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Poet of the Month

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TIE Poet of the Month: ‘February Is An Early Spring’, by Kate Angus

If I slept like an egg
(unbroken), my eyes opening

crack the shell. This morning,
a cloud formation

takes the shape of Great Britain; elsewhere,
a garage floods, recedes,

and America stains concrete.
This is a compulsion

called cartocacoethes
where one sees maps

everywhere. I found the website,
and now left-over breakfast toast

is Cuba, where I want to go. I have a tendency
to make every happenstance

important. The light’s not green?
Take a right at the corner and notice

how those willow branches
are wet hair cascading

down–this means
we should go swimming. Think

how many people
there are in this world. I am so lucky.

This whole planet:
you could have been anywhere.


Kate Angus is the author of So Late to the Party (Negative Capability Press, 2016), the Creative Writing Advisor for the Mayapple Center for Arts and Humanities at Sarah Lawrence College and a founding editor of Augury Books. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Atlantic online, The Washington Post, The Awl, Verse Daily, Best New Poets 2010, Best New Poets 2014, Gulf Coast, Subtropics, The Academy of American Poets’ “Poem a Day” and Tin House’s “Open Bar.” More information about Kate can be found at www.kateangus.org.

featured image via cesarastudillo on Flickr.

‘Love’s Banquet,’ by David Lehman

If poetry is love’s banquet, with minstrels reciting tales of cities sacked and sea voyages wrecked while the princely hosts and their guests lift their sacramental chalices and sip the liqueurs of contentment,

Play on, not to the sensual ear but to the spirit ditties of no tone.

Play on, if music be the food of love,

Give me excess of it.

I sip from the cup that Keats says is full of the warm south, mirth, and sun, “With beaded bubbles winking at the brim / And purple-stained mouth,” and I recommend Byron’s remedy for a hangover: “hock and soda water.”

For every poet a fruit or a sweet, plums for Williams, bananas and pineapples for Stevens; the shape of a pear (Stevens), the burst of “Joy’s grape” (Keats), and the word as delicious as the melon sweet as fresh water to the parched lips of the sailor on the abandoned raft: honeydew.

But I have a question for you, dear reader, friend and fellow admirer of the English Romantic poets as we walk hand in hand in the deer park of Magdalen College in Oxford. Why was the original transgression the consumption of a fruit rather than, say, a stroll on a prohibited path or a swim in a no-swim zone or a long dazed look at your image on the surface of a pond? It’s not: you may touch anything but this bush. It’s not: you may go anywhere but here. It is the eating of a fruit that is forbidden, the taste of the fruit that opens your eyes and reveals your shameful nakedness, man and woman, and I want to know why it has to be a fruit, it has to hang from the tree of knowledge, and you have to eat it.   



Stacey & DL La Grenoulle 2016 David Lehman has taught in the New School’s MFA Writing Program since its inception in 1996. His new book of poetry is “Poems in the Manner Of,” coming from Scribner in March 2017.

featured image via Anastasia Linska on Flickr.

TIE Poet of the Month: ‘Lune De Miel’, By David Lehman

for Stacey

The best thing about Paris
is being here with you
(a Sauterne with one course,
a Cote de Beaune with the next)
and the best thing about
being here with you
is Paris (three letters short
of paradise but I
wouldn’t have it any
other way) on this November
day of clean blue skies
(a Chablis with one course,
a Pomerol with the next)
after yesterday’s umbrellas three
stories below our window
where three streets meet
in the cold gray rain
of a new day in the past
which we’re keeping alive


Stacey & DL La Grenoulle 2016 David Lehman has taught in the New School’s MFA Writing Program since its inception in 1996. His new book of poetry is “Poems in the Manner Of,” coming from Scribner in March 2017.

featured image via L.C. Nøttaasen on Flickr.

TIE Poet Of The Month: ‘The Way To Daddy’s Heart’, by David Lehman

I wrote this poem in November 2016 for Jessica Alberg, Lily Bowen, Rebecca Endres, Leslie King, Armand Levy, Thomas Moody, Brendan Smith, Keri Smith, Sean Speers, and Virginia Valenzuela — the participants in my poetry writing workshop. We had two standing jokes that are reflected in the poem. One was the observation that almost any poem can end with the sentence “This poem is against war.” A second joke was based on an essay in a prestigious literary quarterly alleging that the ideal end-word for a poem is “paradise.” The essayist may have argued that all poems ends with “paradise,” although the only example given was Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.”

The way to Daddy’s heart
is through his love
of asparagus
white asparagus
pickled chilled
with a stack of corned beef
and pastrami
and brown mustard
and pickles.

The way to Daddy’s heart
is through his love
of melons
sugar melons
water melon
honeydew
scents of summer
and poems that end
with the word “paradise.”

The way to Daddy’s heart
is through his love
of gin and vermouth
or a sly grin a deep truth
with a twist of lemon
olives or onions
at the end of the day
like a poem that ends
with the universal last line
of all poems:
“This poem is against war.”


Stacey & DL La Grenoulle 2016 David Lehman has taught in the New School’s MFA Writing Program since its inception in 1996. His new book of poetry is “Poems in the Manner Of,” coming from Scribner in March 2017.

featured image via Beau Colburn on Flickr.

TIE Poet Of The Month: ‘The Four Seasons’, By David Lehman

for Rozanne Gold

Lunching with Stacey
at the soon-to-close Four
Seasons, sipping my
champagne cocktail I
overheard the State
Department is in a state
of perpetual war
attack counterattack never
give an inch just like
the English department
well, some were born to bicker
and they get the prize
of being the last one
left to say “I’m right”
but you and I want
to make things that will
last or vanish like
love or the most expensive
dish on the menu


Stacey & DL La Grenoulle 2016 David Lehman has taught in the New School’s MFA Writing Program since its inception in 1996. His new book of poetry is “Poems in the Manner Of,” coming from Scribner in March 2017.

featured image via Reclaiming Provincial.

TIE Poet of the Month: ‘from If This Should Reach You In Time’, by Justin Marks

The sun is blood orange
Our planet burning toward a new
age of extinction An impossible
attempt at rhyme Evolution
shapes acceptable solutions, not
optimal ones
, says a scientist
whose life’s work is an argument
against reality A train that’s not
a train, so much as
a description created by sensory
systems to inform us about
the fitness consequences
of our actions–a brain’s best
guess at what the world is like

A story A system
of corruption Illusion
of control A shared nightmare
we each experience on our own
The bridge from which we all
jump

 


Justin Marks’ books are, You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re Bored, (Barrelhouse Books, 2014) and A Million in Prizes (New Issues, 2009). He is a co-founder of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press, and lives in Queens, NY with his wife and their son and daughter. For more, go to http://justinmarks.net/

 

featured image via Spoon University.

TIE Poet of the Month: from ‘If This Should Reach You In Time’, by Justin Marks

It’s dark
What light there is
is blurry
You’re a child
holding an ice cream
Someone is explaining
the Cold War
Telling you about
nuclear bombs
You’re scared, terrified
to be precise
Awareness of death
That’s not new
Aware of death and scared
That’s new
An inauguration
of fear that ignites
in you an urgency
without object
Isolation
In time
at a religious service
(though you’re not religious)
you’ll come to a part
in a prayer that says
Around us is life and death
decay and renewal
The flowing rhythm that all things obey

A part in a prayer that says
Our life is a dance to a song
we cannot hear

A part in a prayer that says
It’s melody courses through us
for a little while then seems to cease

A part in a prayer that says
Lord what are we
A part in a prayer that says
A breath, a passing shadow
A part in a prayer that says
Yet you have made us
little less than divine

You will feel something
Call it a connection
Peace, calm
The world is hopeless
You know that
but will feel hope
You will feel hope
and find a voice
You will find a voice
and rise
You will rise
and take action
But that is many
broken worlds away

 


Justin Marks’ books are, You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re Bored, (Barrelhouse Books, 2014) and A Million in Prizes (New Issues, 2009). He is a co-founder of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press, and lives in Queens, NY with his wife and their son and daughter. For more, go to http://justinmarks.net/

 

featured image via Johnathan Nightingale on Flickr.

TIE Poet of the Month: ‘from ‘If This Should Reach You In Time”, by Justin Marks

I’m reading Diane diPrima’s Revolutionary Letters outloud to myself
I’m feeling radicalized and near hysterics
I’m calling politicians and having
voice-to-voice conversations with staffers
I’m marching and shouting chants
I’m applying for jobs
I’m having imaginary conversations
with people who support the other side
I’m adopting kittens
Making salad and eating healthy
Typing typing typing
Finding ways of speaking I failed
to access before
I’m wondering what my family and I will do when the government
takes away our health insurance
I’ve (re)discovered Judaism and joined a synagogue
(The spiritual is also political)
I’m praying
I’m gathering all the stories I can of my immigrant ancestors
their flights from persecution in Russia, in Germany
I’m making donations
I’m mourning my elderly neighbor who died alone in his apartment over the weekend
Sharon Jones and Prince and David Bowie, Mohamed Ali and Leonard Cohen and Gwen Ifill
I’m going to the store and doing laundry
The wind gusts up to 50mph and howls
through my leaky windows
I’m picking up the kids from school
I’m having lunch with friends and working to be a better listener
I’m watching comedy shows at night because laughter is spiritual
and thus political
I pass strangers on the street and wonder
which side they’re on
I’m putting faith
in the poem
The poem
has power
It fights
The poem refuses
to normalize

 

Justin Marks’ books are, You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re Bored, (Barrelhouse Books, 2014) and A Million in Prizes (New Issues, 2009). He is a co-founder of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press, and lives in Queens, NY with his wife and their son and daughter. For more, go to http://justinmarks.net/

featured image via malloreigh on Flickr

Will, by Leah Umansky

I listen to the dark, that souvenir of light. What is darned and holed. I listen to the darts, the ends of their lines. Sometimes, I mute my reds to mauves, it is a slight denial, but some turns are slight. Sometimes, I want to scream, but I don’t.

*

The way we move through this world is a placement of position and time. The wilderness of my placement. I place my tongue to my lips; I place my eyes on these words; I place my trust in this world, but who is piecing together these days? Who is pruning the hours?

*

I ordered take-out the other day, pushed the front door open and out I was into a cold, beautiful fall day. As I crossed the street, and noticed a family walking in front of me, past an Italian restaurant.  

The child, a small girl, was screaming, I can’t take it. I can’t take it anymore.  

She couldn’t have been more than three or four years old. She was running alone, in front of her father. He didn’t run after her, but had her in his gaze. He didn’t seem alarmed, but I was.

He was yelling behind her, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.  

I can’t take it anymore, she screamed louder, as her face became covered in tears, I want to go to that restaurant, she began to bawl.

A part of me laughed at the absurdity of a small girl screaming that she couldn’t take it.  Another part of me laughed at the absurdity of a small girl screaming that she couldn’t take it anymore.   

It is hard to take it and go on with another hour, another day. Life isn’t fair.What is or isn’t fair, is still yours. You are yours.

*

In the movies, you learn to be your own leading lady.  You learn to make your own.  You learn to be yourself.   Every dribble, every let-down and lug, every lie you keep at your breast, is an errand of desire. I know that everything I have created has been for me, for this life.

I can’t, but I will. I will.   


Leah Umansky’s The Barbarous Century is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing in 2018. She is also the author of the dystopian-themed Straight Away the Emptied World (Kattywompus Press, 2016), the Mad-Men inspired chapbook, Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press, 2014), and the full length, Domestic Uncertainties (BlazeVOX, 2012). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Boston Review, The Journal, and Thrush Poetry Journal. She is a graduate of the MFA Program in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and teaches middle and high school English in New York City. More at www.LeahUmansky.com.

featured image via Axel and Sophie Steenberg.

TIE Poet of the Month: ‘Ballad’, by Leah Umansky

I decided to claim more space
But I chose the opposite
What are the words I would go to: hunger// longing// love
When you feel drawn to something you should.
Whatever your terrible is is up to you.
The question is how you lead.
I lead myself to distress; I lead myself to happiness.
This is the history of our times.
I claw my way to the surface.
I get a hold of this world with my teeth
& wolf down what I thirst for.
How do I take the I out of here?
(why should I take the I out?)

*

I am always hungry
I am always thinking of my next meal
Is it the New Yorker in me?
Is it the preemie in me?
Is it just the want?

*

We all have our oddities.
I am always trying to be practical, logical, rational,
but it doesn’t always add up.
There is so much of my life that I am forever holding under the light.
What falls below the seam?
What falls outside of this poem?

*

I want to put the happy in.
I want to put the hard world in.
I want to say this is a ballad, and so it is.
Let’s enter it differently.
Any mammal feeds a hunger
Any heart needs oxygen.


Leah Umansky’s The Barbarous Century is forthcoming from Eyewear Publishing in 2018. She is also the author of the dystopian-themed Straight Away the Emptied World (Kattywompus Press, 2016), the Mad-Men inspired chapbook, Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press, 2014), and the full length, Domestic Uncertainties (BlazeVOX, 2012). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Boston Review, The Journal, and Thrush Poetry Journal. She is a graduate of the MFA Program in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College and teaches middle and high school English in New York City. More at www.LeahUmansky.com.

featured image via Steve Minor on Flickr.