Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Omnidawn Blog Has Moved!


Please update your feeds & readers: the Omnidawn Blog has moved to our newly renovated home here. See you there!


Saturday, September 12, 2009


The Scoop

edited by Meg Hurtado

Where? Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave, Albany, CA.
Curator/s: Catherine Taylor and Richard Russo
When? Now taking place the second Tuesday of each month.
Parking? Yes, and it’s free! The library has a lovely little parking lot.
Donation: Not required, although a donation to the library probably isn’t a bad idea.
Is There a Blog? Yes, the Albany Library Website.

The Run of Things: The reading begins at roughly 7 pm and ends around 8 pm, at which time there is a break for chatting and refreshments. After the break there is an open mic session for audience members which lasts until 9 pm or so.

Quotes from the Readers: “Each poem is different, wild . . . . Maybe not so lucid as I like to think they are!” --Alena Hairston

“Everything and everyone that lives on is trapped in love.” --Indigo Moor

Poems from each of the readers are featured below the review.


Albany Library Reading Series
by Meg Hurtado

The Albany Library reading series recently hosted poets Indigo Moor and Alena Hairston, each of whom, when asked to pick a podium-partner, selected the other. This sort of happy synergy is exactly what has kept the series going for nearly four years. Of the series in general, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Albany Library, curator Catherine Taylor says, “Every reading is so different,” and that the series, which runs for ten months of every year, makes a concentrated effort to attract a diverse range of readers every season. Past readers include Camille Dungy, Al Young, Brenda Hillman, Robert Hass, Jack Marshall, Adam David Miller, Joshua Clover, Anne Barrows, Jane Hirshfield, and a great many more of all walks and schools, etc.

However, the pleasant and convenient space also cultivates a comfortable sense of community, and Catherine adds that, “There is a core following. Poets here have been very generous . . . . the open mic allows people to read in front of poets they really respect, and they do get feedback.” However, in spite of the nurturing atmosphere and loyal local audience, this series faces the recession-inspired obstacles facing many other libraries and arts programs – series co-curator and Albany Library research librarian Richard Russo retired this month and, due to budge cuts, will not be replaced. The series will go on but will most likely move to another time slot. The next reading, in September, will be the last to take place on a “First Thursday”.

Alena Hairston read from her new book The Logan Topographies, a “hybrid collection” of “postcard poems” reflecting the West Virginia coal-mining countryside. Hairston spoke briefly about the heinous environmental threat posed by new coal-mining methods, in which the top of the mountain is actually shaved off (!!) in order to harvest coal at greater convenience to whatever corporation is responsible for such things. In addition to the environmental undertones of her work, Ms. Hairston also addresses the dynamics between black and white coal workers, and between men and women. The poem which I found most haunting, the one whose shape and spirit I remember (I was too caught up in listening to write down any of the lines) channels the voice of two young black sisters born into a community that values the physical labor/monetary value of their brothers over anything they have to offer.

What Hairston’s poems put forth in substance and social awareness they match with lyricism and love – not an easy thing. Hairston herself is a stunning blend of energy, wit, and physical grace, and in this way her poems are a genuine reflection of their author. They address an almost early-Romantic refusal to isolate Desire and History, to show us the equation in its most tender, terrible, redolent entirety. For instance, she says in her poem “How to Belong” that, “when a somebody is witness to a gleaming shadow, there is desire to share it with another.” Not only does this line tackle the notion of need head-on, it’s a vibrantly-apt description of poetry’s purpose and of Hairston’s style in particular.

Indigo Moor (clad in an appropriately purple shirt) followed Hairston and read primarily from Tap Root, his critically-acclaimed first book. (His second, Through the Stone-cutter’s Window, is on the way.) He began with “Through the Storm Door”, the first poem in Tap Root. In the poem, the speaker hears of his brother’s imminent death and reflects on his childhood/past in the South. Indigo mentioned that when he wrote the poem he’d been estranged from the South for twelve years and from his brother for twenty. The paralysis that floods the poem as the speaker debates returning to see his brother resonates with anyone who’s lost “home”, one way or another – but it also upholds the classical anxiety on which post-Civil War Southern literature is founded.

Moor’s poems often run to music – “the pond is a knot”, “as evening bakes in, thick and slow”, etc – so it’s not surprising that he paid homage in his reading to two great musicians, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson. The latter was especially memorable and addressed Johnson’s habit of foregoing hotels while on tour. Most music-lovers already know the story: Johnson was cheap and preferred to seduce a townswoman for his room and board. He made it a rule to select plain women – the one exception to this rule led to his early death by poison. Indigo’s poem “Another Man’s Bed” hi-lights the humor and intimacy inherent in the tale: “Is this how Death catch me, one hand lost in the dust? Where are my shoes?”

Moor read a few more bits of new work, including a poem called “Messages from the Ether” about a series of text messages he received from a wrong number. A brief Q&A followed, and then the open mic commenced.

The open mic at Albany Library is, as I found out later, something of an institution. What I noticed immediately, however, was the enthusiasm with which each reader shared his or her work, and the support with which each reader was received. Some shared love poems, some shared poems of disillusionment. One man requested a minute of silence for Hiroshima (it was August 6th), and one woman sang. Christina Hutchins, Poet Laureate of Albany, read work she had composed for a local tree-planting ceremony. Julia Vinograd , one of the few active poets who has been part of the Bay Area poetry scene since it first blossomed in Berkeley in the 60s or so, read a poem she’d written earlier in the day.

What did all of these poets have in common? In style, in cadence, in substance, not very much. But the true art of community building is more than a collection of individuals who happen to make a uniform crowd. Each and every person, no matter what they’d been doing that morning or what they’d be doing tomorrow, was a poet. Really, what more can Poetry ask but that every once in a while, for a few hours, its body of believers wakes, swells, grows stronger?

The next reading at the Albany Library will take place on Tuesday, October 13 at 7 pm. Giovaani Singleton and Douglas Scott Miller will read.


Two poems by Alena Hairston:

Route 44 to Route 52

for Doug (1974-2005)

The mountains begin
over and over
in the eyes spelling
out each unincorporated town
bound by the cartels of history,
clasts of deciduous time.

Today we drive
behind the forgetting trucks
heavy with the gravity of tomorrow,
a pulling work between the edge
of tipple and leftover mountain.

Rock shadows and silt seams
landlocked, this tectonics fleeting
in the now of absence.

There is rip and sash in your voice
as you mouth homecoming
in the various bitumen
of passing caves
which appear on no map.

We ride
past the coal camps and company
houses stoked in careless sun;
past adult children who know
more than we should,
standing firm and removed
like the cracked, handwritten signs
for peat and gravel roads too far
away to be called highways.

These are the fields of tar
that smoked our eyes,
took away the open welcome of quiet,
did not love us back.


22 Mountain

pregnant belly of coneflower and larkspur. coalcaves of lupine and barberry.
where shale grows up and bumps into sun. breathes across the moon.
lunar party. dream of history striated.

people find here. people found here. people lose here. people lost here.
people hunt here. people hunted here. people trap here. people trapped here.
people live here. people lived here. people sing here. people sang here.
people take here. people taken here. people come here. people left here.
people return here. people stay here. people gone?

at its base a labyrinth of rivers spilling sedge and cattail into an island creek,
beholden and cut for use.

sentry and citadel, flying.


Alena Hairston'sThe Logan Topographies, a collection arranged as a post-card book and inspired by the histories of the Mingo Indians, Italian and Anglo immigrants, and African Americans associated with West Virginia's coal-mining region, won the 2006 Lexi Rudnitsky Poetry Award from Persea Books. Hairston will read from this work, and also share her current project, which combines poetry, prose, and image.


Two poems by Indigo Moor:

Robert Johnson, seeking out older, often less attractive women, or a homely young girl, for whom there would likely be no competition, would exchange his attentions for their kindness and a place to stay. Johnson was a reputed ladies' man to whom women "were like motel or hotel rooms."
-Alan White Robert Johnson’s Life

Another Man’s Bed

My dream is always:
I wake to a ruptured silence,
an icepick cracking my dream slumber.

Impulse says
Get your shoes.

Keyhole has sucked daylight
from the room.

Get your shoes.

Left hand sweeps the floor
beside the bed.

Is this how death catches me?
One hand lost in dust?
Where are my shoes?

Dim streetlight glow pushes
through the window,
graying the room.

My eyes become focused rods
divining shape from shadow:

Someone has polished my wingtip
shoes, granted them flight, nested

them on the dresser. The chair
in the corner now wears a hat,

grinds on a cigar. Its single,
smoldering eye finds mine.

Smoke climbs the air
like ivy on an invisible trellis.

A gentle click and a tiny hole
floats above the chair's arm:

deep, hungry, trying to drag
the room into its mouth.

Six chambered screams curled
like fetuses in lead wombs.

A silk-sigh, rustling of sheets
as she shifts beside me.

I lie unbreathing, an eternity
away from motion, wondering
which way rolls me into the grave.



I am told it was moonlight that ripened
your failing heart until it finally
cracked, sent the clockhands spinning

off your flesh. I was a coward, still 3,000
miles away, convincing myself that if I
came at all, I could never catch the dying hour:

arrive too late and reconciliation falls
on upturned soil; arrive too soon and
stuttered gushings peak, then sour in the air.

Forgive me, brother. For decades, your
name has stretched my tongue to breaking.
But love and pain often anguish logic

Long ago, on a night like this,
I watched uncle rocket a coyote
skyward with a fistful of buckshot.

It slammed to the ground twisted,
skidding across the grass. Somehow,
it didn’t know it was dead.

Front legs pawed the air as if leveled
by nothing more than errant moonlight.
Chicken feathers lined its muzzle.

It mewled, eyes tunneling through me
to the underbrush where its mate stood,
crosshaired down uncles’ barrel

and already dead by every book and clock.
It stood, mesmerized no knowing, in this
world, every fool carries a twin heart.

Bang! I shouted and the underbrush
went wild with the mate’s running. Still,
if animals have souls, two died that night.

Uncle cursed me under a killing sky.
Why, Boy? You know she’ll hit
the coop later .Dont’cha know that?

This is my understanding
of the fear and silence
of these wounded nights:

the moon snares in the sweet
spot of the throat. Everything
that lives on is trapped in love.


Through the Stonecutter’s Window has been selected to receive the inaugural Cave
Canem University Press Poetry Prize.

John Keene wrote, “Indigo Moor writes poems that crackle with ‘cryptic lightning.’ These poems open a sustained and impressive dialogue with the visual arts, history, the natural world, and the poet's dreams and nightmares, while dancing polyrhythmically across and down each page. An assured and engaged aesthetic vision takes shape and sharpens here before our eyes.”

Reginald Gibbons said, “Indigo Moor's second book of poems concentrates ‘on every letter and symbol before winging them across ether.’ Always in motion, his lines are choreographed to make sense of all that is most elusive in meaning: music, violence, art, love, history, anger, race, belief, desire. By turns irreverent, passionate, and startling, these poems are vigorous, sensuous, and vivid.”


Saturday, September 5, 2009

POETRY FEATURE 22: George Kalamaras


Unanswered Left Shoe

It could be as simple as rabbit scratch in an ancient hut.
Simple, say, as a focus that has much verdigris that the troglodytes flock hard.

He is picketed to a nickering drink from the mud-glove.
She questions her tether beneath quite marvelous brown.

Somewhere, donkeys ask one ear at a time.
We are aware of such dimpled questions.

Obviously, I am still sleeping, examining photographs of unanswered left shoes.
It is more glorious to button the top knot than to tie off the hole.

A knife maker makes notches to signify how long he has been shaving knives.
It takes at least a year to clarify onions from the spleen.

Pure white rectangles inculcate a strenuous blade of grass.
There is much singing, even in times of joy.

When the yogi balanced the dead mouse on his left knee, he no longer needed
the harmonium for chanting.
The same sense of loss that the mother felt, the father found in the empty
canister of tobacco.

We forgot the divorce. We lived at least one life as Kuma in Kyoto.
We spent it mostly lamenting the loss of the wrong song.


George Kalamaras has published ten books of poetry (including five chapbooks). Recent titles are The Scathering Sound (Anchorite Press, 2009) and Gold Carp Jack Fruit Mirrors (The Bitter Oleander Press, 2008). Two books will appear in the fall of 2009: Something Beautiful Is Always Wearing the Trees (Stockport Flats), with paintings by Alvaro Cardona-Hine, and The Recumbent Galaxy, co-authored with Cardona-Hine and winner of the C&R Press Open Competition. George is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne where he has taught since 1990.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

POETRY FEATURE 21: Nurduran Duman


translated by Ru en Ergün

the empty frame in me
is a fracture water
the lake of past time

Colorless end.

the tulle of swan
is smoke on my face
its photograph is black

No white in the love word...

this sadness this expression from ash
flame has scattered from its brush
I didn't burn

but died.


Nurduran Duman (Çan-Çanakkale, 23.10.1974) is a poet, writer, essayist, translator who lives in Istanbul. She wrote her first poem when she was 8 years old. When she was 9, she promised herself to be a writer in the future. She liked poetry, became a poet. Because of her passion about "sea" she attended Istanbul Technical University, Faculty of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering and graduated as an "Ocean Engineer" and a "Naval Architect". Her poem collection "Yenilgi Oyunu (The Defeat Game)" has been awarded with 2005 Cemal Süreya Poetry Awards. These awards are conferred to in memory of Cemal Süreya (1931 - 1990), one of the most important poets in Turkish Literature. Her book Yenilgi Oyunu was published in 2006. She translated Alma Alexander’s book “The Secret of Jin-shei” from English to Turkish. The book was published in Turkish in 2007. Her poems, translations (poems and stories), poetic articles, book reviews and interviews with foreign writers (e.g. Eileen Gunn, Karen Joy Fowler, Yiyun Li, Anna Tambour, Monica Arac de Nyeko etc.) have been published in various magazines and newspapers. She worked on the poetry of Anne Sexton, Sara Teasdale, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Slyvia Plath, and translated their poems. She was elected two times as a board member of Writers Syndicate of Turkiye. She is a member of Turkish PEN.She was the producer and presenter of the culture and literature broadcast (radio) "Yazın Küresi". She has been conducting many theatre activities in various positions (actress, director, theater electrician, etc.) for years.


Sunday, August 23, 2009



Reviews Editor: Meg Hurtado


Location: Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA

Curator: Maile Arvin & Rachel Marcus
Pegasus Contact Person: Rachel Marcus

Parking/Transportation: Metered parking along Shattuck until 6 pm – after 6, parking is free wherever you can find it.

The Run of Things: Most of the audience arrived right at the stated time. There’s a good selection of books to rummage through and refreshments to keep you mingling and mulling about until the reading starts.

Is There a Blog? All their information is on the Pegasus Books website:

Poems from each of the readers are featured below the review.


Our Sea of Words
By Jason Bayani

If there’s one thing for which to appreciate Pegasus Books, it’s endurance in the face of one of those huge, corporate bookstores flexing its spanking-new stainless-steel-and-creamy-stucco edifice directly across the street. After this game of flinch, only the modest Pegasus bookstore remained standing. Along this well-trafficked section of downtown Berkeley, it’s easy to see why. Browsing the shelves of Pegasus, it’s obvious that the store pays attention to what’s really happening in today’s literature – a lesson in what’s truly relevant and not just Oprah-relevant.

My buddy and I showed up a few minutes before the reading. While we sat awkwardly in the back cracking jokes, one of the readers, Loa Niumeitolu, introduced herself and hung out briefly to chop it up with us. It was this kind of openness that would shine through her work. For me, it set the tone for the reading as a whole.

The first reader was Maile Arvin, a native Hawaiian from Kentucky. She is a doctoral candidate in ethnic studies at UC San Diego and has been published by Kearny St. Workshop, one of our proudest Asian-American literary institutions in San Francisco. Her first poem was about her return at age eleven to visit her family in Waimanalo— a mostly locals town on Oahu with some of the nicest beaches on the island. The poem addresses the loss of language, the Americanization— or more specifically the effect Kentucky has on her speech, and how this affects her connection with her homeland as even the sound of her own name has changed on her tongue.

The second reader was Fuifuilupe Niumeitolu, a Tongan-American scholar, poet and community activist who is currently a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley. At the beginning of her reading she acknowledged her friends and family in the audience and talked about how this reading represented for her a return to writing. The work she shared was intensely personal. Her first piece was a haunting poem about abuse, and the next piece she read, called “L.A. Story”, talked about a young woman who flees to L.A. to escape her home in Utah and her Mormon family - which brings to light the little known fact that Utah is home to a sizeable Tongan community of Mormon-converts. The poem, however, focuses on the young woman’s marginalization within a family for whom, “there are only sons.”

Next was Craig Santos Perez, a native Chamoru poet from Guam. He has been published by Tinfish Press, is a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley in Comparative Ethnic Studies, runs Achiote Press, and serves as the Omnidawn Blog Editor. He started off his set by engaging the audience in some pretty funny banter and made us all cover our ears and yell out “Make the poetry stop!” while recording us for his blog. His work was definitely more aggressive than that of the other readers, with rhythmic lines that seemed to barrel right into the next. His poems were filled with rich imagery and made some good use of wordplay. His style drew heavily from the ocean and uses water in its many forms as a model for some clever lines.

The fourth reader was Loa Niumeitolu, a Tongan-American poet and community organizer whose work revolves around issues within the prison system and within the women’s queer community. Her work draws heavily on the mythology of her homeland. In her list poem, “To a Young Tongan Poet”, she uses both mythology and American pop-culture to provide a good look at the Tongan-American experience. She also claims that “every poem is a love poem”.

The final reader was Caroline Sinavaiana, a Samoan poet and Associate Professor of English at UH Manoa. Her reading represented for her a return to Berkeley, as she’d studied there in the seventies. Her poem “Low Tide” takes a meditative look at a coral reef and the shoreline, studying all of its parts and exposing the beauty of the ocean; she then drives the poem to a point where it waits “for high tide to lift us again to the safety of deep water.”

It came as no surprise to me that the ocean had a prominent presence in the work I heard: through the images, the metaphors, but also through the rhythms of the poetry which often felt like the crashing and retreating of the tides. There was a sense that even when the ocean wasn’t being mentioned in the poem, it was an ongoing force. And that to me hearkened to something that Loa mentioned during her reading, that the importance of this event lay in bringing these Pacific Islander artists together to “help forge a language about being Pacific Islander, away from the homeland.” The community of art is an island of its own.

(Bay Area poet Jason Bayani is currently a second year MFA candidate at St. Mary's College. A mainstay in the Bay Area spoken word community, he has earned a place on several National poetry slam teams. His publishing credits include Rattapallax Magazine, Maganda Magazine, and the 2004 National Poetry Slam anthology. As a guest performer and lecturer Jason has worked in high schools and Universities across the country. He has spent the last few years as a youth worker in San Francisco and continues to write and perform as a member of the Filipino-American spoken word troupe Proletariat Bronze.)


Poems from the readers:

Low tide
by Caroline Sinavaiana

of our oceans
the watery skin
of earth

pulled back to expose
a webbing of coral
rough & prickly

to hide treasures
of octopus &
spiny sea urchin

her long black spikes
of danger & allure
guarding that golden

softness of sweet
flesh at the center
of ourselves & each

other & other & other
millions of tiny spines
fused into this great

wall of lacy color & refuge
towering from the reef bed
laid for us on the ocean floor

layered over eons
of lifetimes imprinted
on this architecture of mind

streaming across time
that finds us again
consorting on this

ocean path
now run aground
on the fecund reef

waiting for high tide
to lift us again to the safety
of deep water.

for Skye


Three Points on This Map
After Darwish’s Four Personal Addresses

by Maile Arvin

1. Under this dusty ceiling fan, next to the louvered windows.

It’s the door and beyond the door is anything anywhere not here. I loved elsewhere from the beginning. I saw it hurt you in my rush to get there. I went anyway—still it tasted sweet. It was a gift I had been promised (wasn’t it by you?), and I had stared at the wrapping so long I memorized the patterns and dreamt of walking those weaves. Leaving is a privilege stolen from those who stay. You told me as much, and I could not see how I would ever come back to this young heart, this wet grass and stone. I held your chest close to me at night like a toy I would have to give back.

2. The light in this, my bedroom.

We travel in search of nothing, but we are asked to tell a different story. I believed in the fountains of opportunity, but that was not the reason. I came because I could not imagine not. I did not have the strength to build this bridge at home. I thought I should have something of my own. What I could afford is this IKEA lamp, and a view of concrete, sun reflecting off car windshields. Did I come here looking for a different you or a different me? Don’t you desire elsewhere too? Didn’t you get my postcards? I am making a here for you so that you might rejoice when you arrive.

3. At the top of the escalator, rising out of the station.

I cannot say how I got there. How do you hold on to a moving banister? Still- I remember how to hold on to you. But the shoji screen walls are too thin. With respect to the roommate, or with respect to me. So do we forget those who loved us in other hotels? I have only been to a hotel with you. Do we need a drink to remember who we are to each other? How do we tell which train goes home? Come, make this promise. We'll find a nook, and only sit in the places where it doesn't sound like goodbye.


originally published in Amerasia Journal 35:1 (2009)

by Fuifuilupe Niumeitolu

the bright lights of the city
surround her like flies

she mumbles a prayer learned in Sunday school
and holds on tightly to the cold air
funnels through her fingers
like the daughter her parents couldn't keep

two weeks ago she fled her home in Utah
fleeing the grasp of the Mormon Church
and her parents' shame,
freshly pickled
like the apricots church leaders taught her
to preserve every Autumn
a skill that promised
to make her into a good wife

tonight, on the corner of Sepulveda Boulevard,
brights lights expose the blue bruises on her body
disguising her as an older woman
she is her mother, her grandmother
lingering in dark corners
abandoning guests and
the tedium of polite conversations

she telephones her mother
pleading for her life
for a cusp of warmth to quell the cold

she images that their shared silences
histories of bruised abdomen and
crushed collarbones
at the hands of men
were reasons enough
to reconnect them
bury the aching distance and
reunite them

but the silence on the other end
hangs and festers like a wound
she is reminded
that in her family,
there are


by Loa Niumeitolu

that morning on the day you married my grandfather
nane tafu ‘ae afi ke tu’u ‘ae vai melie keke kaukau ‘aki

she piled dry branches, ignited the last match, to heat the rainwater for your bath
the girl from Kanokupolu
‘ae ta’ahine mei Kanokupolu.

Siliva, manatu’i hono hingoa?
her name, Siliva, Silver, do your remember her grandma?

You met at Mele, your mother’s koka’anga,
On foot, she came with the women from Kanokupolu to the capitol city,
lue lalo,
To beat the mulberry bark smooth, paint the kupesi, and set hundred yards of ngatu to dry in the sun.
Your dowery.

folding the last corner of tapa to be stored, the women returned to their families at the westside of the island

Siliva stayed to fish at Faua and returned to your home in late afternoon with tukumisi and koloa’a, ke kiki ‘aki ‘ae haka mei nake tu’u.
She brought your favorite foods, sea urchins and clams, to eat with the breadfruit you had boiled in coconut cream.

Those were her ways, Siliva.
patched the a puaka, the fence to keep the pigs in, then disappeared,
showing up at dark with tokonaki of cassava, taro and whole tusks of bananas.
Fixed the wheels of those wagons used to haul coconuts with to the Copra Board, then disappeared, returning after sunset with a bucket of salted beef.
Mended your dresses and embroidered your handkerchiefs, then slipped away, reappearing with a bottle of cognac and a golden paper box of Benson and Hedges.

You never talked to her, did you grandma?
although you were the same age, almost 19.
Each morning you went to peito, where meals were prepared separately from the main house,
the kettle already hot, filled with lemon grass,
and Siniva, squatting, turning her back towards you,
roasting hopa and ifi for your breakfast.

The morning on the day you married my grandfather,
she gathered vai malie, rain water, from the cisterns that flowed by fragrant blossoms, kakala,
to wash your hair.

She wrapped your hair around her left hand,
chewed the tuitui moe sinamoni in her mouth to a rich paste
and with her right hand, rubbed the paste gently into your scalp
rinsed your hair
molu hono nima, softly wiped water from your eyelids
when you opened your eyes, she already stepped out to leave you to bathe.

they still talk about the royal guests and the gifts of cow, pig, kie, the young doctor- your bridegroom.

Grandma, please tell me how she got that name, Siliva, the one that is not gold.


from preterrain
by craig santos perez

[we] reach the unwritten

point of arrival [we] learn ‘body language’ is more than ‘a litany
of signs’ each sound turns to us turns to ‘salt
water’ [we] tear at these veils
for the details [we] long for ‘from other instruments of production’ because names are preparatory
[we] name everything [we]’ve never seen and touch
the root

as if it used to lead somewhere as if chance and requital have become the same attachment
you say belief is almost flesh because so much flesh betrays each song [we] translate
vital signs when something else is in control [we] rely on the memory of what our house was like before and after [we] stand in what [we] know
is lost


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Starred Review of Bin Ramke's Theory of Mind: New & Selected Poems in Publisher's Weekly


Starred Review in Publisher's Weekly:

Theory of Mind: New & Selected Poems Bin Ramke. Omnidawn (IPG, dist.), $16.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-890650-41-4

Since winning the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1978, Ramke has steadily released strong and strange books of poetry. He is the rare poet who seems to become more himself with each new book, rather than more like an imitation of himself. Nonetheless, perhaps due to the difficulty of much of his work, Ramke has remained a poet's poet. This much-needed and compact selection from his nine previous books serves as a helpful introduction to this poet, whose work straddles aesthetic camps one never knew shared borders-this is language poetry with a Southern twang, or experimental writing with clear, dire subject matter. From the stark clarity of his first poems ("the only horse/ we owned died on Christmas Eve"), Ramke has journeyed toward wholly original aesthetic ground on which his own often fragmentary words share the page, even the line, with passages from obscure texts, definitions, even mathematics. Yet even Ramke's oddest poems always keep a few subjects-fatherhood, knowledge of the self and the other, love, desire-at the forefront, wishing, at times, "To kiss. To move/ mouth against mouth." And the new poems here are among Ramke's best.

--Publishers Weekly, July 20, 2009


Monday, August 17, 2009

New Review of Myung Mi Kim's Penury


One of Omnidawn's newest publications, Myung Mi Kim's Penury, was reviewed at Publisher's Weekly:

Avant gardist Kim's fifth book is a diligent inquiry into the relationship between language and power. The poems take place in a wasteland where war and, as the title would suggest, poverty are the norm; immigrants are treated with harsh suspicion and interrogated repeatedly, and Kim's rage at injustice and suffering rings loudly: "[lookout post] / Are these your names/ From we are from where are you from/ Say this may speaking// To burn or expose to the threat of the sun a person with a pigeon chest and protruding stomach." The most fragmentary of these poems, which sprawl inventively across the whole page, can be quite difficult to parse, at times overwhelmingly so; still, a sense of urgent confusion comes to the fore, enriching the book's overall texture. Finally, this is an unsettling, collection that staunchly confronts a point in history "when the fish die all at once and appear on/ the banks all at once."

-Publishers Weekly, June 15, 2009


Purchase PENURY here!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Review of the Selected Poems of Friedrich Holderlin


check out a new review of the Selected Poems of Friedrich Hölderlin (translated by Paul Hoover and Maxine Chernoff) in Words Without Border here.

order the book at the Omnidawn website here.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Review of Tyrone Williams' On Spec


check out this new review of Tyrone Williams' ON SPEC at ARCH JOURNAL read it here.


In the introduction to Blues People, Amiri Baraka identifies the acquisition of English as "one beginning of the Negro's conscious appearance on the American scene" (xii). Linguistic based formations of identity, such as Baraka's, provide one linage for the excess of speculation Tyrone Williams embodies in his most recent book, On Spec. It is no surprise that Williams' latest effort - a recovery of historical African American outsiders like Thomas Green Bethune, Thomas Fuller and Sam "Boonie" Walton - occasions Baraka's mapping of blues ontology. However, if a serviceable comparison is to made it lies less in the racially relevant findings that both men bring to the table and more in the pressurized negotiation they stamp upon their respective expressions. Baraka - caught between two conflicting histories: white intellectualism and the origins of American Black culture - envisions the moment when the slave decided America was "important enough" to be passed on in some kind of hyphenated language. In so doing, he becomes the dialogic "man [from his own introduction] who looked up in some anonymous field and shouted, 'Oh, Ahm tired a dis mess, / Oh, yes, Ahm so tired a dis mess'" (xii). Likewise, Williams enacts - by way of indefinite embeddings, non-recoverable deletions and ellipses - the incongruity of post-structural literary theory and the vernacular history of black speaking subjects.


visit the OMNIDAWN webpage for more info on the book


New Link: Eleven Eleven Journal


check out the new issue of ELEVEN ELEVEN

Eleven Eleven is a biannual journal of literature and art based at California College of the Arts. The aim of the publication is to provide a forum for risk and experimentation and to serve as an exchange between writers and artists.

To view past editions of Eleven Eleven, click here.


Saturday, August 1, 2009

POETRY FEATURE 20: Sarah Mangold


Bright Fruit

My inflection but it’s her sewing machine

the original address contained

walk from it

a trick is the book

the essence of the trip

impersonating Arkansas

They could summon only you

moving furniture against the walls

he refrained from assigning previous sentences

around small books

smaller dogs

the difficulties lie


Sarah Mangold
is the author of Household Mechanics (New Issues), Parlor (Dusie kollectiv), Picture of the Basket (Dusie kollectiv), Boxer Rebellion (g o n g), Blood Substitutes (Potes & Poets), and the forthcoming Cupcake Royale. She lives and works in Seattle where she edits Bird Dog, a journal of innovative writing and art. With Maryrose Larkin, she co-edits Flash + Card, a chapbook and ephemera press.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

POETRY FEATURE 19: Stephen Vincent


from Sleeping With Sappho
by Stephen Vincent


]I will not
]not for you
]the footfall
]pure crimson


]her sandals

]without a face
if yes, spring

]She refuses song
no x or y, they throw down
their strings (not once)
rejection haunts her tongue

her absence. No ripple in her dress
nor chatter from her silver anklets.
She suffers
because he insists:
his body a stiff column of marble.
Without a word
she refuses.


Walking Theory (Junction Press: 2007) is Stephen Vincent’s most recent book. Previous titles include Walking (Junction Press), A Walk Toward Spicer (Cherry On the Top Press), Sleeping With Sappho (faux ebooks), and Triggers (Shearsman ebooks). Recent poems have appeared in New American Writing, Volt, Crayon, 26, Masthead, Onedit, and the Hamilton Stone Review. “Haptics” was the name of a recent show of his drawings at San Francisco’s Braunstein-Quay Gallery. The First 100 Days of President Obama (haptics & facing journal entries) was an exhibit, performance piece and new book produced at Steven Wolf Fine Arts Gallery on April 29, 2009 (the 100th Day), Vincent's blog featuring critical commentary, new writing, photography and art projects.


Friday, July 3, 2009



Reviews Editor: Meg Hurtado

The Scoop:

Location: Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley CA 94704
Main Store: (510) 849-2087
Open 10am - 10pm every day
Curator: Owen Hill

Parking/Transportation: Wherever you can get it. There’s a garage at roughly Telegraph and Channing – $1 per hour with validation. Probably best to drive, but not a terribly long walk from BART.

The Run of Things: Audience usually arrives a little early to browse the store and grab a good seat – it’s a well-established series in the Bay Area and it can get crowded.
Donation Encouraged? Not overtly, but it’s a bookstore – copies of the readers’ work is always for sale.

Is There a Blog? Yes, through the Moe’s Bookstore website.

All upcoming events and past audio and video files from previous events can be found there too.

Quote From a Reader: “Schools are made to be broken.” - Charles Bernstein.

Upcoming Events? Moe’s will host an in-store celebration of its 50th birthday on July 11th. This is not to be missed.


Some Legends Don’t Need to Slow Down
By Meg Hurtado

Moe’s Bookstore in downtown Berkeley is the stuff of living legend. Snuggled amid the pubs, florists, junk-shops, head-shops, doughnut-shops, used music and vintage clothing stores of Telegraph Avenue, the store has been enthralling independent, left-minded readers for half a century. Owen Hill, author (his latest novel, The Incredible Double, is brand-new from PM Press), curator of the Moe’s Reading Series, and Moe’s employee of twenty-three years, says that the store “performs the same function for the East Bay that City Lights does for San Francisco,” as not only a purveyor of magnificent, inexpensive literature but also as an intellectual gathering place.

The Moe’s reading series has been “an ongoing, regular thing” for six years now, and on June 22, Moe’s hosted a collaborative reading to commemorate the fourth volume of War and Peace: Vision and Text, edited by Leslie Scalapino and Judith Goldman. A thrilling lineup of nine featured authors read their work: Judith Goldman, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Leslie Scalapino, Michael McClure, Denise Newman, Etel Adnan, John Beer, Michael Cross, and Charles Bernstein.

Leslie Scalapino spoke briefly about the importance of interlocking visual art with poetry. Her reading, an excerpt from her poem “The Animal Is In the World Like Water in Water” (inspired by a quote by George Bataille) accompanied by drawings by Kiki Smith. The drawings portray various women being eaten by animals, though Scalapino’s poems are working against the traditional notion of hierarchy and “ascendancy”: “the animal makes / holes in / the girl – the night [not there yet] / is / [night] in the same place then / as both – and holes in night where’re / stars seen [by them there inside it]?” At several points it arises that instead of the animal inflicting bloody death upon the girl, the girl is surrounded by “the rosy night”. Scalapino said that her purpose in the poems was to “reverse” the horror of the drawings, to “make it something sensual and wonderful . . . . and it really is!”

Judith Goldman’s poem “But to me [redo] Ad terminum” dealt with vision on a more internal level. Certain terms and concepts familiar to the amateur art theorist or historian kept popping up: “the bone dropped me / from its mouth / Into the river / to Catch my image”, “conceived as an illustration for a text”, “suggests . . . disappearance”, “The frame is an equal partner in the work”, “figure cropped by left border”, “My mind is encaustic”, “You’ll see on the facing page / this is a work of glazed ceramic”, and my personal Renaissance-Art favorite: “Stop painting the Virgin!” In addition to Goldman’s skillful construction of our visual skyline through words, she moves into moments of tender, defensive, quotidian dialogue: “Sign for the parcel”, “We didn’t know you didn’t know”, “You don’t know your own strength”. Particularly clever was the found-language-esque “You’re paying for the extra day because you exceeded the discharge time” followed by one punny word, “Fine”.

I had never heard Mei-mei Berssenbrugge before, but it was immediately clear that her reputation for elegant and evocative reading is wholly deserved. Throughout her time at the mic she sustained a lilt and pulse that was musical, stylish, and original. She read from a new poem called “The New Boys”, which she described as being inspired by the “slender and willowy and very carefully-dressed” young men of New York. This particular poem blended humor (“he can overplay the artist thing”, “the problems in Israel will be solved by extra-terrestrials”) and post-postmodern innocence and doom (“there’s sex, creativity with the surrealist instincts of a young faun”, “an appearance of renunciation”). Berssenbrugge also read from two of her poems in War and Peace, “Slow Down Now” and “Hello, the Roses”, which were centered around the idea of speaking to plants.

Michael McClure’s untitled poem developed alongside twenty-fives sculptures of horses by Amy Evans McClure, who also provided several drawings which appeared beside Michael’s poem in War and Peace. In section 2 of the poem, McClure made some claims on a grand poetic scale: “BEING BORN IS NOTHINGNESS / DYING IS NOTHINGNESS / Grandpa and Mama are nothingness / and I am here with / ALL LIVES / I / N / venting / a love / - half free”.

Denise Newman’s poem “Future People” was written beside the work of Gigi Janchang, a visual artist who assembles “portraits” with facial features taken from several different photographs. Newman’s work flows in the vein of the gentle poetry-of-the-everyday-eavesdropped-world, and the end of each stanza is punctuated by a shifting refrain built on the phrase “in reality”: “’in reality’, what gets made is winter”, “’in reality’, not in control”, “’in reality’ this is not a mystery. What’s missing is a mystery”, “’in reality’ wanted to be a saint”, etc. It would seem that Newman was affected by the unsettling effect of Janchang’s portraits – and by the question of whether images compiled of disparate parts can in fact be called a “portrait”. It’s a loaded, laudable question, since “naturalism” in art is really a very young phenomenon, and centuries of artists have viewed the ‘compilation’ as the best way of getting at ‘inner’ beauty – Elizabethan artists in particular were fond of sewing together “ideal” features in aristorcratic portraits, most of which bore little physical resemblance to the sitter, and calling it a ‘true’ likeness. But when the features come from multiple imperfect individuals and not a socially-contracted “ideal”, the final product must inevitably make us uneasy. This tension, which Newman referred to as “what was missing, that invisible glue that integrates the parts”, fuels our necessarily-piecemeal perception of “reality”, and creates our anxiety about whatever larger force (Newman describes this force as “God” or perhaps “accident”) will orchestrate our “accident” (“death”, which we can only conceive as an “exception” or “accident”) and the end of our perception.

Etel Adnan advanced to the microphone and ever-so-charmingly announced (or admitted?) that she’d taken the publication’s title literally, and so she’d written an essay about war. On behalf of a generation valiantly shielded by the Patriot Act (happy Fourth of July, everyone… freedom isn’t free and these colors don’t run - they crawl), I was fascinated even though her whole point was that she “had not ‘seen’ war”. While her involvement was certainly greater than that of the average upper-middle class American kid today, the moral of her story is reassuringly familiar, in an unnerving way: nobody sees war. “Even the young men who fought the war, who had weapons, or killed with their own hands, have little say about the war,” she writes. “They have seen nothing, that’s what they say. That it was exciting, or scary, yes, they will admit. But what was it? Events, they will say, little events.” Adnan narrates the way in which war brought her parents together, her teenage and college years surrounded by newscasts, and the pervasive, “perennial” war in the Middle East which has shaped her adulthood and her identity as an Arab. The essay itself is well worth reading, but Adnan’s delivery - both dry and sweet – made her reading perhaps the most memorable of the evening, not least because in spite of her literal interpretation of “War and Peace”, she achieved a very pure, very natural questioning of the intersection of vision and text. Do they always intersect? Do they intersect about the important things, or just about the day-to-day? Are there certain things we can’t ever see, even if we see pieces of them constantly? Can we really talk about what we see? Probably not. In the end, Etel Adnan arrived as a teenager at the only solid conclusion to which a poet can hold: “we were born to read poetry . . . . everything else was evanescence.”

Next came John Beer, who delivered with deadpan humor his brilliant and brief “Descriptive Poem”. The poem centers around the speaker’s view – a physical, visual view – of three lamps in a mirror, nicknamed “Scotty”, “Lola”, and “Lumpy”. In a sense, it’s a poem exploring still-life (for which the original French term is nature mort (“dead nature”) as an art form and as a vivid, constantly-changing life-form in itself. One striking feature of the poem was the way in which Beer rubs contradictory statements against each other and turns them into progressive, dove-tailed revelations, particularly in the following line (which feels reminiscent of both Williams and Yeats): “The view from my / mirror has not changed. / It has changed / entirely.”

Michael Cross read his poem “Pax”, whose title bears a certain brutal-and-brilliant irony, as “pax” can mean military armistice (Pax Romana, obviously, and etc), or outright friendship, and in Catholic culture refers to the “kiss of peace” component of Mass. The lexicon of Cross’s poem, however, was anatomical and sometimes brutal, with decidedly visceral overtones. Phrases like “pigs fixed”, “cleave as stone drawn straw”, “ham of hand, fingers of foot” caught the ear. But the line which most arrested my attention - “dreamt of his blood in the mouth of his brother”.- was simple, archetypal, and extremely reliant on the symmetry of sound.

The final reader was Charles Bernstein, who was perhaps the ideal finish for a long literary evening. Listening to Bernstein’s long conversational lyric was thrilling, but the poem also presented compelling reasons for why we were listening at all. Poetry that tackles the Significance of Poetry is often risky, preachy, or pointless, but Bernstein sailed through all risks with levity and warmth. He dared to channel mighty canonical poets while making charming adjustments of his own. For Coleridge: “Facts, facts, everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” For Yeats: “the rag and bone shop of the quotidian”. For Frost: “Something there is that doesn’t love a frame, that wants to lay bare.” For Williams: “So much depends upon what you mean by failure”. My very, very favorite example, which will never get old and which will decorate my psyche for years to come, springs from Keats: “A thing of beauty is annoyed forever.” And there were simpler, even more hilarious moments: “Computers will never replace poets because computers won’t take that much abuse.”

The heart of the heart of the message, however, is quite serious. The tension between facts and truth is perpetual, is even normal, but great danger lies in the way we perceive said tension. Bernstein’s poem began and ended with a refrain which I’ll attempt to reproduce in full, and if bits are paraphrased I deeply apologize: “Think of poetry as a series of terraces overlooking the city of language . . . . Language is an event of the world just as for language users the world is an event of language. Even the ‘world’ is a word.”

Bernstein ended with a brief remark about the importance of independent readings in general and the Moe’s reading series in particular. Most living legends contain, by their very nature, a certain element of “last stand”, but Moe’s seems to be an exception. Of the dizzying economic downturn and general commercialization of art and intellect which have crippled so many small bookstores, Hill says that it hasn’t been that bad so far, that “we’ve had to do more ads, to work a little harder” but that business is “surprisingly solid”. But what looks like solidity is solidarity, really. When asked the best part of working at Moe’s and curating the reading series, Hill replied, “the audience. It’s a very intelligent audience . . . . it’s a little community of the slightly-crazy.” But we’re loyal.


Saturday, June 27, 2009



Welcome to the Omnidawn Blog's first Bay Area Lit Scene Feature, which will provide our readers with a report of exciting poetry readings in the Bay Area. These features are edited by Omnidawn intern, Meg Hurtado.

Editor Bio:

Meg Hurtado is a second-year student in the MFA program at St. Mary’s College of California and attended undergrad at the University of Richmond in Virginia. She’s studied with Brian Henry, Piotr Sommer, Brenda Hillman, Graham Foust, and Tomaz Salamun. She’s originally from Scottsdale, AZ, which taught her about the beauty of the blank slate. She loves the classics (Plutarch, Yves St. Laurent, Technicolor, sailboats, Giotto, Victoria Station), but also the dark-and-weird (Batman comics, Chekhov, the Bog People). She regrets every second she doesn’t spend dancing, but almost never dances. Her favorite poets are Sexton, Berryman, Stevens, Keats. She’s extra-susceptible to Sir Philip Sidney. She’s relatively new to the published world, but this year was published in Cannibal and the West Wind Review.


The Scoop

Studio One Reading Series

Address/Neighborhood: 365 45th St. in Temescal, Oakland
What Kind of Space Is It Anyway: specifically used as a Art Center
Curator: Sara Mumolo
Parking: Neighborhood parking available, and a lot in the back if you’d prefer.
Transportation: Easiest to drive, but the appropriate BART station is MacArthur
Donation: encouraged, in any amount
The Run of Things: Doors open at 7:00 for wine and refreshments, small-talk, anticipation, etc. Reading begins at 7:30.
Upcoming events: July 10th with V. E. Grenier and Jane Miller and August 1st Aaron Kunin and Kevin Killian. Music by Tommy Busch and Heads Across the Sky.


My First Studio One
by Lara Durback

From the moment you begin to walk toward Studio One, the space welcomes you. After parking somewhere amid the colorful crowded Temescal houses one approaches waving lawns in the shapes of sine-curves – the temptation to roll on them was intense. I had been meaning to go for awhile, knowing the community building vibe that follows the Studio One series curator Sara Mumolo, who says that “Studio One is a nice place to hang out because of the kind and talented people that participate each month by volunteering, interning, being in the audience, or sharing their works with the community.” In addition to the series, Studio One Art Center is a hub for art, drama, and poetry classes in the Oakland community. In tandem with her duties as curator, Mumolo teaches writing workshops at the Center, and adds “the readings take place on the first Friday of each month as part of the Oakland Art Murmur.” The series has that poetry-plus-art angle that always results in something illuminating and unexpected, and it reminds me of the New Yipes series that went on for years at 21 Grand.

I wasn’t initially familiar with the readers or the attendant crowd, but I’d been able to visit the Studio One blog and read interviews with the readers earlier in the week. The welcome, laid-back feeling I’d had when I approached the place continued through the evening. No one blew me off when I talked to them. There’s nothing clique-ish about this reading series or its patrons; people I didn’t know poured glasses of wine for me without it being their duty or role.

I discovered via post-reading conversation that Mike Young is a former student of K. Silem Mohammed, and I could definitely hear some ghosts of that experience in the mildly flarf-like delivery. Between the punchy line breaks and facial expressions and the crowd’s giggles, there was a thoughtful representation of the intimacy of examining, a feeling of being close to one’s own face, or a loved one’s face. But there are other materials involved too: for instance, there is a “secret mouthwash.” I also heard: “Here, let me spill this dust all over your hair.”

Mr. Young also mentioned that he was paid! commissioned! to write a poem for a baby soon to be born. He chose to tell the baby things he might encounter, like all the people on a bus laughing together at the same time, or being excited about being naked with a man or with a woman. As Mike read, he frequently employed a kind of tender direct address, which was welcomed by the audience. I look forward to reading his journal NOO more closely (which features, in addition to prose and poetry, a section for presenting independent literature: magazines, chapbooks, etc.)

Next, artist Jake Gillespie was introduced via the disclaimer that his films were not meant to be funny. These videos showed pencil-drawings of faces with double-paired eyes. It’s some sort of brain trick, putting the viewer in a slightly altered state. The easiest drawing to describe is a man slowly accumulating strokes of beard hair, so that he has a haggard 5 o’clock shadow and until eventually his entire face is engulfed in black marks. The accompanying music lent a haunting and sobering tone. (Mr. Gillespie told me after the reading that it was the local artist Clovishead.)

[Jake Gillespie, June 2009. image c/o Devin Anderson]

I watched Jake watch his own films with reverence. The subjects drawn had varied expressions, ages, races, genders. I got a sense of overwhelming unity. One image shows a woman’s tears accumulating as these little tick marks, the dotted line of tears, but then the tears begin reversing and mirror upwards. Is it a different sadness? Or have the eyes gained some sort of power, some understanding of the radiance of sorrow itself? I’ve noticed a trend in much recent art in galleries lately—meticulous pencil and pen work, being shown in a large scale. This return to the hand in such a large size (alongside the decline of the pen to paper in everyday “writing”) seems to be a yearning for the physical aspect of communication that we don’t always realize we’re missing. Hand to pen to person. How the written line connects us to people. With the lines in Gillespie’s video, the tears go out extremely far in directions we don’t expect, like airplane vectors. Out. The beard goes outside of the head, affecting others.

The final reader of the evening, Geoffrey G. O’Brien, teaches at Berkeley and at San Quentin State Prison. I’d read Gillian Hamel’s interview with O’Brien on the Studio One blog, in which O’Brien makes observations about his reservations about “speaking” on the web about poetry, mostly because he takes poetry seriously and doesn’t want to be misunderstood by a space that moves faster than he prefers to move. During the reading, he broke out a section of a 40-page prose poem that he describes as having a “relentless iambic rhythm.” This rhythm is disrupted by words acting as “hinges” in certain lines, words that take on a “double syntactic duty.” This is interesting because it makes it a little difficult to read aloud. As he read along, stepping slowly through the cadences, all of a sudden an entire page of the poem went missing, and he pressed on gracefully, though he had to get up out of his seat and dig for the page. It was fitting, it suited the disruption in the lines, and it made for a memorable moment. As a listener, it was a feat to try to track the hinges as they pass without seeing them on a paper in front of me. One that I caught was “…the necessary changes /made/ me feel at home. (In between the slashes is my emphasis on the hinge-word. It’s not a line break.)

So what does double syntactic duty do? Is it referencing an agent or an author acting in the same way as the hinge-word acts, teaching in two different environments, to two different populations? It struggles with finding a balance between any number of dualities, while directly referencing the balance between looking at a page and hearing aloud.

I’ll end with the second poem Geoffrey G. O’Brien read that night:


An away of practice the other is
Like a river out of acts the other is
Hapless, unheard, with marks upon him
Having dallied in tarrying unwisely
Backlit at an undecidable remove
In a house of marks the other is
Useless deciding whether to go
Or wait in best practices like a child
A hapless river filled with sand
For years it flows like wet clock-rope
Years of saying as it moves away
Are the undecided water others bring
Like the child of acts the other is
Saying to himself the other is
A hapless river practicing its flow
A house that moves to where one was
With all years off the water goes
The lights are on so the dark is out
Like the useless children others are
A certain building dream within
A part of speech without a name


Monday, June 22, 2009

POETRY FEATURE 18: Shira Dentz


to the equinox

trees outside veins.
spindles lacing
soon enough there’ll be leaves.
start with phrases,
a spray of branches
as the wind blows
is a bit cold
antlers splay white sky.
skin the riddle of trees,
raised question marks.
two bluishred chairs on a lawn facing front of the greentan house
                   next door.
a male with short brown hair, navy sweatshirt and jeans looks up
                    at the house.
dry sticks, garbage, could be anything.
light combs lakewater, deer-brown.
my father: a black slip, squirrel
of fabric curled
a noose beside his head.
the raze of nothing
but colors squirt
and a soprano far off:
plane engines, jazzy light, neighbors knocking walls,
vents exhaling heat, saints.
in the background orange looms
large, its pocked skin dicey.
sun flowers on my desk:
yellow green
winter grass.
white lily petal
losing supple,
sister me.


Shira Dentz is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets' Prize, The Poetry Society of America's Lyric Poem and Cecil Hemley Memorial Awards, Electronic Poetry Review's Discovery Award, and Painted Bride Quarterly's Poetry Prize. Her poetry has aired on NPR, featured on the Poetry Daily website, and has appeared in The American Poetry Review, FIELD, Western Humanities Review, American Letters & Commentary, Denver Quarterly, Seneca Review, jubilat, Lungfull!, and many other journals. She worked as an Art Director in a New York City advertising agency for many years designing ads for rock concerts and taught in a Brooklyn public high school as a New York City Teaching Fellow before leaving for the Iowa Writers' Workshop a few years ago. Currently, she lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she is finishing a doctoral program. "To the equinox" was partly inspired by Nature in Iowa City, a memorable and, at times, dominant presence.


Sunday, June 14, 2009


Postmark Deadline: June 30
The 2009 Omnidawn Poetry Contest, judged by Ann Lauterbach, is Omnidawn Publishing's second annual contest for a first or second full-length collection of poems by a poet writing in English. (If you have two or more books published or accepted for publication, you are not eligible, although chapbooks do not count for this purpose.)
The recommended length of manuscript entries is 40 to 70 pages. Simultaneous submissions and multiple submissions are acceptable. The prize includes $2,000, Fall 2010 Publication by Omnidawn, and 100 complimentary copies of the book. The entry fee of $25 entitles you to one free Omnidawn title of your choice, if you send $2.92 in postage and your return-mailing-address typed on a piece of paper. See full explanation at

The prize-winning book will be produced, distributed, and advertised to full Omnidawn standards. As with other Omnidawn books, we will encourage the winning poet to participate in the design of the book, including choice of typefaces, cover artwork and design, with all stages subject to the approval of the winning poet. All costs, including production, distribution and advertising, will be fully paid for by Omnidawn. Omnidawn abides by the CLMP Code of Ethics.

The winner of last year's contest, judged by Marjorie Welish, is Michelle Taransky for her manuscript, Barn Burned, Then, to be published this September.

For the complete guidelines to this year's contest, visit

For information on last year's contest and winner visit

For other information about Omnidawn, including a list of Omnidawn titles, subscription to our mailing list, and more, visit www.omnidawn.com

Saturday, June 6, 2009



The Journey Back

after Tolkien, Shelley, Nelson, Eastwood, Housman, Justice, Bishop

Cradling my drunken brother
In my broken arms I tracked

The last cloud on earth after
Deciding the last movie lacked

Cowboys. True, the river clips
Were something to behold.
(write it!)
Michael I love you and wine
Lied. We are just as cold.


Nathan Parker lives in Northport, Alabama, with his wife, Christie, and his two toddlers, Noah and Clara.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Interview Feature 2: Brenda Iijima Interviews Tyrone Williams


check out Brenda Iijima's wonderful interview with Tyrone William. the interview, titled "An African-American Poetry/Poetics," appears in Kaurab Online.

Tyrone Williams, teaches literature and theory at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. An experimental poet of a rare breed, Tyrone has authored two books of poetry, c.c. (Krupskaya Books, 2002) and On Spec (Omnidawn Publishing, 2008)and a number of chapbooks including AAB (Slack Buddha Press, 2004), Futures, Elections (Dos Madres Press, 2004)and Musique Noir (Overhere Press, 2006).

Brenda Iijima is the author of Animate, Inanimate Aims (Litmus, 2007) and Around Sea (O Books, 2004). Her book, If Not Metamorphic was runner up for the Sawtooth Prize and will be published by Ahsahta Press. revv.you’ll—ution, is forthcoming from Displaced Press sometime this year. She is the editor of Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs: http://yoyolabs.com/. She is editing a collection of essays by poets concerning poetry and ecological ethics titled )((eco (lang)(uage(reader). She is the art editor at Boog City as well as a visual artist. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and teaches at Cooper Union.