Sunday, July 29, 2012

JUNE 29, 2012 - Poem

JUNE 29, 2012
for m.a.

Your first twenty four
days are like an aqueous

dream. You sleep
and forget the smell of home.

Mother’s sweat
soaks the towels. Ice cubes

clank in a glass of water. Your
fingers are cold. They are too

cold for this summer drought. Ants
dismantle a dried cicada. Only

orange eyes roll
on the balcony. Your sweet

gray teethmarks
ghostly haunt Mother’s

breasts. They are soft
and plump with milk.

Bottles line a childless home.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Poetry Reading at Myopic Books - 8/18

I am going to read my poems at Myopic Books on August 18, 2012. 

Performing poets are Angie Tsiamas, Heather Cramond, Elizabeth Goold, Naoko Fujimoto, Madhuri Deshmukh, and Mark Buford.  I study poetry with them at the Chicago School of Poetics.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Pages' Literary Magazine Reviews - Spillway

Spillway was reviewed in New Pages. Com on July 17, 2012. Thank you very much for reviewing my poem, Sarah! 
Issue 17
Fall 2011
Review by Sarah Carson

Spillway, an independent, semiannual journal based in Orange Country, California has been around since 1993. But, Editor Susan Terris remarks in her editor’s note that it’s only been in recent years that Spillway became a themed journal.

This issue’s theme, “Crossing Borders “(or “Border Crossings” if you flip the cover upside down), is an eclectic take on borders of all kinds—seasons, wars, and changing family and relationship dynamics.

Some of the borders crossed in Spillway’s pages are more obvious than others, but the variety of perspectives on the theme makes for a diverse issue full of distinct voices, stories, and styles.

There are, of course, the expected poems of exile and loss, of a sojourner leaving one place for another. But there are also surprises, as well as borders that are not so easily defined.

Take for example, Lauren Nicole Nixon’s “breakdown of a shelterspace.” Nixon plays with the borders of the home: foyer, hallway, tearoom, attic, deck, and, my favorite, fort: “even with the lines give in and you have to rebuild it, you’re certain that / this is the safest place of all.” The compartmentalization of space serves as a map of the memories the narrator has made there, like in the hallway where “they refuse to remove your third grade picture. The one with the cowlick / the one where you’re looking at the camera / but not quite.”

Or there’s Richard Garcia’s apocalyptic “The Abandoning” where the narrator muses playfully on an ambiguous exodus: “Just when did The / Abandoning happen? Were there many abandonings, or just one? No one / knows, but downtown there is a stepladder embedded in concrete, some say it is / the letter A, but others say it is a memorial to The Abandoning.”

As one might expect in an issue about crossing borders, the issue is rich with translations and international voices. A standout is Naoko Fujimoto’s sobering “The First Night,” a poem in fragments remembering the Japanese tsunami of 2011. In sparse, powerful images, the narrator recalls the events with heartbreaking precision: “A little yellow shoe drifted away. I / clasped my hands around a tree / trunk & smelled the endless / water desert.” The result is a border the narrator must cross against her will:

I waved my hands to the silver
whistles of a helicopter in the morning
sky. It dropped a rope like a spider
thread three miles away from my tree.
The issue ends with two essays—both of which meditate upon what it means to navigate life through verse. Lynne Thompson’s “At the Edge of the Grab-wheel” discusses the borders between the individual and the family by comparing the dynamic to works by Rilke, Neruda, and Yusef Komunyakaa.

And Shawn Pittard recalls an experience in which a young man he mentored navigated the border of people’s perceptions of his father’s suicide by performing the poem “Richard Cory” at his high school.

Both essays seem to lay out in prose the argument that the rest of the issue makes in verse: that perhaps there is no better tool than poetry when it comes to understanding—or attempting to understand—all of the various border crossings of our lives.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

New Pages' Screen Reading for Anti-

Anti- was reviewed in New Pages. Com on June 25, 2012. Thank you very mush for mentioning my name! 



Issue 10
June 2012

Anti- is, as the editors explain, “contrarian, a devil’s advocate that primarily stands against the confinement of poetry in too-small boxes. Anti- wants to provide a single arena for a wide range of styles and ideas, so these different kinds of poets and poems can either fight it out or learn to coexist.” What I found most interesting with this issue of Anti- is the vast breadth of styles that it packs; each poet seemed to bring something different. With some of the poems, I was just captured by the titles alone: "Dictator, By Which I Mean the Mother Brandishing a Pistol with a Piñata over Her Head" and "When they squeeze us the wind splinters where we used to be, which is also where we are now."
In Gregory Sherl’s “We Can’t Schedule a Seduction,” the narrator makes collect calls to God, offering up a list of excuses for his actions. “Discarded Cosmos,” by Vincent Guerra, examines the details of people and objects that the speaker passes by or notices, a “constellation of things”:
I tallied the wayward objects: a clustered galaxy
    of cellophane marooned in grass, a napkin
        crumpled to coral, a drinking straw’s shucked cocoon
    flattened on the path. Whose lips these things
        have touched and where and why? Whose hands
undid them? Where do the clothes on the forest floor
        come from? . . .
More great poetry comes from Oliver Bendorf (“Postcard from Lake Mendota”), Benjamin Sutton (excerpts from Notes from the Daydreaming), Maureen McHugh (two untitled poems), and Naoko Fujimoto (My Father’s Ivory Die).

Friday, July 6, 2012

Ryan Sanford Smith's Book Review

My good friend, Ryan, reviewed Charmi's first book!

You can purchase her book from Big Wonderful Press


Charmi Keranen’s ‘The Afterlife is a Dry County’

“I believe–// In extinction”, Keranen declares in the poem ‘The Great American Interchange’, a poem that like so many in this stunning chapbook manages to articulate scenes of complex juxtaposition that would be hilarious and evocative even if incorrectly taken to be mere happenstance. Simulacra, simple blotting-outs, and sincere questions about what is genuine and sacred run through many moments of Keranen’s work but the nihilism of the succinct line above is never really on the menu. Keranen effuses wry bits of it, however, like a choice spice drawn from a kind of wise, even warm cynicism. 

Keranen’s speaker seems always ready to take the world sincerely but, again, what does it mean to be sincere? In the poem ‘Late Cretaceous’, we see the search: “100,000 years out from the homeland// We’re still dreaming// Of a mother tongue or a passport// Something personal// To touch against our skin”. Time scales in and out without much quibbling machination, Keranen’s speaker seemingly always at peace with how little relative time separates our world of plastic surgery and mundane train-ride conversations with our own struggle away from the savanna. 

Keranen’s speaker sees and enacts blasphemy–a stolen bike chained to a crucifix, selling her mother’s bones in town for nothing–while also bearing witness to quiet, small moments of arresting intimacy that stand out with chillingly elegant language: ‘Touch the white of his back, the coldest/ parade.” 
Spare, surgically-steeled poems move alongside more voice-driven, narrative pieces with an accomplished, comfortable momentum. There’s definite flair throughout these poems for texture and stand-alone images that invites a kind of coy symbolism while also brushing it away. We seem privy to a speaker as ready to forget the totems and callings to God that are familiar as she is to find new ones in the architecture of the unconscious–the five clutched pennies of a man uttering forlorn, broken Italian, a shaker full of hail found in a torn-open wall. Keranen has invited us into the erratic, ornate folklore of a mysterious yet familiar landscape.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Genghis Khan, THe Field Museum

It was the hottest July 4th and I really enjoyed being in the Field Museum to learn about Genghis Khan!