Monday, April 23, 2012

Poems I'd Save from the Fire: The Dream of the Red Drink by Barbara Hamby

During National Poetry Month, I'm highlighting some of my favorite poems in a series called "Poems I'd Save from the Fire." This is my fourth entry, so make sure to check out the other posts, if you haven't.

Today, I'm saving Barbara Hamby's poem "The Dream of the Red Drink" from her 1999 book The Alphabet of Desire. To be honest, this is probably one of my top ten favorite poems ever. It just gets me in the guts and I feel completely connected to the poem and the experience. I love the mixture of references, stories, and sharp observations in the poem. This is perhaps a great example of what I try to do in each poem I write, so it serves as an excellent model for me.

The poem is so great at capturing that almost magical feel you can have during a night of drinking at a party. It's this strange blurring of worlds and a feeling that you can almost see into people and into the future.

There's also amazing lines that make me laugh because I relate so much to them. For example, she writes:  "My husband is at this party, but I'm avoiding him / for a reason I can't really remember. / Oh, I remember, but it's too tedious to go into here. / I look at this man whom I love to distraction / and wonder how he can be so utterly dense, / and I know if I say anything, he will say / I've had too much to drink, which is entirely correct." I just love what she captures here about relationships.

"The Dream of the Red Drink" is a poem I can read over and over again and never tire. It's just wonderful.

-Stephen (Red with Drink)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Poems I'd Save from the Fire: Slow Dance by Matthew Dickman

This is my third installment of my series "Poems I'd Save from the Fire" for National Poetry Month. I'm briefly highlighting poems that I simply love and ones that have stayed with me as a reader. This installment is about Matthew Dickman's poem "Slow Dance."

I discovered this poem when I read Dickman's first book All-American Poem in 2008. I enjoyed the whole book, but "Slow Dance," which comes early in the book, stuck with me long after I finished. It's a poem I've often thought about and have pulled off the shelf to re-read over and over again. You can hear and watch him read this poem in this You Tube video or you can read it for yourself here.

"Slow Dance" is almost a dance on the page. It beautifully flows from one thing to another until you almost sway with the words. There are so many great lines like "The Unchained Melody, / Stairway to Heaven, power-chord slow dance." or "The slow dance doesn't care. It's all kindness like children / before they turn three."

The poem surprises the reader in how familiar, yet strange it feels. It's beautiful and then heartbreaking. After a few lines about dancing with his brother (who is his twin and also a poet), he writes, "I know that one of us will die first and the other will suffer." It's a poem that captures a moment so vividly that it stays with you.

-Stephen (Dancing on my own)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Poems I'd Save from the Fire: Her My Body by Bob Hicok

During National Poetry Month, I'm running a short series highlighting poems I love and would save from a fire. This is my second post in the series and today I'm writing about Bob Hicok's poem "Her My Body" (it's the second poem on this page).

I picked this poem partly because I was recently reminded how much I love Bob Hicok's work. I first read him a few years ago and his poems immediately connected with me. He has such a unique and interesting voice and I love how he flows and moves through a poem. His poems often go in places you don't expect. I got to thinking about Hicok because we were both published in the new issue of Quarterly West.

When I think of him, I always go back to this poem. It is from his 2007 book This Clumsy Living, which was the first book of his I read. What is so great about this poem is that he captures the jumping around of the mind when something unfamiliar or odd happens in our life (in this case, his wife's nipple feels funny). This is not a typical topic for many straight male poets, which is partly what makes Hicok's work so interesting. Check out this poem and read more of his work. You won't be disappointed.

-Stephen (Fireman)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Poems on the Web

It's always nice to get some work published during National Poetry Month when more people are paying attention to the poetry world. It's a great time to browse some poetry journals or read through a new volume of poetry.

This month, I have two new poems featured on two different sites. My poem "The Lies Poets Tell" was selected by Jeffery Berg to be featured on his blog for National Poetry Month. He's featuring a different poem everyday, so check it out.

I'm also honored to be in the newest issue of Quarterly West. It's a great journal out of the University of Utah. They published my poem "Last Night Out," which I'm thrilled about. The issue also features poems by Bob Hicok (a poet I admire).

Check out both sites and read my poems and other poems.

-Stephen (Poet)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Poems I'd Save from the Fire: Nikita's Indian Restaurant by Jillian Weise

For National Poetry Month, I'm running a series on my blog called "Poems I'd Save from the Fire." These will be short posts highlighting a poem that I think is great, thought-provoking, and worth saving. Most of these poems will be from contemporary poets. I try to promote contemporary work as much as possible on this blog. I love lots of famous poets from all different time periods, but I don't know if we need another blog post about how great Whitman is. I love Whitman. Read Whitman. All of him. But also read current poets.

I'm kicking of this "fire saving series" with a poem that mentions setting fire to a house. My first poem to save from the fire is Jillian Weise's "Nikita's Indian Restaurant" from her book The Amputee's Guide to Sex. I love this whole collection and this poem has always stood out to me for many reasons. It's thought-provoking and surprising, which is always something good to have in a poem. It also has such a raw honesty to it that greatly appeals to me. I love poems that don't always say what you should, because most of us don't go through our lives saying or thinking the "right" things all the time. Probably most of us have wished for our significant other to stand up for us by lighting someone on fire at some point or another. It's also a great use of a pop culture reference. Check it out and then buy her whole collection. The poems in the book are all interconnected and help further inform each other.

-Stephen (Read!)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Big Poetry Giveaway!

Today marks the beginning of National Poetry Month and the launch of my "big poetry giveaway." This is a fun project run by Kelli Russell Agodon where various poetry blogs give out at least two poetry books to celebrate the month. Check out her blog for more details on how to participate and to see a full list of blogs giving books away.

How does it work? All you have to do is leave your name and email address in the comment section on this blog post. You have the whole month of April to enter and on May 1st I will randomly select two winners. Easy, right?

What are you going to win? One winner will get a copy of my first book of poems titled He Do the Gay Man in Different Voices. The other winner will get a copy of one of my favorite books of the last year: Christopher Hennessy's Love-in-Idleness.

Enter now. It's easy. It's fun. And you could win some great poetry!

-Stephen (You get a poetry book and you get a poetry book)