Kay Ryan in “The Art of Poetry” in The Paris Review

INTERVIEWER

How did you learn to control tone?

RYAN

I’ve always been sickened by the whole discussion of natural tone, natural voice. I think that’s ridiculous. Every tone, every voice is unnatural, and it is natural to be unnatural. So there’s nothing to talk about. It works or it doesn’t work. I don’t think that anybody ought to tolerate the tyranny of the idea of “natural” voice. 

Thank you for letting me get that off my chest.

Read the whole interview here.

 

Brooklyn Poets Anthology Call for Submissions

From Brooklyn Arts Press:

In partnership with Brooklyn Poets, Brooklyn Arts Press is proud to announce a call for submissions to our Brooklyn Poets Anthology. We hope to celebrate our borough’s diverse and spirited poetry community with an exciting new book featuring work from an array of talent.

Submission deadline is August 30, 2015.

To enter:

• You must currently reside in Brooklyn or have a significant connection to the borough (i.e. you were born & raised here or lived here a decade or longer)
• Submit 3-5 poems (10 pgs max), published or unpublished. Confirm that you own the rights for all previously published work
• Include a cover letter containing name, address, phone, email, bio, publication info for submissions, and the neighborhood of Brooklyn where you reside (or did reside)

submit

Deadline to Submit to PEN Poetry, 5/31

The PEN Poetry Series Is Now Open for Submissions!

For the first time since its beginning in 2011, the PEN Poetry Series will be open for unsolicited poetry submissions during the month of May. Following an overwhelming amount of support, queries, and enthusiasm, we’ll be reading poetry from all over the literary world for the upcoming month.

Please submit up to five poems in a single Word document or PDF. On the first page of your submission, please include a bio and any other relevant information about the poems.

Simultaneous submissions are welcomed and encouraged.

Five Quarterly Annual e-Chapbook Contest Open for Submissions

This year they partner with Newark Academy. From their site:
2015 3rd Annual e-Chapbook Contest in Partnership with Newark Academy

Five Quarterly, in partnership with Newark Academy, is thrilled to announce its 3rd Annual e-Chapbook Contest, judged by a guest staff of high school students from Newark Academy, led by co-founders Vanessa Gabb, Crissy Van Meter, and Newark Academy teacher Jessica DeSanta. Poets and writers are invited to submit their manuscripts by May 24, 2015. Contest opens March 1, 2015. Reading fee is $7. Open to fiction and poetry.

One poet and one writer will each receive: $100; publication as a full-color e-chapbook published online; an author page on our site; and some 5Q swag.

SUBMIT

More About the Contest

We are so excited about and invested in expanding our collaborative publishing model and see this as the next step in really fleshing out what we set out to do when we started 5Q in 2012. Not only will young readers have the opportunity to work with professional manuscripts, choose the winning manuscripts, and help with production and marketing efforts, but also the entire process will function as a 2-week publishing course at Newark Academy in May. The course will expose students to contemporary work by emerging writers and the current publishing landscape. This educational component is integral to reaching our mission: introduce fresh perspectives, diversify the face of publishing, and encourage an expanding literary community.

Halloween Reading: Thomas James’ Letters to a Stranger

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I’ve been reading Thomas James’ collection front to back, including the introductory essay by Lucie Brock-Broido, who states this is the only book she ever stole. I didn’t think it could possibly live up to all the love she gave it, but it does. It’s the only book James published in his lifetime. He committed suicide at 27, shortly after its publication. Many of the poems deal with the passage of time and death and decay. The imagery in many of them is of the natural world. A couple are written from the point of view of people who have died and are now taking their place among the dead, and these seem to treat death very matter-of-factly. Here’s his “Mummy of a Lady Named Jemutesonekh XXI Dynasty”:

My body holds its shape. The genius is intact.
Will I return to Thebes? In that lost country
The eucalyptus trees have turned to stone.
Once, branches nudged me, dropping swollen blossoms,
And passionflowers lit my father’s garden.
Is it still there, that place of mottled shadow,
The scarlet flowers breathing in the darkness?

I remember how I died. It was so simple!
One morning the garden faded. My face blacked out.
On my left side they made the first incision.
They washed my heart and liver in palm wine—
My lungs were two dark fruit they stuffed with spices.
They smeared my innards with a sticky unguent
And sealed them in a crock of alabaster.

My brain was next. A pointed instrument
Hooked it through my nostrils, strand by strand.
A voice swayed over me. I paid no notice.
For weeks my body swam in sweet perfume.
I came out Scoured. I was skin and bone.
Thy lifted me into the sun again
And packed my empty skull with cinnamon.

They slit my toes; a razor gashed my fingertips.
Stitched shut at last, my limbs were chaste and valuable,
Stuffed with a paste of cloves and wild honey.
My eyes were empty, so they filled them up,
Inserting little nuggets of obsidian.
A basalt scarab wedged between my breasts
Replaced the tinny music of my heart.

Hands touched my sutures. I was so important!
They oiled my pores, rubbing a fragrance in.
An amber gum oozed down to soothe my temples.
I wanted to sit up. My skin was luminous,
Frail as the shadow of an emerald.
Before I learned to love myself too much,
My body wound itself in spools of linen.

Shut in my painted box, I am a precious object.
I wear a wooden mask. These are my eyelids,
Two flakes of bronze, and here is my new mouth,
Chiseled with care, guarding its ruby facets.
I will last forever. I am not impatient —
My skin will wait to greet its old complexions.
I’ll lie here till the world swims back again.

When I come home the garden will be budding,
White petals breaking open, clusters of night flowers,
The far-off music of a tambourine.
A boy will pace among the passionflowers,
His eyes no longer two bruised surfaces.
I’ll know the mouth of my young groom, I’ll touch
His hands. Why do people lie to one another?

From Letters to a Stranger by Thomas James. Copyright © 2008

Raymond Hammond on How to Fix the Current Poetry Paradigm

Anis Shivani interviews Raymond Hammond, editor of New York Quarterly, on what’s wrong with the current poetry landscape and how to remedy it, in The Review Review. The secrets: Read poetry from the classics to the present; and continue learning, always; be patient, and write to get better, not just to be published, he says. He’s not a fan of the MFA school of thought that says once you have one, you’re already established as a poet.