What is RomComPom? It is a new journal for romantic comedy poetry that will be edited by Susan Elliott Brown and me.

RomComPom header screen cap

Here’s a definition from the journal’s website:

RomComPom – poetry that inhabits the same emotional space as romantic comedy. Its symptoms include, but are not limited to, laughter, delight, crying (or at the minimum, a lump in the throat), self-doubt replaced by selfless confidence, the realization of love in an unexpected person, and the overwhelming urge to want to fall in love or eat chocolate.

It may also be a poem about, inspired by, or that references a romantic comedy. However, it doesn’t need to be about or reference any romantic comedy, but it should aim to generate the same feelings as a romantic comedy. Snarky poems are also encouraged.

Be sure to check it out: romcompom.wordpress.com/

The first issue will appear in early 2015 sometime.//



On Stuart Kestenbaum’s Only Now

A version of this review (and a better edited version) may appear in a future issue of Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose. //

Stuart Kestenbaum – Only Now Many of the poems in Stuart Kestenbaum’s Only Now (Deerbrook Editions, 2014) feel like poems Gregory Orr would write if he wrote narrative poems (some of the meditative and lyrical poems also feel like Gregory Orr poems), a number of the poems have the mythical feel of a Merwin myth-like poem, and some have the intimacy of a Jack Gilbert poem. These styles, among others, are what one would need to successfully write a carpe diem book of poems, and neo-romantic book of poems, at that.

I don’t normally like drawing comparisons to other writers when a reviewing a book of poems, but this time it seems like a good idea to present a feel for the book. In addition, while the opening poem, “Prayer While Downshifting,” is a fine poem, it is acting more as a deliberate lense for the book. By placing this poem at the opening, Kestenbaum is attempting to focus the reader’s mood or reading in a deliberate direction. However, this poem would be better off if it appeared further on in the book, as it needs to built in to or up to. As an opening poem, it’s too heavy handed in its allegory and symbol building, and I want everyone who gets to this book to know that what follows the opening poem is very moving – emotionally and intellectually. In addition, I think (and wonder) if it is better for an author to let the reader discover meanings on their own instead of directing them down a certain path. Or better still, for the author and reader to discover together. More inclusiveness. More of a we-book, where meanings have “to happen because we’ve / made a framework for it. It’s the framework that gives the meaning” (“Big World”). Further, “because meaning is a wild animal that surprises you” (“Prayer for Real”), the reader will want to experience the surprise of discovering meaning, which is what this book does. It surprises. It’s inclusive. It’s a book for author and reader, for you and me, for we.

Maybe it would be better if the book opened with the second poem, “Rocky Coast,” which begins 350 million years in the past, and then in two words, flashes forward 350 million years to today. (Has there ever been a lengthier flash forward?) And this flash forward takes us into an everyday we are familiar with – it takes us into Dunkin’ Donuts. It delivers us into fantasies of hope, revenge, and escape while the “fallen world” is everywhere outside the Dunkin’ Donuts. The next poem, “Getting There,” turns inward even more. It balances the safety of Dunkin’ Donuts with the neo-romantic notion that “deep inside us” are the answers to:

     Where is the place we are always asking about.
     It’s the country we remember in our dreams.
     Where is where we’ll find what we need to know

     whatever that is, whatever we thought it was
     going to be.

Notice how these are shared questions (we all have them), but it’s the turning inward where we find our own answers and meanings. The slow accumulation of poems in Only Now is like a manual of examples and experiences we are all aware of, and the poems about them are in Only Now for us to meditate on, to turn inward on, to equip us with living in the only now we have, and to help us prepare for our eventual demise.

For instance, the conclusion of “Crows”:

         before we began to speak we could feel the world
     inside our bodies and it moved us as we moved with it.
     Perhaps this is our mother tongue, the language of our cells,
     the diction of our hearts and lungs. There, don’t say
     anything for a while, don’t even think in words,
     think in whatever is beyond the thought of words,
     the nameless world that you try so hard to forget
     by naming everything. Take away the caws from the sky,
     take away the rumble from the ice and while you’re at it
     take away the hiss of today’s headlines, like air leaking
     out of the world. See what’s left after that and listen to it.

Again, there is the turning inward for answers, meanings, and, perhaps more importantly, the turning to pure experience – the experience of events before the interference of language. In this wordless realm, we might even get closer to how a god lives and experiences time and the world, as we eventually will. In “Wild God,” we experience god in the Garden of Eden “when the earth was new and animals hadn’t been named yet.” We see god creating and rearranging the earth and then relaxing and admiring his work. Similar to “Rocky Coast,” there is a lengthy flash forward, but this time the experience is not imagistic – like being in a Dunkin’ Donuts – it’s in the experience of time as a god experiences time. When I read this poem the first time, I felt a shift in time, but I wasn’t sure how it happened. It was seamless and flowed naturally. After I paid closer attention to the tenses in the poem, I saw how in half a line the tense shifted from past to present, and the poem moved from millions of years ago to today almost instantaneously, in the blink of a god’s eye. Kestenbaum used syntax and not words to approximate the experience of time for a god. He didn’t explain or even show. He made an experience and made it feel real. In addition, this instantaneous passage of time also seems to suggest that the past resides in the present, or that the distance between past and present is not so far apart, such as for the 93-year old Dora on her deathbed in “The Passage,” who is dying in the present but living in the memories of her past.

Overall, Only Now creates the feeling that living and dying is a juggling act:

     Whether we spend our time
     fearing death or not, listening
     for its footsteps or plugging

     our ears, we all end up
     where we began, just dust
     combined with the weight
     of what we carried in the world. (“Scattered”)

It’s a juggling act of living in the now and with the past that made us into who we are now, while at the same time preparing for death, or even avoiding thinking about death like “young minds [who] can’t imagine not existing anymore” (“Back Then”). Stuart Kestenbaum through tight, interlocking poems gives experiences for how to live “As if the Tree of Life / is inside us” (“Breath”) within the precious time we have in our Only Now that is our only life. This is a book of poems I can’t recommend enough for the collective that is we.//




Kestenbaum, Stuart. Only Now. Cumberland: Deerbrook Editions, 2014.//


Word Clouds and Sestina Writing Prompt

I am working on a full-length manuscript of poems currently titled Accumulation on the Door Hinge. In this collection, I use “orange,” the fruit or the color, as an accumulative objective correlative for my emotional and psychic state. You can read more about it here in Michael Meyerhofer’s interview with me (http://atticusreview.org/flinty-lyricism-an-interview-with-tom-holmes/) at Atticus Review.

I decided to make a word cloud out of the words in the manuscript, so far, just to see what’s going on. I had to make three of them at Wordle because I needed some form of accuracy since “orange” is in most of the poems and there is an eight-page poem that repeats “even now” every fifth line. So I needed versions without those words.

In the process of doing this, I thought up a writing exercise or writing prompt. The six most frequently occurring words in the manuscript can be used as the end words in a sestina. (Or maybe you can use the six least frequently occurring words.) Anyway, this is an easy and meaningful way to pick the end words. I might not use the six most frequent words, but I’m sure I’ll use six from the top ten. Also, the bigger the word in the cloud, the more often it appears in the text, and the smallest words occur the least. For whatever reason, the cloud considers contractions, such as “ll” or “ve” as in “I’ll” or “we’ve,” as words, but those can be dismissed.

So here’s a word cloud with all of the words in my manuscript. Note: there is “Orange” with a capital “O” and “orange” with a lower case “o.” “Orange” occurs 80 times in the 54-page manuscript.

The Door Hinge Word Cloud (all words)Here’s a word cloud that keeps all the occurrences of “orange” but removes the “even now” occurrences from the text.

The Door Hinge Word Cloud (no Even Now)

And here’s a word cloud of the manuscript with no occurrences of “orange” or “even now” in the text.

The Door Hinge Word Cloud (no orange or even now)Apparently, I have a lot of similes in manuscript :)

Anyway, you should give this a try with your manuscript. There are plenty of word cloud generators out there. I chose Wordle because it has multiple cloud shapes.//




Modernist Style, Contemporary Play, and Ecological Lament: On Betsy Andrews’ The Bottom

A version of this review (and a better edited version) may appear in a future issue of Redactions: Poetry, Poetics, & Prose. //

Betsy Andrews – The BottomBetsy AndrewsThe Bottom (42 Miles Press, forthcoming 2014), winner of the 2013 42 Miles Press Poetry Award, opens with the 48-page long poem “The Bottom,” which consists of 48 juxtaposed smaller poems varying in length from poems of 12 short lines to poems of 21 long lines. The poems feel like they arrive from a life experienced, or should I say, these ecological poems don’t seem a step removed from experience, as if written from only studying, or appropriating information from, texts about pollution, ecology, marine biology, etc. At the same time, this long opening poem, which is rooted in the Modernist tradition of long poems of disillusionment, exposes what lies behind the illusions from the denial of ecological harm or future ecological harm. And like a Modernism poem, the language is of the language spoken by everyday people (especially people from the United States), but unlike some Modernism poems, Andrews’ allusions are shared allusions of the American populace. Along the way, we encounter mermaids, Martians, and even Mr. Limpet (the Don Knotts character from Disney’s The Incredible Mr. Limpet.) With that in mind, this long poem is also very playful, which is a difficult endeavor to do in political poems without being didactic or heavy handed, but she succeeds by way of her playful allusions, irony (another Modernism device), and music – rhymes, internal rhymes, assonance, consonance, word repetition, etc. In addition, this music, unlike music in Modernism poems, feels like it is discovered or is spontaneously composed rather than imposed or purposely created to frame the mood of the poem. As a result, Andrews is able to entice the reader with the sugar of music and play and then deliver the ecological medicine. Fortunately, the medicine doesn’t arrive in one dose. Rather, it’s an accumulation of 48 little doses. And even though there are 48 different doses of poems, there is cohesiveness about them. Unlike some  long Modernism poems that often hope for a cohesiveness to be discovered, the cohesiveness is 48 different ways of looking at the harm to marine biology and ecology in ways in which a reader can experience – whether the experience comes from the real, the imagined, or the intersection of both.

If the poems are enough or aren’t enough to move the reader to an ecological empathy, The Bottom has, like The Waste Land, a notes section (which might also be a poem depending on how it is viewed) at the end titled “Tributaries.” The “Tributaries” lists the sources I assume Andrews read in composing this long poem or that were influential to her and fed into the making of this ocean of a book. “Tributaries” starts with The Oxford English Dictionary and then moves into newspapers, National Public Radio, national parks, books of myth and symbolism, books and articles about seashells, books and articles on marine biology, books about the aftermath of unrecoverable ecological harm, and then concludes with books, stories, songs, and writers that I assume are inspirational to her, such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Saxie Dowell’s “Three Little Fishies,” Anne Sexton, W. B. Yeats, and T. S. Eliot.

Betsy Andrews’ The Bottom is a short book that playfully moves in the imagined and heroically moves in the unimagined, and by the latter I mean that it moves heroically within the unimagined that is real and the “dry page of fact” and within the unimagined (or suppressed imagination) that exists because of the denials of ecological harm “when we go still and are quiet.”//




Andrews, Betsy. The Bottom. South Bend: 42 Miles Press, 2014.


Ecomedia: Songs of Healing and Texts of Iatrogenic Harm in Linda Hogan’s The Book of Medicines

Ecomedia: Songs of Healing and Texts of Iatrogenic Harm in Linda Hogan’s The Book of Medicines 

Linda Hogan – The Book of MedicinesLinda Hogan’s A Book of Medicine is concerned with a number of issues, such as the genocide of the Native Americans (as Emily Hegarty points out), the destructive results of men’s actions, women’s ability to create and maintain relationships, the environment, etc. It is also about the media of communication and the healing abilities or harm that can come from these media. In this collection of poems, there are essentially two modes of communication that are explored: song and text. Songs arise from within an entity, while words are spoken from a human-made language and often from a textual source.

Prior to the invention of the printing press or even before the creation of writing, song and voice had a monopoly on the media of communication. Noises arose from the speaker and communication was created. Meanings and ideas floated into the air and dissipated into the environment. Meanings and ideas were shared even if they couldn’t be recovered after spoken for closer scrutiny or revision. Song and voice came from within the speaker and went out into the world to be shared. With the rise of writing and printing, language started to evolve rules of syntax, grammar, and words that had more specific definitions. In addition, information could be stored, and it didn’t dissipate outwards. Once written, it stayed on the page. In addition, this new language started to assert itself into the environment. It imposed its meanings and rules on living and non-living entities. It encouraged an us-them relationship. According to David Gilcrest, “We have tended to view the European [language] tradition as hopelessly logocentric, in love with the Word (not the World), hostile to unmediated experience, in short, antithetical to the ecopoetic aesthetic” (22). Linda Hogan’s book, on one level, wants to address this European language tradition that is in love with the word and imposes itself onto nature and creates division and harm between humans and non-humans, whereas the ecopoetic aesthetic, or song in The Book of Medicines, creates a relationship between speaker and the speaker’s surrounding environment of living and non-living entities. Linda Hogan’s The Book of Medicines is a book about how to heal wounds by creating ecomedia relations through song and not by the use of logocentric division.

This paper will slowly evolve towards a definition of what is meant by ecomedia, but first, I would like to ground this paper by defining ecopoetry and ecopoetic aesthetic, as they will be used here. Even though, “[a] precise definition of ecopoetry has not yet been established” (Bryson, “Introduction” 3), a definition can be hinted at. According to Leonard M. Scigaj, ecopoetry is “poetry that persistently stresses human cooperation with nature conceived as dynamic” (5). In order to accomplish this human cooperation, Ecopoets “seem to know that the loss of relationship with the natural world is irrevocable, yet they continue to call for some sort of healing of that breach [. . .] and they certainly yearn for the relationship” (Bryson, “Preface” 3), and this loss of the natural world happened a long time ago. As a result, Ecopoetry, on one level, asserts our current relation with nature, ecology, and environment. In the ancient past, humans had relationships with nature and non-human entities (plants, animals, minerals, etc.), and their art reflected that relationship, as Hogan says:

   who remember caves with red bison
   painted in their own blood,
   after their kind
                                                      (“The History of Red” 11-14). 

Today, modern humans have a relation where nature serves humans, and humans use it for their own ends. Ecopoetry, then, asserts the current divide’s harmful effects while trying to revive ancient-like relationships with nature in order to heal.

Ecopoets can do this in a number of ways. For instance, according to Scigaj, “‘human language is much more limited than the ecological process of nature.’ Ecopoets ‘recognize the limits of language while referring us in epiphanic moment to our interdependency and relatedness to the richer planet whose operations created and sustained us” (Gilcrest 19). In addition:

Scigaj explains, ecopoets “want the poem to challenge and reconfigure the reader’s perceptions so to put the book down and live life more fully in all possible dimensions of the moment of firsthand experience within nature’s supportive second skin and to become more responsible about that necessary second skin.” (Bryson, “Preface” 3).

The ecopoet then writes to create experience and to encourage the reader to live more closely with their environment instead of through the dividing media of a book or textual source. The ecopoet also “looks to discover the means to ‘go back’ to a time and place of nonduality and relational significance” (4). This nonduality and relational significance exists most naturally in a pre-linguistic environment or time, especially before Descartes, which I’ll get to later. It is in “the work of these contemporary [eco]poets, we get a perspective on the human-nonhuman relationship” (Bryson, “Introduction” 5), and for Linda Hogan, the medicine of healing and relational significance, in part, comes from song, and the harm – the divisive force – comes from language, especially written language.

To begin examining the difference between song and language in The Book of Medicines, a good place to start is with “The Alchemists,” which is the poem that opens “The Book of Medicines” section. In this poem, there is a high-level evolution of the divisiveness that language creates. The poem opens:

   By day
   they bent over lead’s
   heavy spirit of illness,
   asking it to be gold

Putre FactioThe alchemists, traditionally, see lead as gold that is ill or gold that is not arising to its potential. There is also the myth of the alchemists who are trying to convert lead into gold using various incantations and ingredients, like sulphur and cinnabar. In this stanza, however, we seem to be at an early stage of alchemy. Here the alchemists are “asking” the lead to be gold. They are not trying to change its state through magical spells or concoctions, but they are asking it to become its full potential – gold. In the poem’s penultimate stanza, however, we encounter the actions of an evolved, or more modern, alchemist:

   But he was only a man
   talking to iron,
   willing it to be gold.

In this stanza, the alchemist moves from “asking” with reverence and respect to “talking to” the metal. The important preposition here is “to.” The alchemist is not talking “with” the metal as if in an equal relationship. He is talking to the iron. This relationship has turned from sympathy to subservience, or at least there is more distancing between the two and less empathy. There is the subtle shift in dominance of man over matter. This shift becomes more pronounced in the next line with “willing,” which suggests that by the alchemist’s powers alone he can deliberately force the iron to become or transform into a new object. He can will it to be something it is not, which is not dissimilar to the naming of the animals in “Naming the Animals.”

“Naming the Animals” begins:

   After the words that called legs, hands,
   the body
   of man out of clay and sleep

Here, words evoke man or conjure him up from earth and dreams. What is interesting here, however, is that these words are unmediated. That is, there are just words with no speaker or delivery system of the words. These words also name or make categories, such as “legs, hands,” and “body.” This is the beginning of language, and the man risen from the clay, or Adam as we learn by the end of the poem, usurps this language for his own ends and he imposes it on other non-Adamic entities. He names:

                wolf, bear, other
   as if they had not been there
   before his words [. . .]
   or sung themselves into life
   before him.
                                              (7-9, 11-12)

Adam Naming Animals Theophanes at MeteoraHe (Adam) imposes names onto other animals against their will and makes them an “other.” He took the unmediated words, appropriated them, and then used the medium of his body to name or categorize the non-Adamic creatures. He did not respect that they already had their own identities. These original identities did not come from words, but they came from song. Each animal sung itself into existence with its own song. So not only does Adam re-identify the creatures he also banishes them and “sent [them] crawling into the wilderness.” He created a me-them or me-other relationships with these animals.

The poem and time continue, and Adam’s children name a group of creatures “pigs.” We can’t be sure what group of creatures they actually are because Adam’s children have named them, but there is a voice that speaks for these creatures – the first person subject “I.” The I, or speaker of the poem, lives in the “wilderness” away from the “law and order” of Adam’s language, and she is old enough to remember a time, a pre-linguistic time (“before the speaking”), where there were “no edges to the names.” These names are the songs the animals sing to create themselves. In addition, these songs have “no edges,” unlike Adam’s words which categorize with defining edges. If there are no edges, then things flow into one another. There is no clear demarcation between living entities or non-living entities. There is a relationship, and this relationship is in a timeless space with “no beginning, no end.” However, after Adam stole language and started naming entities against their will, he also stole their powers to sing, which is a not only a source of creation but a form of connection, as suggested by the closing lines: “my stolen powers / hold out their hands / and sing through me.”

What can be noticed about the songs in this poem, and the songs throughout the book, is the songs have no words. Songs are like “breath in a flute” (“Nothing” 76). They are a breath mediated by the mouth to make meaningful noise. As a meaningful breath-noise, it instantly interacts and unifies with the air and environment. Despite the lack of words, the songs communicate, create, and form relationships, such as in “The Grandmother Songs.” This poem directly follows “The Alchemists” in order to juxtapose the divisive non-healing language of the alchemists with the embracing and healing abilities of song.

In “The Grandmother Songs,” songs “rose of out of wet labor.” They were part of the birthing process. The baby and their songs were as one and one creation. These songs also “made a shape around me [the speaker], / a grandmother’s embrace” (7-8). In addition, “Song was the pathway where people met / and animals crossed” (25-6). These songs, then, created life and made relationships. Songs also have the powers of “finding the lost” (12), to create rain (13), and to enable a woman to “fly” (18). Perhaps this is also the stolen power referred to in “Naming the Animals.” Nonetheless, song creates and unifies.

Most important, perhaps, is that song is also a medicine that can heal when the body is recognized “as agent of experience” (Wegenstein 21). According the Wegenstein, there is a “tension between the body as object and as agent of experience” (21) and examples of this can be seen in “the art of healing across culture” (22). Wegenstein continues:

Western culture since the sixteenth century has developed methods for opening the body and examining it for symptoms of disease or other conditions to be eradicated.  [. . .] More recently, the ongoing development of medical imaging technologies has improved our access to the body’s insides, put the body on display in deeper and even more inclusive ways, and thus facilitated the exposition of factors contributing to disease. (22-3)

Looking back at “The Alchemists,” we see two types of healing. One is healing the lead by respectfully asking it to change its form, as we see, in stanza one (treating the body as “agent of experience”), and the other is a doctor trying to heal patient (body “as object”) in stanza four. Stanza four opens with the speaker’s “father behind a curtain. He has been separated from others within the “sick ward” environment. This father also “heard a doctor / tell a man where the knife / would cut flesh,” or separate skin. He also hears a man “reading from a magical book.” This recalls stanzas five and six of “The History of Red,” where we encounter the origins of Western medicine:

   The doctors wanted to know
   what invented disease
   how wounds healed
   from inside themselves
   [. . .]
   They divined the red shadows of leeches
                                                           (40-44, 47)

In “The History of Red,” the reader also encounters cutting “the wall of skin” and the doctors “reading the story of fire,” which I take to be the “magical book,” which is a book of words, and perhaps incantations. This brings us back to the closing of “The Alchemists.” The words this doctor speaks are akin to those more modern alchemists with their incantations of trying to turn or force lead into gold. According to Hegarty, “[f]or Hogan the doctor is just another alchemist” (165), and “if the surgeon’s diagnostic [or even the alchemist’s] speech ‘had worked / we would kneel down before it / and live forever’” (165). Of course his speech and words do not work because the written language, even when spoken, does not recognize that the body harmonizes within itself and outside of itself. The doctor’s “focus on the body as a visible object tends to obscure the bodily agency that is at work, for example, in fighting disease” (Wegenstein 23). Not only that, the doctor’s language sets up a Cartesian tension between body and mind, where the passive body is “manipulated by the mind” (Wegenstein 23) of the doctor and the doctor’s language and tools. As a result, there is a

phenomenological differentiation between “being a body” and “having a body”: the former, insofar as it designates the process of living the body, the first-person perspective, coincides with dynamic embodiment; the latter, referencing the body from an external, third-person perspective, can be aligned with the static body. (21)

The doctor provides that “third-person perspective” and Cartesian duality not only between body and mind but between patient’s body and doctor’s body, whereas the healing song comes from within the body and yokes together the mind, body, and environmental dynamic.

The healing song recognizes that body “is an expression of its environment on all scales, from the microscopic to the cosmic” (23). Further, in some non-Western medicines, “[r]ather than inspect the individual body piecemeal for specific causes” (23), as the doctors in “The Alchemist” and in “The History of Red” do, a non-Western medicine “looks at the balance or harmony within and without the body, and seeks to intervene in order to alter this relation in beneficial ways” (23). So, when the grandmother is under “the false death of surgery” (26) in “The Grandmother Songs,” she is forced to sing “for help” (27), which is similar to the out reached hands singing at the end of “Naming the Animals.” The song reaches out for help and not only physical help but temporal help, as well. It reaches out to an “older history” (37), a time “before the time of science / before we fell from history” (“Flood: The Sheltering Tree” 26-7). In “Flood: The Sheltering Tree,” “Land takes back the forgotten name of rain” and enables people to hear rain’s “wet song” (29) and smell its “smell of healing” (30). This ancient song-healing medicine, which can come from the song of a wolf as well, as it does in “The Fallen,” is a song the modern alchemists and doctors “did not learn healing / from” (25-6).

The doctors and alchemists in The Book of Medicines, in a sense, are like Ferdinand de Saussure who points out that language or signs do not have a direct link or causal link to the actual, physical thing it represents or express. Claude Lévi-Strauss would add that words, or written language, are a “secondary system of representation, figures deferment, absence, difference, and inauthenticity” (Liu 319) as opposed to speech which suggests “immediacy, presence, identity, and authenticity” (319). Stated differently, words label and distance, and as a result the language of modern western medicine cannot heal effectively, as Hegarty pointed out. The language creates an iatrogenic relationship, and according to Hegarty, wounds or diseases are “iatrogenic caused by the diagnosis, manner, or treatment of physical diseases” (165). “It is a language,” according to Hogan, “that is limited emotionally and spiritually, as if it can’t accommodate such magical power and strength” (Dwellings 45-6). Song, however, does have a direct link with the thing it represents. It comes from the voice of the object singing itself into existence, causing relationships, and the medicine of healing. This is the ecomedia that was mentioned before.

Ecomedia is not objective or textual. It is sound with meaning that connects with others and bonds with the environment. It does not harm or divide. It is available to all humans and non-humans or any entity that can sing for itself.

As a result of ecomedia, especially song, Linda Hogan can endure and heal from the sickness that is presented in “Sickness”:

   If we are all one,
   then in my hand
   is the mortal enemy,
   the one that felled the forest,
   struck the fire,
   the doctors of torture
   living at the edge of sanity
   that, like broken glass,
   does not call itself sharp.

This destruction even enters “inside” (16) herself, and “It went to work. / It tried to take my tongue” (25-6), which recalls the end of “Naming the Animals”: “my stolen powers / hold out their hands / and sing through me” (36-8). Her stolen powers are an ecomedium. And it’s from the reaching-out power of the ecomedium song, the reaching out for help and embrace, the “singing for help” (“The Grandmother Songs” 27) during the “false death of surgery” (26) that Hogan is able to survive and write poetry and write The Book of Medicines and make the claim at the end of “Sickness” that her poetry “words / these words are proof / there is healing” (27-8), and healing that comes from song. Note, however, she uses a word from the world that is not part of the ecomedia world, a word that belongs to science and Western medicine, a word Descrates would use, as well, and that word is “proof.” Not only does her song heal the divide that Western medicine creates with its textual language, but it’s a word that can communicate to the logocentric world, and if the logocentric world can accept this word and this “proof” of an ecomedium or ecomedia, then perhaps it too can learn to sing the unmediated healing song that is medicine.



Works Cited

Bryson, J. Scott. “Introduction.” Ecopoetry: A Critical Introduction. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2002. 1-16. Print.

—. “Preface.” The West Side of Any Mountain: Place, Space, and Ecopoetry. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2005. 1-6. Print.

Gilcrest, David. “Regarding Silence: Cross-Cultural Roots of Ecopoetic Meditation.” Ecopoetry:  A Critical Introduction. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2002. 17-28. Print.

Hegarty, Emily. “Genocide and Extinction in Linda Hogan’s Ecopoetry.” Ecopoetry: A Critical Introduction. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2002. 162-75. Print.

Hogan, Linda. Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World. New York: Norton, 1995.

—. The Book of Medicines. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1993. Print.

Liu, Lydia H. “Writing.” Critical Terms for Media Studies. Eds. W. J. T. Mitchell and Mark B. N. Hansen. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010. 310-26. Print.

Wegenstein, Bernadette. “Body.” Critical Terms for Media Studies. Eds. W. J. T. Mitchell and Mark B. N. Hansen. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010. 19-34. Print.




BLAST-pieces (1): Vortex as Storm Cone


In interesting look at the Vorticist symbol that appears in BLAST. Be sure to read the illuminating comments at the end, too.

Originally posted on Richard Warren:

Picking through the two issues of Blast (1914 and 1915), it’s easy to ignore the little head or tail-piece designs that occasionally punctuate the pages. But they are certainly worth a closer look. Someone may already have analysed them thoroughly, but if so I’m not aware of it.

The most recognisable is perhaps the simple Vortex symbol that appears first on the unnumbered page 9 of Blast 1, the title page of the group “Manifesto”, and is repeated on pages 12, 20 and 158. It seems obvious to me that this was not an original design, but an opportunistic use of an existing printer’s block showing a storm cone – the black canvas funnel then in standard use at coast guard shore stations to warn shipping of impending storms. (I can’t quite believe that no one has previously pointed this out. If they have, please leave a comment  and let…

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Journals That Accept Long Poems

Here is yet another list for poets. I will update this as I can. Each journal name is also a link to the submission page.

If you know of journals that accept long poems, please leave a note in the comments section, and I’ll add it. Thanks. //

Journal Journal Medium Submission Type Simultaneous Submission: Yes/No
The Adroit Journal Online Electronic Yes
Alaska Quarterly Review Print Mail Yes
Angle Journal of Poetry in English Online Electronic Yes
Arroyo Literary Review Print Mail Yes
Artful Dodge Print Mail Yes
At Length Online Electronic Yes (Not verified)
Beloit Poetry Journal Print Mail and Electronic No
Birmingham Poetry Review Print Mail Yes
Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts Online Mail or Electronic Yes
Blue Lyra Review Online Electronic Yes
The California Journal of Poetics Online?? See below comments Electronic Yes
Diode Online Electronic Yes
Georgia Review Print Mail or Electronic plus fee No
Gettysburg Review Print Mail Yes
Heavy Feather Review Print Electronic Yes
Long Poem Magazine (England) Print Electronic No
Michigan Quarterly Review Print Mail Yes
Missouri Review Print Electronic Yes
New England Review Print Electronic plus fee No
Nimrod Print Mail Yes (Not verified)
Pedestal Magazine Print Electronic Yes
Permafrost Print Electronic Yes
Prime Number Magazine Online Electronic Yes
Rattle Print Mail and Electronic Yes
Rhino Print Mail and Electronic Yes
Seattle Review Print Mail and Electronic No
Southern Indiana Review Print Mail and Electronic Yes
Southern Humanities Review Print Mail and Electronic Yes
storySouth Online Electronic Yes
Sugar House Review Print Electronic Yes
Tusculum Review Print Mail Yes
Virginia Quarterly Review Print Electronic Yes

Lats updated 6-27-14 3:42 p.m. 32 journals.//

The Cave (Winner of The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award for 2013. Forthcoming in late Autumn of 2014.)

The Cave

Poems for an Empty Church

Poems for an Empty Church

The Oldest Stone in the World

The Oldest Stone in the Wolrd

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Henri, Sophie, & The Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound: Poems Blasted from the Vortex

Pre-Dew Poems

Pre-Dew Poems

Negative Time

Negative Time

After Malagueña

After Malagueña

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