Poem-a-Day & Reading at WORD in Jersey City & New POP & New SOWs

Finally getting back on schedule since returning from AWP in Seattle last week.  I had a really great time.  I got to hear Mary Ruefle read (she was wonderful).  I got to go on a lovely hike that overlooked the Pugent Sound.  And most importantly, I got to take a break from life in NYC.

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Another awesome thing that happened last week is that a poem of mine was featured as the poem of the day for the Academy of American Poets.  You can read the poem here.  Big thanks to Alex Dimitrov!

Coldfront recently relaunched with it’s really sharp new design.  I didn’t realize that the site really needed a redesign until I saw the new one.  Isn’t that the way of it.  What a difference!

You can check out the latest POP by DJ Dolack here.  Also, new SOWs, this time a residency by Bloof Books, featuring pieces so far by Amanda Montei, Elisabeth Workman, and Hailey Higdon.  It is pretty awesome that this residency about lined up with AWP since I was able to meet a lot of Bloofies in Seattle.  I feel really luckily that my chapbook Sympathetic Nervous System found a home with Bloof.

Also, this Thursday, I am reading at WORD Bookstore in Jersey City.  It’s pretty amazing that Jersey City even has an independent bookstore (let alone a WORD) and I am really happy to be reading with some other local authors.  You can check out the Facebook invite here.  The reading starts at 7.30pm.  Maybe see you there?

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6 thoughts on “Poem-a-Day & Reading at WORD in Jersey City & New POP & New SOWs

  1. Hi Jackie, I used that poem in a workshop I offer in Boston, sort of ESL meets MFA. It was hard to “teach” but had some useful English language-y things for non-native speakers (among others, the Americanism, like sort of like) but the image of “instead of love a watermelon” was so strong I just wanted to put the poem out there. And one person there gave this great riff about how it was about translating words into action, how without the act of sharing the word love means nothing — gosh, he spoke for a few minutes. I was torn between a little bit of embarrassment I hadn’t thought as much about the poem he had (his “explanation” was a juicy and pink and ready to bite into) and pleasure in sharing delight in a poem with someone. Then I looked you up and found out with live in Jersey City. I lived there in 1980 and taught 8th grade at Saint Patrick. First lived on Bright Street then on Second Avenue next to an Italian bakery that made amazing sausage bread I have never been able to recreate. The kids on my class used to say “word” the way today they say “awesome.” It was the part I took away with me when I left for Vermont because I had a cat there in the woods I named “Word.” Thanks for that poem.

  2. Dear Jackie,

    I do not know your poetry generally but it seems you are developing quite a reputation and I am happy for you. However, I must say that I took great exception to your recent poem published in Poem-a-Day.

    It strikes me as sweetly innocent, a little too innocent of how communication and language work. It’s on par with earnest, childlike proposals that we could end all wars by getting people to love each other, or with the all-too-frequent adult prescription that we adopt a universal language to minimize conflict. Cue: civil wars.

    Perhaps I misread your poem but you seem to suggest life would be so much clearer and honest if we just thought and talked in visual images, or that all that is worth talking about can be expressed visually. Oh yeah? Try thinking or talking about love, justice, truth, probability, fairness, patterns, politeness, or any of a zillion or so abstractions that cannot be realized in images. You are confusing examples with concepts. You would reduce us to bundles of percepts. Much of our higher level mental activity exists precisely and only because we have linguistic tools to operate with. Our abstractions reside in the relations among words. Abstractions allow us to rise above the muck of particular examples to see patterns. Granted, abstractions can get us in trouble when, for example, we don’t agree on what is just or what is truth, but your facile put-down of language ( “contrived line[s] I repeat over and over to myself”) won’t help us resolve these differences or advance the cause of human understanding. With Wittgenstein, you are free to lament the bewitchment of our intelligence by language, but we do not get out of this mess by mounting broomsticks. You would reduce thinking to a Salvador Dali or Jackson Pollack painting, with images blurring and bleeding into each other in overlapping chaos.

    Jackie, you are not even consistent in wishing to operate outside language when you speak of arranging the images “linearly,” which you liken to reading. Oh, dear, such a caricature could spring only from someone who has no idea that reading is anything but linear. Words refer to words spoken earlier and to words which will be spoken later, not to mention little inconveniences like pronouns that refer all over an utterance or text. It is a commonplace that sometimes we do not grasp the meaning or import of a word or phrase until we arrive at the end of a text when it suddenly becomes illuminated. The mysteries of reference through syntax only add to the complexity you have not considered. You seem to be under the spell of the late Marshall McLuhan in your uninformed speculations of how language and communication work.

    I’m sorry to be so blunt. If this poem is not a parody of pointless, scholastic sermonizing, it needs serious re-thinking. It is only cute, as children are cute. It is not enlightening. Watermelon love does not begin to rival the immense complexity of love as expressed in words in poems and novels throughout the ages.

    Finally, the most glaring problem with your poem is that it is self-contradictory. If communicating through images will rescue us from the burden of “contrived line[s],” why didn’t you just submit a painting or a series of sketches? The fact that you need words to express your position would seem to obliterate your message.

    I trust you will take my critique in the spirit in which it is meant, to offer feedback from one ( ONLY ONE ) readers’s reaction. I have subjected my poems to critiques of some highly respected poets and have become a better poet because of it.

    I await your reply.

  3. What does it mean: “Your comment is awaiting moderation?” Does it mean you are censoring it, or deciding whether it is too strong or too critical? We will not advance as a culture if we shield ourselves from those who express reservations. In the best spirit of freedom of expression, please post my comments and then show me where I am wrong or acknowledge where I make a good point. Thanks.

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