Jill Khoury Discusses Her Teaching with Poetry Barn and the Value of Online Poetry Workshops

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I’d like to share this online interview I conducted with Jill Khoury. I was inspired to interview Jill after taking her online poetry workshop, Writing Poems From the Body, at The Poetry Barn.

Jill’s course was my first Poetry Barn class, but I have since taken two more, and I’ve found them to be incredibly exciting! Each month-long course is organized around a theme (poetry and spirituality, poetry and the body, poetry and gender, just to name a few), where the instructor offers you readings, prompts, critiques, and discussions. Classmates also critique each other’s work, and the courses are wonderfully encouraging.

Writing Poems from the Body wasn’t my first experience with Jill or her compelling work. Several years ago, Jill and I joined other disabled writers in a dialogue on blindness and writing through Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature. And last year, I reviewed her book, Suites for the Modern Dancer, for The Deaf Poets Society. When I saw her workshop on the schedule at The Poetry Barn, I knew her course would be an exciting opportunity!

About Poet-Teacher Jill Khoury

Jill Khoury is interested in the intersection of poetry, visual art, representations of gender, and disability. She is a Western Pennsylvania Writing Project fellow and teaches workshops focusing on writing the body. She holds an MFA from The Ohio State University and edits Rogue Agent, a journal of embodied poetry and art. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous journals, including Copper Nickel, Bone Bouquet, Lunch Ticket, and diode. She has written two chapbooks—Borrowed Bodies (Pudding House, 2009) and Chance Operations (Paper Nautilus, 2016). Her debut full-length collection, Suites for the Modern Dancer, was released in 2016 from Sundress Publications. 

How did you discover Poetry Barn? How did you get started as a teaching artist for Poetry Barn?

Poetry Barn started out under a different name: Rooster Moans Poetry Collective. As best I understand it, the Collective began as a few poets workshopping together and then expanded into a venue for teachers and students to become involved in online workshopping. Poets Susan Yount and Lissa Kiernan were members of the original collective. I had recently been in contact with Susan Yount because she’d published a poem of mine in Arsenic Lobster, a journal she edited. I don’t remember the details but I’d asked about teaching online and she introduced me to her friend Lissa who runs Rooster Moans aka Poetry Barn. This is just one illustration of why my online poetry community means so much to me. Being able to transcend geography and the limitations of my disabilities is a godsend.

How much freedom are you allowed with the design of your Poetry Barn workshops?

Lissa gives us a lot of creative freedom! I was able to design this course entirely. It is and continues to be the only course that I’ve had the maximum amount of freedom in choosing material and how to present that material.

How often do you teach with Poetry Barn? Have you taught different workshops or do you teach the same classes every year?

I’ve taught the Writing Poems from the Body class twice with them, and I’m teaching it again in the fall of 2018.

What are three principles you strive to build into your Poetry Barn workshops?

Risk-taking, close reading / helpful critique, and safety. The first pertains to a value that I hold dear in my own and others’ writing—being able to take risks with content, writing process. language, or poetic form. Risk is going to seem different to everyone, however. Of course, what is extremely risky for one poet might not be risky for another. I aim to push each student just slightly out of their comfort zone, but it’s also okay if they don’t want to go there. I think close reading and helpful critique is also a core motivator of the workshop. I also allow my students to indicate what depth of critique would be most helpful for them. Some students are writing with the goal of eventual publication in mind already. Some students are just there to generate work and want to worry about deep revision later. Some students are writing for catharsis or self-inquiry. Suggestions for revision are not useful to them because they are not interested in revising. The great thing about teaching in a venue like Poetry Barn is that as a teacher, I can meet every student where they are. It’s not for credit. It’s for enrichment—whatever enrichment looks like to the individual. Lastly but importantly, safety is important. When teaching a workshop like Writing Poems from the Body, situations can get really vulnerable really quickly. It is of paramount importance that everyone’s journey into the subject of the body is heard and respected.

How is the online format similar to in-person workshops? How is it different?

The thing that it’s hard to replace from an in-person workshop is the face to face meeting. It will always be a lovely thing to feel that unquantifiable but delicious feeling of being poets sitting around a seminar table writing, reading, and engaging one another. However, there are many limitations on an in-person workshop. Geography and scheduling, for example. In my first time teaching Writing Poems from the Body I had students from all over the US plus Australia and Norway. Some were university students. Some were professionals. Some were retired. Since the class is asynchronous, people with all these different geographies and schedules were able to come together and form a cohesive unit.

What is some advice you would give to a new workshop participant about writing critiques?

My recommendation would be similar to any new workshop participant, whether online or in-person. Be respectful. Be specific. Take your time. Give praise and advice in the spirit you would wish to receive it.

Which features of class or community design help the Poetry Barn workshops to be constructive and civil spaces?

The Poetry Barn classroom has discussion questions available as a course design choice. I like to generate discussion even before the first poems are turned in. In Writing Poems from the Body, the first discussion question I offer is to share your journey toward embodied writing. People come to it from different places, in different ways. My intention is that the more that students participate in discussion, the more they will see themselves as a community. The more they see themselves as a community, the more they will respect one another. Also Lissa has built respectfulness into the courses literally. On the pages dedicated to poem critique, she has a list of good advice for workshopping that shows up every time someone starts a critique.

And lastly, who are the poets you return to again and again? What are the poems you can’t stop reading?

Rather than always-returning, the way I read poetry is ever-expanding. There is so much new work coming out all the time that examines the subject of the body in some way. I want to read it all! Here’s a list of ten books in my queue right now:

____________________

I’m so grateful to Jill for her thoughtful answers — and to the folks at Poetry Barn for continuing to provide quality instruction in a civil and accessible environment!

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Celebrating National Poetry Month 2018!

Dear readers, it’s that time again! Time to spend 30 days of April showers celebrating poetry — reading it, writing it, thinking about writing it! I’m excited to report some fantastic festivities at both campuses where I teach! Follow the hyperlinks to find the Facebook events for each item.

Downtown Campus Spoken Word Open Mic, Tues Apr 10, 10AM-12PM

Join FSCJ poets Donna Cobis, Kelsi Hasden, and me for a spoken word event celebrating National Poetry Month. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to come ready to share their favorite poems or original verse, but no shade will be thrown if you attend simply to cheer on your classmates or colleagues. This event will take place in C-101 at Downtown Campus and is my collaborative creation with FSCJ’s Library and Learning Commons and Downtown Campus Student Engagement.

Poetry Month Workshop Series

I’ll be teaching a series of three workshops at the UNF Writing Center this month! These are open to UNF students, staff, and faculty, and they are not sequential: you can come to one, two, or all three!

Write Your Poem,  Wed, Apr 4, 2-3PM

Have you ever wondered where a great poem begins? Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced poet, we’ll discover the roots of captivating poems! This workshop is the first in the Writing Center’s 2018 National Poetry Month Series. Grab your favorite pen and your vivid imagination, and we’ll start writing together. Students, faculty, and staff are welcome. 

Critique Your Poem, Wed, Apr 11, 2-3PM

More than rhyme schemes or syllable counts, a poet needs to know what makes a poem tick. What takes a handful of smudgy lines to a full-fledged draft? What takes a poem from good to great? We’ll explore techniques for critiquing poetry in the second installment of the Writing Center Poetry Month Series. Students, faculty, and staff welcome. 

Perform Your Poem, Wed, Apr 18, 2-3PM

Let’s lift poetry off the page! Bring your works in progress or your favorite poems! We’ll explore the techniques that performance poets use to electrify their audience in this third installment of the Writing Center Poetry Month Series. Students, faculty, and staff welcome.  

Student Poet Showcase, April 9, 12-1PM

Students, it’s your turn in the spotlight! Join the UNF Writing Center, English Graduate Organization (EGO), and UNF faculty poets for an informal poetry reading to celebrate National Poetry Month! We are all about showing our appreciation for poets, past and present! Bring your own work or your favorite poem to share — or just come to listen and get a free dose of poetry. Students, staff, and faculty are welcome! 

Poetry Feedback Fridays, April 6 & 13 at 2-3PM

Join our visiting poet for an informal small-group conversation about poetry, careers in the arts, and the writing life. Bring your poems for individual critique, or bring your curiosity. Beginners and experienced writers are welcome — no prep needed! Students, faculty, and staff are welcome!
___________

Do you have an exciting project or event for National Poetry Month? I’d love to hear about it! I’ve got more poetic features to share, so stay tuned to the blog! 

Poetry as Activism, The Rhetoric of Empathy, and The Breaking of Beliefs: My interview with Primal School

I am honored to be featured on Hannah Lee Jones’s fabulous poetry blog, Primal School. Her blog is designed as a place to discuss poetry outside the academy, to go back to basics and understand what makes a poem tick. In this interview, she asked me to describe my motivation and process for “A Phenomenology of Blindness,” which was published by Rogue Agent this summer.

About the interview, Hannah says:

[Emily K. Michael’s] poem ‘A Phenomenology of Blindness’ is a lesson not just in poetic craft but also how to talk about disability: ‘There’s a sense with the average non-disabled person that we should try to minimize or hide our disabilities — as if their discomfort is our discomfort. That’s another reason I write as a blind poet; I want people to know that I’m bringing blindness forward. I’m not ashamed. It’s a part of who I am. It’s something that belongs in poetry — not as a novelty but as a reality.’ Read, learn, and if so moved, please share widely — Emily’s work is vital.

Read the full interview here.

“Inside Jokes” published at The Fem!

Today starts a new semester! And the best way to ring in a beginning or ending is with poetry!

So it’s a good thing that my poem “Inside Jokes” was published at The Fem on this day. Read and enjoy! Happy Monday!

Honorable Mention in The Hopper’s Prize for Young Poets!

In June, I entered The Hopper‘s Prize for Young Poets. You remember The Hopper, the Vermont-based ecologically minded magazine that published one of my essays in May?  This contest called for a chapbook, a collection of 20-50 poems by a “young poet” (under 35) who had never published a collection before. So I shuffled and re-shuffled my poems, read them to myself, read them with friends, and sent them off!

Well, my manuscript, Natural Compliance, won Honorable Mention (3rd place) in this contest! I’m incredibly excited by such a distinction, and I’m quite proud of my little manuscript. Because The Hopper is so awesome, they wanted to profile me on their website and include a poem from the collection. Their profile features my poem “Kiwano,” hitherto unseen on the wilds of the Internet!

Here is their profile on me and my collection.

I want to thank the friends who helped me create and finalize this collection. You know who you are. We spent hours hunched over coffeeshop tables working and reworking these poems. You read the collection in one fell swoop to soothe my insecurities. You cheered me on. You told me I was worth it, whether I won or lost.

My friends, my readers, you are my blessing.

A little avian poem in a brand new journal!

Today marks the launch of The Deaf Poets Society, a literary journal that features the work of disabled writers. And I’m honored to announce that my poem “Trading Threes” is on this first flight.

Read and listen to the poem here.

This poem is a tribute to the glorious cardinals who sing day and night in my front yard. I hope you enjoy it and take some time to explore the rest of this brand new issue!

Poem Published in Rogue Agent!

The July issue of Rogue Agent is out, and one of my poems graces its cyperpages! You’ll find my piece, “A Phenomenology of Blindness,” in Issue #16 of this journal of poetry, art, and embodiment!

Read my poem here.

Poem Published!

My poem, “Crushed,” is live in the June issue of Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature.

Click here to read it—or listen to me read it for you!

Mosaics Poet Profiles: Kimberly Fujioka

I’m excited to present the work of another author from Mosaics: A Collection of Independent Women (Vol. 2)…Kimberly Fujioka.

Kim has been writing since she was a child. She wrote her first novel while she was tossing Hostess Ho-Hos and Ding Dongs off the back of a dump truck at her uncle’s farm. The cows in the pasture all grouped around the dump truck overflowing with day old cakes. If farms were a microcosm of the world, there would be cows who follow and then there would be one who might be named Polaris who would crawl up the apple tree to reach the golden apples, the one who from the vantage point of old age could see the slaughter house in the distance. Kim knows the benefits of aging since she’s almost 60 and has finally started to take herself seriously as a poet.

Kim has written and published book reviews, essays, and poetry, and she has published in print and online newspapers, magazines, literary journals and the anthology, To Japan with Love: A Travel Guide for the Connoisseur.

Kim taught English (ESL) at the university level for 30 years in both the U.S. and in Japan. She wrote several nonfiction books on teaching that are on sale at Amazon. You can find Kim on social media at the following accounts: Book Review Blog, Twitter, and her personal blog. She offers one poem:

The Glass Blower and Me

There is a shape I am searching for,
or is it a process?

The outcome is always the same, and I ask
“Is it love or art?”

I’m thinking if that mountain village, north of Fujioka City in Central Japan,
the glass blowers raise the long hollow metal rod to their greased lips
and blow.

The other end is immersed in blue fire.
Those of us standing around cannot see the glass formation
we are told is inside the stove’s belly,
but we believe it’s there.

We stand around the glass blower, who delicately twirls the hot, metal rod
between his gloved fingers.

We watch and wait for his masterpiece of glass to emerge from the oven, when
he taps me on the shoulder,
leans down to grease my lips, and lifts the rod
up to my mouth.

But I am too eager, sucking in more air than my lungs will hold.
He steps back, moving the blow rod away from me.
It’s noisy in this studio, so no one can speak over the roar of the fire.

We communicate through our eyes.

I look up into his eyes.
He puts the metal rod to my mouth and I try again.
This time I use the breath that is only mine.
He places the rod in my hands and moves slowly toward the stove,
peering in through the small window.
Looking over his shoulder at me, he gives me the okay sign.
I let my breath out slowly and steadily, then he cuts through the air
when it’s time for me to stop.

I don’t know what I’m doing, but he guides me through it.
It’s only him—the glass blower—and me, and my desire.

We enter the blue fire,
unable to stop,
even though I am afraid.

Source:
“Body, My House.” Pilgrimage Magazine 35.1 (2010): 40-41.

Mosaics Poet Profiles: Audrey T. Carroll

Audrey T. Carroll is a Queens, NYC native whose obsessions include kittens, coffee, Supernatural, Buffy, and the Rooster Teeth community. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Fiction International, So to Speak, Feminine Inquiry, the A3 Review, and others. Her poetry collection, Queen of Pentacles, is forthcoming from Choose the Sword Press. She can be found at http://audreytcarrollwrites.weebly.com and on Twitter. She offers two poems:

Darling Daughter

When they want to cleave your bark to read
your rings, hack away at your outermost with
steel    edges,    accuse    you    of   a   petticoat
conspiracy that you are a part of because we
are all a part of it from the age when we pass
notes in our pastel bubble writings, then you
tell them, dear child, of the female narrative
not born of temptation & sin but of the
blood of your blood singing out

                   from

                             one generation to the next.

Two Clowns

               For Mr. & Mrs. J

No stranger pair born
than the head doctor
and her ward
Tragedy granting the doctor
every reason to fall
and with a ward so charming,
How could she resist?
Years of attempted murders
both have survived
switching which side of the gun
each was on, who got
the last laugh
And that’s what today is all about:
Laughter in the madness
at the madness
surrounded by enemies of enemies
for a person who would
kill or die for the other,
laughing the whole way
and her ward with the red
smile, who mostly likes her
Sometimes
Never have such a perfect pair
of clowns been joined
To a future of many
Successful plans
Endless riches
Smile upon smile
And may you both
Finally
have that single thing
you want most—
Freedom to run the streets
Freedom from the knight

 

Sources:

“Darling Daughter” originally published in So to Speak Journal.

“Two Clowns” originally published in Crab Fat Magazine, Issue 5.

Mosaics Poet Profiles: Elizabeth S. Wolf

Elizabeth S. Wolf lives in MA with her daughter and several pets. By day she works as a Metadata Librarian. Through years of interesting times, her catchphrase was “just another chapter for the book”.

Many of Elizabeth’s poems and stories are inspired by events in the news or in her past. She writes because telling stories is how we make sense of our world, how we connect with our world, how we heal and how we celebrate. She writes poetry to find the sliver of truth within the overload of information.

Elizabeth has published poems in several anthologies (Merrimac Mic: Gleanings from the First Year; Amherst Storybook Project; Mosaics: A Collection of Independent Women, Volume 1; The Best of Kindness: Origami Poems Project 2016; Merrimac Mic II: Going with the Floes). Elizabeth’s poetry has appeared in the online journals NewVerseNews and Scarlet Leaf Review and is forthcoming in Peregrine Journal. Some of her earlier poetry is archived in the Valley Women’s History Collaborative, a special collection of the UMass Amherst Libraries. Today she offers three poems:

Dare.

Take chances.
Go to the wall,
and again,
and again:
as a hobby,
as a way of life,
as an exemplar,
as an apology,
as a beacon,
as a trust;
as you must,
as you must.

This Is The Way

This is the way
the world ends: with an orgasmic sigh
and a saxophone wail, with a howling dog
and a gibbering monkey
chanting their prayers, with
whistling teapots falling silent
and rustling leaves whispering
“nevermore”, with lights and sirens
flaring and lovers swearing
at each other, with children reciting the alphabet
backwards as their parents dance to
displaced tunes, and the sky soars away
as the Big Bang shatters into
thousands of lingering whimpers.
This is the way the world ends;
please stand by.

What If

What if today
there were no shootings.
What if today, there were no
beatings, even if dinner is
late or cold. What if today
everyone had enough dinner.
What if today, those who call themselves
lovers actually respected each other.
What if today, children were
seen and believed and
treasured. What if today
we greeted our neighbors.
What if today
is all the time we have;
what if today
is enough;
what if.

Sources:
“Dare” originally published in Methuen Life, Nov 2014.

“This Is The Way” originally published in Merrimac Mic: Gleanings from the first year, April 2015.

“What If” originally published in Scarlet Leaf Review, March 2015, and reprinted in The Best of Kindness: Origami Poems Project 2016 Kindness Anthology

Mosaics Poet Profiles: Caroline M. Cao

With the launch of Mosaics 2 on May 1, I’m continuing the April frivolity – more poet profiles! But this time, I’ll be sharing the work of my fellow Mosaics authors, from both volumes! The first poet in our series is Carol Cao.

Caroline M. Cao, though Florida-born, considers herself a full-Houstonian spiritually. During her years at the University of Houston, she was a devoted staff writer and satirist of The Cougar Opinion Column and Cooglife magazine. She is a current TV/Movie reviewer for OutLoudCulture and champions review-writing as both a scholarly platform and artform. In the meantime, she’s writing poems, stories, and sci-fic space opera screenplays. Or she’s just swing dancing with the UH Lindy Hop Club. She offers two poems:

 

On a Numb Brain

a bloodstream too feeble
dulling wits
weary slug-fingers fidgeting,
clawing tenderly on bedsheets and pillow.

I heed the molecules
of my sinking queen-sized mattress
nullifying my will to take pleasures

Kaguya at Leisure

My dad among
the surplus of fathers
whispered the stories of the struggles of suitors
spinning artificial silk
plucking fragrant-less camellias
carving Buddha’s Begging Bowl
seeking to make her
their new ming vase.

Dad told it that way to the daughters’ bedsides
“Kaguya was sad,” the dads said.
What else was there?
But the river-tears of Kaguya’s father
with her mother rubbing his shoulders
and him borrowing her handkerchief.

Only I knew the
part of the story
where she bowed down
on knees,
worshipping the
birds, beetles, bees
neglecting the wooing
of the princes and courtiers.

The pear blossoms
weren’t in season
but ah well.
she considered herself blessed
that the blood Tsubakis
      weren’t in season
as she buried her face
      into the lilies.

That was before the era of her altars
and the bedside stories.

This was before she submitted
to the moon delegation
to ascend from Earth.

When she resettled on the craters
the moon glowed this portrait
of her ephemeral bliss.

Her lips appear the utter the overdue,
      “No. ”
which were always muted by the floral screens
of her earthly bamboo-palace.

Even then,
she does not look down
on her suitors bows
she pinches her nose
at the Emperor’s shrines
and its stale incense.

She smiles at daughters
      who inquire
      “What about her?”

 

Sources:

“On a Numb Brain” originally published in The Aletheia Literary Magazine, Spring 2015

“Kaguya at Leisure” originally published in Mosaics: A Collection of Independent Women

April Poet Profiles: Rhoda Monihan

Rhoda Monihan is an atheist poet and writer and has most of her poems on the PoetrySoup website. They span from being about religion, politics, and technology to being about science, evolution, and WW II. She believes that all people are of equal inherent worth and understands humanism to give the best view of life that can be supposed. She believes in evolution, as she has found it of great help to her as a young teen when she read Darwin having had a few tragedies in her life. She has a number of disabilities, but the physical one is Cerebral Palsy. In her spare time she likes reading, watching DVDs, and going to the cinema. She offers this poem:

I Wish I Was a Wandering Tree

I wish I was a wandering tree because then I’d make lots of relationships. The sun, so startling with glamour, the sky, just a wee distance away, with chlorophyll and the weather, my partner. He’s all around me and so very affective. I am happy when he’s bright, and his cold is my down. I would bring the sun down to earth by respecting his beams and running with all his memes until he was on my side, in my living room relaxation time which would be energised by solar power. I’d analyse the clouds for precipitation causation and I’d multiply the chlorophyll found inside plants and inject the extra amount into us humans to change all skin colour to green. Then we’d know just normally and not just when we are in education classes that we’re all related to nature, and that how we interact with it determines each of our futures, not god or imagination. And maybe the chlorophyll would even make us fly!

April Poet Profiles: Travis Lau

Travis Lau is a Franklin/Fontaine doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Department of English. His research interests include eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, the history and theory of the novel, the history of medicine, disability studies, body studies, and gender and sexuality studies. His dissertation, tentatively titled “Prophylactic Fictions: Immunity and Biosecurity,” explores the British literary and cultural history of immunity and vaccination beginning in the eighteenth century. His academic writing has been published in Journal of Homosexuality, Romantic Circles, and English Language Notes (forthcoming). His creative writing has appeared in Atomic, Feminine Inquiry, Wordgathering, Assaracus, Rogue Agent, and QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology (Handtype Press, 2015). You can read more of his work here. He offers two poems:

Intended

“I seem to myself, as in a
dream, 
An accidental guest in this dreadful body.”
–Anna Akhmatova

A scan with closed
eyes bears witness
to lines of knots,
ropes for counting
the matter out of
place – a body and
its discontents,
dreadful as only
fathomable in the
ligatures of a dream.
Accidental, she once
did call it, a matter of
error with no trial
or the sin of generation:
what her grandmother
paid for with queer bones
and left for me to clear the
debt. Yet I remain the
interest, what remains
of transits (of genes, of
prayers) unmoving like
a bind that cannot be
breathed through.
So to be is to overstay,
to be the guest who
refuses every comfort
to become host – no
longer accident but
intent.

Disorientation

How it is
to live askew –

but a step
away from awry,

the ruthless tui na
of the world,

other to me, hard
upon pressure points

until I am left
impressed:

the residue of
disorientation

in space that
holds itself

hard against
me despite

its songs
of innocence.

April Poet Profiles: Andres Rojas

I am honored to present the work of my friend Andres Rojas. Andres  was born in Cuba and came to the U.S. at age 13. He holds an M.F.A. and a J.D. from the University of Florida, and his poems have most recently appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, Colorado Review, Massachusetts Review, New England Review, and Notre Dame Review. Andres is also the poetry editor for Compose, an online journal.

Andres reads a lot, when he is not spending time with Melinda, his wife of 23 years. They like to revisit their favorite spots (New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston, and St. Augustine);  during spring and summer, they go for walks on the local beaches. For the past couple of years, Andres has become addicted to MOOCS, and has completed about 15 of them—varying on topics from cosmology to history to poetry. He loves to hike. He has recently completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia and is approximately 45 miles into North Carolina.

Andres wrote his first poem at age 13, emulating his father (who didn’t really like that first poem). He wrote song lyrics in high school, and took creative writing courses in college, intending to write fiction. He wrote the poems required for his course, and he is still writing poetry 30 years later.

Though Andres loves creative activities (acting, playing the guitar, singing in a band, and writing fiction and nonfiction), he is drawn most to poetry. He says, “I love to work towards the pleasures of writing poetry, which I vaguely define as striving for elegance, precision, discovery, and catharsis.” He believes in the power of poetry to enhance empathy and awareness. Poetry challenges a reader’s intellect and emotions, preparing them for other difficulties—whether on the page or in person. His favorites include Eliot, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Adrienne Rich, Carolyn Forche, Eduardo C. Corral, Ada Limon, Natalie Diaz,  and Ocean Vuong.

Andres was a finalist for this year’s Andres Montoya Poetry Prize. In 2017, his essay on Latino/a poetics and immigrant identity will be coming out as part of a University of New Mexico anthology. You can find more of Andres’s work at his blog. Today he offers three poems:

ONE

Loss isn’t hard.
It comes uncalled,
a side effect

like chills or thirst,
makes room for more,
wants little else

but what is lost,
what artifice
burns to restore,

can’t fail to try.
Write them, again:
door keys, notebooks,

that first time, hours
poorly spent, words
fine without me.

My mother’s watch.
Her last-worn dress.
Your voice. Your hands
that I love. You.

HEADWATERS
          Chattahoochee Gap Spring

Breached in stone,
fig-leafed with lichen,

a baptismal font
enough to keep its share

of future skies — how new,
exactly, this trickle? The Adam

and Eve orchids too
bespeak something

other, as the bird skull
alit on deer droppings,

as — miles downstream,
hours back — the tubes

on the river, asters
alkene and slick: ancient,

if not older than themselves,
rarer than stars, yes, and ordinary.

OSCEOLA FOREST
          …damit mehr Licht hineinkomme

Night is more than what longleaf pines
have gathered here, voids leaning in
as for a look, the sky not their opposite

but something else: of stars,
light may abide longest.

June brings out few fireflies,
three, four per hour, if that. One
lights my chest, my head,

all I can see now, this spark
in so much forest, calling.

I close my eyes to absence older than stars.
They and the fireflies still shine, I’m sure —
I, who walked four hours to them

knowing what light can mean
even to one who means nothing to it.

Sources:
“One” originally in Luna Luna
“Headwaters” originally published in Colorado Review
“Osceola Forest” originally in Bridge Eight