"Perfume Bottles Momentarily Unstopped": A Perspective on Two Collections of Interviews

“Perfume Bottles Momentarily Unstopped”: A Perspective on Two Collections of Interviews

One hopes that in this new age, interviewers and editors continue to value the in-person, in-home interview, though they are out of vogue and more difficult to schedule and execute.     Tony Leuzzi’s Passwords Primeval: American Poets in Their Own Words (BOA Editions, NY 2012) is a collection of...
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Here Come the Blurbies!

Here Come the Blurbies!

And now we honor the poetry books of 2012 and the blurbs that adorn them. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Blurby Awards!   BLURB OF THE YEAR   “When I look out the window of my Winnebago I want to see a Sandra Simonds’ poem on the billboard...
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An Interview with Poet & Artist Bianca Stone

An Interview with Poet & Artist Bianca Stone

It’s just what Stein was talking about: letting images (just as words) go where they want. It’s about allowing imagination into your process.   Bianca Stone is the author of several poetry chapbooks, including I Want To Open The Mouth God Gave You Beautiful Mutant (Factory Hollow Press) and I Saw The Devil With HIs...
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Scientific Materialism and Poetics: An Interview with Eleni Sikelianos

Scientific Materialism and Poetics: An Interview with Eleni Sikelianos

I think maybe I’m an animist at heart. I know I’m an animal, and am part of a lineage of animals. I tend to see commonality and exchange between species and beyond (say, rocks and bones) rather than demarcations.   “Language is simply alive, like an organism… Words are the...
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Latest entries
Building the Barricade: Warsaw Uprising Photographs

Building the Barricade: Warsaw Uprising Photographs

Recently I interviewed translator Piotr Florczyk on his latest translation of Anna Swir’s poems, many of which come from her book, Building the Barricade, where with her spare and direct language she documents the Warsaw Uprising in Poland in 1944. The photographs of the Warsaw Uprising featured in this post were published in an edition...
Praise for Lucille Clifton's "poem to my uterus"

Praise for Lucille Clifton’s “poem to my uterus”

  Read more of Lucille Clifton’s poetry at Poets.org Find quotes by Lucille Clifton at goodreads
Jeffrey McDaniel: The Forgiveness Parade

Jeffrey McDaniel: The Forgiveness Parade

“There’s nothing like a full moon, reflected in the eyes of a blind man, using a telescope to stir a bowl of Russian alphabet soup for the cosmonauts . . .” Jeffrey McDaniel’s poem, “The Forgiveness Parade” (The Forgiveness Parade Manic D Press, 1998), is an excellent example of how poetry can serve as nourishment...
Understanding Jorie Graham

Understanding Jorie Graham

An understanding of Graham’s body of work begins with the Modernists.  A deep understanding requires knowledge of the work of major twentieth century philosophers . . . . This article is intended to provide readers with a basic, accessible understanding of the context in which Jorie Graham writes.  It describes her major influences, focusing on...
Dylan Thomas: Under Milk Wood

Dylan Thomas: Under Milk Wood

“Vesuvius clocks all black bells and lava, Niagara clocks that cataract their ticks…” This brief description of two kinds of clocks from Dylan Thomas’ play for voices, Under Milk Wood, is part of a longer passage in which one of the voices describes a room filled with a great variety of clocks.   Whether or...
Building the Barricade and Other Poems of Anna Swir: A Conversation with Translator Piotr Florczyk

Building the Barricade and Other Poems of Anna Swir: A Conversation with Translator Piotr Florczyk

You see, ultimately translating is all about searching for some kind of kinship between two languages, a way to uncover that linguistic essence of the text itself.   Piotr Florczyk, welcome to The California Journal of Poetics! Even though you translated Anna Swir’s poems because you felt a connection to her poetry, is there significance...
Katherine Larson: Risk

Katherine Larson: Risk

“I unroll into a grub. A grub with the mind of a girl, a girl with the lips of an insect”   Even metamorphosis is transformed in Katherine Larson’s first book, Radial Symmetry, which was chosen by Louise Glück for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. The lines above come from a dream poem titled...
An Interview with Katie Farris

An Interview with Katie Farris

So much of the book is about being comfortable with paradox, especially the paradoxes that surround us every day but we prefer not to consider—for instance, what is the experience of a person who is both girl and boy? What is the experience of unexpectedly falling in love with someone of the same gender?  ...
Gerard Manley Hopkins: [As Kingfishers...]

Gerard Manley Hopkins: [As Kingfishers...]

“Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name”   Lines like these, from Hopkins’ 1918 poem “[As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame],” demonstrate the poet’s remarkable ability to use form (in this case, the rhythm of the English language) in tandem with...
An Interview with Nikola Madzirov

An Interview with Nikola Madzirov

The translator is a silent deconstructor, a night guard of the bridges of difference and understanding.   Nikola Madzirov (poet, essayist, translator) was born into a family of Balkan Wars refugees in 1973 in Strumica, Macedonia.
Beautiful Impediment: A History of Guns in the Family by John Burgess

Beautiful Impediment: A History of Guns in the Family by John Burgess

John Burgess’ second book of poems, A History of Guns in the Family, is an ambitious attempt to contain the experiences of an entire lifetime in a compact work of nine poetic sequences.
Paul Celan Revisited: Moving from Silence to Speech

Paul Celan Revisited: Moving from Silence to Speech

In his famous “Meridian” speech Celan confessed that poetry is ultimately “an eternalization of nothing but mortality, and in vain.” The contradictions between silence and speech, between human consciousness and death are present in his poem “Chanson of a Lady in the Shade.”   One of Celan’s earlier poems, “Chanson of a Lady in the...