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Artist Interview

Poet Dora Malech

April 11, 2017

                                      
                                      Photo credit: Chattman Photography

Dora Malech might just be Ode's spirit poet. She loves wordplay as much as we do; She cares deeply about her participation with the world through art; and she can't say no to the perfect blazer. She is the author of Shore Ordered Ocean and Say So, with her third book on the way. Speaking of "on the way", soon-to-be-mother Dora Malech will be making her way to Ode for a Night of Poetry on Friday, April 14th, from 6-8PM, also featuring poets Debora Kuan and Amy Dryansky. Join us in celebrating National Poetry Month!

What poem have you read recently that we should be reading?
At this time of year, I often find myself re-reading Jill Alexander Essbaum’s poem “Easter” from the January 2011 issue of Poetry. I love her sense of pacing and phonic echo throughout, and I’m always moved by what the poem can pack into such short, spare lines. Like many poems I love, I revel in the paradox that the author’s poem about feeling alone in a certain season actually makes me, the reader, feel less alone in that season.

Easter

is my season
of defeat.

Though all
is green

and death
is done,  

I feel alone.
As if the stone

rolled off
from the head

of the tomb
is lodged

in the doorframe
of my room,

and everyone
I’ve ever loved

lives happily
just past

my able reach.
And each time

Jesus rises
I’m reminded

of this marble
fact:

they are not
coming back.

     Jill Alexander Essbaum, Poetry, 2011

If you could make one word a piece of gum, what would you be chewing today?
The word “orrery” has been stuck in my head lately, and saying it out loud even makes the mouth move a bit like it’s chewing the word. It means, “a mechanical model of the solar system, or of just the sun, earth, and moon, used to represent their relative positions and motions.” It was named after the Earl of Orrery. I like the word’s “mouthfeel,” but I also just like very specific vocabulary like that. I finally worked the word into a poem recently, which I look forward to reading out loud, especially since I surrounded it with other “or” sounds (“ornery” and “orbit”).

Favorite line of poetry about Spring:
Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Spring” is another darkly satisfying take on the season, like Jill Alexander Essbaum’s “Easter.” It begins:

     To what purpose, April, do you return again?

And it ends:

     It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
     April
     Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

I also love the first lines of Phillip Larkin’s poem “The Trees”:
     The trees are coming into leaf
     Like something almost being said . . .

Give us a writing prompt (please).
Inspired by Essbaum and Millay, write a take on the month or the season that Hallmark would refuse to publish. Like Millay, who speaks to “April,” include a direct address to something that is not a person. While you can, of course, include beautiful details too, don’t hesitate to describe both things and emotions “as they are.” Bonus points if you go outside and gather specific details from direct observation. 

                       

Artist Interview

Poet Debora Kuan

April 11, 2017

                                        

In the Artist Interviews we sent to our three featured poets, we ask for a favorite line of poetry about Spring. Well, we might just have ours. It's a line from Debora Kuan's poem "Pastoral". And although it may not have been intended to refer to Spring, it somehow feels perfect for it:

                             To shepherd. To pause. Where things begin grazing.
                             This is some silo for storing. This is some green. 

Debora is a poet and writer who works at an educational nonprofit in New York City. She is the author of Xing and the newly published Lunch Portraits. We're so happy Debora Kuan chose Northampton as one of her stops on her book tour. Join us for a Night of Poetry on Friday, April 14th, 6-8PM. Debora will be joined by poets Dora Malech and Amy Dryansky. 

April is:
National Poetry month!

What poem have you read recently that we should be reading?
Any poem by Anais Duplan or Danez Smith.

If you could make one word a piece of gum, what would you be chewing today?
I hate gum, so probably Trump..?

Favorite line of poetry about Spring:
“Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote.” I totally butchered the spellings, sorry!

Give us a writing prompt (please).
In my new book, I wrote a list of 121 memories of my American childhood. Write 121 of yours!

Artist Interview

Poet Amy Dryansky

April 10, 2017

                                    
                                   Photo Credit: Trish Crapo

Amy Dryansky is not only a poet, teacher, mother, and blogger, she is also the newly crowned Poet Laureate of Northampton! (Or, as she likes to call it, "PoLo of Noho.") Award-winning author of two books, How I Got Lost So Close to Home and Grass Whistle, and supporter of so many of the organizations and causes that Ode holds near and dear (Center for New Americans, Northampton Arts Council, and The Literacy Project, to name a few), Amy Dryansky is the perfect poet to be helping us celebrate National Poetry Month. Please join us for a night of poetry on Friday, April 14th, 6-8PM at Ode. Amy will be reading alongside poets Debora Kuan and Dora Malech.

What poem have you read recently that we should be reading?
I’ve been rereading Laura Kasischke’s book, Space, in Chains, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. I feel the book is an amazing inquiry into our state of human frailty, and as Linda Gregg says, “all things huge and their requiring.” Or maybe it’s the “we are here,” of Horton Hears a Who, our tiny voices calling out in the enormity of existence, hoping someone hears us. In any case, the last poem I read from the book is, “At the Public Pool.” 

At the public pool
by Laura Kasischke

I could carry my father in my arms.
I was a small child.
He was a large, strong man.
Muscled, tan.
But he felt like a bearable memory in my arms. 

The lion covers his tracks with his tail.
He goes to the terrible Euphrates and drinks.
He is snared there by a little shrub.
The hunter hears his cries, and hurries for his gun. 

What of these public waters?

Come in, I said to my little son.
He stood at the edge, looking down.
It was a slowly rolling mirror.
A strange blue porcelain sheet.
A naked lake, transparent as a need. 

The public life.
The Radio Songs.
Political Art.
The Hall of Stuff We Bought at the Mall. The plugged-up fountain at the center
of the Museum of Crap That Couldn’t Last
has flooded it all. 

Come in, I said again. In here you can carry your mother in your arms. 

I still see his beautiful belly forever.
The blond curls on his perfect head.
The whole Botticelli of it crawling on the surface
of the water. And
his sad, considerate expression.
No, he said. 

--from Space, In Chains
Copyright © 2011 Laura Kasischke

If you could make one word a piece of gum, what would you be chewing today?
INTERSTICES. It’s a word I never get tired of having in my mouth. And I always have to think before I say it, even to myself. Also, I have a thing about negative space--what’s not there, the pause—so it’s also a great idea word.

Favorite line of poetry about Spring:
“Keep still, just a moment, leaves.”
--Robert Penn Warren, Deciduous Spring

Give us a writing prompt (please).
Write about the first anything: marriage/divorce/flight/accident/molecule/mountain/insect/whale, etc.