Goodbye, Monica! Thanks for the Wonderful Words!

Today, I lost a friend, a fellow alum of the University of Nebraska’s writing program, Monica Rentfrow. Funny, forward, obnoxious, and progressive, Monica was an amazing poet whose words were both poetic and accessible. Her master thesis, Rethinking Repair, explores the effects of dwarfism on the body—specifically her body—and is full of wonderful poems. Here’s one, apt for today, that her friends are sharing on the networks:


if I could choose
the body & being
of my next life
I’d be
a lightening bug:
though my wings
might be bent a bit
or legs squashed
from a small hand
cupping me out
of the night air,
and maybe even forget
to breathe
inside an old jar, it’d be
worth it to see close up
the light in the smile of this child

Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English, 1500 - 2001.
W. W. Norton, 2014

The newest issue of Former People: A Journal of Bangs and Whimpers is now online. I have a poem there! Please read it and the entire issue.

An interview with editor Cati Porter of the literary journal Inlandia.

So many haiku

grace this facebook page feed

Why don’t you add yours?

Arbitrary Haiku Day

Open a new tab and go to facebook! While there, post a haiku on the Arbitrary Haiku Day event page.

While winter wears on

Warm minds with words of wisdom,

Wit, and whimsey joy.

One of my students shared this me. Twice. Both times, I was almost—almost!—moved to tears. I know it is popular and I know many people may have seen this before. And I don’t usually get into spoken word, but this one works very well.

A lovely illustration of one of my favorite poems. Thanks, to Julian Peters for doing this and posting it on a blog for all to see!


Our eight finalist is LISA FAY COUTLEY, for her manuscript, Tether.

Check out (and share!) a poem from the manuscript (first published in Sou’wester) above.

Lisa Fay Coutley’s poems have been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, an Academy of American Poets Larry Levis Prize, chosen by Dana Levin, and have appeared recently in Sou’wester, Ninth Letter, Seneca Review, Best New Poets, and on Verse Daily. Her chapbook In the Carnival of Breathing won the Black River Chapbook Competition (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), and Back-Talk won the ROOMS Chapbook Contest (Articles Press, 2010). She is a PhD candidate and poetry editor for Quarterly West at the University of Utah.

Yay, Lisa!

Quick Review: I Want to Die

Distracted myself from critiquing student poems by reading Walter Mackey’s “I Want to Die” published by Plain Wrap Press. Three things:

  1. Mr. Mackey, I’m not sure if Robin Williams is able to do anything quietly.
  2. "bitch where’s my free alcohol" (page 23)
  3. I laughed loudly, in my office, my new office, again and newish coworkers (I’ve been here for about a month now) probably all think I’m a little crass and uncontrollable. I am both of those things.

Conducting my second week of workshops for my creative writing classes this semester. Last week and this one, “Workshop” has been on my mind.

Goodbye, John Hollander

From “An Old-Fashioned Song

We and the trees and the way
Back from the fields of play
Lasted as long as we could.
No more walks in the wood.

Goodbye, John Hollander. We’ll see you again in your poems.

October 28, 1929 - August 17, 2013

UnrestUnrest by Chloë Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chloe Yelena Miller’s chapbook Unrest travels from America, to Italy, to South America with sometimes seemingly simple poems of food, family, love. But these mostly short poems have many untoward subjects beneath: death, loss (love and other loss) mostly. Also sex, which is fun.

Miller impressively plays with language. Sometimes, throughout her poems, but sometimes as definition poems or vocabulary poems. “Italian Vocabulary: Mancanza” tells us what mancanza means, but shows us that something is missing. Between each description of preparing artichokes are synonyms: “A lack,” “A want,” “There is a wanting.” And she finishes the poem after having eaten (and having served?) the artichokes: “I toss the tough leaves into the garden./ I don’t want to lack this.” (Later, there is a poem called, “I Lack You.”)

Finally, the use of food and land throughout make these poems tactile and approachable. Miller’s use of imagery narrates the poems like story, and you wish, reading this, you could taste the food she offers, that you could see the Italy she sees.

And Unrest is an apt title!

View all my reviews

Original photo by Jonathan Tarr.

Original photo by Jonathan Tarr.

Cadree cadray—in which Kerouac is… is? Ah, I was born during the wrong time.