And a bird overhead sang Follow,
And a bird to the right sang Here;
And the arch of the leaves was hollow,
And the meaning of May was clear.
―Algernon Charles Swinburne
The month of May is named after Maia―known as the Great Mother, the embodiment of nurturing and growth. That’s perfect for springtime’s buds and blooms, nest building and egg laying. All of this new, new life making itself known while simultaneously we collectively grieve great loss related to the pandemic.
What potent blood hath modest May. —Ralph W. Emerson
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And after winter folweth grene May. ―Geoffrey Chaucer
Dear Reader, I’m thrilled you’re with me here in “grene May,” where I will share dispatches from my reading and writing practices in April!
What did I read in the fourth month of my fourth annual personal big read: #mypersonalBigRead2021?
Here are some highlights!
At the beginning of April, I was preoccupied with proofreading the Spring 2021 issue of The Maynard. For those of you who do not know, The Maynard is the online poetry magazine I co-founded (in 2006/7) and edit. The Spring 2021 issue features The Maynard‘s customary 24 poets, and my focus was on ensuring their 32 poems and 24 bios were error-free. Each time I proofread an issue I’m aware of the process’s calling—for fine-tuned, detail-oriented, and meticulous attention. Proofreading is an undertaking that humbles me! As I comb every line of text, I’m acutely aware of how pressure-inducing and nerve-wracking the process is. You know, when you’re an editor for a poetry magazine, much of your reputation rides on getting names and titles and poems right. As daunting as the task is, it’s equally rewarding. I am proud of the Spring 2021; it is beautiful and makes me happy! I hope you think so, too!
You’re cordially invited to read and listen to the poems of the Spring 2021 issue of The Maynard!
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Once The Maynard was into the world, I turned my attention to deep engagement with the poetry of Alice Notley. Notley was due to read for the Enclave Reading series, and I wanted to steep in her world in preparation. As I think about “preparing” myself for Alice Notley, I get curious. I don’t always “prepare” for readings. Certainly, I have attended other readings “to get to know” poets. However, I have heard Alice Notley read before. All I can offer to myself by way of explanation is that I wanted to be in and in and in Notley’s profound, expansive world for longer than the hour of her live reading. In another way, dear reader, that I felt called to “prepare” myself for Alice Notley gives you a sense of the affect of the energy and power of her writing on me.
We name us and then we are lost, tamed
I choose words, more words, to cure the tameness, not the wildness
Another highlight of the month’s reading was Rae Armantrout‘s third (I think) collection, Precedence. This book and beautiful object is special to me because of its publication date (1985) early in Armantrout’s ouvre, and also because of the publisher, Rosmarie and Keith Waldrop’s Burning Deck, based in Providence, Rhode Island. These are not easy books to get hands on, so a bibliophile is happy!
to address the world’s
In two closings of the loop, I wrapped up April’s reading by engaging with eight collections of poetry in the running for the 2021 New Mexico/Arizona Books Awards for poetry in either the New Mexico or Arizona categories. It was inspiring and gratifying for me to read some of the collections in this year’s field. Au courant! Plus, doing so gave me perspective on last year’s award, won by my collection The Minuses.
palo verde: green stick tree
precipitating yellow blossoms:
green tree, yellow blossoms:
a mind sticks on certain images, certain colors
I read 30 volumes in April, and as of this writing I have read a total of 134 volumes for the year. The books I plan to read are stacked and May’s reading is underway. One of the books I’m poised to read is RESISTANCE: RIGHTEOUS RAGE IN THE AGE OF #METOO, an anthology speaking out against sexual assault, male violence against women, and abuse of power in its many, disturbing forms, edited by Sue Goyette, shepherded by managing editor Kelly Laycock, and published by the University of Regina Press. My poem, “Autumn in the East, the Pilot” joins 80 other voices raised in rage, resistance, and resilience.
Pink, small, and punctual,
Covert in April,
Candid in May…
I’ll write again soon to share my engagements with the books I read, report back on whether or not the books I plan to read are actually those that I read, and how the reading goes. Until then.
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+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention!
+ Thank you bows to the writers and publishers, who brought their grand accomplishments of chapbooks and books into the world, for keeping me company and inspiring me in April.
+ Thank you bows to poet and editor Sue Goyette, managing editor Kelly Laycock, and the rest of the team at University of Regina Press for their forbearance and attention to the publication of RESISTANCE, and for including one of my poems in the anthology’s necessary conversation.
+ 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!