! Books !

Dear Reader, Dear Reader!

October 15, 2021 was a rather grand day of publication in my life as an editor and a poet. The Fall 2021 of The Maynard, the online poetry journal I co-founded and at which I am the editor entered the world and four of my poems were published in the Fall 2021 issue of BlazeVOX. Tra la!

Here’s the fierce and fine cover of the Fall 2021 issue of The Maynard, “Tiger Orange” created by Clare Owen and a list of the issue’s poets.

The Maynard Fall 2021 issue represents six months of my work as an editor. From February 1 to July 31, 2021 300 batches of five poems each were sent in for consideration for the Fall 2021 issue. I read close to 1,500 poems from which 28 poems were selected for the issue. How long does reading 1,500 poems take? I clocked my reading rate at an average of 15 batches per hour, which is about 20 hours. From that first reading phase, I collected the poems I want to return to because there’s something about them… Then, I went back and read all of those poems more deeply and in repetition. Some poems slide away, some stick. Those poems that stick are shared with my colleague who has gone through a similar process. During two and a half hour meetings (four of them), we went back and forth reading to each other the poems on our long list. We become outrageous. We become passionate as we argue for the poems we most want, we are disappointed when a poem doesn’t hold up to our imaginations, but we relent, and finally we are giddy for the poems left on the table. First stage letters go out. From there, I conducted line edits on the poems. Second stage letters go out. Then, I take my findings, comments, and suggestions to an editorial conversation with each of the 24 poets. There was lots of email back and forth about commas and uses of this or that word and what Blake called “Minute Particulars”: “Labour well the Minute Particulars: attend to the Little Ones.” The “Little Ones” in this case being the details that are crucial to a poem’s full life. After the editorial phase arrives the proofreading phase. More email. The correction of the proof. More email. More email. Then, miraculously, publication!

Read the Fall 2021 issue of The Maynard!

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Welcome to the Fall 2021 issue of BlazeVOX where four of my newer poems appear! In his introduction, editor Geoffrey Gatza writes: “In this issue we seek to avoid answers but rather to ask questions. With a subtle minimalistic approach, this issue of BlazeVOX focuses on the idea of “public space” and more specifically on spaces where anyone can do anything at any given moment: the non-private space, the non-privately owned space, space that is economically uninteresting. The works collected feature coincidental, accidental, and unexpected connections, which make it possible to revise literary history and, even, better, to complement it.” Later in the introduction, Gatza writes: “These pieces demonstrate how life extends beyond its own subjective limits and often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century. It challenges the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own “cannibal” and “civilized” selves.”

The four poems of mine that appear in the Fall 2021 issue of BlazeVOX are from a series of thirty-one poems begun in 2014 during a time of intense contemplation of the War in Afghanistan, the nineteen-year, 10-month conflict that took place from 2001 to 2021. I was particularly focused on the stressful and traumatic effects of war on those who go to fight as well as those who stay home to wait. The poem titles: “If There Were Anywhere But Desert,” “Countenance,” “Who Bed Is This to Lie On,” and “O Beautiful for Post-Traumatic Stress.”

In August 2021 during the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, maybe as a way to cope or as a way to answer the destruction of war with creative energy, I was called to return to this series of poems. I took a chance sending them out; a poet always enters the game of chance when sending work out for consideration. And, hurrah, editor Geoffrey Gatza liked them enough to offer to publish them all together. Hurrah! These are the first poems from that as yet untitled series that have been published. I’m grateful to Geoffrey Gatza and I am grateful that the poems are together.

Read my poems in Fall 2021 issue of BlazeVOX!

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+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention!

+ Thank you bows to my colleague at The Maynard, and to the 24 poets and cover artist Clare Owen who trusted us with their art.

+ Thank you bows to BlazeVOX editor Geoffrey Gatza for his confidence in my poems.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to publisher Stephanie G’Schwind, and Mountain West Poetry Series editors Donald Revell and Kazim Ali, et al interns at the Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) for making The Minuses (2020) with me.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Beth Svinarich et al at University Press of Colorado for their beautiful support to me and The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to monsoon storm chaser and marvelous professional photographer, Liz Kemp whose monsoon photograph storms the cover of The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Vincent K. Wong for his friendship, creative collaboration, and for taking my author photos.

+ This bears repeating: Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention! If you have any questions or comments, write me!

! Books !

Dear Reader! Dear Listener!

On October 1, 2021, Sabyasachi (Sachi) Nag at The Artisanal Writer asked me nine questions about the craft of writing and reading. And, I answered them!

The Artisanal Writer asked me these nine Qs:

  1. Each of your poetry collections seem to have been either triggered by or woven around a few central ideas e.g., The Minuses, around the relationships between women and nature; Instinctive Acts, around immigration and identity; Mind of Spring, around facets of personal and military wars; Landscape of The Wait, around your nephew’s car accident. Do you arrive at the idea first and then compose around the idea or does the idea emerge from the writing, informed by the obsessions at a given period of time?
  2. What are your primary concerns when constructing a poem? Are you like Frost trying to make each poem as different from the previous as possible? Or do you think that couldn’t be?
  3. In an interview with Colorado State University, you said “I tend not to bypass what’s present, but instead use it as the prompt from which to write.” In that context, how do you arrive at meaning, or do you consciously not and allow the reader to arrive at it? How important is intention in a particular piece within a themed collection?
  4. What made you a writer?
  5. What does it mean/suggest for you to think about your craft with each published work? If you were to associate an image with the development timeline of your writing craft what would that look like?
  6. In pushing your work beyond your first title what were you most conscious of? What were/are you trying to achieve?
  7. Are there any books that you keep visiting for inspiration?
  8. Do you train your subconscious in certain ways to deal with success or rejection?
  9. How do you deal with aspects of writing that provoke negative emotions such as self-doubt, failure, exasperation? Is there an emotional ritual/practice you follow to deal with that?

The Artisanal Writer editors bestowed upon my responses a lightening accompaniment.

Fulgur Conditum!

Read my nine responses here!

May you find lightening buried among them.

Within the interview, I offer a five-minute recorded reading from the poems of The Minuses.

(Find the recording after the ninth question.)

Listen to the reading here!

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+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention!

+ Thank you bows to Sabyasachi (Sachi) Nag and The Artisanal Writer for the gift of inquiry and space to respond.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to publisher Stephanie G’Schwind, and Mountain West Poetry Series editors Donald Revell and Kazim Ali, et al interns at the Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) for making The Minuses (2020) with me.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Beth Svinarich et al at University Press of Colorado for their beautiful support to me and The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to monsoon storm chaser and marvelous professional photographer, Liz Kemp whose monsoon photograph storms the cover of The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Vincent K. Wong for his friendship, creative collaboration, and for taking my author photos.

+ This bears repeating: Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention! If you have any questions or comments, write me!

! Books !

Dear Reader! Dear Listener!

On July 8, 2021, I read poems from The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing at Colorado State University, 2020) with Nigerian poet Saddiq Dzukogi, who read from his heart moving collection, Your Crib, My Qibla, (University of Nebraska Press, 2021) and Taos, New Mexico Poet Laureate Catherine Strisik, author of Insectum Gravitis (Main Street Rag, 2019), who read beautiful new poems.

Listen to the reading here! (passcode: m2eJp=C^)

Saddiq’s, My, and Catherine’s books nestled together!

One of the special, expanding benefits of reading via Zoom is that my community of beloveds from far and wide can be with. For the July 8th reading, my dear friends from Berlin joined us from their island vacation spot in Sweden via cell phone. In the year two thousand twenty-one, this can be! Plus, friends from Vancouver, BC any outlying areas could join. The photo below features Vincent K. Wong’s phone with the tree of Spanish Banks Beach listening in.

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+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention!

+ Thank you bows to Catherine Strisik for bringing Saddiq Dzukogi, me, and her together in a sweet and delightful community of poets and listeners.

+ Thank you bows to the souls who joined us from all over North America and Europe!

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to publisher Stephanie G’Schwind, and Mountain West Poetry Series editors Donald Revell and Kazim Ali, et al interns at the Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) for making The Minuses (2020) with me.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Beth Svinarich et al at University Press of Colorado for their beautiful support to me and The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to monsoon storm chaser and marvelous professional photographer, Liz Kemp whose monsoon photograph storms the cover of The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Vincent K. Wong for his friendship, creative collaboration, and for taking my author photos.

+ This bears repeating: Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention! If you have any questions or comments, write me!

! Books !

Dear Reader, Dear Reader!

On June 24, 2021 my poem “Thin Attachment,” published first in Arc Poetry Magazine 71

and then within my poetry collection, The Minuses, was the featured poem on Poetry Daily!

Read “Thin Attachment“!

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Today, June 28, my poem “Lustrous Fugitive,” first published in the “Invisibility” issue (18:1) of Vallum magazine,

is Vallum Poem-of-the-Week!

Read & listen to “Lustrous Fugitive“!

: :

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention!

+ Thank you bows to Arc Poetry Magazine and editors Monty Reid and Shade Rhodes for their confidence in my work.

+ Thank you bows to Poetry Daily and the team at poems.com for their support to this poet, this poem, and for every step the Poetry Daily staff make in support of poets and their poetry.

+ Thank you bows to Vallum magazine, editor, Eleni Zisimatos, and managing editor Leigh Kotsilidis for their confidence in my work and for crowning my Poem-of-the-Week.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to publisher Stephanie G’Schwind, and Mountain West Poetry Series editors Donald Revell and Kazim Ali, et al interns at the Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) for making The Minuses (2020) with me.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Beth Svinarich et al at University Press of Colorado for their beautiful support to me and The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to monsoon storm chaser and marvelous professional photographer, Liz Kemp whose monsoon photograph storms the cover of The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Vincent K. Wong for his friendship, creative collaboration, and for taking my author photos.

+ This bears repeating: Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention! If you have any questions or comments, write me!

++ THE MINUSES ++

Canadian poet Daphne Marlatt is a plus around The Minuses! I love her poetry and person very much. On and off for the last 15 years, we’ve met for coffee and conversation about poetry and spiritual practice. Our conversations have been sites of candor and infusions of hope.

During the fall of 2018 our exchanges became more frequent. Her wise counsel and cheerful shoulder were of special support to me during the summer of 2019 when I was despairing that The Minuses was still publisher-less.

So, of course on September 3, 2019 (Labor Day!), when I learned from Stephanie G’Schwind that the Center for Literary Publishing wanted to publish The Minuses, Daphne was at the top of my list of those with whom to share the great good news. During that celebratory conversation I asked her if she would endorse my book.

I use the word “endorse” instead of “blurb.” Why? Because “blurb” sounds like spit up to me. I don’t want to associate spit up with my poems. This may be a form of superstition. Poets can be superstitious. I can be superstitious. I’d rather associate enthusiasm with my poems.

Anyway! Daphne said Yes!

After she read The Minuses Daphne sent me a note that included these words, which made my poet’s heart explode in bloom:

Hi Jami,
Well, you have a marvellous ms. here!  I was totally immersed in it.  A blurb has been difficult to word to do it justice…

-Daphne Marlatt

Daphne uses the word “blurb.” So, I looked it up in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. I thought its first use would be quite recent. However, the first known use of “blurb” as a noun is 1907, while the first known use of “blurb” as a verb comes eight years later in 1915. The neologism was coined by American humorist Gelett Burgess. I’m not convinced. After typing the word this many times, my stomach is turning. You see? The word has that affect on me. I remain resolute in not using it.

Back and front covers of The Minuses

Here’s the form of enthusiasm Daphne offered for the back cover of The Minuses:

Jami Macarty’s poems draw us into the vagaries of human love, just as they implicate us in the “menagerie of the surviving world.” These marvellously immersive poems of the Sonoran Desert and of our human deserts of the heart insist on each step taken, each present moment’s opening perception. Macarty’s lines nudge us toward non-dual Buddhist emptiness in each gap, each leap beyond wording.  A must-read.

-Daphne Marlatt

I wrote it once, but it’s worth writing again. I love Daphne Marlatt’s poetry. I have loved it for a long time. For me, Daphne’s poetry is a horizon. So, it’s especially special to have her endorsement and energy with me and the poems of The Minuses.

Even though I received the copy of The Minuses earmarked for Daphne in mid-February, travel and Covid-19 postponed our celebratory get-together for months.

On July 13, we finally felt it safe enough to commune at our favored outdoor café, Wilder Snail, for an afternoon coffee and conversationand so that I could bestow on Daphne her copy of The Minuses.

Here’s the photographic record I made of Daphne unwrapping…

The Minuses is unwrapped and Daphne’s mask is off!

Don’t you just love the look on her face?

I do!

That’s my poetry book The Minuses in Daphne Marlatt’s hands!

A poet is happy!

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+ Thank you bows to Daphne Marlatt for her support to me over these years, for reading The Minuses, and for offering her special words in support of the poems.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to publisher Stephanie G’Schwind, editor Donald Revell, et al interns at the Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) for making The Minuses with me.

+ Thank you bows to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention! If you have any questions or comments, write me!

++ THE MINUSES ++

Continuing, dear reader, with the pluses congregating around The Minuses. You may be wondering what are “the minuses” and how do the poems of the book address and express them… To satisfy your wondering, here’s an encapsulation of what the poems take on and talk up:

The Minuses beckons attention to ecological and feminist issues and the co-incidence of eating disorders, sexual harassment, family and intimate partner violence, homelessness, suicide, environmental destruction, and other forms of endangerment. Seeking escape from relationship, belief and self, multi-perspective survivors claim voice as contemplators of natural splendors, and as seekers of incarnate desires. These voices amplify the precariousness that predicates women’s lives and the natural world, laying bare the struggle and faith required to endure with integrity and spirit intact.

from the back cover of The Minuses

The duality between “the minuses” and “the pluses” is an aspect of the physical word being lived and survived within the poems of The Minuses.

That there are pluses occurring around the poems of The Minuses and in a continuum of readers and their responses given to the poems. Well, that’s everything to a poet. By which I mean: an expansiveness, transcending the physical world and belonging to the spiritual world.

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One such person giving his spirit and attention to The Minuses is Paul Nelson, founder of Seattle Poetics LAB (SPLAB), the Cascadia Poetry Festival, and POetry POstcard Fest (PoPo). As well as a spiritual practitioner and a maker of community-based projects, Paul is the author of Organic Poetry: North American Field Poetics, a collection of essays, and A Time Before Slaughter, a serial poem, re-enacting the history of Auburn, WA, among others. I hope you will give some of your special attention to Paul’s creative and community work.

Here, I give you an excerpt of Paul’s “Some Notes on The Minuses,” which he posted on his site on July 10, 2020. Click on Paul’s blog title or the date to read his notes in full; it’s worth the click (!) because of the context he offers on Postmodern poetics and Charles Olson’s “dodge of discourse.” Here’s the excerpt of Paul’s “Notes”:

Notes on The Minuses: Paul Nelson

To celebrate that 5% of North American poetry (a number I simply pulled out of some wet, warm place) one must savor the books that go beyond the dodges of discourse. One which came across my desk a couple of months ago is The Minuses by Jami Macarty…

As I was reading The Minuses I took some notes as if I were going to interview her. So, this is not a “review” which is not my forte, but some notes on The Minuses.

First note is from the poem Two-way:

Part (page 9) of the poem, “Two-way,” from The Minuses; image by Paul Nelson.

In many North American indigenous cultures Raven is associated with death, or transformation. A trickster like coyote in some traditions. In J.C. Cooper’s book An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols (a go-to book for me) Raven represents prophecy, is a symbol of “blackening and mortification” in alchemy and also “The raven sent out from the Ark by Noah represents wandering, unrest and the unclean.” Here’s where we remember the allusion to violence in the back blurb and recognize the divinity the author sees missing from the situation. I love how she ends the poem, referring to a helicopter taking off, leaving “the earth-abandoned swirl.”

There is the poem Site Record:

The poem, “Site Record” (page 19) from The Minuses; image by Paul Nelson.

Take THAT you SOB!

And one could go on like this, pointing out the very sharp perceptions, the moments where one feels aligned with the poet, perhaps re-experiencing the worst moments of relationship (though as a straight man, I am much less likely to experience physical abuse or violence in a relationship) … In the notes at the end of the book, which are helpful and not “here’s what this poem means” which is what you might find in a book of naïve or “workshop” poetry, she writes that the poem is “indebted to Leslie Scalapino and Rosemarie Waldrop.” Here are two poets that are both well known in “outsider” North American poetry circles and gives you some sense of the poetry ancestors she has allied herself with...

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I feel very lucky to have Paul’s “Notes”; these are the sort of thoughts-in-action, reader’s response most precious to a poet. You are most cordially invited to go directly to Paul Nelson’s site and read the entirety of “Some Notes on The Minuses.”

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Also on July 10, as luck would have it, Talking Poetics #22: How Poems Begin, a piece I offered to ottawa poetry newsletter, curated by rob mclennan, was published.

How does a poet begin a poem? Does the poet begin a poem or does the poem begin itself? These questions are the basis of my inquiry on how “my” poems begin and from where, from what energy and impulse. Read what I wrote on the matter of beginnings:

Talking Poetics #22 : Jami Macarty

How poems begin

Nuts and bolts. Which comes first? The answer interests me. Sometimes bolts; almost always nuts! At other times, especially when writing is happening in real time, the question is forgotten…. When a poem is beginning or middling or ending then there’s no need for the question. Questions about how a poem begins seem especially instrumental as points of departure when no poem is forthcoming or beginning. If I can know how a poem begins, then maybe I can begin one. A poem, it seems to me, is always beginning.

From another angle, who knows how a poem gets started? When confronted with this question, I don’t. In so many ways and a lot of the time, the beginning arises out of mystery. Some immaculateness.

If a poem’s a living thing like a plant, then its beginning is a seed. Or, the beginning is a bird that eats and passes the seed on, somewhat fortified, to a locale where conditions are more favorable and growth more likely.

This process may suggest silence, but monitor for heartrate and you’ll hear one. Ah ha! That seems to be the way a poem gets started for me—auditorily. Via a seed sound, word, or phrase. I hear something whispered, overhear speech or a birdsong or a gate creak—flints that spark my mind or serve like a hand shot straight up inquiry.

As I think about these spokens and overheards some qualities emerge. They are typically the most obvious things said: Something is not right here. Often declarative. Ambiguous. A double entendre. Often paratactic: I’ll be mercy if you be a killer whale. Sometimes mishearings: Age of Aquariums. Alliterations. Assonances. Aphorisms given new life. Chiasmic reversals and antimetabolic turn abouts—Let me go, so I can come back, my mother said.  Repetitive echophenonomena like the Gila woodpecker beak-banging the corrugated roof. Syllogistic.

So, there’s a sound, a phrase, a statement, an utterance of varying qualities whose wind thrums my mind. I use a notebook. The words get written down. Often there is more listening and recording on the page. Collages of meaning and tone. If not then, later.

A parallel visual process may also unfold. Instead of hearing the phrase, it’s read or misread. It gets written down. That may lead to an on-the-spot erasure or mining of language, words, word pairings. More phrases written down.

Mood may dictate. Mood of listener, reader. Mood of what’s heard and read. Or, is that intuition talking. Both filter and factor the selection process while ‘I’ stays in the background. One part of the brain is occupied with listening or looking, the other finding. If the spell breaks and self-consciousness or willfulness interrupts this program, then it’s over for that sitting.

There isn’t necessarily sitting to make this happen or even with the intention for it to happen. There’s only openness to happening, then noticing when it does. A going with that.

It has always been like this. Since I was a kid, writing things down as if transcribing the sounded world. Writing things down because of how they sound. The pleasure of sounds coming together in meaning, in a way that interests. Of course, this implies that there’s an awareness of interest. An awakening alertness to sound, to how something sounds.

When considering starting a poem with a “loose structure” it takes a while for an example to arise. It happens, but not often. When it has, the structure is anaphoric: I’ll be… if you be…; I’ll be… if you be… “Ideas” tend not to be my flints either. If ideas, then they tend to reference subject matter. Maybe I’ll write about bees… Honestly, though, I can’t make anything happen in the beginning or ever. If I try or force bees, I get stung. Writing and beginning to write work in flow and flight and if I get out of the way of words. Plenty of sparks from words themselves. Their sounds unbound and bounding.

At the beginning, in it, there’s not the presence of knowing whether it’s the middle, beginning, or end. Order is a thing later discovered. The beginning is often the end, and then writing that proceeds is often writing to a beginning. Knowing where, when, what next, that can be a thing in the revision process. Often what feels satisfying is only so to no one else.

Reading. Reading takes place to sprout language, tone. To get in word mood. To warm up eyes and ears. To see if the conditions for writing arise. It’s the ears again; they have to hear something. When they do, the language boat is underway. Could be a short writing-reading spell or a day or night.

Bits, pieces, get assembled. Reorder can be a thing. What comes out is often disrupted on the way, so attention is given over to discovering what’s backward, diagonal, and sideways. From there line breaks.

At first, when typing from notebooks, assembling fragments onto a screen page, line breaks and lengths are left as is. In subsequent drafts and the more the assemblage is heard, the more apt the breaks and length are to be changed.

There’s a favoring of line as unit of meaning. One that adds to or contradicts the conveyance of the whole. Lines tend to accumulate via caesura and hemistich. All line lengths are to be loved equally. For breath rhythm and visual intrigue, a poem may mix line lengths. Love sentence as much as line, but sentences save themselves for prose poems. Delineated poems tend not to be made up of sentences. When they are the sentence is disrupted, disguised, an intervenor and sometime conscious objector.

Some of this is true. Some contradictory. Unkempt. Am I always excavating language? Not always. I think of relative. I think of instinct. I know that place. You know that place. You’ve been there. We recognize the artifacts.

I like beginnings, but can’t pretend I understand or know them. I think there may be a simple answer to the question how my poems begin—they just begin—but I only just thought of that—at the ending.

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I hope you will check out rob mclennan and his various projects supporting poetry in North America, including his ottawa poetry newsletter and Talking Poetics series. There, you will find, a cornucopia of inspiration! You may also read my contribution to Talking Poetics #22: How Poems Begin, in situ there.

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+ Thank you bows to Paul Nelson for reading The Minuses, offering his beautifully personal, contextualizing reading “Notes” on the poems, and for featuring The Minuses on his Cascadia interviews blog.

+ Thank you bows to rob mclennan for including me in the Talking Poetics series in ottawa poetry newsletter and for publishing my Talking Poetics #22: How Poems Begin.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to publisher Stephanie G’Schwind, editor Donald Revell, et al interns at the Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) for making The Minuses with me.

+ Thank you bows to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention! If you have any questions about how poems begin or anything else poetry-related, write me!

The Minuses

Allow me to share with you some of the words that have congregated around The Minuses during the intervening months since my last post.

Some of those words took air in interviews; interviews, those blessed conversations—

February 13: With Susan Gillis on her blogspot, Concrete & River, Susan and I talk about the forces that bring us to poetry and the movement that combines ecological and feminist concerns—ecofeminism.

Of the ignitions to poetry, I talk about a begining bird, the color yellow, and the first formerly memorized poem of my life, which is from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. Here’s an excerpt of “Time to Rise”:

           A birdie with a yellow bill
           Hopped upon the window sill.
           Cocked his shiny eye and said :
          ‘Ain’t you ’shamed, you sleepy-head ?’

Birds Don’t Shame is the title of Susan’s and my conversation; visit Concrete & River to read more about why I don’t think so.

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February 20: With Jess Turner, Managing Editor of Colorado Review, at the Center for Literary Publishing blog, where Jess casts expansive inquiry, and I make my answers in the now of our conversation.

Perhaps because my logic is circular, Jess gave our conversation the title: “She acknowledges the circle. / There is no obvious beginning,” taking two lines from the poem,”The Calling” in The Minuses. Here’s the poem in its entirety:

The Calling

                        of something within

Rather than investigate meaning

                        or make a world of thought

                        she acknowledges the tendency

                        of a broken line to curve.

She acknowledges the circle.

There is no obvious beginning.

The circle navigated by coordinates

                        polar, parametric, Cartesian.

Each point a locus of all points

                        holds to itself.

She edges the circumference

                                    leans far out from the edge

                        to fulfill her attraction

                        to what withdraws.

The height a bird flies depends on the bird.

A conversation is circular; take in Jess’s and mine: “She acknowledges the circle. / There is no obvious beginning,”

: : : :

Thank you bows to Susan Gillis and Jess Turner for the gift of conversation!

Thank you bows to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention!

The Minuses

 

After years of working on the poems,

after signing off on the final proof,

after burning the owl-high stack of manuscript versions,

after disposing of every last ashen comma and colon,

after the boxes containing the books arrived at my door,

The Minuses at my door

after the boxes containing the books were opened,

and, after eyeing and drinking in the realization that The Minuses is in print! is published! books are in hand!

I’m resting on my laurels*.

 

  • *After spontaneously using this phrase, I did a bit of reading on the orgin of the laurel wreath and its associates in Greek mythology, namely Eros, the god of love, Apollo, patron of archery, and Daphne, a river nymph. The story: Apollo made fun of Eros’ use of arrows, so Eros took revenge by shooting Apollo with a gold arrow, instilling him with love for Daphne, and shot Daphne with a lead arrow, instilling her with hatred for Apollo. To be free of him, Daphne was turned into a laurel tree, which is evergreen because Apollo rendered it thus. Fashioning himself a wreath out of the laurel branches, Apollo turned Daphne into a cultural symbol for him and other musicians and poets. Rather perfect, yes?

 


Current mood: a yellow rose and desert monsoon, gratitude-infusion!

Thank you bows to my publisher: Stephanie G’Schwind; the photographer of the cover image: Liz Kemp, and the horizon of poets, who offered their endorsements to the book: Gillian Conoley, Claudia Keelan, and Daphne Marlatt.

 

& Making Space (2)

Hello, dear reader! As 2019’s 11th month nears end, I’m thinking about space—being made for my poems and me—and those who generously made it .

I’ve offered this before and I’ll offer it again:                                                                                  Making space for makers is a community-minded, inclusive action of high order!

Gratitude all around to those generous souls who have made space for my poems and me the months of this year in their readings series, at their microphones, around their fires, in their ears, in their eyes, in their bookshelves, in their imaginations, in their conversations, in their publications…

Come with me on this tour of gratitude for makers making spaces for me, my poems…

In reading series–

Most of the readings I offered and participated in this year took place in October and November, and of those, two took place on islands.

First island hop, Gabriola Island 

Macarty-Feuchtwanger E-Flyer (1)

Nice poster! Right? Poetry Gabriola asked if they could use the cover image, taken by Vincent Wong, and the title of my 2018 chapbook Instinctive Acts for the poster. How could I refuse?

Hosted by Poetry Gabriola at the Roxy on Friday, October 4, 2019 at 7:30 p.m., Lawrence Feuchtwanger, a terrific poet, former student, and new resident of Gabriola Island opened our joint reading to a beautiful poetry audience of ~40 souls with attentive ears and big hearts. Lawrence read from his collection Refugee Song  (Signature Editons, 2014) and from newer work. For my part of the evening, I read poems from Landscape of The Wait and Instinctive Acts, followed by a handful of poems from The Minuses. I loved how Lawrence’s and my poems conferred, sometimes joining , sometimes diverging—and it was heart-gratifying to be in conversation with Lawrence and his poems again.

Lawrence, I hasten to add, not only invited and hosted me for the Poetry Gabriola reading, he and Deb, his partner, also put me up at their marvelous wood-frame house in the woods. O, the quiet! The fire place! The bright, open space where I offered the workshop the next day was absolutely perfect for our conversation about radiances—the brilliances of light, heat, emotion, etc.—within poems. Lawrence even baked gluten-free brownies to provide nourishment to me and workshop participants. I returned to Vancouver from my 24-hours on Gabriola, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Thank you Lawrence, Deb, The Poetry Gabriola Society, The Roxy, and the lovely, welcoming residents of Gabriola Island for hosting me!

Second island hop, Orcas Island

Macarty Babcock Salon Series 20191116

This warm and warming poster is designed by Jill McCabe Johnson. As well as being a graphic designer, Jill is also a terrific poet (we’re Finishing Line Press sisters), an editor, and with her good partner Charles, an innkeeper of Kangaroo House B&B.

Hosted by Artsmith on Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 7:00 p.m., Debra Babcock opened the salon by reading two excerpts from her memoir-in-process, focusing on her relationship with her mother, a polio survivor and hearty soul. I read poems from Landscape of The Wait and Instinctive Acts, followed by a handful of poems from The Minuses. Surrounding Debra, me, and our words were the warmth and light from the fire, and the open and welcoming attention of listeners. Following our readings, the audience joined us in a special conversation that got at the core of writing impulses, subjects (especially related to family), and connections between writing, ecology, and spirituality. Then, we supped on delicious potluck fare and continued our delving conversations.

Not only did Jill and Charles host me for the salon series reading and potluck, they hosted me and John for two nights in their B&B, Kangaroo House. We were very well taken care of; these two whip up three-course breakfasts! We loved the quiet, the hottub soak in the rain, and the king-sized bed. We returned to Vancouver with our hearts filled. Images: John R. Welch

Thank you Jill, Charles, Artsmith, Kangaroo House, Debra, and the salon’s generous audience for sharing word-love with me! Images: John R. Welch

In celebrations of diversity and language–

with Tasai Collective & Soramaru Takayama

Hosted by Tasai on Saturday, July 20, 2019 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at Vancouver Art Gallery,  the second annual perfomance of the poem “Tower of Babel” by Soramaru Takayama took place. Once again this year, it was my honor to participate in this powerful, heart-expanding poetry reading and performance that seeks to honor diversity in a city of immigrants who live on the unceded lands of First Nations peoples. I gave my voice in American English to the poem, just as the speakers of 15 other languages gave their voices and first languages to celebrate diversity in Vancouver on a hot summer’s day.

Thank you bows to gracious hosts: Tasai Collective, Steve Frost, Yurie Hoyoyon, Soramaru Takayama, Vancouver Art Gallery, and the people of Vancouver who joined their voices with ours! Images: John R. Welch

with Nomados Literary Publishers, Meredith Quartermain, & Peter Quartermain

Hosted by Nomados Literary Publishers, Meredith Quartermain, and Peter Quartermain at People’s Co-op Bookstore on November 14, 2019 at 7:30 p.m., a community of writers and readers gathered around Meredith and Peter Quartermain and their 51-title publishing endeavor, Nomados Literary Publishers. The evening opened with a slide show, featuring the Nomados’ titles’ covers, most authors, the printers, the publishers, and everyone else who contributes to the success of the chapbook series, including Rolf Maurer, who runs People’s Co-op Bookstore, where the readings by Nomados authors typically take place. After the slideshow, Meredith Quartermain offered her humble remarks, followed by those of humourously askew Peter Quartermain. Then, Judith Penner, Jacqueline Turner and I, offered a pop-up panel on nomadism. Images: Meredith Quartermain

My comments focused on the flâneuse, walking in the poems of Instinctive Acts, my chapbook published by Nomados (November 2018). This walker is a woman, considering home, violence, and belonging in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Flâneur, from the French, meaning “stroller,” “lounger,” “saunterer,” or “loafer” (Merriam Webster), has long been seen as a man’s role…, but what, I asked in my five-minute comments, about the transgressive work of the flâneuse? She is every bit the wanderer, wondering. “Sometimes she would like to be a settler, but curiosity, grief, and disaffection forbid it” (Deborah Levy, Swallowing Geography, Penguin, 2019).

Thank you to Meredith, Peter, Nomados Literary Publishers, my press colleagues, including Joanne Arnott (#50), Renee Rodin (#16), and Fred Wah (#25), who offered the evenings readings, plus John Welch and SFU’s Archeology Department for the loan of the projector screen, Rolf and People’s Co-op Bookstore. Images: Jami Macarty

In publications

Lucky I have been this year to have poems and an essay accepted for publication. Published in 2019: Autumn in the EastThe Journal 43.3;  Inexorably Tangled, a collaborative poem written w/Jacqueline Turner / The Capilano Review 3.39; Who The Strummer in Vallum 16:1 (digital extras); three poems from A Body in Liberating Strife in Another Way RoundForthcoming: The Daughter / Dusie Blog; Cultivated Aftermath of Posts & She-Civilian in Tiny Spoon; Letter in Name of Country in Global Geneva; The Shelter in The Rumpus: ENOUGH column; Memory Predator & Neighbors in EVENT; Digging for Heart, a chapter in Archaeologies of the Heart.

Thank you to editors Molly Brown and Robert J. Schumaker, Jr. at The Journal; to Juliane Okot Bitek and Matea Kulic at The Capilano Review, to Eleni Zisimatos and Leigh Kotsilidis at Vallum, to Edward Wells at Another Way Around, to rob mclennan at Dusie blog; to C. M. Chady and Stephanie Hempel at Tiny Spoon; to Carla Drydale at Global Geneva; to Marisa Siegel at The Rumpus; to Joanne Arnott at EVENT, and to Kisha Supernant et al. of the volume Archeologies of the Heart for their support of and confidence in my work.

In ears, eyes, reviews, & bookshelves–

Kevin Spenst offered to Instinctive Acts a brief, but salient review in subTerrain #81 “Chuffed About Chapbooks” column…

Dr. Martin St. Andre gave Landscape of The Wait 5 out of 5 stars, and in November on Amazon, offered the poems a full, most thoughtful, expansive, and most special to me review. I include it in its entirety here…

“Jami Macarty wrote this collection of poetry in honor of her nephew William who was hospitalized in an Intensive Care Unit after sustaining multiple physical and neurological injuries following a car crash. Her series of poems conjure up the harrowing experience of accompanying a loved one during a coma episode: the inability to validate any form of communication with the person, the enforced passivity, the entrapment in a highly technological environment, the dependency on a dazzling number of healthcare professionals, the repetitive attempts to create a coherent trauma narrative, the exhaustion, the resurfacing of family tensions–and solidarity–in the midst of forced hospital cohabitation, the sense of time unfolding and yet somewhat stagnating.

That great beauty could emerge from such an apparently bleak landscape speaks of Macarty’s literary brio, exquisite observational skills, deep capacity to straddle ambiguity and appreciation of life as it is. The superb visual layout of words on the page creates intriguing associations and conveys the sensory choppiness of traumatic experience. The percussive alliterations, the reiterations and the stuttering quality of certain passages convey the attempts to transmute disparate sensations into words. The repeated references to scientific terminology illustrate our striving to overcome ignorance and to conquer reality; yet this very quest acutely shows how language is but an island in the midst of the unknowable.

This series of poems should join the expanding literature in narrative medicine and be  recommended reading for anyone involved in critical care medicine. For family members and friends of patients, this text could provide hope about creating meaning in traumatic circumstances. For writers, this series will demonstrate how technical breadth can be used graciously and purposefully. And for the rest of us readers, this series will have us marvel at the power of poetry for expressing the inexpressible.”

Thank you very dearly Kevin and Martin for offering my poems your special attention and thoughtful reader’s responses.

 

 

On day 334 of the year 2019 and all seven days of each week in these 11 months, dear reader, I thank you for welcoming the words of this blog, and thank you to those of you who have purchased my books and read my books, welcoming my poems and me into your ears and eyes and bookshelves. Thank you with my whole heart for your welcoming! Poetry Love! Love Love all around you!

& Instinctive Acts

As the sand drains to the bottom of December 31’s remaining hours, and just like the end of 2017, lasts, like this day, point me toward reflection and acknowledgment, announcement and celebration. In my previous post, I took stock of my year in poetry, bowing to those who joined and supported me. 

In this post, I announce Instinctive Acts, my third chapbook of poetry, published in October 2018 by Nomados Literary Publishers, edited by Meredith Quartermain and Peter Quartermain

Here’s Meredith Quartermain unveiling Instinctive Acts on October 19, 2018 at Nelson The Seagull (cafe). Instinctive Acts joins my other two chapbooks of poetry. 

In my first chapbook, Landscape of The Wait (Finishing Line Press, 2017), a poetic response to my nephew William’s car accident and year-long coma, the landscape is hospital and waiting rooms on the Atlantic coast in the Northeastern US, where I grew up and where my family still lives, and the conceptual landscape waiting carves in the minds and hearts of the waiters. In my second chapbook, Mind of Spring (No. 22 Vallum Chapbook Series, 2017), the landscape is the Sonoran Desert that surrounds Tucson, Arizona, and includes streets and neighborhoods (Barrios) of the city’s Downtown. This long poem in three parts also takes place in corporate America and oil-rich Middle Eastern countries surrounded by the Arabian Desert. 

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The landscape of Instinctive Acts is Vancouver, British Columbia’s Downtown Eastside and Gastown neighborhoods. In these poems, I’m writing to locale/dis/location; place/dis/placement; neighbor/neighborhood. The poems are written as taking place in the city and so by that association they are of a city. Weirdly perhaps, I do not think of them as commentary on city (the urban) or in contrast to the (suburban) small village I grew up in on the other side of the continent or to the desert. Place is important because of a feeling of exile, displacement, immigrant status, and, the loneliness that comes with being new and other in a place, especially one that tends to remind you of your otherness. 

Everyone has their pre/occupation. In these poems, mine is: How do I and my neighbors live together? What is neighbor/neighborhood? Who belongs–the geography of self? Who is inside/outside–figuratively and literally? How do we connect? Where do we find community? What is home? Where is it found? To what elements of deconstruction are connection, community, and home vulnerable? 

The vulnerabilities are revealed through: Woman walking. Violence–against women. Writing on the wall, as literal and metaphoric implication. Talking to walls. Speech. Communication. Listening/watching in order to locate. In order to be. In relationship. In community. With self, other, streets, alleys, restaurants, birds (nature), and rain. It wouldn’t be Vancouver without rain.

In Vancouver, rain is often a source of complaint, keeping residents inside. By contrast, in Tucson, rain is a cause for celebration, dancing residents into the streets. I’ve always loved the rain. Rain that washes but that’s not what it’s for. Rain that punctuates but that’s not what it’s for. Rain no matter what. Rain on everything. Rain indiscriminately. 

Rain–its absence or presence. Birds. Location. These are three constants in my work.

I want to tell you a bit about how the cover came to be.

As with the other two chapbooks, I wanted a photograph for the cover. Meredith Q. was hesitant, so I was in the process of accepting a text only cover for Instinctive Acts when I had a dream in which a photo of the gargoyle, as I call it, in an alley near where I live became the cover of the chapbook. The next morning, I contacted Vincent Wong, my friend and a wonderful photographer to see if he’d come take the gargoyle’s picture. He agreed! 

Here are some of Vincent’s beautiful captures of the day.

Once I had Vincent’s wonderful photographs, I selected the one (bottom left) and mocked up a cover for Meredith to see. She loved it, and when I told her about my dream, the new cover was born! 

What a joy it was to collaborate with Meredith and Vincent on the book! I bow to them, and to Joanne Arnott and Wayde Compton, who offered their endorsements for the poems. Terrific artists all, who make Vancouver’s arts and my community more vibrant.

With the book all together, it was time to celebrate! 

Rolf, the owner of People’s Co-op Bookstore, where we gathered to celebrate Instinctive Acts welcomed us. First up: Jacqueline Turner, a new friend and wonderful poet read from her new work forthcoming from ECW Press. Next Jacqueline and I read part of a poem we wrote in collaboration for Pandora’s Collective Poetic Pairings reading (October 30, 2018). Then, it was my turn! I read 10 poems from Instinctive Acts. The reading closed with Japanese poet, Soramaru Takayama and I reading two more poems from the chapbook. I read in English, Sora read his translations of my poems in Japanese; then, we read the poems in our respective languages simultaneously (Go to this post on my Facebook page to listen to Sora’s and my performance).

There’s another chapbook of my poems into the world. Tra la! Will you read it and then share with me your response? That’s a poet’s hope! Happy All Year!