Monday, September 1, 2014

No Category

I can't figure out what category of my blog in which to put this piece I did for the July issue of Unsplendid, which is a giant and awesome (with a capital G) double issue on Women and Form. It's in the prose section, which is definitely what I submitted it as, but sometime since I submitted it, I started thinking of it as a poem. Not that those two things are mutually exclusive...and yet, it's not a prose poem.

Whatever it is, it's called, "Hell if Form[less]: A Treatise on Form in Exactly 500 Words Under the Influence of Susan Howe." It's part of some writing and thinking I've been doing about the Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, the first-person account of a 17th century Puritan woman who was kidnapped and held for 11 weeks by Indians (it seems unclear which tribe). Before they take her captive, they burn down the house she lived in, with some of her children in it.

It's a super foundational text in Early American Lit, and a lot of poets have responded to Mary Rowlandson--including Sherman Alexie, Susan Howe, and Louise Erdrich. None of those poets seem interested in what stands out to me about Mary Rowlandson's narrative: All the freaky formal choices she makes! Her captivity narrative is structured in this weird way: instead of chapters there are twenty "removes," as in, each remove her captors took her away from her home. 20 Removes? Where did that idea come from? And the narrative is strewn with Bible quotes, almost like the way contemporary poets throw in seemingly random pieces of overheard language or song lyrics--like the poetry version Bakhtin's "speech of another" in the novel.

Anyway, I just keep thinking, she was an author; she intended, she was alive.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Sixth Finch - Summer 2014

There are many parts of the new issue of Sixth Finch that I'm crazy about. Not my poem--other peoples'! I can't stop thinking about this giant ending of Jeff Hipsher's poem, which is called "Escape From the Underground Fortress":

And then our lunches sour. And the junior college
empties. Our hot water heater breaks. The heavens, too

grow cold. Or do you not
think so far ahead?

Something gives me a great/awful feeling about the direct address in the final line and a half. I'm so glad it didn't end before that question--like saying it's my, me, own fault for sitting at my computer reading this poem and letting the heavens grow cold. Yeah.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

old poem/new poem

I was thinking in my last post about the two different versions of this poem, and how I revised it after it appeared in H_NGM_N #15. The two versions aren't that different. In the revision wanted to retain a sense of looseness, even a little nonsense, an "oh, whatever" feeling, but--weighing against that--to have there be a REASON, an occasion, a POEM-ness to it.

The version of "Nature Poem" that appeared in H_NGM_N is the one on the left; the revised version is the one on the right.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

review of H_NGM_N

I love this review of H_NGM_N 15 by Natalia Kennedy, which says some excellent and thoughtful things about poetry, and my poem:

What I mean, the poetry that Biederman releases in “Nature Poem” really happened, happens, and continues to breathe in each ongoing encounter with her words, the symbols on the page (err, screen). She writes,

Monday, May 26, 2014

facebook/john cheever/full fathom five

I have no idea whether it's a good to be on Facebook or not. I don't know how long I've been off it; maybe about six months. At first I felt pride. Lately, I've felt how anti-social it is, not being on it. Someone said they were worried something was seriously wrong when they realized I wasn't on Facebook anymore. Maybe it's like a way of drawing attention to yourself, and you don't even have to do anything. That's not what I intended to do; I got off it because I thought such bad stuff about people who I otherwise would not have thought of at all. I almost never thought anything good about anyone's post. I'm like the brother in the Cheever story "Goodbye, My Brother":