caballero PHOTO: Poet Ana Maria Caballero enjoys her copy of The Great Gatsby Anthology at one of Miami’s great places to read. The collection features her poem “Oh, Zelda,” based on a passage from Ernest Hemingway’s memoir A Moveable Feast.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The work published in The Great Gatsby Anthology is as varied and vibrant as the characters in Fitzgerald’s book. The edition itself is elegant, deliberate, reflective but also stocks a number of surprises, which, like the novel it invokes, makes for a fresh, gratifying read. It’s an honor to be included in its pages.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ana Maria Caballero won Colombia’s José Manuel Arango National Poetry Prize in 2014 for her book Entre domingo y domingo (From Sunday to Sunday). Her work has appeared in over 20 publications, including Jai-Alai, Smoking Glue Gun Magazine, Red Savina Review, Big River Poetry Review, and CutBank. It is forthcoming on The Potomac and others. Every week, she writes about poetry for Zeteo Journal. Her poems and book thoughts can be read at the thedrugstorenotebook.co.

glenisredmond
RSVPing to Lucille Clifton
by Glenis Redmond

                    come celebrate
                    with me that everyday
                    something has tried to kill me
                    and has failed.           Lucille Clifton

I got your invitation
& it was right on time.
Up off the couch I rise
from the doctor’s prognosis:
You won’t die from this, but you’ll
sure wish that you would have.
Pinched by pain, I pray for release.
You say, come celebrate with me.
I arrive late to the party,
with my poetry shoes on.
I sing loud and off key
full throated
with no apologies.­
With your invitation I take stock
of my non-white & and woman passage.
You instructed me to make it up.
I do.
Follow your lead
between starshine and clay.
& every time they try to break me in Babylon,
I keep dancing my dreams
Shimmy the limbo while I stomp
on Fibromyalgia’s head
shouting to this killing life, you fail.

PHOTO: The author performing WC Ried Center, Asheville Youth Slam, 2012 (Credit: Micah Mackenzie).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In the early ’90s I watched Lucille Clifton read “won’t you celebrate with me” on Bill Moyer’s Language of Life on PBS. The moment was monumental. I memorized the poem and carried it everywhere. How the words worked on me psychologically, poetically, and spiritually — turned my gaze to my own familial and personal tapestry. While I embodied the poem at first, I realized many years later that the poem was also speaking to me craft-wise. This 14-line untitled poem is a sparse and intentional missive in which every syllable and word resonates:

          won’t you celebrate with me
          what i have shaped into
          a kind of life? i had no model.
          born in babylon
          both nonwhite and woman
          what did i see to be except myself?
          i made it up
          here on this bridge between
          starshine and clay,
          my one hand holding tight
          my other hand; come celebrate
          with me that everyday
          something has tried to kill me
          and has failed.

                                        The Book of Light, p.25

In the sixth line of the poem, the narrator calls out again to the void: “What could I see to be, but myself?” As she is devoid of role models and lack of positive mirrors that reflected by her race. She is faced with whether to assimilate or to create models. The speaker chooses to mythologize herself. She gave me permission to write my on Creation Myth, as well as reconfigure my life poetically. “RSVPing to Lucille Clifton” is my thank you to Lucille Clifton and her work that transformed me.

SOURCE: “won’t you celebrate with me” appears in Lucille Clifton‘s collection Book of Light (Copper Canyon Press, 1993), available at Amazon.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Glenis Redmond lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has traveled to all over the state and the country as a Road Poet with two posts as the Poet-in-Residence at The Peace Center for the Performing Arts in Greenville, South Carolina, and at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. This year she served as the Mentor Poet for the National Student Poets Program. She prepared student poets to read at the Library of Congress, the Department of Education, and for the First Lady, Michelle Obama at The White House. ¶ Glenis is a Cave Canem Fellow and a North Carolina Literary Fellowship Recipient and a Kennedy Center Teaching Artist. She helped create the first Writer-in-Residence at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Glenis is also a full-time road poet, performing and teaching poetry across the country. She believes that poetry is a healer. She can be found across America in the trenches applying pressure to those in need, one poem at a time.

Jen-Berkeley-apartment
Hard
by Jennifer Lagier

At thirty, my husband
demanded I look and act
as if I was sixteen.
It was like forcing my foot
into a shoe three sizes too small:
cramming myself into a life
that no longer fit.

When we separated,
guilt made me report for duty
in response to his
once a week call.
He’d leave fifty dollars
on the night stand
next to his bed,
tell me I’d be
so much happier,
probably still married,
if I just didn’t think.

After, I would
pump iron for hours,
run seven cross country miles,
shower and scrub myself raw.
I pared away feminine softness,
built muscles of steel,
became invulnerable and invincible,
made myself hard.

SOURCE: Previously published in The Potomac

PHOTO: The author in 1983.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was 30 when I divorced my first husband. I walked away with the clothes on my back, a typewriter, and a photograph of my creative writing instructor. During that time, I was isolated, for a time, homeless, ostracized by family and friends. A kind landlady rented me a small apartment despite my lack of furniture and belongings. One of my neighbors introduced me to the local gym where the guy who ran it allowed me to work out. Every day, I ran seven miles before work, then worked out at the gym for two hours a night.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published nine books of poetry and in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. She taught with California Poets in the Schools and is now a retired college librarian/instructor. Jennifer is a member of the Italian American Writers Association and Rockford Writers Guild. She co-edits the Homestead Review and maintains websites for Ping Pong: A Literary Journal of the Henry Miller Library, The Monterey Poetry Review, and misfitmagazine.net. She also helps coordinate the Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium’s Second Sunday Reading Series. Visit her website at jlagier.net

ohara1
Hunt
by Vijaya Gowrisankar

My wings spread in delight
to obstruct rays from clouds;
Enjoy ride that spans miles
on shapeless, silky white

To fly effortlessly on thermals
guided by lightweight feathers;
I rule as master of skies with
onlookers envying my flight

Scan wide with sharp sight
to spot an innocent prize;
Who enjoys assured life ––
unaware of turbulence in store

Waves splash as I swoop deep
disturbing smooth reflections;
I extend my claws into cool
ocean and capture unaware prey

My talons tighten hold as kill
struggles to survive; I feel
its stunned surprise as life
transforms from joy to fight

Soar in air towards majestic
sun, as quarry breathes its last
Sudden snatch destroys prey’s world
as I succeed in my silent hunt

IMAGE: “Eagle in flight against snowy sky” by Ohara Koson (1933).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  Since childhood, eagles have always fascinated me. I took this this opportunity to get a glimpse into an eagle hunting for its food.

Gowrisankar

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vijaya Gowrisankar released her first book of poems Inspire in 2014. The book features more than 100 poems on topics such as Nature, Life, Positivity, and Change. She is passionate about writing poems from childhood. Her poems have been submitted in various publications.

kacho
Bee
by Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr.

This morning, I am the bee in the garden
flitting from flower to flower, searching

each fold of petal for a drop of nectar.
Bumblebee with supersonic vision,

tracking every tremor of color,
flickering light, fast-flying birds.

Bee whose iridescent wings beat faster
than a fruit fly’s, hovering gingerly

over orchids with furry lips and stuck-
out tongues. For direction, consider

our language: the waggle dance, how it guides
the hive’s ceaseless labor of foraging

under the glare of a one-eyed god.
We make honey from what we can gather.

IMAGE: “Catalpa pods and bee,” woodblock print by Watanabe Seitei (1916).

Dela Pena

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr.,
is a Filipino poet who has been living in Singapore since 2011. He is the author of the chapbook Requiem. His poems have been published in the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Kartika Review: An Asian American Journal, The Guardian, and Singapore-based anthologies such as A Luxury We Can Not Afford and The Curious Fruit. He is a recipient of the Palanca Award for Poetry from the Philippines, as well as numerous awards from British Council Singapore’s Writing the City.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at the Imbiah Nature Walk in Sentosa, Singapore.

LINDA KRAUS in MOUNT DORA

PHOTO: Poet Linda Kraus with her copy of The Great Gatsby Anthology at the end of a pier in Mount Dora, Florida — to commemorate her poem “The End of the Pier” featured in the collection.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON HER POEM: Gatsby’s tortuous quest for love became a kind of totem for me over the years; I wished to honor its significance in my own life as well as in the lives of many generations of readers by writing “The End of the Pier.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Kraus has taught English and Film Studies at the college and university levels. She has written film criticism, short fiction, and poetry since adolescence and has published both poetry and film criticism. Her poems appear in a variety of anthologies, and she is currently editing her first collection of poetry.

Kelley (Painting)1
Photograph of My Soul as a Tree Stump
by Kelley White

It needs to be black and white so you can
imagine eternity—there’s a ragged
edge where my flowering youth broke in two
and one part flew off with my ex-husband
and the other stayed behind, a jagged
shard of ice in my throat—and the ice grew
until it split the heartwood. Now you can
count the rings I lived and the one’s I sagged
numb unliving through my life, and it’s true
I grew tired, let the wind smooth and fan
my feathers into moss and lichen shaggy
as my fingers in his hair. That wind blew
rain and snow and darkness until my hands
were vines and creaking twigs and the craggy
voice of broken glass thrown from a passing
car, or was it my children picnicking?

IMAGE: “Kelley and cats” by David Low (1979).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece came out of an assignment for the remarkable poet and teacher Christopher Bursk’s Spring Workshop at Bucks County Community College near Philadelphia. Of course I don’t live in Philadelphia anymore but it was my privilege to be a part of this wonderful community for several years and I’ve since tried to follow along from afar. The theme this year was “nature” and inevitably “the soul” made its way into the work.

kelley-photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural
 New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals, including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

crow wing
The Human-Headed Crow
       (An ancient artifact displayed in Jinzhou Museum)
by Yuan Changming

That human-headed bird
Flapping its wings against
Foreign visitations must have been
Either possessed by the spirit of
My previous life
Or winged by the body of
My next being; otherwise
It would never bother to
Look up at me

As it flies into the same legend
About the yellow crane
All its feathers fall down
On my sandy mind, like meteorites
With all their secrets hardened
From an other universe

IMAGE: “Crow’s wing, Yosemite National Park” by DB.

changming

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
 Yuan Changming, eight-time Pushcart nominee and author of five chapbooks, including Kinship (2015) and The Origin of Letters (2015), began to learn English at 19 and published monographs on translation before moving from China to Canada. With a PhD in English, Yuan currently co-edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver, and, has had poetry appear in 1,069 literary publications across 36 countries, including Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Cincinnati Review, and Threepenny Review. 

red-deer-1913 Roadkill
by Alegria Imperial

“Big brown eyes,” the driver gushes. He and an off-duty friend have been trading roadkill stories. I stop breathing over an image of a girl stunned by his brake lights. But instead, he talks of Bambi that danced into the haze. Now, I want to intrude into his cove though I’m no driver—I’m just a thief. And so, while my bus mates recede into their inner ears, I rise and pick up the limp fawn, and squeeze my heat, my passions, rages, regrets, and hungers into its breast. The sun now bursts out of and then, rushes back in on the windshield. A mile off, the bus sighs as its doors open. Eyes turn to me as on four legs, I slink from my seat to get off. Behind me the driver and his off-duty mate gush, “Big brown eyes.”

map of the world
only on top soil

IMAGE: “Red Deer” by Franz Marc (1913).

imperial

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alegria Imperial
has written a gamut forms that include news and feature stories, press releases, advertising copy, radio, TV and documentary scripts, exhibit texts, and recently, a weekly column in a business paper in Manila. Poetry took over her life eight years ago when she stumbled on haiku. Transformed since into what she must have always been, her surreal sense also welled up—quite a disjunctive development in Japanese short poetry form. She tries to tamp down her tendency to push the form but it wells up no matter. For her, nothing seems what it seems. Another life always lurks behind, what to most, is just this or that as in her haibun “Roadkill.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: Taken in July 2014, an accidental selfie against a wall—I wanted to take a pic of graffiti—while waiting for the green light on Seymour and Richard Streets in downtown, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Later photoshopped, it turned into someone I can’t name.

studies-of-insects-beetles-1707
The Bondage of Self
by Kevin Ridgeway

the flies are screwing in the open air,
and the roaches scream “help me”
from split concrete devastated by a
miniaturized apocalyptic world;
I’m twenty-one days sober with
brain damage twirling behind my
forehead of worry lines that whisper
moans from Sisyphus with a prolonged
grimace, tremulous fingers that want
to fall in a graveyard of dead leaves.
This slow-burn transformation is
crushing the parasite I became in
those last months of my failed
self-annihilation, my face peeling
away the visage of my junky father
to a stranger I have never met in
the past thirty-two years of life on
earth that I am slowly getting to know
after a living burial of fear, isolation
and blind rage. I put out my cigarette
and step over a cockroach whose life
I spare with the hope that it someday
grows back into the humanity I’ve
barely come to discover in the healing
waves of this season of blessed renewal.

IMAGE: “Study of Beetles” by Shi Tao (1656).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am in early recovery after years spent grappling with active addiction. This poem expresses my slow climb from total demoralization and into a metamorphosis based upon fearless change. It addresses my need to let go of an agonized self that was trapped in existential futility, and the beginning of a growth toward learning to live this life we all share through all of its beauty and ugliness.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kevin Ridgeway lives and writes in Long Beach, California. Recent work can be found or is forthcoming in Chiron Review, Re)verb, Nerve Cowboy, San Pedro River Review, Lummox, Right Hand Pointing, Misfit Magazine, and The Mas Tequila Review. He is the author of six chapbooks of poetry, the most recent two being On the Burning Shore (Arroyo Seco Press) and Riding Off Into That Strange Technicolor Sunset: Dallas-FT. Worth Poems (The Weekly Weird Monthly).

PHOTO: The author in Long Beach, CA (2015).

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