hearing the cuckoo,
I long for Kyoto.”
-Bashō, trans. Jane Hirshfield
In some sense, homesickness is always a longing for a place that no longer exists. Which is to say that it is always, to some extent, existential. Yet with the rise of populism on both sides of the Atlantic, I have never felt more acutely that both where I once lived and where I live now are further than ever from “home”.
Rattle Poets Respond is a series in which poets submit poems in response to recent events. One poem is picked each week, and I am honoured to have my poem “Homesickness” appear in such estimable company.
You can read the poem on the Rattle website.
I just came back from a week-long spiritual retreat wherein I was completely off the grid to discover that two new poems of mine are now available online.
“Historic Spring” appears in the Fall/Winter issue of PoetryBay, an online literary journal edited by George Wallace. Do check out the full issue as it is consistently teeming with interesting poems. I am also grateful to George for inviting me to give a workshop and reading at Walt Whitman’s birthplace in May. I will be reading from my collection The Knowledge, which comes out in late April, and which includes this poem.
“La Campagna, London, Friday Night” appeared in Rattle #44 this summer and is now available on the Rattle website with an accompanying audio recording. As it happens, I also recently created a WordPress plugin to support the Rattle website by making their “random poem” capability more durable in its popularity. Personally, I could spend the better part of the day clicking that random button and reading their excellent poems.
I received my electronic version of Rattle #44 today. My poem “La Campagna, London, Friday Night” appears in it, alongside poems from fellow Pacific University MFA Alumni Daniel Bohnhorst and Kathleen Diane Nolan as well as an incisive political poem by Transatlantic Poetry’s own Janice D. Soderling.
Rattle remains one of my favourite US journals — accessible but thought provoking, enjoyable but complex. Editor Tim Green takes risks, which means that invariably I can find a poem that I adore and another that I can hardly stand all within the same issue. He continues to push the envelope with a new weekly initiative featuring poems written in response to current events on the Rattle website. This week’s poem is a hard-hitting response to recent news and online conversations about violence against women.
You can order Rattle #44 or subscribe online via their website.
[UPDATE: the poem is now available online on the Rattle website.]
“Road Sign on Interstate 5,” which received an honorable mention in the Rattle poetry prize and first appeared in Rattle #30, is now available on the Rattle website both as text and as an audio recording of me reading the poem.
The simplified tale of this poem’s creation is that I wrote it almost entirely in one sitting. But the more complete story is that it actually represents a kind of revision of several previous, less successful attempts at writing about my experience growing up on the U.S.-Mexico border.
I had seen the immigrant crossing sign numerous times during trips through San Diego. But it was not until I began to explain the significance of the sign to my wife, an Englishwoman, that I realized its symbolic power. My explanation of the human circumstances behind the sign and its necessity left her in tears. Sometime later, this poem came into focus on the page. Enjoy.
Today I received contributors’ copies of Rattle #30, due out in December. The poem they published was selected as an honorable mention in The Rattle Poetry Prize. Congratulations to Joseph Fasano, whose first-place poem is wonderful, to the other honorable-mention poets, and to all those poets whose poems were selected for this special issue focusing on cowboy poetry.
I look forward to reading and re-reading it!
I recently got the good news that one of my poems received an honorable mention in the Rattle Poetry Prize. According to the editor, the poem was selected from over 4,000 poems entered this year. It is particularly encouraging that they chose a poem that represents one of my recent attempts at breaking the “page barrier” — that is, writing a poem longer than one page. I look forward to reading the nine other honorable mention poems and, of course, the first-place-winner’s poem, when they are published in December. The $100 prize I plan to put toward — you guessed it — more poetry books.