Saturday, June 28, 2003


Marsh Hawk Press poet Sharon Dolin at her book launch for her terrific new book of ekphrastic poems, Serious Pink, said that as she was looking at modern painters, especially Richard Diebenkorn, Joan Mitchell and Howard Hodgkin, she was also becoming more deeply involved with her now-husband, Barry Magid. So, she said, the book also tracks a love story. From this perspective, you could make an "ekphrasis"--a plain declaration or interpretation--of the poems as love poems. I hate love poems but I love poems as paintings, and Sharon's poems paint rather than write, or literalize, so she escapes from what makes love poems awful: oh me, how important I am in my emotions, this big deal, sex, lurid symbolization, lack of tact etc. Anyway, they're not love poems, really, are they? But what happens if you read "Ocean Park No. 45", on the Diebenkorn abstraction, as a love poem?

The theme is announced in the first stanza "When I arrive at the idea/ the picture is done, said Diebenkorn." "When I arrive" i.e., now, present tense:" climax, sexual and emotional. The lover appears, comes, the I or the other; hot love is here--it's a done deal, as "color so saturated/ with arrivals it undoes doing." Undone (Elizabethan: woman undone), undoing clothing, soaked, saturated in the pink serious pink rosy pink of overheated bodies, erotic swellings--"completions" They love and they know they love, then ideas appear that cool them off, the "ice-blue"--pause, caesura "panels" of the painting (I've never seen the painting or I don't remember, but a real world of rooms, limits re-surfaces and cools down the lovers. Despite "coincidence", coinciding, by accident coming together, or because of it, barriers exist that she must cross that marks the boundary between the two-that-were-just-one [union] "I cross the border/into(you have no idea, that's the idea)--but the reader ignores the parenthesis, making the sentence say "cross the border into you" which is what lovemaking is, and not an idea either. And suddently there's green and outdoors and a white barn, pastoral, and "leading to a song"--well, where's the painting, what's the painting? It seems the color-forms are carrying a suggestion of sun, fields, light, maybe actually there on the canvas but maybe only the hint or suggested idea is there, which signals the power of light--that is, color is light, lighting, sunlight--and form on the inner mind and spirit. But these spiritual powers are undercut by another parenthesis, a comment on form that the intellect brings in to balance off the nuttiness of seeing things that aren't exactly there--which is the spooky invisibility of love while it's buffeting you and no one else sees it, not even the beloved. The parenthesis luckily cuts off the word "song" from "of buttercups ruled out", undercutting sentimental language, "ruled out" the flowery language, while sneaking it in-- assertion by denial. The superb trick of this poem is the hidden sentences that lie within the sentences, themselves broken lines, as the elements of a painting break and yet come together, coinciding in pursuit of the "idea" of the painting, but in the end having to depart, a departure, that is, a going-out, extension of the self into the other, ah sex, then breaking into parts but now into "the frank curvature," nakedness, the curves of bodies again as "flowers." Well, you can get away with "flowers" as the last word, since the words terminate excess, just as the art-viewers, like lovers, do go on to the next idea or painting and on out of the room, depart from the museum, into the world, while the painting's warm suggestive shapes and colors remain vivid in mind, if "mind" is the word.

Ocean Park No. 45

When I arrive at the idea
the painting is done
, said Diebenkorn.

but what if color is so saturated
with arrivals it undoes doing--

ideas--completions--ice blue
panels cooling our forehead. No coincidence

is replicable when the idea is a closed
line I cross the border

into (you have no idea, that's the idea)
an early spring field of young grass blades

the line between being green
and seeming green

is a line--there stands
a whitewashed barn

of sun-bleached planks leading to a song
(is color idea or means--or ideal means)

of buttercups ruled out
despite this departure

into frank curvature of flowers.

Monday, June 23, 2003

Small Press Distribution

The recent release of Small Press Distribution (SPD)'s Spring/Summer 2003 catalogue reminds us to remind you that MHP's books are now distributed by this wonderful distributor based in Berkeley, CA. Please support this nonprofit institution celebrating 34 years of serving the literary community, and especially the small press community. When SPD was founded in 1969, it began by distributing works from five small independent publishers. Today, SPD distributes over 500 independent publishers -- which includes 12 new presses this season, including Marsh Hawk Press. Here is contact information, both on and off virtual reality:

1341 Seventh Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
Tel: 510-524-1668

Thursday, June 19, 2003


grant messenger her bliss and supply pumping blood
excerpted from news
--from Clayton Clouch's Poetry Blog, Word Placements

MHP thanks Clayton Couch for linking us to his blog, a site of many wonderful poems! Do read Clayton at his Word Placements!

And here are more MAJOR READS! Ron Silliman reads Eileen Tabios who, in turn, reads Sharon Dolin!

[Ron Silliman's post is dated June 19 and Eileen Tabios's post is dated June 17.]

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 18, 2003


MHP thanks the following poetry lovers for linking us to their wonderful sites:

Chris Lott's Ruminations at http://www.chrislott.org/
Chris Murray's Texfiles at http://texfiles.blogspot.com/
Laura Willey's Laurable at http://laurable.com/log/

And MHP also loves to encourage others' literary ventures. Eileen Tabios's poetry collection Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole is a featured prize in the "Global Filipino Literary Awards" sponsored by OUR OWN VOICE (OOV). OOV has just released the following press release -- Congratulations to the winners!


Press Release; Contact: our_own_voice@yahoo.com

OUR OWN VOICE Announces Recipients of Global Filipino Literary Awards

OUR OWN VOICE, a literary ezine for Filipinos in the diaspora, is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2003 Global Filipino Literary Awards. The Awards honor authors, agents and publishers of books by Filipino authors from around the world, published in 2002.

NOel Alumit's Letters to Montgomery Clift, a growing-up piece set against the repressive days of the Philippine martial law era, garnered the Award for Fiction. The novel is published by McAdams/Cage. Love Gathers All, a groundbreaking collection featuring Philippine and Singaporean poets, received the Award for Poetry. LGA's editorship was shared by Alvin Pang and Aaron Lee of Singapore with Alfred Yuson and Ramon Sunico of the Philippines. The collection was simultaneously published by Anvil Publishing (Philippines) and Ethos Books (Singapore). The final category, Award for Literary Work in Drama, went to Mulat, an anthology of television scripts in Pilipino by playwright Frank G. Rivera and published by The University of Santo Tomas Publishing House.

"It is the intention of OUR OWN VOICE to recognize publishers worldwide who encourage the literary output of Filipino authors," Remé-Antonia Grefalda, editor, explained, "because generations of Filipino readers are coming of age and are hungry for contemporary literature on the Filipino experience in the diaspora."

The awardees will receive a plaque citation honoring the author and the publisher; the print edition of OUR OWN VOICE Literary Magazine, an anthology of essays, short stories and poetry featured online in 2001; and a copy of Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole by multi-awarded poet Eileen Tabios. Grefalda also acknowledged the contribution of Marsh Hawk Press (New York) who is donating a copy of Reproductions of the Empty Flagpole to a library of the awardee's choice.

Excerpts and selections from the awardees' works will be featured in OUR OWN VOICE's July/August online issue, www.oovrag.com/~oov. #

Friday, June 13, 2003


It's not done yet, but MHP is revamping -- and prettifying -- its web site at http://MarshHawkPress.org (or see link at right). It's worth taking a peek for new features, including information on the Marsh Hawk Poetry Contest, to be judged by Marie Ponsot!! Follow the site as it morphs this month! Meanwhile, here's some Contest info:


Submission Deadline: April 30, 2004


The Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize offers a cash award of $1,000.00 plus funding of all costs of publishing the winning book. It is judged by a poet of national stature not connected with the press. The winner also receives royalties and is freed from obligation to share the work of the collective. The winner's name and title of the winning book are announced nationally.

Contest Rules:
• Submit a manuscript of 48-70 pages of original poetry in any style in English. The manuscript must not have been published previously in book form, although individual poems appearing in print or on the web are permitted. Entries may consist of individual poems, or a book-length poem—or any combination of long or short poems.
• Submitted manuscript must contain 2 title pages: Name and contact information should appear on first title page only. Name should not appear anywhere else in the manuscript.
• Manuscript should be typed, single-spaced, paginated, and bound with a spring clip.
• Include a table of contents page and an acknowledgements page for magazine or anthology publications.
• Enclose an SASE for announcement of the winner.
• Manuscript cannot be returned.
Postmark deadline: April 30, 2004.
• Include a check or money order for $20 entry fee, payable to MARSH HAWK PRESS.

Send entries to:
Marsh Hawk Press Contest
2823 Rockaway Avenue
Oceanside, NY 11572

Thursday, June 12, 2003


Sandy McIntosh has a new poem "Ignatow Interrupts A Dream" available at WinePoetics, via a June 10 post entitled "Poetry In Progress." An enjoyable read -- featuring Sandy's quintessentially dry wit -- that begins:

You were reminiscing about Ignatow, and I was dying to interrupt--I loved him, too, of course. Anyway, I didn't interrupt because I had a sudden memory of making love in a dream only to be awakened by the actual person I’d been dreaming about who had been sleeping next to me, but was now shaking me to stop my terrible snoring.

The poem's presentation is also an all-too-rare look at the birthing of a new poem -- from what inspired Sandy to write this poem on to its final draft -- hence the title of the post in which it appears: Poetry In Progress!

Monday, June 09, 2003


Laura Willey at Laurable Blog said:

"Thomas Fink reports on the Boston Poetry Marathon (but posted by Eileen at MHPress dot blogspot dot com. Is the MacPoem Thomas refers to the McPoem Silliman mentioned a few months ago?"

Tom replies:

Dear Laurable,
I wasn't aware that I was citing something Ron Silliman said in his Blog; I thought I'd read some traditional poet in APR or a similar journal railing against the overwhelming mediocrity of today's poetry and using that term. Much of what Ron says about "the school of quietude" seems accurate to me, but his own trenchant analyses of what he admires in recent poetry confirm my sense that much excellent work is being done and being circulated. (I should add that my article on Ron's TJANTING is scheduled to appear this month in the e-zine, TITANIC OPERAS.) The two Boston Poetry Marathon sessions I attended were conspicuously free of "MacPoems," and that's all I was really trying to convey.

Sorry for the confusion,


I had to chuckle when I noticed this on Laurable Blog today during my blog-jog:

"Thomas Fink reports on the Boston Poetry Marathon (but posted by Eileen at MHPress dot blogspot dot com. Is the MacPoem Thomas refers to the McPoem Silliman mentioned a few months ago?"

So, hopefully Tom will answer the question, but meanwhile this is to confirm that I -- "Eileen" --am not writing all the posts under different names, though writing under more than one public identity is something other writers are doing. It would be quite a feat for one person to be able to encompass the ouevres of the poets listed on the masthead. And as I was writing this post, I actually got e-mailed by Bill Allegrezza, another wonderful poet who also edits the poetry journal, MoriaPoetry. Coincidentally, both Tom and I have poems on the recently-released Summer Issue. Further coincidence: one of Tom's poems is dedicated to me! Thank you Tom! But, wow, I was tickled as I thought about the idea of writing under pseudonyms....and writing works that my pseudonymous persona then dedicated to ... me. How rapscallious! (Hmmm...I must reconsider that....)

Meanwhile, do check out MoriaPoetry. Other poets featured are Arlene Ang, Andrew Lundwall, D.J. Huppatz, Ken Rumble, Taylor Hagood, August Highland, Nicole Tomlinson, Mark Young, Kristy odelius, Clayton A. Couch, Steve Timm, Vernon Frazer, Joel Chace, Andrew Nightingale, and Jukka-Pekka Kervinen.

Sunday, June 08, 2003


I had the pleasure and privilege of reading my poetry Thursday night at the Boston Poetry Marathon and attending the first two evenings of the five sessions held between June 5 and 9 at the small, unassuming Art Institute of Boston (near Kenmore Square). Organizer-poets Joseph Lease, Joanna Fuhrman, and Donna de la Perriere assembled a group of poets just as splendidly heterogeneous in their styles and thematic preoccupations as the Marsh Hawk Press stable. (I've considered Joseph Lease among the best U.S. poets for a while, so his and his cohorts fine judgment doesn't surprise me.)

Contrary to the whining of poet-pundits about the "MacPoem" in APR and elsewhere, the Boston Poetry Marathon confirmed my sense that a great deal of poetic talent exists and is reaching a public--here and now. Some examples. Like most other participants, Michael Magee concentrated on new work. His long poem demonstrated how Language-writing-inspired linguistic fecundity can keep pace with motions of intelligibility, opacity, and fragility of racialized and gendered configurations and disfigurations. Backed by an able, barre-chording rhythm guitarist, Wanda Phipps intoned and, at times, very credibly sang spooky, metaphorically condensed, plaintive and witty impressions of love's lightning zigzags. Marshalling different but equally cogent stylistic modes, Tom Sleigh and Fanny Howe each focused on the exigencies of acknowledging tragic loss--both 9/11 and the recent U.S. wars were in the air, whether mentioned out loud or not--and of struggling to reach images, tropological structures, and abstractions to usher in possibilities for widespread healing. Since both are "spiritual" bards, collective "redemption" is not a bad term for what they seek in their work, but Sleigh and Howe are devoid of the hokum that often goes along with such quests.

The Boston post-surreal powerhouse Jim Behrle acted as poet/critic Maria Damon's sidekick in reading her elegantly elliptical, supple, self-reflexively social collaborations with Miekal And. Bin Ramke skilfully incorporated scientific information about pharmacology, color theory, etc. in his prose-poetic meditations about time, light, and psysche. With great verve, humor, and dense juxtaposition of surreal bursts, "realistic" imagery, and playful abstraction, Joanna Fuhrman charted the precarious footholds of given and constructed selves. Fuhrman is barely thirty, and Paisley Rekdal probably even younger. Rekdal's long poem, an elegy to a love affair, manifested her daunting ability to braid historical data, personal or invented narrative elements, and meta-commentary with daring and lyrical flair.

During the readings, the intermissions, and the post-reading schmoozing, members of different poetic communities came together to confirm and encourage each other. The Marathon strengthened my sense of the vitality of the MHP enterprise and my determination to work hard as a poet and critic to merit my membership in the company that the Press's collective and the Marathon exemplify.

Friday, June 06, 2003


Thanks to Deborah W. Patillo for linking MHP Blogs! Deborah presents fine reading at her wonderfully named Chimera Song Mosaic.

Check out Jim Behrle's Blog for a poem and an audioblog by Eileen Tabios. You can read and hear her read her poem "Regression"!

Thursday, June 05, 2003


MHP Blogs! has been linked by two popular poetry sites in Poetry Blogland! Thanks to

Jack Kimball at Pantaloons: Tykes for Poetry


Stephanie Young at The Well Nourished Moon.

These sites offer links to other poetry blogs; check 'em out!

Patricia Carlin's "The Box Turtle"

On May 31, 2003, Jane Augustine had sent a lovely "read" of Patricia Carlin's poem, "The Box Turtle." That poem is now reprinted here for your reading pleasure, below Jane's post (scroll below).

Wednesday, June 04, 2003


As regards Eileen Tabios's June 1 post at WinePoetics referencing Tom Fink's note that Hitler killed six million Jews as well as Stephen Paul Miller's June 1 query on "secular American Judaism and poetry," Herb Levy writes. (Thanks for the feedback, Herb, as even the briefest dialogue, I think, can make us pause and remember....things that should never be forgotten). First, for easier reference, here's Stephen's earlier query:

I asked Samantha Power who just won a Pulitzer what she meant about the Holocaust only being known in the 70's. She said she and others mean that people didn't feel it as a galvanizing force, museums were not built about it, etc. 'till then. But I think a more useful way of describing that is that perhaps conservative Jews got more efficient in pushing their agenda through the Holocaust. Maybe it was better understood before people "knew" about it in that way. What do you think? Am I being out of line here? Does anyone have any ideas about secular American Judaism and poetry?

Herb comments:

Reinforcing your quote from Stephen Paul Miller on the roots and limits of Holocaust awareness: While 6 million has become the most often cited number for people who died in Nazi concentration camps, the actual number is estimated to be between 10-12 million. 6 million is the number of Jews who died in Nazi concentration camps. But there were also many Catholics, gypsies, gays, handicapped, 7th day adventists, etc who were killed in concentration camps.

Stephen responds.

I've heard several different numbers. But I think the major point is that the Holocaust should not be considered exclusively Jewish, even if Jews can make some kind of claim to being some kind of quitessential victims. I don't think the unnamed Holocaust was viewed as exclusively Jewish before the seventies, and I think this paradoxically served what I consider to be the truer interests of Jews both here and in Israel because the notion that Jews were part of a larger class of victims produced more empathy for them and contributed to the rapid decline of overt anti-Semitism in America and the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Israel. My guess is that both developments owe much to a knowledge of and revulsion with the Holocaust. That's why I think Samantha Power's comments to the effect that the Holocaust only became a galvanizing issue in the seventies are shockingly off. After World War II, people knew about the Holocaust and they reacted to it. It is in the interests of those wishing to justify inhumane treatment of others in the name of Israel to pretend that the Holocaust did not have an effect before the seventies. I do not think someone like Samantha Power is like that, but I think she has fallen prey to their assumptions.

So what does this have to do with poetry? I'm definitely not sure but I think it points to the added power of Jewish discourse when it extends beyond its seemingly natural sphere of influence. When Jews did not "own" the Holocaust, it did more for them. I think there is unique cultural and religious sense in which Jewish probing is generated, but, nonetheless, the proper arena for Jewish thought and poetry is the world.

Monday, June 02, 2003

Poetry in Boston!

We mentioned earlier that Thomas Fink will be at the Boston Poetry Marathon. Here's a more complete schedule (courtesy of Jim Behrle) of the event curated by Joseph Lease, Donna de la Perriere and Joanna Furhman. The event takes place this weekend at the Art Institute of Boston:

6/5 Thursday night (7:00-9:30)
7:00 Daniel Bouchard
7:20 Mike Magee
7:40 Wanda Phipps
8:00 Diane Wald
(8:20 BREAK--10 minutes)
8:30 Thomas Fink
8:50 Lisa Bourbeau
9:10 Tom Sleigh

6/6 Friday night (7:00-9:50)
7:00 Maria Damon
7:20 Joanna Fuhrman
7:40 Sam Truitt
8:00 Dick Lourie
(8:20 BREAK--10 minutes)
8:30 Martine Bellen
8:50 Bin Ramke
9:20 Fanny Howe

6/7 Saturday afternoon (2:00-5:10)
2:00 Sean Cole
2:20 Linda Russo
2:40 Douglas Rothschild
3:00 Arielle Greenberg
3:20 Lori Lubeski
(3:40 Break--10 minutes)
3:50 Jocelyn Emerson
4:10 Aaron Kiely
4:30 Maggie Nelson
4:50 Prageeta Sharma

6/7 Saturday night (7:00-9:30)
7:00 Jim Behrle
7:20 Mark Bibbins
7:40 Sarah Manguso
8:00 Lee Ann Brown
(8:20 BREAK--10 minutes)
8:30 David Shapiro
8:50 Maxine Chernoff
9:20 Paul Hoover

6/8 Sunday afternoon (2:00-4:50)
2:00 Mike Sikkema
2:20 Tanya Larkin
2:40 Aaron Kunin
3:00 Johannes Göransson
(3:20 Break--10 minutes)
3:30 Paisley Rekdal
3:50 Peter Richards
4:10 David Kirschenbaum
4:30 Ruth Lepson

Marsh Hawkers in Current Issue of Muse Apprentice Guild

Muse Apprentice Guild, a unique and ambitious project spearheaded by August Highland, has come out with its Spring 2003 issue that features poems by Eileen Tabios, Sandy McIntosh, Thomas Fink, Burt Kimmelman and Rochelle Ratner. Also of interest is a review of Thomas Fink's GOSSIP by Dan Morris; here's an excerpt:

In the foreword to Gossip, Fink discusses his interest in occupying the border between coherence and the free play of language: “When I try, once in a while, to write a traditionally “coherent” poem, it usually creaks or croaks on the page. Poetry experiments that let words perform –- that let random music play -– entice me. If the result seems totally unintelligible, though, I throw up my hands or revise heavily. In my experience, friction between seemingly conflicting aims enables various “hybrid” possibilities. (8). Fink, in other words, is trying to carve out a place, occupied by other liminal authors such as John Yau, C.D. Wright, and Bernadette Mayer. Their work seems to exist in the interstice between the otherwise polarized “camps” of the poetry world’s battlefield, with the “Language” authors of Berkeley and Buffalo perhaps the leading purveyors of one “camp” and the strict new formalists such as Dana Gioia and David Mason at the opposite extreme.

Fink poems suggest the rhizomatic nature of a good gossip, a spreading of entangled networks of information and mishearing.
Gossip is a form of communication that is forbidden, as in the Jewish tradition "lashon ha're" (speaking evil tongue or evil urge). And yet Fink asks the question: what would we say to each other were it not for gossip? In Fink’s hands, gossip becomes an often-subversive linguistic act that links high and low cultures, public and private, the realm of the Hollywood Enquirer but also much of literary culture.

A new poem by Stephen Paul Miller!


Here comes sunniness.
He draws a sunny color
And becomes what he was:
      a practice:
He always swims left,
And stitches the binding
      of his book in a spiral.
A precious bundle,
The sea is his home.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

On Secular American Judaism and Poetry?

Stephen Paul Miller writes:

I asked Samantha Power who just won a Pulitzer what she meant about the Holocaust only being known in the 70's. She said she and others mean that people didn't feel it as a galvanizing force, museums were not built about it, etc. 'till then. But I think a more useful way of describing that is that perhaps conservative Jews got more efficient in pushing their agenda through the Holocaust. Maybe it was better understood before people "knew" about it in that way. What do you think? Am I being out of line here? Does anyone have any ideas about secular American Judaism and poetry?

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