Thursday, November 24, 2011

Theodore Enslin (1925-2011)

We lost a great poet a few days ago. I strongly recommend this interview as an inroad into Enslin's brilliant vision for marrying musical and poetic form.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Two new books by friends

from Jane Wong's Dendrochronology:

What is this faint vision? What is this stranger? The hand
in the fire does not burn. He shows the trick again and again
until there is the smell of hair. The smell along the back of
her mouth. Kissing, a moth settles on the mattress and there
is more.

A sack of flour pours over water.

from Joan Fleming's The Same as Yes:

What else can I tell you? Five eighths is the same as ten
sixteenths. Salt water is good for your teeth, and if you're
wholehearted about it, you can ask the sea to be your
dentist. Some people live in buses that never go anywhere,
and that's okay too, as long as something's growing. No,
blue's not my favourite colour, but it might be my favourite

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Frank Samperi

Two years ago, I was introduced to the beautiful, delicate poems of Frank Samperi by Elizabeth Robinson. I have spent the time since acquiring rare, out-of-print editions of his books and learning as much as I can about this poet whose work, though abundant and original, is largely unknown.

This seems to be changing due in large part to the work of his daughter, Claudia, who started a blog devoted to her father's life and work. There are also two wonderful essays on Samperi's work available online by Peter O'Leary and J. Townsend. This past week, PennSound launched Frank Samperi's author page featuring a recording of Samperi reading in 1987 and pdf versions of four of his out-of-print collections.

I find something incredibly beautiful, earnest and sustaining in efforts like these to rescue a singular voice from obscurity. Recoveries, rediscoveries of this kind make contemporary poetry the vibrant and diverse creature that it is, and I applaud and thank all those involved in bringing Frank Samperi back into the world.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Here's a demand"

Since I've been in New Zealand, I've tried to follow American news and events as closely as possible without letting myself succumb to nostalgia or forgetting to live and participate here, in NZ, a country whose political and cultural climate is most definitely worth paying attention to.

Still, as I continue to follow the evolving Occupy Wall Street movement and the way it is portrayed by American media sources, my heart and thoughts are with those people, trying to reclaim something, so many things, that were taken from them, from us.

I've heard a lot of criticism of the movement that centers on its alleged "lack of demands." It seems those holding this opinion are confounded, confused by this movement whose problem is not that it lacks demands but has too many. This problem, this overwhelming abundance of demands, needs, pleas, seems natural in a country whose infrastructure is finally revealed as being supported, not by the mortar and stone we were told, but by a cheap, temporary substitute.

It seems natural to me that the petty complaints and petulance of the super-rich in the face of tax hikes would anger the 99% who paid to "bail-out" these now principled conservatives. That this anger cannot be contained in a single slogan or demand, but rather boils over into a cacophony of different visions, goals and desires also seems natural.

There is one such vision that is close to my heart and the hearts of many friends who, like me, have entered the event horizon of student debt. There is a movement among movements to demand that banks forgive student loan debt, and I find their reasoning compelling. I encourage you to check out their agenda here and also to read this Guardian piece, written by the movement's founder. Those eyes belong to my friend, Elaine.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Peter O'Leary in conversation with Joshua Marie Wilkinson

Peter O'Leary discusses, among other things, religious poetry in the most recent issue of Evening Will Come.

"If we think of language as a star, religious poetry is the source of the light it emits – the radiant core. But religious poetry is also this energetic periphery to language: it’s in that dynamic intermediate region, between what is spoken and what’s unspoken, the place where liquid and solid meet, or vocalization and thought."

Sunday, August 28, 2011


This is very exciting.

Chuffed that friends Ossian Foley and James Longley are the new editors of LVNG and can't wait to see the future issues of this truly great magazine.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Five New Poems

Five of my poems are featured this week at Web Conjunctions.

Occasional Religion

I was recently invited to become a contributor to Occasional Religion, an interdisciplinary online community whose focus is on contemporary religious discourse, and my first contribution, a poem called, "The Work" was just published last week on the site. I think the goal of this website's creators, to reconsider how matters of the spirit are talked about through intersections of scholarship, political commentary, art and verse, is an ambitious and admirable experiment and I encourage those interested to check the site out and participate in this ongoing conversation.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Today's shape


When Ecstasy is Inconvenient

Feign a great calm;
all gay transport soon ends.
Chant: who knows-
flight's end or flight's beginning
for the resting gull?

Heart, be still.
Say there is money but it rusted;
say the time of moon is not right for escape.
It's the color in the lower sky
too broadly suffused,
or the wind in my tie.

Know amazedly how
often one takes his madness
into his own hands
and keeps it.

-Lorine Niedecker

and this:

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Review in Jacket2

Jacket2 just published my review of Fanny Howe's Emergence. I would love to hear your thoughts.

What does the Worm work in His cocoon?

There was such a want in the old ways
when craft came into our elements,
the art shall never be free of that forge,
that loom, that lyre-

the fire, the images, the voice.

-from At the Loom, Passages 2

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011


"Coming to New Zealand in our spring (your fall) of 1976 (momently to be my fiftieth year) - I knew, intuitively, a time in myself had come for change. I don't mean simply clothes, or houses, or even cities or countries or habits, I mean, all of it - what it ever is or can be. No doubt one's a poor tourist, so preoccupied - but one needs specific places for specific acts, and if the demand be that one step out into space, that life as we say we presume to live, then best it be a giant step, so far from what's known as one can manage."

-Robert Creeley, note from NZ edition of Hello