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POETRY LONDON 2021

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First we delayed a few months. Then we delayed a year. Then we thought, let's just read and talk poetry on Zoom! So we did. It's grainy, it's messy, it's warm, and I hope you'll listen in. Thanks to Poetry London for including Mary di Michele and me in this remarkable series. On Wed June 30, we'll launch the long-awaited video collaboration of @marydimichele & @GillisSusan , including work by @Yokosdogs ! Local Openers #MichelleArnett & #MicheleNicole YouTube Event 7:00pm ET Zoom Workshop 6:00pm Join us for great online #poetry ! #ldnont pic.twitter.com/2wywVAkxau — Poetry London (@poetrylondon_ca) June 23, 2021  image: pre-pandemic reading with Yoko's Dogs at Knife Fork Book in Toronto

RECENTLY RECEIVED

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Resistance: Righteous Rage in the Age of #MeToo , edited by Sue Goyette. University of Regina Press, 2021 Sue Goyette's sensitive and uncompromising foreword is a necessary guide through this anthology of poems that take on, and take up, the subject of sexual assault and abuse. The presence of care and commitment, Goyette's and all the participants', is felt on every page. Four sections track increasing intensity: Innocence/Exposure; Endurance/Persistence; Rage/Resistance; and arrive at an unsettled rest: Survival/Recovery. Variations of Ren √© e Munn's arresting cover image, "Ophelia," make striking section markers. Poems that open a world to me include Catherine Greenwood's "Black Plums," a chilling revision of the nursery rhyme about Little Jack Horner; Eleonore Sch√∂nmaier’s "Sixteen," in which two voices meet "on the narrow rocky trail;" Byrna Barclay's clear-eyed "Birdman," which watches an exterminator rid

READ: Cyborg Poets

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  Look how I can't die, look,   -- from "Death Fable"   Over at Concrete & River I take a walk with this poem from Lindsay B-e's remarkable book, The Cyborg Anthology .

FIRST LINES

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  What makes a great first line of poetry?    I fell into Alice Oswald's long poem Nobody with this one:                     "As the mind flutters in a man who has travelled widely"   A comparison; a restless mind; a character I'm likely to find alluring and provocative. A rhythmic onrush, chasing and settling like the flutter it names; so in reading, my mind is already acting like that of the traveller.   The lips, the front of the mouth, all softly active: m, f, v, w.     What else to do but give over and go along?  __ I often stall at first lines both as a reader and a writer.    I don't always understand exactly what it is that fails to pull me in, but as often as not it has to do with receptivity. If I scroll through a lot of poems feeling disconnected and dulled by their openings, chances are high it's me not them.  And if I scratch out a few syllables for a poem and turn away bored, it's definitely me.    The problem is always how to keep going, no

SOLSTICE NIGHT

SOLSTICE NIGHT A blue lake surrounds the house: snow restored by twilight to a version of its original self, stippled where wind and animals have crossed, barred by shadows of trees. And speaking of trees, shadows fly out from them like time-traces of late-summer bats, and return. Everything dampens down. A sudden stillness— and the earth’s tilt reverses. Gradually the first stars prick the sky around the moon’s pearled curve. The last of the year’s scrap wood is ready for burning. Also a twilight everything turns from: stamping our feet on the platform waiting for the train, lined up on the curb waiting for the bus, blowing on our fingers. Young men shaking snow from their collars as they pass through turnstiles and descend with everyone else into the tunnels and shopping concourses, into the wet stink, the grit and slush, blasts of heat and noise over the hornet-hum of earbuds and ringtones, ignoring everything, which is a form of love —

BURNT UMBER

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Burnt Umber    All the way to the horizon umber fields unrolling. Ribbed, stubbled, dark but for patches in the hollows where snow persists. Mid-field, brown lumps shift, seem to breathe, resolve into geese. You feel it would take you days to walk to where they are and this makes you yearn to be there this instant though last summer before the grain was fully ripe you’d have given everything, almost, to be nowhere at all. Susan Gillis / from Sheila-Na-Gig Issue 5:2, Winter 2020 Image by Juan Carlos Rodrigues / freeimages.com

CONCLUSIONS THAT NEVER CONCLUDE

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freeimages.com/Vic Zagranowski   "If you don't like what you wrote, don't think about the words, just remember it better." I'm paraphrasing Robert Hass's advice on revision in a dimly-recalled Vimeo of a talk given in Rotterdam , a paraphrase itself of something Jack Kerouac once said. The context was a discussion of the sources of poetry according to Rilke (memory, dream, art) and its subjects (joy, longing, grief). Hass had set up a quick exercise in noting a location for each of those emotions. Just before this, someone in the audience asked about revision, to which Hass responded with an anecdote (about Robert Duncan and his poem " My Mother Would Be a Falconress ") that suggested a poem only acquires the name 'poem' when all the writing is done, essentially another way of saying writing is rewriting is writing. I recall, as a young person just beginning to find my own poems, asking a friend about her process and how she knew when a poem