous phrase, changed the season to spring in accordance with the flowers, added a bit of detail to create a stronger sense of place, and linked the ideas of flowers, listening, and meaningful noise in the final two lines.

Here is the end result

All the Meaningful Noise
by Scott Owens

How can you be on this earth
and not close your eyes on occasion
and listen to leaves give voice to wind,
hear the laugh of crow,
annunciation of blue jay,
high-pitched twitter of chickadee,
moan of mourning dove,
all the meaningful noise
of another spring day?

Behind the finishing plant
off the run-down road
between failing furniture towns,
a field is bursting with purple flowers.
If you close your eyes
you can hear the cosmos opening.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sin Tax on Syntax Nears Ra(d)ification?


With the rampant proliferation of “talking heads” on television news shows and networks, the allure of unsubstantiated rumors and uncontexted quotes in ubiquitous political blogs, and the constant back-and-forth namecalling that passes for debate on social networking outlets, every season these days seems like a political season. So, it’s no wonder that poets too are entering the political fray more often, sometimes seriously, as in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change initiative, and sometimes a bit more tongue-in-cheek, as in Celisa Steele’s prose poem “Sin Tax on Syntax Passes House by Narrow Margin” from her 2011 book How Language Is Lost. Either way, if you enjoy politics, you’ll enjoy this poem, and if you want to hear it in person, you should attend Poetry Hickory at 5:30 on August 14 at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse in downtown Hickory.

Sin Tax on Syntax Passes House by Narrow Margin
by Celisa Steele

The American Clean Usage Act seeks to improve spoken and written English by putting a price on misusage and if the bill is signed into law then the cost of run-ons will rise from mere breathlessness to over $13 a carton and you’ll be left with the alternatives of paying up or quitting.

If the data shows, then you’ve got to pay--though there is a provision under consideration that moves to treat data like sheep, singular and plural, making untaxable under the act “the happy couple were,” “the staff stand stunned,” and such.

Splicing of commas carries a hefty premium, the improper use of the subjunctive alone is estimated to raise millions for the government. But others call them pie-in-the-sky projections, arguing it’ll cost more money to employ and train a national grammar corps qualified to enforce the law than can be raised through the tax.

Will the Senate pass the current bill? Proponents, pray so. Detractors say no, asserting self-interest will prevail. As one staffer put it, “If I was to bet, speeches’ll get a lot shorter if this thing passes. These senators don’t make enough to pay for their bad habits.”

There are rumors a clutch of senators are cooking up a counter-bill that aims to focus on poetry specifically rather than language at large--the primary argument being we already have meter maids.