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.