ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Keiko Amano
   Veronica An
   Zack Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Lawrence Berger
   Kevin Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Catherine Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Heitham Black
   Jarvis Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Adam Levon Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Leah Brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Zachary C. Bush
   Tony Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Neil Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Karen E. Cole
   Merrill Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conesa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J. de Salvo
   J de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Dorsey
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Ron Dvorkin
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Amelie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   Matt Harris
   William Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Jessica Healy
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   David Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Lois P. Jones
   Tao Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gary Justice
   Gene Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Bernard Kennedy
   Raud Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Robert S King
   Ashley King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Julia Knobloch
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Thomas KrÀmer
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Emma Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Hyatt Mason
   Lee Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Robert John Miller
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Greggory Moore
   Carl Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Toti O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Kristena Prater
   Luke Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Emily Rose
   Rina Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
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   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
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   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
   Frances Schiavina
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   Peter Schwartz
   Ken Scott
   Sondra L. Scott
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   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   Sanjeev Sethi
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
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   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
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   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
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   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Danielle Smith
   Clinton Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
   Jan Steckel
   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
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   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Mani Suri
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   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Zev Torres
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
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   Viola Weinberg
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   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
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   Claire Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Jessica Wilson
   Robert D. Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
   Abigail Wyatt
   John Yamrus
   MÌesser Yeniay
   Julie Yi
   Britney Young
   Gregory T. Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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G. Murray Thomas
April 2008
   

 

Reaping the Poetic Whirlwind: An Interview with Brendan Constantine

Brendan Constantine is a whirlwind of a performer. He takes the stage and starts riffing about well, something. You're really not sure where he's going, how it might relate to his poetry, but it is hilarious, whatever it is. He has a sure sense of the absurd, and a comedian's timing.
Then he launches into a poem:

Alibi & Goodnight

I didnt see nothing. The rules was
broke when I got here. What happened is
the sun boiled over the rim,
got on everything. Everybody starts
pointing & the cops arrive, like maybe
somebody thought the cops should arrive.
I seen cops before in books, so I skipped
out the back. The sun was waiting, hit
me full in the face. When I came to
it was all over the radio: night fell
or was pushed.

You're still laughing, but now the laughter is tinged with "Wow." He reads another poem:

Apocryphal Poem
(poem to be read in private)

This was before your people met our people,
when autumn had no theme, the trees were still
drinking their first round of leaves. Brown, red,
or gold hadnt been invented & the birds were
blind. Your greatest grandmother woke to find
her bedside candle frozen. She broke off the flame,
maybe the first thing broken off another, threw it
out the window. It lay on the snow without
sinking. Come sunrise the barn burned down
but she didnt much care. She was watching
the leaves fall, wondering if the trees were
about to pull up roots and go, which before
she could learn to speak, they did. They were
headed for our people, or what there was of us,
which was your greatest grandfather. Being first
he was as thick as they come. When he saw
trees flapping over the hills like trees flapping
over the hills he came completely unglued, began
making notes in a little book. He wrote They come
like acrobat spiders & they come like double
chandeliers, like all the little ropes between
the head and heart, torn out, thrown at the air

likehe didnt know what like. Neither did he
know how to write; his poem was just scribbling.
He tore out the first draft, tried to think of some
letters, but by then the trees were crowding him,
so he couldnt see. They said theyd just come
from a fire & he asked what that was. The trees
werent sure. They said it belonged to a woman
in the next valley.

    Now you're in full "wow" mode. He has turned that sense of the absurd into the service of poetry. You still may not exactly understand it, but you know he is saying something both profound and beautiful.
    I have been wowed by Brendan more times than I can count. He is one of my favorite SoCal poets; I see him every chance I get, and I am never disappointed.
    I was able to ask him some questions recently.

    GMT: What are you up to these days, poetically?

    BC: First of all, thank you so much for asking. Im happy to say Ive been writing! Summer and fall had been pretty dry periods for poetry, but (knock on my wooden head) the words are coming. Also, not sure if I can name names (Red Hen Press!) but I have just engaged a wonderful publisher and what I would consider my first real grown-up collection is in the works.

    GMT: Congratulations on your upcoming publication. Getting poetry published is notoriously difficult. What did it take for you to reach this point?

    BC: A few years back I read an interview with Maxine Kumin and she was asked how long shed been a poet (Or rather, when did she become a poet, I believe is how the question was asked). And she, in turn, asked did the interviewer mean a private poet or a public one. The first category is, of course, the one to which weve all belonged the longest.
    My reasons for publishing have always been very personal. Subsequently Ive probably made it even harder on myself than it needed to be. I have always been careful to look for the art in myself and not myself in the art. If I have any doubts about a poems readiness to see the light I withhold it. As it is, far too many have been printed prematurely, usually because I was distracted by the idea that I SHOULD have some new poems to read publicly. This is truly poisonous thinking. It kills inspiration for me. In my best moments I have gone so far as to retract poems from magazines that had just accepted them for publication. On some level I knew I had not done all the work necessary to get the poem as near completion as possible before asking anyone else to waste time on it. I mean, theyre never finished but I hope to get as close as I can.
    The first time I submitted to a contest, The National Poetry Series, a collection of my poems made it to the finals. This was a collection I had previously shared with no one and taken no editorial advice. This was a great encouragement but it may have also totally distorted my expectations. In the next four years I completed two other manuscripts and submitted exclusively to contests. This is truly the long way around, but all three books regularly made the finals, (sometimes the final three) for quite a few other contests: Philip Levine Prize, Crab Orchard Review, twice more for the National Poetry Series, The A. Poulin Prize, the list goes on. In one case, all three books placed for the same award! But they never won.
    Now its 2008 and I am finally engaged in negotiations with a publisher and not as the result of having won anything. Indeed, last year this same publisher rejected the book they are now taking.
    What changed? Couldnt tell you. Part of me believes that as soon as the first book was named a finalist in 2003, I should have just published it myself and learned about distribution. At the same time I feel as though every rejection has made the work stronger and that only now is any of it ready to be seen.

    GMT: What writing related activities are you involved in?

    BC: Im on faculty at The Windward School in west Los Angeles. I teach a poetry class called Industrial Poetry. Windward is a college prep and my class is offered to seniors. I should add that every summer I teach several workshops at Idyllwild Arts to junior high and high school students. These are great fun and a real challenge as the classes go for three to five hours a day and incorporate lectures, films, book making, and a lot of experimentation.

    GMT: How does one sign up for the Idyllwild workshops?

    BC: So glad you asked! During the regular school year, Idyllwild Arts is a superior grade school. Its summer programs, however, are offered to all ages and cover a surprising variety of mediums. If anyone wants information about Summer Poetry or any of Idyllwild Arts youth programs, just visit http://idyllwildarts.com/ and click on the icon for Summer.
    On top of all that, I am due in March to return to Beyond Baroque as leader of the Wednesday night poetry workshops. All are welcome! Bring poems!

    GMT: Youve always been active in the poetry scene, not just as a poet but as an organizer and promoter. When I first met you, you were one of the VCP directors. How do you see your role as a member of the poetry community?

    BC: Thats a huge question. Not because my involvements are so many, but because it opens up several other subjects which I find urgent. You see, I believe it is not enough to advance our own work, we must advance the work of others, the poetry we find inspiring and useful. Also I think every poet, where possible, should be aware of poetry in other languages, we should read or facilitate translations or even learn other languages in which to create poetry. Unlike dance, sculpture, painting, music, or even theater our art is meaningless outside our language. Its just a scratch. The more languages, the more cultures we approach, the more I feel we have earned our beds. SO, what am I doing about all this? Beyond teaching, not a whole lot!
    I must say I do consider my role at Windward to be a kind of activism. I have no illusions that my students will all become professional poets. GOD FORBID! Some of them have to eat sometime! So my job, as I see it, is really to teach aesthetic thinking, to help them stay sensitive to wonder, irony, the subtlest of beauties. Howard Nemerov warned we should not confuse teaching poetry with being taught BY poetry. What I strive to do is create an atmosphere where students are taught by poetry; by reading it, writing it, by recognizing where they live in it. This, I believe, can only help them to contextualize their impressions of their world.
    Poetry is a language within language and the young writer who learns from it, thus doubles their available vocabulary, their first means of self-expression. A student able to reduce the velocities of experience, the speed of life, to the stillnesses of art, any art, is likely better able to appraise it.

    GMT: There are some poets who see poetry as a hermetic process, that all you need to write poetry is to go deep within yourself. How do you respond to them?

    BC: Again, I think whatever gets you writing is good. There is no single approach or motivation. I dont think artists need degrees or licenses of any kind to create art. As the man said, Mozart didnt study the classics, he wrote them.
    Societies, however, do seem to need their professional artists to be credentialed. The archetypal patron needs to be assured on some level that the artist has earned their attention. If a painter has not mastered realism, then any abstract work may be viewed as accidental rather than deliberate. What if the artist has put both eyes on one side of the face not as a means of expression but because they havent learned any better? I guess this might embarrass someone who has just paid $7,000 for a painting.
    Just last week I saw two people on TV fighting over whether Thomas Hart Benton (American muralist whose representational work began the genre known as Regionalism) was a real artist because his sketches were sloppy. These guys were serious.
    But what of the staggering collections of indigenous art from all over the world that we use as yardsticks for everything since? What of the cavernous museums filled with pots, sculpture, tapestries meticulously crafted by the vanished tribes of the Americas, Africa & Asia? Are the first artists any less impressive because they have no test scores we can reference? No MFAs?
    At the same time, if the we are to make a life (not necessarily a living) of art in the 21st century, then we may want to at least consider the possibility that we are in service to the art. I began to study poetry formally, its history and evolution, as a means of renewing my interest in writing it. The pattern of my productivity is always the same: after a while, I come to the end of my resources, my poetry becomes boring to me and suffers from sameness. So I try to find or create a new way to see it. This involves trying approaches to poetry which are foreign to my experience AND my tastes. If I dont try things that are sometimes frightening in their newness, then it will be entirely my fault if there is nothing at stake in my poetry. If we are not responsible for the excitement in our lives, then we are complicit in the boredom.
    But, I would tend to agree with the premise of your question: nothing is required to write poetry but the desire to do so. Will the poetry be any good? Theres no telling and there never will be outside the criteria of the individual.
    Lately, I have been struggling to decide upon yet another language to study. Aside from Spanish or French, languages with rich poetic heritages, I have been seriously considering Greek, Mandarin, or Japanese. In the last years however, I feel as though we have, as a nation, watched whole cultures literally vanish into semantic gulfs. More and more I think Arabic may be the way to go. We are at war and we have a lot of healing to do. The emotional language of poetry, the language inside every language, is restorative. Ive seen it work. It works for me still.

    GMT: Do you read much poetry in its original language? If so, how does it affect your own writing?

    BC: I have no fluency in any language! Any! GOD, I would love to understand Pavese in Italian or the subtleties of Akhmatovas local Russian! However, I do read multiple translations of the same non-English speaking poets over and over. Where possible, I will try to consult others fluent in the same language and ask them about particular pieces. The first time I did this, I was traveling through Germany and discovered that a favorite line of Rilke was an embellishment made by the American translator!
    W.S. Merwins translations of Osip Mandelstam, - which he acknowledges as potentially translated not into English so much as into Merwin absolutely changed and enriched my work. Likewise translations of Neruda, Breton, Hickmet, Valek, Prevert, Transtromer, Pavese, and on and on.
    I should add that I just had a chance to chat with Ilya Kaminsky and he said that he felt Merwins translations of Mandelstam were the best!
    Bottom line, even the most timid approach to any other language will help our understanding of our own. Just experiencing a transliteration of the Japanese or German relationship to subject-verb agreement can be a revelation.

GMT: In your time in SoCal poetry, what changes have you seen in the scene? What has stayed the same?

    BC: Wow. The first change that comes to mind is how many poetry venues are gone! Most of the poets I know I first met at readings, which no longer exist. However, it is more or less in the nature of poetry readings to last about six months and then vanish.
    Another change would have to be the practical life of the poet. Never before have there been quite so many jobs in poetry. The academy has seriously expanded. More and more schools are offering poetry programs, and therefore more schools are churning out books of poetry, journals, and anthologies. Likewise, the online journal seems to be finally coming into its own.
    And still another big change would have to be the quiet simmer which Slam poetry has assumed, in L.A. anyway. I know it continues to thrive in San Jose, San Francisco and elsewhere. But in L.A. proper and OC, it is a lot quieter than it was in 95-99.
    Is that significant? I dont think so. Performance poetry isnt dying, its just napping or becoming something else, Im sure. All forms turn and return.

    GMT: How do you view the State of Poetry today?

    BC: I would say, compared to virtually any point in SoCals history, its pretty darn good. Sure, its still under exposed, under attended and in need of a loan, but it is thriving nonetheless. And more and more I am witnessing people coming to poetry who are not looking to become public poets, but who really seem to need it as a practical thing. Not a calling, per say, but as an organizing principal for their lives.

    GMT: For any creative person, there is, of course, an intrinsic value in the creation. We aren't poets because we want a career in poetry, we are poets because that is what we do. (The career would be a nice bonus, however.) Do you find that the current situation, the proliferation of open readings and online journals, for example, makes it easier for a poet to find that intrinsic satisfaction, independent of material reward?

    BC: I would hope so! I mean, no matter how personal our reasons for writing, a little encouragement is always nice! And theres a lot of encouragement to be had. Im sure somewhere theres someone whos totally pissed off that the scene is so popular and thus polluted by posers, etc. But you find that everywhere at virtually any point in history. I guarantee you somewhere right this minute theres a stamp collector longing for the good old days.
    Poetry itself is changing all the time. Its been evolving since the second poem was written. It hasnt slowed down. Part of the reason is that our language is still changing.     Every generation brings with it a new vocabulary, inventing new words and shelving whole libraries of others. These days there seems to be a real climate of wonder in some poetry communities. As the lines of distinction between genres continues to blur, as the contention that we have exhausted all forms gets challenged again and again, I find I am very optimistic about what is to come.

    GMT: When did you write your first poem?

    BC: Gosh well, I would have to say the first poem in which I was truly invested I wrote when I was in 7th grade.
    It was a poem for my junior high-school yearbook. One of the other kids had attached his camera to his telescope and taken a really sharp image of the moon. The school wanted it for the album and asked students to write something to accompany it. My poem got picked. Not only was it my first poem but also it got published!

    GMT: Do you still have it?

    BC: Yes, and NO you cant see it ever ever ever.

    GMT: What do you strive for in your poetry?

    BC: Oh, for God sakes!
    Well, it isnt any one thing, I can tell you that. Every poem is different. Every poem requires something different from its poet.
    When I think of it, I imagine that the poem exists as an invisible impulse, an entity just outside our heads, spinning slowly or quickly in the air, until it is translated into some physical arrangement. If we get it right, it allows itself to be unspooled onto the page. Every poet is thus a translator charged with re-expressing what the phenomenal world has already expressed to us. On that scale anything is possible.
    I think many of us are never totally convinced of our place in reality. Early in life we have the experience of waking from dreams which seemed real. Or we come to from letting our minds wander for an instant and are disoriented. This isnt some middle class luxury Im describing. Its basic and primal. Even people living under the most extreme conditions war, famine, physical isolation, social collapse will discuss in their arts and prayers the possibility that their suffering is a dream. We are all of us haunted by a suspicion that we can just perceive the edges of the picture we inhabit.
    If there is any one principal, one idea which enables my poetry, I would have to say it is an awareness of that gulf, or to borrow from Stevens the syllable between life and death.
    Some of my favorite moments in life have been those when I was totally confused or disoriented by the events around me. I can remember being a child and trying to read a poster for a French film. I could barely read English and I had no clue what the poster was trying to say. I recognized all the letters and I knew what sounds they should produce together, but I recognized no words. I then tried to reconcile their sounds with the rest of the poster, a vivid collage of men wreathed in cigarette smoke, a heavily mascara-ed woman perched on a Vespa, a doll floating in blood. My mind raced until I got dizzy with interpretations. I remember looking at the words again and again, thinking that if I just tried one more time, I would get it. That there was one small piece missing which would justify everything.
    A good dream is often like that. Especially those where we manage to bring something out with us; a quote which seemed (in the dream) to be brilliant or useful or funny. However when we replay it in wakefulness, it falls apart. It either makes no sense or is totally unremarkable. And yet, it is somehow haunted. There is this feeling about it that if we could turn it a few different ways, keep saying it to ourselves a little longer, if we could recapture its context it would glimmer with truth.
    For me the best poems have some of this feeling about them. Thats not to say that poetry is something that needs to be deciphered or that it be difficult to understand. But even the most linear, narrative poems are at their most attractive for me when some aspect of the world they describe is left unreconciled. Dont ask me for a list of poets, it would cover the world!

    GMT: This would seem to fit with one of my theories about poetry -- that the best poetry doesn't tell you what it is about, instead in leaves open space for the reader to discover meaning on their own. Would you agree?

    BC: Yes. And, no. I would have to agree and yet I know that there are very final poems which I enjoy (Larkins This Be The Verse, Giacomo Leopardis cripplingly existential poem To Himself). But I am wary of saying there is any yardstick for great poetry. Any at all. To answer your question more fully, I guess it comes down to what you deem to open space or mystery. I mean Plath is a queen of the haunted poem: the arcs of each poem (I think of Daddy, All The Dead Dears, Mussel Hunter At Rock Harbor, Lorelei, Black Rook In Rainy Weather) are absolutely conspicuous, but they always ring afterward. Something is continuing to happen. The poem is, as Paul Celan said, always making toward land , even while it lies unread in the dark of a closed book. Howl is still Howling. Brigit Pegeen Kellys Song will play under my feet for the rest of my life.

    GMT: What do you feel you have accomplished as a poet?

    BC: Ive written a lot of poems. Many of them are done.

    GMT: What poets do you admire, living or dead?

    BC: I told you not to ask me this! Im not kidding, the list is absolutely huge. As soon as I start to assemble names into an order, I realize Ive forgotten a hundred others.
    I dont believe in any one kind of poetry, any single rule. All schools have something to teach. OK, heres whose on the bedside table at the moment:

    Mary Rueful
    Peter Everwine
    Nance Van Winkle
    Miroslav Valek
    George Mackay Brown
    W.B. Yeats
    Alfred Lord Tennyson
    Dylan Thomas
    Eliza Griswald
    Ben Lerner
    Richard Siken
    Sarah Maclay
    Kay Boyle
    Wallace Stevens
    Heather McHugh
    Gwendolyn Macewen
    Christopher Dewdney
    Dan Chiasson
    Elena Byrne

    And thats just the last five weeks.

    GMT: Why?

    BC: They make me want to write.


    GMT: You have a reputation as one of the funniest poets in SoCal (along with Rick Lupert). What role do you see for humor in poetry?

    BC: I very rarely set out to make a joke in the course of a poem. But I am very conscious of irony. Laughter is a common byproduct of understanding irony. But a preoccupation with any result for ones poetry, that is, getting too set on having your audience respond ONE way is dangerous.
    The novelist Donna Tartt was interviewed for Poets & Writers a couple of years ago and warned against becoming a connoisseur of ones own work. GOD, is that true! Once we start saying to ourselves This better make them cry and this better make them laugh, we may be in serious danger of sabotaging our art. But if people laugh, great!

    GMT: What about performance? Youre certainly not afraid to put on a good show (some of your shows with Rick Lupert have approached vaudeville routines).

    BC: When Rick and I perform, we tend to take things to extremes, and then the poems are only a part of what were doing. They arent the entire focus. Our show is a deconstruction of a poetry reading.
    Whenever you read aloud, its a performance. I think the poet who just gets up and reads ten poems in the same tone, one after the other is asking a great deal from their audience. They do their poetry an enormous disservice. Even the humblest reader should make an effort to vary their delivery; otherwise the poems will likely cancel each other out in the mind of the audience. If we make our poems public then it is only good manners to make a gift of them.
    If I perform alone, I try to break things up, have something to say between poems, deliver different pieces in different ways, avoid strings of poems in one tone, and always thank the audience for listening. Thank you for asking!

copyright 2008 G. Murray Thomas