This time of the year

I think today marks the latest in December I've ever decorated our Christmas tree. My mother often bought me ornaments as presents, and sometime in the late 90s, when I was living in southern California, I began buying us matching ornaments, one for my tree in California and then England, one for the family tree in Illinois, a practice I continued until the year before she died. So putting ornaments up is an act of remembrance: this leaping hare is the last one I bought us; here's a cardinal she gave me, that always brings to mind the brightness of that red against snow in an Illinois winter; ah, these fancy ones are from the years I lived near a Mikasa outlet in Orange County; here's the te

Beyond the Sea by Elsa Cross (trans. Anamaría Crowe Serrano, Shearsman Books, 2016), second selectio

More fine passages from this splendid collection: ...the sound of the first cicada now fitfully cutting the silence of dawn. Words wanted beyond what they are-- * Day returns us to a measured balance, to limits-- until the cicadas strike up: a deranged scream, a voracious incision over the moment. * Suddenly still, the tongue savours its slow monosyllable, its restrained flames. * The waves are now only inebriation, shouts that become quicklight. from 'Cicadas' Fibres of your voice ignite, hover. from 'Invocation' They crash against a cliff-- and their clear rhymes leap onto the rocks. from 'Oceanides: Daughters of the Sea' A necklace for Kore. The moon shines on your sleepless breasts. from

Beyond the Sea by Elsa Cross (trans. Anamaría Crowe Serrano, Shearsman, 2016), first selection

I've been enjoying Elsa Cross's work for some years now, thanks to Anamaría Crowe Serrano and Shearsman Books. Here are some favourite passages from this collection: Like a crab the heat draws its pincers closer. * The east wind is heard, the metal of goat bells, cicadas: the incipient polyphony of summer. from 'Stones' Movement-- the last vowel reverberates in the ear. * Ah! Metaphors, those liars. * The afternoon is getting drunk on its endless greenery, setting its oxygens alight at summer's end. * In enclosed courtyards the light seems to rise from a hidden well; desires gleam-- such is the accumulated transparency. * The chunks of bread an old man throws at the water disappear inside fi

Erin Belieu's Slant Six (Copper Canyon, 2014)

I have fewer passages to quote with this collection because many of these poems' power comes from the way they operate as a whole; nonetheless, of course I found some to give you a flavour of this fresh work: ...I can't recall when anticipation became the substitute for hope. * I imagine digging a series of small holes, burying poems in Ziploc baggies. I imagine them as baby teeth knocked from the present's mouth. from 'Ars Poetica for the Future' Because what's more American than a full stomach on a sunny morning? What more than this fat-assed acceleration, driving with the windows cranked down? end of 'Someone Asks, What Makes This Poem American?' ...because we 'grant the name of love to s

JL Williams' After Economy (Shearsman, 2017), second selection

A continuing selection of my favourite passages from JL Williams' third collection: Dark, this desire for space. The wasteland stained star-white. A lake speared with dead trees whose white trunks stab the sky. The ribs of angels up. from 'Desiderata Nocturne' a raven stands in the jade grass still as a carving in onyx watching the blood drip out of the car soak into the soil dye the frond-like curls of ferns from 'Blood on the Trees' In order to smell the smoke in the dark room, to know what the words mean though you don't know the words, to recognise the name being spoken by the wind. last stanza of 'I Enquire of You' What molten pour will bleed a bright river this time? Time, whose face i

JW Williams' After Economy (Shearsman, 2017), first selection

I liked Williams' first collection, Condition of Fire, and published two selections of passages on my old Blogspot blog. Indeed, she launched her first book alongside my second, Divining for Starters, at Swedenborg Hall in London, as we were both bringing out books with Shearsman. I missed her second book (bought but I don't think read--I'll go scouring my shelves shortly) and picked up her third, After Economy, at the splendid Free Verse Poetry Book Fair this past September. I'm surprised at its combination of rawness, energy, originality, and momentum. Here are some favourite passages: But as you say this poem is a poem we are all writing... from 'Iskele Super Tamam' There is a threat comi

Copyright 2016 by Carrie Etter

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