Tag Archives: Virginia

At the Edge of the Soccer Complex, Lynchburg, Virginia

At the Edge of the Soccer Complex, Lynchburg, Virginia

Versions of a corner. Red flag sticking out of the earth
where painted lines on the grass meet. Past it

chest-high chain link fences knot into a right angle
before the ground drops twenty feet down

a scrabbly bank on which lines cannot be drawn.
Past the parked cars an uneven stand of poplar and pine

waving like a tired family. Are they greeting us
or waiting for us to drive out of sight?

Then the foothills
where our preferences end.

How is it that mountains always seem to appear
by surprise? or a big word gathering quietly

in our ear, a thing without corners
growing inside a thing without corners,

a soccer ball knocking over a styrofoam cup of coffee
in the way a day may be suddenly knocked on its side

by a force that seems utterly foreign to it.
Crouching to save what’s left

I see the soccer field lines
as cave drawings of wordless heights fallen

on their sides and flattened, flag pinned to the top.

Winter Evening, After Much Snow

Winter Evening, After Much Snow

Plows pound the shoreline of the storm.
When their wave has passed, the shovels

emerge like crabs and get busy. The full moon,
distant jellyfish, drifts over the becalmed buildings.

New Film of Tomas Transtromer’s “Baltics”

As you can tell from the quotation on the banner of this site, I’m a huge fan of Tomas Transtromer, and have been ever since I stumbled across a selection of his poems in the Cambridge Public Library back in 1989, while looking for a volume of Fernando Pessoa’s poems.

I have written about Transtromer and his work here, and I guess this was just enough of an online presence to be luckily found by James Wine, who has created a beautiful film of Transtromer’s poem “Baltics,” in which the poet reads his own poem in his native tongue and which can be viewed with English subtitles. The link to the film is below—hopefully this method of sharing works; if it does not, I have also linked to it on my Twitter account @jeffschwaner.

Magically enough, the filmmakers once lived very much in this part of the world, outside Front Royal for a few decades before moving to Sweden. So at a time when poets are preparing to gather at Bridgewater for the poetry festival next week, here comes a film of a most moving poem by a Nobel Prize winning writer who, long before he’d won any prizes had already won the hearts of so many readers, in a film created by folks with roots right around the corner. Please check it out, and enjoy.

Readings: Bridgewater Fest Poet Angela Carter

Over the next week I’ll be posting information on the poets who will be reading from their work at the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival, Jan 15th-18th. 

Angela Carter will be reading her poetry Saturday, January 17th, at 11:30am.


Angela M. Carter was born, and raised, in a Virginia farming town of less than 280 country-folk. As an adult, Angela moved abroad, to England, for nearly five years and returned to Virginia with a new-found confidence, and voice. Her first full-length memoir poetry collection, Memory Chose a Woman’s Body (unbound CONTENT) is a poetic journey that spotlights the effects of the silences endured after abuse, neglect and depression. Angela is a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee, poetry editor of City Lit Rag, a coordinator of arts-related events, Vice President of Spitzer Art Center (Harrisonburg, VA) , a motivational speaker, arts advocate, a painter and photographer. Her publications include Whurk, Vox Poetica, Premiere Generation Ink, City Lit Rag, The Word Ocean, Worst Week Ever, Our Stories Untold, Gutsy Living, and several anthology publications. Angela is an activist that speaks out against the silences that follow abuse, and dedicates all of her spare time to being the voice for many that are unable to speak up. In addition, she is an advocate of the healing ability of the arts, and believes each and every individual is an artist.

Hotel Song

Friday afternoon
we’d wait, noses to hot window pane
for the clicks and dust of mama’s car
to disturb the driveway.
Hurry up before it overheats.
Hurry up because if I turn it off
I can’t turn it back on.
Our weekend homes
had bibles in the drawer;
some I read, and many that I
used as ashtrays.
Sometimes we’d buy a pool for the night
the blue water was our summer beach trip–
we’d dance underwater like we belonged;
like we more alive when nearly drowning.
One night as I left a pool
bathing suit still on,
a man offered me $250 to go back to his room.
I ran away like the hunted, and screamed all the way back to safety.
When I arrived back to the room it dawned on me that
it didn’t matter how many monsters I ran from:
When I’m breathing, I carry the scent of prey.

Sunday Service, Small Town in Virginia, Late September, on the Occurrence of Emptiness

Sunday Service, Small Town in Virginia, Late September, on the Occurrence of Emptiness

No traffic. A leaf clatters like a steed with an urgent message
then gives in to a burlesque swirl and stills itself out

of momentum. A yellow moth staggers on uneven air across the empty street.
I can walk down the middle of the road past lonely double-parked cars.

Not a soul is about. The churches are filled up with their giant doors shut
like a present I will not unwrap. The entire town is my empty prayer.

I can appreciate every curb’s lift, every curve of crumbling brick
arch on old buildings, window-shop for emptiness and find it

everywhere. Even the crow’s shadow barely skims the earth.
And a thousand yellow leaves do the moth better than the moth did.

[Readings] National Poetry Month Reading 4/17


I will be one of four area poets reading in Staunton Thursday April 17th at 7pm at The Space, a newly renovated performing arts center in the heart of this great little city’s historic main street. Not sure what I’m reading yet. Any requests / suggestions?