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The Poetry Corner Part Two

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As a part of this semester’s theme of community, the Kratz Center for Creative Writing is sponsoring an event series called “Poetry as Community,” bringing local poets to campus. In conjunction with this theme, the Q has asked student poets to send in their own poems along with poetry recommendations. Here are student poets Sebastian Bronson Broddie, ‘20, and Thalia Richter, ‘20 on poets whose work they appreciate.

Sebastian’s Poet Recommendation: Gwendolyn Brooks is well known for crafting powerful poems about racial identity and many hold evidence of her engagement in politics, from when she worked with the NAACP in college. What I most love about Gwendolyn Brooks’s work is her ability to make me feel a great deal more like who I am supposed to be, or to feel a greater appreciation for who I am right now. I always feel like she knows exactly who I am when I read her poems, and that who I am is to be celebrated. Her subjects…sometimes seem to leap right off the page and envelop you in a warm, soft, comforting light.

Thalia’s Poet Recommendation: My favorite book of [Maggie Nelson] is Bluets, which is written as a cross between poetry and prose, ruminating on depression, loneliness, and love through the lens of the color blue. The book begins, “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color. Suppose I were to speak this as though it were a confession.” Nelson’s obsession with the color blue bleeds into her discussions of depression, sometimes eliding the two, so that emotion gains literal visibility. Loneliness is blue, and perhaps parts of love are red, but no matter what, Nelson made me believe in the tangibility and physical realities of these emotions…Her poetry depicts love and heartbreak side-by-side, as though the latter is inevitable, but worth it for the sake of the former…by articulating her loneliness, Nelson creates a sense of shared sadness, and perhaps that can help lessen the burden.

To read the work of Sebstian and Thalia, look here.

Featured Image: Gwendolyn Brooks. Photo Credit: The Poetry Foundation

The Poetry Corner

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This semester, the Kratz Center for Creative Writing is sponsoring a series of events entitled “Poetry as Community.” In conjunction with this theme, the Q has asked student poets to write about poets whose work they appreciate, to send in along with their own poems.

Here is Goucher poet Donché Golder, ’18, on poets who he considers to be great:

Lady Ise 877-?940

Lady Ise is a Japanese poet who wrote her work and the ‘Waka’  form. The term ‘Waka’ refers to poetry written in a 5-7-5-7-7 metre, (5-7-5 look familiar?) although it was once an all encompassing word form poetry in Japan. Lady Ise was the premiere female poet in Kokinwakashū, the first anthology of waka commissioned by Emperor Daigo. She is also, alongside Ono no Komachi, one of the premiere female poets in the Japanese early classical canon. Her works on the season are very beautiful and when translated are among some of my favorites.

*Note: Waka when translated into English or other languages may not always retain their metre.

ISE SHŪ 37 (*Ise Shū is the poetic memoirs of Lady Ise)

yo ni sakanu        Never blooming in this world,
mono ni ariseba    Were it such a thing,
sakurabana        A cherry blossom;
Fito ni amaneku    To all and sundry
tugezaramasi wo     It would be better not, to announce it so!

KOKINWAKASHŪ XVIII: 1000 (located in the 18th book of the kokinwahashū, the 1,000th waka chronologically.)

yamagaFa no        A mountain brook
oto ni nomi kiku    Babbling is all I hear
momosiki wo        Over the many-stoned palace
mi wo Faya nagara    Swift as the current would I return to the days
miru yosi mo gana     I saw it-how I wish it could be so!

 

Fujiwara No Teika 1162-1241

Like Lady Ise above, Fujiwara No Teika (Teika), was a renowned Japanese poet who wrote in the waka form. His works were inspired by the occurrences in his life, and show fluctuations due to his status at court and his physical health. Nonetheless he is still an inspiration to me as a poet. His works are recorded in the Senzaishū and the Shinkokinshū.

SENZAISHŪ V: 355

sigure yuku        Touched by drizzling rain,
yomo no kozuwe no    All around, the treetops
iro yori mo        With their colours say
aki Fa yuFube no    Autumn in evening is
kaFaru narikeri     A time of change, indeed.

SHINKOKINSHŪ VIII: 788

tamayura no        Fleeting, indeed, are
tsuyu mo namida mo    Dew and tear drops, both
todomarazu        Unceasing;
nakibito koru        She loved
yado no aki kaze     This house, where Autumn winds blow now.

 

Lucille Clifton 1936-2010

Lucille Clifton was an African American Poet born in New York City.  Since it isn’t my job to give you a full chronicle of her life, I’ll keep it brief. Clifton’s work focused on the African American experience, both as an African American woman and as a member of an African American family.  She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for her works Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980, and Next: New Poems, which were both published in 1987. Clifton was also Poet Laureate of Baltimore City (My hometown). All in all, Clifton’s work speaks to me as an African American and makes me aspire to write as well as she did.

homage to my hips

these hips are big hips

they need space to

move around in.

they don’t fit into little

petty places. these hips

are free hips.

they don’t like to be held back.

these hips have never been enslaved,

they go where they want to go

they do what they want to do.

these hips are mighty hips.

these hips are magic hips.

i have known them

to put a spell on a man and

spin him like a top!

 

my dream about being white

hey music and

me

only white,

hair a flutter of

fall leaves

circling my perfect

line of a nose,

no lips,

no behind, hey

white me

and i’m wearing

white history

but there’s no future

in those clothes

so i take them off and

wake up

dancing.

 

Other poets Donché recommends:

Featured Image:  Lucille Clifton. Credit: The Poetry Foundation

Modifications

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A story straight out of our campus traditions, bathed in the grey glow of a dismal future, and all set up for one, single line. Enjoy it while you can, for the undead are hangery [sic] and your brains are looking mighty delicious today.

When the outbreak happened, it wasn’t our fault that there wasn’t any way of protecting ourselves. When the uprisings did happen, there was just no chance for some of us. Sure, many tried. But for the most part there was no way of knowing what to do. In the many barracks splattered around the northern UK, people were trying desperately to find a way of self-defense. After The Great Slaughter, guns were banned globally and confiscated from the citizens of the world. They were locked in deep underground vaults with no way of knowing how to open it. Many have tried, but for the most part, people have resorted to more…unconventional means. There have even been a few renegade units that have resorted to just throwing bullets at the zombies while making gun noises in hopes to scare them off. Surprisingly, it works, but only for a time. Only until the zombies come to their senses and try to return.

A bullet a day keeps the zombies away.

However, I knew that there had to be a way. There were whisperings of a new barrack on the rise which had somehow managed to repurposed old children’s toys into fully realized weapons that were able to actually kill some of the infected. When I arrived at the barrack in question, my eyes widened in realization. The guards were outfitted with bright neon pink, orange, green, blue, and yellow weapons.

All plastic. All deadly.

I approached them with my arms up above my hand and stumbled about trying to show them I meant no harm. “I’m a survivor! I’m a survivor don’t shoot!” I said.

They did the normal tests on me, which was to be expected. When I passed, I was let inside and brought straight to the barrack leader’s tent. A huge burly man held in his hand a bright pink, flowered nerf gun, covered in crayon scribbles.

“Those are the weapons?” I asked.

He nodded.

It was then that I realized: it’s nerf, or nothing.

BENJI GUTSIN

Argyle Tempeh

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God damn hipster restaurants with their god damned hipster food and their cutesy names for their cutesy dishes. Poison! Societal Poison! That’s what this place is! God! Ten minutes sitting on repurposed barrels and not a waiter in sigh- Finally! a waiter.

“Oh, welcome,” they say, as if I have a choice to be here. “I’m your dining facilitator, Graysen, note that’s with an A and an E. In that order. We do not use menus here. Instead, we present for you a dining itinerary with three experiences on it. You will not pay for the experiences. Instead, there is a suggested donation of $40 per seat.”

God damn hipster restaurants-

“Your food stylist, Moonstoneshadow, has prepared for you three different locally sourced dishes: A deconstructed Gerald salad, Zucchini spaghetti ala Mace, and finally Argyle Tempeh served with an avocado black garlic thousand island aioli.”

-with their god damned hipster food-

“The animals that have given up their freedom for your meal are Gerald, Mace, and Argyle. Gerald was an antibiotic free, five-year-old hen from the Jamisdale farm where they grew up happy and healthy wandering the vast fields. Mace was a grass-fed, free-rage, gluten-free, organic cow, prepared in a paleo-friendly style. Argyle was a puffer-fish, who lived their life roaming the vast Atlantic Shelf and caught in a humane, low-energy style and delivered to us through a fair-trade network and-”

– and their cutesy names for their cutesy dishes! Like I give a shit where my food came from, so long as it tastes good. Why did Arsonay drag me out to this place? And what’s with the décor? Taxidermy and black and white photos of spoons and half eaten food? Ugh. Fine. Fine. Calm down. You’re doing a good thing accompanying her here. Smile. It’s just one meal.

“-what would you like paired with meal: bitters or tonic water?”

Wait, shit, were they talking to me?

“Uhhhhhhhhhh, you got any coffee?” I ask. Arsonay raises her eyebrows in disbelief. Crap baskets. I guess that’s not a question you ask here. Greysan, or was it Graysen, looks mildly peeved but that could just be their vertical bridge piercing.

“Unfortunately, tonight we only have bitters or tonic water. Anything else would sour the experience.”

Shit on a brick. “Ok. Then I’ll take the tonic water without the tonic.” I flash a smile and fight the urge to scream. Graysen walks away and I turn to Arsonay, who has been playing with the candle in the center of the stump that acts as our table.

“Do you visit here often, cuz?” I ask, warming my face up with another smile.

“Nah. It just popped up in the last couple weeks or so but it sounded so quaint that I had to bring you here on your visit.”

“Oh. Joy.” I say, my confidence in this place waning even more than it already was.

An hour and two dis-, I mean experiences, later and I’m finally finishing the salad. As much as I hate to admit it, the food has been pretty damn good. Graysen appears, two short spears in hand, their tips flat and angled towards us. They take away the now-empty mason jar, replacing it with the spear. They also take the chessboard that experience two came on. On the spear is the tempeh in all its soy block glory. I take one bite of Argyle and suddenly the fish is living up to his name. Arsonay, the spears, the weird-ass taxidermy and black and white images of half eaten food – all are now fitted with a brand new brown and green diamond layer.

Arsonay is screaming something. I can’t tell what it is but I can tell it’s not good.

“Hey. Asshat,” a voice says. I look around to try to pinpoint it.

“Down here, chuckle fuck!” I look down at the spear, which is melting just a tiny bit, and see a whole puffer-fish smoking a cigar. I’d rub my eyes but I can’t seem to move my arms or legs.

“Yeah, the toxin’ll do that. But hey, look on the bright side,” the fish says, floating in front of me, “at least it’s not enough to kill ya.”

I want to yell at the fish but it’d do no good. I’m no longer in the restaurant. Instead, I’m under the sea, staring at schools and schools of silver fish. They’re all so pretty under the sparkling sun, surrounded by all sorts of creatures; pink coral, Acadian redfish, yellow-finned and green-finned tuna, not to mention the vast expanses of blue and black sea. Then, out of fucking nowhere, Argyle is back, but this time he’s suspended in the mouth of a Wobbegong shark. He speaks again, the cigar in his mouth still lit.

“Yeah, not scientifically accurate but what the hey, it’s your hallucination.”

The Wobbegong, a toothless, flat kind of beast, just swims away and I’m left floating. That doesn’t last long as I’m suddenly jerked back to the ground.

I wake up and I’m in the back of an ambulance, the sirens getting ready to murder my eardrums. Arsonay is sitting next to me wringing her hands. I clear my throat and the medic begins doing whatever it is that medics do while Arsonay starts to apologize.

“I’ll be fine,” I tell her, “but next time, I’m picking the restaurant.”

Missives From Beyond

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From the official records of Benji Gutsin, Documentarian of New New Jersey: https://newnewjerseyoffical.tumblr.com/

To Whom it May Concern,
This is an official letter from your local government.
We regret to inform you, the reader of this letter, that the large foreboding eyeball deity, specifically the one residing within your living room foyer, is a part of a new land deal that we have made with our new all-powerful overlords. We understand if this arrangement is uncomfortable. However, for now, there is nothing we can do now or in the foreseeable future. We strongly suggest reaching out to a private contracting service for this matter or that you heavily invest in contact solution, which can be found at your nearest Walgreens™. Do make sure the large eye remains supple and moist while it remains on your property. We hope you have a lovely day.
Sincerely,
The local government of New New Jersey.

Perkington Law #234
Attention all citizens. In light of recent events, a new law has been put into motion. From here and henceforth, any type of news that may now sour someone’s disposition will be told exactly 24 hours after the original situation has commenced. This law does not extend to the reporting of an emergency, nor the report of illegal activity. However, civilians are not permitted to talk about unsavoury events amongst each other until 24 hours after such event have occurred. That is all for now. Have a perky day!

BENJI GUTSIN

Part 2: Another One Bites the Bread

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As I stare at the array of exquisite treats plated in front of me, the hunger that forms in the pit of my stomach becomes inevitable. Choosing won’t be easy, as each plate looks more delectable than the last. How can I choose just one? Alas, I know I have to, as buying every option is impossible for someone with only one meal swipe left for the day. I ponder for a moment longer, nose pressed against the cool glass that separates me from my dinner. I am like a lion hunting prey — prey enveloped in some sort of bread.
I walk to the front, fingertips twitching with anticipation. My mind is not made up, but I know my mouth will say something. It has to and I convince myself that I will be satisfied with whatever my mouth will order for me.
“One toasted ham and cheese on a croissant.” My voice doesn’t sound like my own. It is a foreign entity. The woman nods and takes my card.
And now, I wait.
I sit at the small square table, staring at the full plate in front of me. Steam gently drifts into the air, disappearing into the invisible atmosphere. I am reminded of Stephen King’s It. Yes, we all float here. My mouth waters and I know I can’t wait any longer.
I lift the top half of the croissant off of the cheesy ham, not caring that the heat burns the tips of my fingers. Even more steam floats into the atmosphere as the ham is released from the croissant bonds that once imprisoned it. I lick the butter and flakes off my fingers, not wanting to waste any of the product I paid for. My hand reaches for a packet and works to open the corner. Some would say it is despicable to put mayonnaise on something already so good, but I never said I was admirable when it came to condiments. I gently squeeze the mayo onto the ham before carefully putting the top back on. The mayonnaise oozes out of the sides and I regret my decision for a moment. No, my decisions are my own; they will not be the ones that would shame me.
I pick up the croissant and it crunches in my hand. I raise it towards my mouth, ready for the agonizing emptiness in my stomach to subside.
It is bliss.

Pantoum

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There are four miniatures on the butterfly dresser
The fairy sized bottle of watermelon flavored vodka is
Emptied and washed out
Filled with water and a flower picked from the side of the road
The fairy sized bottle of watermelon flavored vodka is
Right next to the little vial of coconut rum
Filled with water and a flower picked from the side of the road
It smells sweet and feels sticky
Right next to the little vial of coconut rum
There is a bumpy, lilliputian bottle of raspberry gin
It smells sweet and feels sticky
The bottle is empty and unwashed
There is a bumpy, lilliputian bottle of raspberry gin
Next to the peach flavored vodka in the tangerine colored packaging
The bottle is empty and unwashed
Making up four miniatures on the butterfly dresser, plus two in the
fridge

Brother

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We used to play in the woods behind our grandparents’ house,
sticking our hands out to brush against the mossy trees,
finding dead birds, making makeshift shelters —
so proud of our accumulations of sticks and leaves.
We used to burn lemons in fire pits,
laughing as they hissed and spat at us in anger.
We used to crush metal toy cars, collectibles I think, with big rocks
leaving weird stains on the pavement like chalk and blood.
We used to play football in the neighbor’s’ backyard
I was the lineman,
you were the QB
I passed back to you every time, you never passed to me.
We used to watch SpongeBob on our tiny black TV.
Sitting so close our eyes hurt,
using our feet to change the channel.

We used to fight about stupid things,
though they were never stupid to me.
You’d dress up in alien masks to scare me from behind.
Make me watch horror movies by force,
locking the door with a more frightening smile than the creators on the screen.
You’d yell at me.
Push me.
Call me a baby.
You used to make fun of me when
I didn’t know the older boy things you knew.
Called me stupid,
Called me —–
You treated me like a mother when mom was gone.
Got violent when I wouldn’t do things for you.
Things you could do yourself, if you tried.
You liked me angry,
Liked me sad, with tears streaming down my “crybaby” face
It was easier for you to make fun of me because I was weak,
Then to, in any way, pretend to remember,
what it was like when you were my age
a few short years before.

We used to be friends you and I.
I know because I remember.
But now we are nothing but unhappy memories,
Of crying and blood melting in snow.

MORGAN DANIEL

TED Talks and the Cat: Part 1

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“One day, I’m gonna attend a TED talk and Bill Nye is gonna be there, and I’m gonna crowd surf up to the stage and hug him.”

Greta looks up from her textbook. “Come again?”

I nod. “I’m telling you. One of these days, man. It’s gonna be lit.”

She sighs, stuffing a pen behind her ear before rubbing her temples. “Do you even know what ‘lit’ means? Your uses leave something to be desired.”

I shrug. “It’s the spirit of the word that counts.”

She shakes her head and closes her textbook. I suppress a smile but I can’t help the way my spine straightens. My gaze drifts across the room, taking in the rows of studying students. More than a few of them are asleep, and there’s a girl seated in between two of the library’s stacks with at least five books spread out to the sides of her. From across the room a book drops and someone curses.

Greta reaches behind her and rustles through her backpack for a moment before handing me a postcard. “Well, if we’re going to be using the word ‘lit’ in such superfluous ways, you may as well read this ‘lit’ postcard my mother sent me.”

It’s a scenic shot of some tourist covered beach, but some of the picture has been scraped off, leaving white streaks of postcard innards in sight. One of the corners is badly bent and there’s a tear near the bottom. I turn the card over and squint at the giant, loopy cursive.

“When was this written, in the 1800s?” I ask, squinting.

“God, I wish. Maybe then I’d be able to make some money off of it or something.”

“My dearest daughter,” I say, reading the card aloud. “You will be glad to know that I’ve arrived and am eagerly awaiting to see you again. Watch for my arrival. You’d better be ready.” I snort and hand it back. “Yeah, because that isn’t vaguely threatening at all.”

Greta crumples it up and throws it into the trashcan. It bounces off the rim. “Goddammit. But yeah, vaguely threatening to a tee. I keep expecting to look out in the window in the middle of the night to see her standing there, watching me.”

I lean across the table and rest my chin over my crossed arms. The bench had long ago stopped feeling comfortable and the tapping of my foot has grown uncontrollable. “I’d love to see that, especially since we live on the second floor. We’d be able to call in some paranormal experts or some shit and get her experimented on.”

“If she sends me another rabbit’s foot in the mail, I say we just sic the police on her. Surely someone normal can’t have that many rabbit’s feet on hand.”

A thought occurs to me, and my mouth is moving before I can stop it. “Maybe your mother is a rabbit serial killer.” Greta shoots me a withering look.

“Hear me out,” I say. “There are worse things to be. Like an actual serial killer who kills someone and take the foot as a prize and stuffs it like they would a rabbit’s foot. Could you imagine driving down the highway seeing a human’s foot casually dangling from someone’s mirror?”

A minute passes before she says anything. “Never speak again.”

I grin. “Your comment has been noted and declined.”

She groans, running a hand through her short brown hair and dislodging the pen. It falls to the ground with a clatter and she says, “Same.”

She reaches down, picks up the pen, and shakes herself. “C’mon,” she says, packing her things, “let’s blow this popsicle stand. All this studying is going to my head.”

I stretch my legs and yank the laptop charger from the outlet, shoving it into my backpack along with two of the novels on the table and my laptop. The zipper strains but holds. I put the backpack on and the straps cut into my shoulders, the weight causing me to lose my balance for a moment.

Greta shakes her head at me. “I swear, one of these days your spine is going to snap. You know there’s this thing called carrying books in your arms, right?”

“No carrying. We die like men.”

She smacks her forehead. “Do you ever think before you talk?”

“I try not to.”

“Then you’ll be happy to know it shows.”

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