Copyright 2016 by Carrie Etter

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March 25, 2019

The last couple years I've been running a closed group on Facebook for NaPoWriMo. I provided prompts for the month for anyone who wanted them, and we'd post about our progress (without clogging the feed with our actual poems). Last year's group had 179 members, the year before 139. When I learned my teaching load for the upcoming academic year and reckoned my other commitments, I told the group I couldn't do it a third time in 2019--but then started a file of prompts that I added now and again, so I might at least be able to offer those again as people found them so helpful. Today, returning from external examining a PhD viva at Lancaster University, I completed this year's round for anyone who'd like them. I'd be glad to know which ones prove especially fruitful, etc.

  1. Write an ode to one of the following: a favourite food; a favourite place in your hometown; or your favourite piece of furniture. Here’s Neruda’s ‘Ode to the Artichoke’ as an example:

December 9, 2018

The first sighting was on Sarah James' blog, with these good words: "The poems in Carrie Etter’s The Weather in Normal (Seren) are powerful compressions, beautifully whittled onto the page, where the white space allows each line to unfold to way more than its literal size and force. Family, place and climate change are all set in even sharper focus by the crafted space between the lines – for thought, emotion, linking – that gives each image, each word choice, each evoked emotion that much greater impact. And that’s without even touching on the narrative arcs across the collection’s three sections giving further depth and meaning!"

James' blog review was soon followed by Eileen Tabios with the first review of the US edition. As she concludes, "Etter has written a poignant collection of poems, worth searching for and reading. We all should pay attention to tales coming out of the anthropocene. It takes understanding of damage to mitigate damage, and as Etter notes about the “I” of each o...

November 13, 2018

I was a little surprised and honored to be asked to do two interviews focusing on my short fiction pamphlet, Hometown (V. Press, 2016) by students at two universities: two undergraduate students at Lee University in Tennessee for the Speaking of Marvels blog; and Lee Wright of Leicester University for the Everybody's Reviewing blog. I'd be glad to know your thoughts about these interviews.

July 23, 2018

This weekend I attended my first Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol. The festival was founded and organised by Jude Higgins with much assistance from fellow author Diane Simmons and a band of volunteers. 

The festival began with relaxed arrivals with people checking into their rooms at Trinity College and setting up on the green and chatting in the sun. Dinner was picnic-style, bring-your-own, with a vendor selling amazing looking spanakopitas, olives, etc. (she closed before I could buy anything, or I'd testify to the quality) and another offering Indian head massage (I experienced twenty minutes of bliss). From early evening there were readings from flash fiction magazines Ellipsis and Molotov Cocktail as well as the National Flash Fiction Day anthology, followed by an open mic. 

During the day Saturday many workshops were on offer, from "Historical Flash Fiction" with Nuala O'Connor (sadly scheduled at the same time as my own "Prose Poetry"...

March 13, 2018

I love the AWP Bookfair. I always learn of presses I hadn't heard of before, I see editors who've published my work, and I encounter new writers and their work. I purchased half of these, while the others were gifts or on offer for free (the latter only applies to the magazine, Lake Effect). I've already read Sam Truitt's Heresway (Madhat, 2018) and Lesley Wheeler's Propagation (Dancing Girl, 2017) and am happy to recommend them both. Next I'll reacquaint myself with Salamander (which first published my work in 1998) and Seneca Review (1995), as both have reading periods at the moment....

January 30, 2018

Favourite passages from Michelle's last book following her death from cancer last year:


a spread of stars we found

ourselves side by side,

two fluences shading into each other

while a score of fingers scored

the delta's tranquil riot.

end of 'Some Years in the History of Love Poetry'

So let's walk the ruins, let's walk along the ocean

and listen to death's undying devotion.

last stanza of 'Death Gets into the Suburbs'

The pleasure of knowing oneself

is knowing one's plenty.

end of 'Hubbubbing'

While you drag your noise

over us, we're living our

farfetched lives, driving

on wipsy roads

to miniscule jobs

as we furtively

tuck things under roofs

and talk in glitters.

opening stanza of 'Flyover Country'

...then like a typo, her tumor was repeated.

The catch in the brain frayed and spread

ambitiously like a city. Faster, faster

boats emptied settler...

January 21, 2018

at times when

only the void stood between us we got

all the way to each other.

end of 'So many constellations'

A nothing 

we were, are, shall

remain, flowering:

from 'Psalm'

As one speaks to stone, like


from the chasm, from

a home become a

sister to me, hurled

towards me, you,

you that long ago,

you in the nothingness of a night,

you in the multi-night en-

countered, you


opening stanza of 'Radix, Matrix'

A tree-

high thought

tunes in to light's pitch; there are

still songs to be sung on the other side

of mankind.

from 'Thread suns'

Light was. Salvation.

last line of 'Once'

Think of it:

the bog soldier of Massada

teaches himself home, most



every barb in the wire.

opening stanza of 'Think of It'

a green, not of this place,

with down covered the chin

of the rock which the orphans

buried and 

buried again.

last stanza of 'The eternities struck'

This year

does not roar across,

it hurls back December, November,

it turns the soil of its wounds,

it opens to you, young





January 17, 2018

It seemed time to return to Paul Celan's work, and I couldn't find my previous edition of his poems, so I purchased this one, as it was also translated by the late Michael Hamburger. 

The monks with hairy fingers opened the book: September.

Now Jason pelts with snow the newly sprouting grain.

opening lines of 'Tallow Lamp'

Your hair too hovers above the sea with the golden juniper.

opening line of 'Your Hair Above the Sea'

We went shopping for hearts at the flower girl's booth:

they were blue and they opened up in the water.

from 'Memory of France'

He's the one who has what I said. 

He carries it under his arm like a bundle.

He carries it as the clock carries its worst hour.

from 'Chanson of a Lady in the Shade'

Brightness that will not comfort, brightness you shed.

from 'Assisi'


you demand in return,

for the last 

rose back at home

this evening also wants to be fed

out of the trickling hour.

second and final stanza of 'This Evening Also'

Of chased gold, as

you instructed me, Mother,

I shaped the candles...

December 22, 2017

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 teddy bear whose wooden limbs rise when you pull the red string--we both loved that one. So I postponed decorating, because though I remember and miss her every day, going through those ornaments reinvigorates the sorrow of her loss. 

December 19, 2017

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



from 'Invocation'

They crash against a cliff--

and their clear rhymes leap

                                             onto the rocks....

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