The release for my chapbook Three (Tattered Pages Press: http://www.tatteredpress.org/hannah-kezema) was on Saturday, 11/18/17 at Alley Cat General Bookstore and Gallery in San Francisco, hosted by Kevin Killian, who runs a weekly poetry reading series there. I read with Andrea Abi-Karam and Lourdes Figueroa, who are both local Bay Area poets/artists. During the reading I had a mirror placed on a 6-foot easel – to begin the reading I recited one section of the book with my back to the audience looking into the mirror; moving around so that I was not directly reading to anyone and could not see my own reflection. Three, which I look at as a broken triptych or a failed pyramid, is very much about unrequited relations with others, obsession, and loss. I liked the idea of looking into a mirror and seeing everyone but myself; for them to either see themselves or me, or both.
Some Naropa alumni who were present: Angel Dominguez and Jamie Townsend, more Bay Area poets. 🙂 Amanda Ngoho Reavey, who is also a Naropa alumni is the Founder and Editor of Tea and Tattered Pages, based in Milwaukee, WI, and Three is a sector of the Tattered Pages chapbook series. Also: Kevin Killian who hosted the event has taught at SWP, Naropa’s adjunct faculty Sara Veglahn blurbed the book, as well as Teresa Carmody, who has read at Naropa in the past.
w/ Autumn falling close on our heels we gathered at Innisfree Poetry Cafe on the Hill to tune ourselves to the work we do which makes us change our range of community — for the 100K Poets for Change Global Event. As a writing school at a university whose founding tenements is to using writing as process for hard truths crafted & carried through the human projective, how could we not use this as an opportunity to showcase the activism and activity of our students?
BEATS opened up the global event by hosting a series of featured readers from the ranks of the Kerouac School: Swanee MFA’16, Eric Shoemaker MFA’18, Shawnee Hamer MFA’17, Jeffrey Pethybridge, Caleb Worst MFA ’18, & Nathalie MFA ’19
watch (most) of the features on their Facebook channel: https://www.facebook.com/aplaceofurgency/videos/
at 43:00 you’ll catch Wheeler Light BA ’17 introducing the Slam competition which featured eight poets in head-to-head competition. Slammers from Mercury Cafe & Block 1750 as well as JKS’ own Garen Lavender MFA ’17 took the stage to win their own copy of Bombay Gin. Popular votes were close, but there could only be one winner: Marvin Connor.
As one walked upon the scene for the release party staged at Innisfree for Ella Longpre’s How to Keep You Alive (HTKYA-press-release), one saw a throng of people wearing glittery multi-colored party hats, greeting each other like family. Moving among them was Ella herself, garbed in white showing those who had gathered how to use the projector set and headphones, gesturing toward the photos playing on a white sheet pinned to the red-brick wall. Images displayed, “existing with a technicality and only with great effort” to shut out the chatter and grind of the surrounding din, listening to her voice, “like a floating dream, waiting for a symbol to occur”.
Among the ephemera of the evening were also pages of the text, hanging on the walls, as it was originally intended to exist, hanging as curtains to the many shelves of poetry living behind them.
And it is the collective experience of these particles of a work larger than a body or a house, but, “the demonstration of time as a mentor” working to give a synesthesia of experience. A performance that you don’t need so much as an ordering of holes, filled perforations. Listening to Ella, one has a sense of poetry that is more than Poetry, but “alchemical as the sun’s light changes your fluid”. One part nostalgia-stripped Camelot, another part slope to the window of a ventricle; wholly knit tissue-screen; a technology of windows dreaming of what can keep us alive.
The evening was opened up by Brian, owner of Innisfree who knows Ella well as employer-friend-ally-comrade. In his many words of praise and appreciation for her knowledge and skill as only a book-loving barista can possess, he said, “I hope when she writes her taxes that she will write ‘Poet'”. The essence of his words led us to an elevation of her character as one who takes her path with a cultivated fortitude and humble virtuosity.
When Ella took the stage for some choice readings of the book, it became clear the power a book can have as evidence of survival. That “a mirror adds a negative room to a room”; that negative space is of a dangerous, waking lie. Violence itself is a lie and, “ecstasy means leaving our stain on a room, nervous system of a house”. So if the writing itself exposes the mirror, then her reading was a dream-window and everyone in the room a lucid dreamer.
And if Innisfree is a house (which it is to all those who find sanctuary there), then there is no doubt Ella Longpre released her first book in a place of home.
If you want to get yourself a copy, pick one up at Innisfree, or snag one of the 5 left in stock on Amazon.
It is a long poem (25 sections, written in Swansea, Wales, between 2009 and 2011).
There are many threads within the poem, but one of the main threads is: how does the human mind absorb something as vast as climate change? There is an introduction that explains how the poem developed and what it is about.
One of the sections hearkens back to my time at Naropa, in Andrew Schelling’s Eco-poetry class, when we went on a tour of Rocky Flats (before it was turned into a combined superfund site and wildlife refuge).
Bio: I am the author of a novel, A Fish Trapped Inside the Wind (Parthian Books, 2011) and two books of poetry, On the Side of the Crow (Hanging Loose Press, 2006) and All the Beautiful Dead (Bitter Oleander Press, 2016).
Jefferson Navicky, an archivist for UNE’s Maine Women Writers Collection, recently won a Maine Literary Award from the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance in the Drama category, revealed live at a ceremony on June 1 at SPACE Gallery in downtown Portland.
Redwing Solitaire, is a cycle of five short plays about leaving one’s home and how one can never really escape one’s home.
Before MWWC, Jefferson worked as an archivist for the Djuna Barnes Literary Estate managed by the Authors League Fund. Since 2007, he has taught in the English department of Southern Maine Community College. He earned degrees from Denison University (BA in English) and Naropa University (MFA in Writing & Poetics). His fiction and poetry have been published in Smokelong Quarterly, Hobart, Birkensnake, Quickfiction, Fairy Tale Review and many others. His plays have been produced in The Boston Theater Marathon, and multiple times in The Maine Playwrights Festival. He is the recipient of a Maine Arts Commission Good Idea Grant, and a Maine Literary Award for Drama.
When Jefferson wrote to us, announcing this wonderful achievement, he said, “As always, I couldn’t have done it without my Naropa education, and the friends I made there.”
Thank you Jeff, for Keeping the World Safe for Poetry!
We had the pleasure of hearing from Matthew Pincus, now a PhD candidate at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He writes:
“It feels like it has been so long since Naropa even though it has only been a couple years. This Spring I was able to publish an article on Leslie Marmon Silko titled “Bewitched Policies of Resistance: America’s Legacy of Unknown Soldiers in Leslie Marmon Silko’s Storyteller” in a peer-reviewed journal called Transmodernity. It was a special issue of the journal that focused on Indigenous Knowledges and Indigenous Sites of Memory. The journal is open-access, and I was among other international scholars presenting on research about Indigenous cultures from South, Central and North America. It was incredible to have my work featured in this journal, and certainly the work I did at Naropa started this research and encouraged me to continue my work at UL-Lafayette.”
Congratulations on the publication Matthew!
Here’s the abstract:
Abstract Storyteller (1981) by Leslie Marmon Silko is a unique hybridized text of Laguna Myths centered on topics of Laguna Pueblo Citizens, and more generally Indigenous Southwestern Americans. “Tony’s Story,” “Uncle Tony’s Goat,” and “A Geronimo Story” are three tales where characters are agents of political resistance against injustices enacted by the American Military and law enforcement over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Each story subverts the dominant “white” narrative of American politics and history through use of traditional Laguna Pueblo values linked to the inseparable geographical terrain they call home. In “Tony’s Story,” the protagonist and his friend enact a revenge narrative on a racist cop who abuses his power, thus commenting on modern-day police brutality. A cop is killed, and rain at the end of the story acts as an emergent symbol of freedom creating an age of peace against the violence that has patrolled its borders. “Uncle Tony’s Goat,” about a billy goat who refuses to be penned in, acts as a metaphorical bridge to “A Geronimo Story,” where historical Apache chief, Geronimo, also a mythical folk legend in American culture, escapes and evades the American military. Geronimo was originally captured and imprisoned by American colonial militaristic forces, but in Silko’s reimagining he is an elusive figure only known to the cavalry by name. In these stories, characters become free to interact and commune with the land, and sites of invasion and theft from the indigenous become sites of reverence and remembrance.
Photos by Anisah Ali, Garen Lavender, Swanee, Erika Hodges
My mother bites her nails, and I am not like her. I am the skin around her. — How Ginsberg can I bed? — I am here and you are here but we are nowhere to be found. — Looked at the map unfolded on his lap. “Empire of ideas.” — I want to tell you I am coming. Please don’t Super Nova yet. — If learn is synonymous with teach, how is student not synonymous with teacher? — Remember who owned the land we now occupy.
These are all lines from the Student & Alumni reading on Saturday afternoon. Their voices on the foreground to the exhibit hall hum, the culmination of four days worth of book mongering, poetry-promoting, free-speech protesting, heritage, vigil and vigor.
It was an inspiring long weekend, which began with our first visitor to our table of the weekend, Alice Notley, garbed in a white scarf with sky-blue owls on it. Between her and other old friends to bright, new faces inquiring to our graduate programs we had such visitors as to make us full on Community. And what we brought to give away, we gave it all– issues 41 & 42 of Bombay Gin, select broadsides and anthologies, ex libris stickers, and other sweet swag.
And although everything happened at once, and we were sad not to see you all, Summer Writing Program is right around the corner to reunite our tribe of Bodhisattvas.