Category Archives: Readings

Wind Intervals book launch tonight 7PM

Come to the Wind Intervals book launch tonight at Black Swan Books. If you are holding the right program, you could win a fine piece of letterpress printing from St Brigid Press!

WI_program_pile

 

The programs are folded and numbered. The books are printed and bound. The home-made Langues de Chat (cat-tongue cookies!) are cooling by the oven. The coffee is ground and ready to be brewed.

It’s time to launch this book.

Yesterday I met Emily of St Brigid Press to sign pre-orders for Wind Intervals. I was amazed to find that over two thirds of the special edition are already spoken for.

I hope to see some familiar faces — and some new ones — tonight at 7pm. I have tinkered with the idea of recording the reading or broadcasting it via Facebook Live; we’ll see what we’re up for by the time we get set up.

Hope to see you there!

Publications: Wind Intervals

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I’m excited to announce that St Brigid Press will be publishing a beautiful letterpress edition of a selection of my poems, Wind Intervals, in late April — just in time for National Poetry Month.

The book will be hand-set in Bembo type, printed on a beautiful and rugged 1909 Golding Pearl treadle press on the other side of Afton Mountain at St Brigid’s not-entirely-top-secret headquarters, guarded by trees, a gregarious dog and stunning mountain views.

There will be a Standard Edition, hand-bound at the Press and limited to 150 numbered copies ($24), and a Special Edition, limited to 35 numbered and signed copies, printed on Revere Book mouldmade text paper and hand-bound with St Armand handmade covers ($35).

You can hear me read two of the poems from the book here on the St Brigid Press site.

The book’s publication date is April 28, 2017. We’ll gather at Black Swan for a book launch and reading. If you pre-order with St Brigid and cannot make the trek to Staunton, I’ll gladly sign copies at the launch before they are shipped.

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As you can imagine, creating a letterpress book involves considerable work, including setting each letter (and space!) by hand in metal type. On a Golding press, the type is actually suspended type-side down for printing (which somehow seems right for my poetry!) after being locked tightly into place by wooden blocks and metal quoins.

WIfirstpoemontheGolding

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I will keep you updated as work on Wind Intervals proceeds! Check out the St Brigid Press site for more information on the book, additional photos of the book creation process, and to hear two of the poems.

Call for poets: Bridgewater Int’l Poetry Festival, and LEAF beta

The Bridgewater International Poetry Festival, which runs from January 12-15, 2017 at Bridgewater College here in Virginia,  still has a few slots left for poets who’d like to present their work to other poets and lovers of poetry.

I attended the second BIPF in 2015 (it is held every other year) and it was a rousing long weekend of poets of all styles, types, ages, backgrounds, and publishing resumes. A few small press and university presses were there, as was my print-collaborator of choice, St Brigid Press.

It was a very invigorating way to meet nearly a hundred poets from across the country and around the world. Poets were paired together to share a 45-minute slot, and such readings went on in two separate locations, one in the main hall and another in a smaller more coffee-house style setting in the same building.

Check out the link below if you’re interested!  I will also be debuting the beta version of a service I call LEAF, where poets will be able to offer single poems to attendees. Many of the BIPF poets don’t have books to sell, and in many cases in 2015 I found myself wanting a poem that was not in one of the poet’s books. It was frustrating when I was ready to plunk down some money on poetry but not get the poem I wanted. So BIPF will be the host of the first test of just such a system, exclusive to the festival’s attendees, to be able to purchase single poems from poets participating in the LEAF beta. More on this in a later post. For now, check out the link, grab 5 of your best poems and send them with a short bio to

lit-conf@bridgewater.edu

There is a small registration fee ($25) you pay from the link below, and more info on the festival can also be found at the site.

https://wp.bridgewater.edu/bipf/

 

Security

Security

[Hear a recording of this poem here.]
nola street

A moth hovers by the closed door and moves on in its hectic pattern.
For a moment I can see my life in the invisible inscriptions of his path.

It is only the context of the rural airport
that makes us think for a second

he might be waiting to get in and declare his baggage
take off his shoes and present any liquids or electronics

and of course present official state identification.
So that this moth might be allowed to fly. Instead, he nods off tiltingly

on his own wings.

The wall of windows looking out on the runway
shows the sky, mountains and land on a photographer’s grid. Clear

of obstacles. In its reflection on the smoky inner windows leading
to the security check the sky is a rainbow gone haywire —

refractions off reflections. This is how it looks when you have
to break the truth into its elemental colors. They come out

as something else, warped and wary, wavy but unmoving.
Always looking like they were caught doing something.

But it’s not the truth that does the damage.

In the plane the woman from New Orleans, flying back to bury her dad,
tells us all to stay out of the neighborhoods, or anywhere there’s no light.

It is hard to avoid all the dark places in the map of one’s mind
but I try to follow her advice as I drift off in my corner room.

I don’t know how much later, that series of soft knocks on all of our doors, even high up
on the 20th floor. I could have dreamed the knuckle on the door.

It could have been my own hand curled in that soft and uncertain fist.

 
*

 
My eyes fog up when I walk Canal Street in the early morning.
No, it’s my eyeglasses. I walk the streets farsighted

welcoming the humidity inside.

In the hotel bars it is the same time all morning afternoon and night.
Not too early and not too late.

I just had breakfast and looking through the glass wall to the stools beyond
I can see the face of the clock that never changes.

It looks like a paper coaster seen through the bottom of an empty glass.
it looks through me to the back of my head and scratches something there

like a memo. It is the sound of brown magnolia leaves resting on a palmetto frond
in a hot breeze. It is the music of painted stucco. Red, yellow, mustard, red.

A street gutter that is never dry.

*

Three locks on the hotel door.
two visible, and one I cannot see.

The top lock, a long loop of metal like a tongue.
that is always sticking out. It can hold the door open, or closed.

Just below it, the oblong lever that moves the unseen
dead bolt. To add to my security, but from what?

Then, the invisible one I cannot control.

When the door shuts it locks automatically.
Only with the key the shape of a playing card can I open the door. It can never be unlocked or ajar.

Its weight swings it shut and it locks How did we get to the place in the world
where a closed door is always a locked door?

where you need a key not to protect what is yours
but just for passage into the next foreign space.

Still the room is hushed, even in a thunderstorm.
Lights bounce outside off the high buildings

but it is like children bouncing a ball in the neighbor’s driveway.
And the housemaid has crafted a turtle sculpture out of two towels,

and left it beside the bottled water, the ghost tour coupon, and the chicory coffee.

[Author’s note: I was asked to be part of a great reading at Black Swan Books in Staunton, Virginia on Friday June 17th. Although I was in New Orleans for a conference that week, I wrote the poem below, then recorded it on my phone, interspersing audio of three street musicians I recorded on walks over the course of the week. It seemed a shame to miss the reading, which was all about the relationship between writing and music, when I was staying in a place of such varied musical heritage. This poem is one of three works I prepared for the reading, which were then played at Black Swan. The recording can be found here. –JS]
nola man

Interview with St Brigid Press

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“Much of our experience takes place in an interior landscape. But … the most mindful way to access that seems to be through the external landscape.”

Emily Hancock of St Brigid Press interviewed me May 20 at the SBP printshop in Afton, Virginia. You can hear the interview and read the transcript here.

St Brigid Press will be publishing a chapbook of my work, Wind Intervals, in the late summer.

Readings Recorded: Robert Okaji at Malvern Books in Austin TX

If only Len had stopped by on his way from Turkey to pick me up in his private jet, I might have made it out to this reading in Austin a few days ago. Luckily, the poet was recorded sharing his work with a responsive crowd. There are too many great lines and great poems squeezed into fifteen minutes for me to quote, but there is talk of snail sex, love darts, spreadsheets, rain forest bridges, wind, trust, love, and the moon. Thanks to all the folks at Malvern Books who I will never meet for recording the reading and posting it here. Robert’s own website, O at the Edges, is also well worth traveling to. Enjoy!

National Poetry Month Reading, April 6th @1pm

Just a short note that I’ll be participating in a National Poetry month event again this year, this time at the Massanutten Regional Library, Main branch in Harrisonburg. The reading is at 1pm and will feature four poets, including Angela Carter, Sara Robinson and Rebecca Lilly.

If you happen to be in the Shenandoah Valley in a few weeks, come by! Len, I’ll buy you some coffee (or wine) if you can make it from Turkey. Esther, come on now! The other side of the world is not that far away from Harrisonburg, as the moon flies. C, the weather in Seattle is horrible–you’d come on over to the East coast for day, even to hang out with a Patriots fan, right?

I know there are a bunch of you in my clan much closer. If you’ve got nothing better to do on the first Monday afternoon in April, maybe I will see you there? More info on the Massanutten Regional Library can be found and its other events can be found here.

As with my last reading at Bridgewater College, I will entertain any suggestions for what to read. I will have about ten minutes to read, so will probably read five poems or so. Thoughts?

This lamb has very strong opinions on what I should read but for some reason is remaining mum.

This lamb has very strong opinions on what I should read but for some reason is remaining mum.