Week Two #readNDN #2sDayPoems


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Award-winning poet and activist Allison Adelle Hedge Coke (Huron/Metis/mixed Cherokee, SE Native) writes the type of poetry that  is seared into the mind like a daguerreotype at the shortest  exposure. Fittingly, her latest collection is titled Burn (MadHat Press, 2017) and is an illustrated poetic endeavor. How cool is that?

Haven’t actually got my hands on it yet, but I hope to love it as much as Dog Road Woman (Coffee House Press, 1997), or Off-Season City Pipe (Coffee House, 2005).

Trust me, you’ll love her work. Here’s  “The Change,” straight outta Dog Road Woman, hosted at the Poetry Foundation archives.


So you’ve heard me talk about Heid E. Erdrich (Ojibwe) before.  ICYMI, I highly recommend her 2012 collection Cell Traffic (Univ. of AZ Press). The jury is still out on her latest Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum of Archaic Media (Michigan State Univ Press). It’s kinda trippy, what with its fairies, QR codes that link to film poems and other weird, but good, shit.

Before you dive into that book, try some of her more earthy work, like “Stung,” from the anthology If Bees Were Few: A Hive of Bee Poems. You’lll want Santa to bring you that one.

And while you’re out there floating in cyberspace, check out this Pen Ten interview with Heid E. and her sister, fellow writer Louise Erdrich, where the ladies answer questions (presented by Natalie Diaz) on writing in general and space for the voices of indigenous women.







Week One #readNDN #2sDayPoems


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In honor of Native American Heritage Month, the next four #2sDayPoems posts will highlight work by my favorite native writers.

I’ve been a fan of  Joan Naviyuk Kane (Inupiaq) since 2009 when her first collection The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife was released by Northshore Press. As you’ll see from the link, it’s now available in a second edition as part of the Alaska Literary Series. Anyhow, I was delighted to find (and share with you) her poemCompass,” which is read to you by the author in both English and Inupiaq.

You can hear a few more of her poems scattered throughout this interview with West Texas Talk. Her latest book Milk Black Carbon, released early this year, should be at the top of your wishlist.


Layli Long Soldier (Oglala Lakota) definitely blew me away with her debut collection Whereas (Graywolf Press).  It is currently a finalist for the National Book Award and has been reviewed and recommended by The New York Times, the LA Times and several other national publications.  And though, you may have heard her name connected to the pipeline issue at Standing Rock, she insists that she never set out to be a political poet.

That statement is in spite of the fact that the book grew out of news of the buried apology to Native Americans in the Defense Appropriations Act of 2009. Boy was that thing buried! Read this excerpt from the collection for yourself, and you’ll see that she is an extraordinary talent, who arrived on the scene just in time.

Also, be sure to check out  this interesting interview on poetry as prayer, or this one at DiveDapper for more of her encouraging words.












The Possum Posse (#2sdayPoems)


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For an urban-ish area, we sure have a lot of wildlife. Last night, there were not one, but two full-size possums making the rounds. They were no doubt a couple, perhaps already having reproduced…let’s hope under someone else’s hedge. In honor of this rather unpleasant nocturnal visit (no, they did not even bother playing dead), I present two poems from Poetry magazine with very different takes on encountering the beasts.



by Faith Shearin

He was a surprise of white: his teeth
like knives, his face a triangle
of albino dislike. I had seen him before,
on our back porch, where my father
sometimes left watermelon rinds,
and he dipped his tongue into them,
his skin glowing beneath our lights,
like some four-legged relative
of the moon. I knew him
as a citizen of the night:
a fainting, ghostly presence
with a tail so naked it was…



latest collection Orpheus, Turning(2015)



by Tom Healy

We’re talking about
when we met
and you say
it was easier
to fall for me thinking
(I’ll remember
this pause)

it was likely I’d be

dead by now.
Talking. Falling.
Thinking. Waiting . . .
Have I
what you’ve tried to do?
You say no.
You say the surprise
of still being
is something
being built—
the machine of our living,
this saltwork of luck,
stylish, safe,
comfortable and
Meanwhile, I haven’t
had the opportunity
to tell you, but…


latest collection: Animal Spirits (2009)

New&Forthcoming Poetry To Drop UR $$$ On


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Kissing Caskets by Mahogany L. Browne (coming in Nov. from YesYes Books)

sample poem:

the blk(est) night



Rain Scald by Tacey M. Atsitty (forthcoming from Univ. of New Mexico Press)

Two Poems w/ audio at Kenyon Review Online





The Fat Sonnets by Samantha Zighelboim (forthcoming from Argos Books)

Two Poems at Fanzine




Dilemnas of the Angels by David Romtvedt (available now from LSU Press)

Sample poem (at Rattle):

Dilemnas of the Angels:Intention



Iron, Ardent by Shelia Black (available now from Educe Press)

Two Poems at Wordgathering



BloodRoot by Annemarie Ní Churreáin (available now from Doire Press)

*scroll to bottom of purchase page at Doire for sample poems





Of Annunciations by Ewa Chrusciel (available now at Omnidawn)

Sample poem:

Migrants’ Annunciation


Barbie Chang by Victoria Chang (available Nov. at Copper Canyon Press)

Sample Poem:

Barbie Chang’s Tears

Everyday Miracles #2sDayPoems


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I was introduced to the work of British poet Stephanie Norgate last October when one of her poems came across the fantastic And Other Poems blog. You’ll want to subscribe to their posts if you aren’t already. Go ahead, I’ll wait a minute while you sign up. Anyway, I remember being so surprised by its ending and very moved by these very “everyday” miracles. It stuck with me for a long time and I revisited it this morning while preparing this post. I’m pairing it here with Elizabeth Bishop’s A Miracle for Breakfast for your #2sDayPoems enjoyment.



by Stephanie Norgate

In supermarkets, strapped
in a trolley,

on the motorway,
belted in the back of a car,

under the foundered houses,
open mouthed and fed by drips,

in a box drilled with holes,
in the hold of a boat,

in fish crates and on cardboard,
on pallets and straw,

on a bed of needles
on the forest…





by Elizabeth Bishop

At six o’clock we were waiting for coffee,
waiting for coffee and the charitable crumb
that was going to be served from a certain balcony
–like kings of old, or like a miracle.
It was still dark. One foot of the sun
steadied itself on a long ripple in the river.

The first ferry of the day had just crossed the river.
It was so cold we hoped that the coffee
would be very hot, seeing that the sun
was not going to warm us; and that the crumb
would be a loaf each, buttered, by a miracle.
At seven a man stepped out on the balcony.

He stood for a minute alone on the balcony
looking over our heads toward the river.
A servant handed him the makings of…


#2sDayPoems :Purple Gorillas& Purses


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Photo by Tim Moore


by Matthew Dickman

When grief comes to you as a purple gorilla
you must count yourself lucky.
You must offer her what’s left
of your dinner, the book you were trying to finish
you must put aside,
and make her a place to sit at the foot of your bed,
her eyes moving from the clock
to the television and back again.
I am not afraid. She has been here before
and now I can recognize her gait
as she approaches the house.
Some nights, when I know she’s coming,

I unlock the door, lie down on my back,
and count her steps
from the street to the porch.
Tonight she brings a pencil and a ream of paper,
tells me to write down…


latest collection: Wonderland (Norton)




by Ruth Fainlight

My mother’s old leather handbag,
crowded with letters she carried
all through the war. The smell
of my mother’s handbag: mints
and liptsick and Coty powder.
The look of those letters, softened…



latest collection: New & Collected Poems (Bloodaxe)

Remembering Nora Dauenhauer on Foremother Friday


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Those who follow my twitter feed, already know that Nora Dauenhauer, one of our Tlingit culture-bearers, a wonderful poet and sweet person, passed away this Monday. I’m re-reading and re-reading her collection Life Woven With Song as I work on my own Fish Psalms. Haa Shuká, Our Ancestors: Tlingit Oral Narratives,which she co-edited with her husband, is also poured over frequently. Click on her name above for more publications and her long list of awards and achievements.  I won’t go on too much here.  Her work (below) will speak for itself:


More poems:

Grandmother Eliza

The Storm

How to Make Good Baked Salmon From the River


#2sdayPoems (2×2) featuring Natalie Young


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Natalie Young is my kind of poet, art director by day, wordsmith by night, a leftie, a mixed blood, a fan of Tom Selleck, purple pototoes and Oscar the Grouch. She also happens to be the founding editor of Sugar House Review, a poetry gem. And although I question her taste for green olives and swiss cheese, I find her poems always absolutely delectable.

On more of a down-note, as the terrible fly-over footage of Puerto Rico’s devastation from Hurricane Maria rolls on, I keep thinking about her monster poems from one of the 2015(?) issues of Rock And Sling. Yes, they are about the personified Great Salt Lake, but the lonely orphan “island” felt like PR.

Anyway, I can only give you one of the monster poems (from her own website), but I’m throwing in three more on other “alien” subjects from their various online homes.


The monster has lasted centuries

            with little light, in one place.

This lake once spanned hundreds of monsters,

           millions of gallons to roam.

Now he has a small city, a village

           deep enough to safely travel. He doesn’t mind much,

but wonders about humans and sun.

What will be done when the many things collected

           are uncovered? Bones and rings and rocks.

What was lost. Cast off.

           The trash of time. He and his house release

only what breathes oxygen or is…

FULL TEXT HERE (you may have to scroll)


notes on earth life

A child in a pink coat leaves her music lesson. Her cheeks match her coat. Her father sells
insurance based on how long an equation expects a person to stay alive.

The old man died. Sometimes humans just die. And you cannot save them.
Sometimes humans do not die, and you cannot save them.

There is a television program about a real human family doing normal earth things—there are
many programs with real people doing what people always do. Humans stop doing what they do
to watch.

When humans determine an animal is too ill, they…

FULL TEXT HERE (w/audio)

the mums are always dying

We’re gonna do it easy, but then we’re gonna do the finish rough.
—Tina Turner’s intro to “Proud Mary”

Holding out a bundle of mums
from the grocery store
to offset a bad day,

She tells the alien how hard it is
to remember everything, every day to do
every thing, how proud she feels

to have shopped and gathered
so much, saved
dollars with coupons and…

FULL TEXT HERE (w/audio)


bird of war

Today let’s talk about the bird who wages his own war.
He flutters shades of late summer: cloudless sky, cornfields,
early-morning sun, asphalt.

He clangs his black beak against his cage in rapid fire, hurls
steel bowl to ground, a landmine of fruity pellets. His head full
of mischief juts to the hum of vacuum erasing siege.

Tomorrow he will…


Odd Bits of a Creative Life (9/13)


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BOOKS, Books, books

I was happy to discover Matthew Zapruder’s Why Poetry at my local library, and have spent several happy weeks with it. The chronicle of how he evolved as a poet was interesting, but mostly I appreciated how he was able to articulate so much of what I’ve been thinking about poetry, but didn’t quite know how communicate.  Wow, that sounds very self-centered, but maybe it is. It is what it is. Here are a few of my favorite passages from the book:

There really was no such thing as ‘poetic language.’ The words in poems are for the most part the same as those we find everywhere else. The energy of poetry comes primarily from the reanimation and reactivation of the language that we recognize and know.”  (p.9)

“I began to discover why poems look the way they do on the page…A poem, literally, makes a space to move through. To read a poem is to move through that constructed space of ideas and thinking…As we think along, we start to make connections, and have experiences and feelings we might not have otherwise had without the poem.” (p.57)

“One of the greatest pleasures of reading poetry is to feel words mean what they usually do in every day life, and also start to move into a more charged, activated, even symbolic realm.” (p. 164)

“In a poem, language remains itself yet is also made to feel different, even sacred, like a spell. How this happens is the mystery of each poem, and maybe its deepest meaning.” (p. 166)

That last quote really made me think of Terrance Hayes’ collection Wind In a Box, and more specifically the poem “The Blue Seuss”.  You can find text and audio here. But also please buy the book. It’s one of my favorites.

More than once, he mentions Brenda Hillman’s Death Tractates, (as does Hass–not surprisingly– in A Little Book on Form).  I remember reading some sort of mini-review from him about this book several years ago, and wanted to pick it up then.  [Here’s the 2014 Rumpus “Last Book of Poems I Loved” article if you’re interested]. I know I had it in my Amazon cart at some point, but somehow didn’t get to the actual purchase.  Remedying that soon.

I tackled Hass’ Form book alongside the Zapruder one.  They make a fantastic  pair. First of all, Hass’ “little book” is not ‘little’ in any sense, not in length and not in intellectual weight. It is less textbooky than say  An Exaltation of Forms (which incidentally I was introduced to by a youtube video featuring Terrance Hayes.)

Hass’ book has wonderful sections on sonnets and odes, but the last few chapters–“Collage, Abstraction, Oulipo and Procedural Poetics”; “Mixed Forms”:  and “Prose Poem” were worth the price of the book.  Before I die, I will have to audit at least one of his Berkeley classes.

When I go, I will also crash Lyn Hejinian’s “Slow Seeing/Slow Reading (English 190) class, which Lit Hub teased recently in their “Classes 25 Famous Writers Teach” piece.

Via that post, I also found out that Vievee Francis, one of my poetry heroes, teaches “Engaging in Hybridity: Race, Gender, Genre” at Dartmouth.  I am at this very moment scooping up much of her reading list, especially Kwame Dawes’ Duppy Conqueror,  which how have I not read that already?

Also, I am hoping the ARC gods at Copper Canyon, will bestow a copy of Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s upcoming Oceania on me before I lose my mind waiting. Maybe if I send a muster of peacocks up to the author at Ole Miss, she will help smooth the way.


This year, I am scheduling a few readings and really appreciated Robin Houghton’s timely post on Tackling Poetry Readings.

In other news, I applied for a Native Arts& Cultures grant. They were super helpful in the application process. Receiving the grant would help me launch a better funded #readNDN campaign, revive this blog and allow me to finish a WIP collection of poems that I’m calling Fish Psalms.


Why psalms?

Psalms as a form have always intrigued me. The Hebrew ones are essentially lyric poems set to music, in other words, a type of song language. The Tlingit word for ‘poetry’ is roughly translated “song language” (at shí yoo xh’atángi). Additionally, the Tlingit (other Native Americans, the Irish and Acadians) have much in common with the Hebrew people, down to the complicated clan system, a tight focus on landscape common to the displaced, and a reliance on the larger community in times of trial. These groups are all deeply spiritual, each in their own way, and are all groups that inform my work by heritage or adoption.

I am also drawn to psalms for another reason. Poet Alicia Ostriker put it best when she stated that “the emotions of Psalms surge and collapse like breaking waves”. I want FISH PSALMS to tap the full range of human emotion and to mimick natural cycles of water, evening to morning, creation to death, etc., as the Hebrew ones do.

By the end of the week, I hope to finish a short story that is on the surface about a lost dog, but underneath about the ever-present class struggles in the Deep South. I am 2 scenes away from being done. Currently calling it “Denny Albers’ Dog.


Besides taking new photos for the blog, twitter and the grant application (see a few below),

I tried to translate the success of my oil pastel portraits to acrylics by trying out sheets of 10x 12 canvas paper and reinterpreting photos from the historic New Orleans collection.  This seems to be the right mix of materials and subjects. FINALLY.