New Books in Poetry: Threed, This Road Not Damascus by Tamara J. Madison

Tamara J Madison-Threed This Road Not Damascus

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Tamara J. Madison about her book Threed, This Road Not Damascus (Trio House, 2019).

Athena writes:

Tamara J. Madison, both on the page and in voice, is magical. In her most recent collection, Threed, This Road Not Damascus, she seamlessly bridges the gap between past and present while remaining grounded in the here and now. Via her use of religion, familial history, and rhythm she is able to give voice to those women who oft times were forced to remain silent in order to survive. It is through her poetry that these women, and those still to come, are allowed to be wholly free. Madison creates a new mythology here. A mythology that begins to lay the groundwork for us to create the worlds in which we want to move. She leaves us with the lingering sense that the makings of the universe are in our hands. All we need to do is mold it and name it.

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


Subscribe to My Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram | Shuffle

New Books in Poetry: Locus by Jason Bayani

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which I get to speak with Jason Bayani about his new book Locus (Omnidawn Publishing 2019).

“Poetry gave me back a way to find my culture, my history,” says Jason Bayani while discussion his new book Locus (Omnidawn Publishing 2019), which blends memoir and poetry into a stunning exploration of fragmented identities and the Pilipinx-American experience. Drawing inspiration from hip-hop and delving into the knotted complexity of family history and relationships, Bayani is able to recover a migrant identity and experience that is often silenced and shape a confident declaration of selfhood in American culture.

“In my grandfather’s last days
He wandered the rice fields alone.
What was left of his mind bringing him back
to what he spent his entire life building.

We are the land — lupa ay buhay, land is living.

When my father talks of his poverty, he presents
a bowl of rice and says, ‘Your Inang
would put one piece of fish on the table,
and we would press our fingers
against it for flavor.’ Mimicking his hand
scooping rice out of the bowl.”

— fragment from “The Low Lands”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice — and you can join New Books in Poetry in a discussion of this episode on Shuffle by signing up here.

Bayani’s recommended poets and artists from the podcast: Microchips for Millions by Janice Sapigao, This is for the Mostless by Jason Magabo Perez, Souvenir by Aimee Suzara, Circa 91 by Ruby Ibarra, Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay, Insurrecto by Gina Apostol, and Anak Ko by Jay Som.


Subscribe to My Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram | Shuffle

Poet Spotlight: Melissa Eleftherion on survival and how language reshapes our perception of the world

Melissa Eleftherion is a writer, librarian, and a visual artist. She is the author of field guide to autobiography (The Operating System, 2018), & seven chapbooks, including the recently released little ditch (above/ground press, 2018). Trauma Suture is forthcoming from above/ground in 2020. Her poems have appeared in many journals including Berkeley Poetry Review, and The Tiny. Born & raised in Brooklyn, Melissa now lives in Mendocino County where she manages the Ukiah Library, teaches creative writing, & curates the LOBA Reading Series. Recent work is available at www.apoetlibrarian.wordpress.com.

Please tell us about the genesis of your new chapbook, little ditch. What is the collection about and how did it come into being? 

little ditch is a chapbook about survival through sexual abuse, rape culture, & internalized misogyny. This is also a book about being sexualized as a young, non-binary person growing up in rape culture. About being a preteen on the verge of something shattering. About the fur.   

As I was completing my first book, Field Guide to Autobiography, I was visited by these urgent, dark spells or calls to action to write a way towards these poems. These poems felt caked in dirt, but very alive – I felt the need to dig deeper. Using various creative exercises like trance, tarot, & cut-ups, I tried to summon the hidden. There were times where I’d not be able to recall anything, other times I’d feel immersed in sense memory. All these gaps and leaks where trauma holds in the body. I later referred to these as “the ditch poems.”

Continue reading “Poet Spotlight: Melissa Eleftherion on survival and how language reshapes our perception of the world”

Poet Spotlight: Michelle Scalise on the horrors of grief

Since 1994, Michelle Scalise‘s work has appeared in such anthologies as Unspeakable Horror, Darker Side, Mortis OperendiI, Dark Arts, The Big Book of Erotic Ghost Stories, Best Women’s Erotica, and such magazines as Cemetery Dance, Crimewave, Space And Time, and Dark Discoveries. She was nominated for the 2010 Spectrum Award, which honors outstanding works of fantasy and horror that include positive gay characters. Her poetry has been nominated for the Elgin Award and the Rhysling Award. Her fiction has received honorable mention in Years Best Fantasy and Horror. Her latest poetry has been chosen by the Horror Writers Association for their anthology Horror Poetry Showcase: Volume I and II.

Her fiction collection, Collective Suicide, was published by Crossroad Press in 2012. In 2014, Eldritch Press published a collection of her poetry, The Manufacturer of Sorrow in paperback and ebook. It became a bestseller in the women writers category on Amazon. In May of 2019, her latest collection of poetry, Dragonfly and Other Songs of Mourning, was published by Lycan Valley Press. Michelle was raised in Kent, Ohio and is married to bestselling author Tom Piccirilli.

Your collection, Dragonfly and Other Songs of Mourning, delves into the brutal emotional intimacy of loss, pain, and abuse. Can you tell us about the book and the story it’s trying to tell? 

Dragonfly is about the horrors and monsters that find you as an adult and the ones that still haunt you from your childhood. Cancer and child abuse are more frightening than anything made-up. As I was writing about the death of my husband I stumbled upon articles related to WW1 widows in Great Britain and how these women were treated. As the death toll rose and there seemed to be no end in sight, the public began to question the war. The government needed to reassure people that the war was going to be won soon. So they issued pamphlets to the widows who were collecting a small stipend. They were told how long they should wear widow’s weeds and show blatant displays of grief. They were told how to mourn. It was bad for moral for a woman to still be broken-up after three months. A person could lose the small funds they were receiving if they didn’t follow the guidelines.Volunteer ladies would visit homes and report back. I don’t even remember most of what happened in my life the first year after my husband died. I lived in my bed. Never bothered to get dressed, let alone clean the house. I realized I wouldn’t have lived up to the rules they requested these widows adhere to. It has been four years and I still don’t live up to them.

Continue reading “Poet Spotlight: Michelle Scalise on the horrors of grief”

New Books in Poetry: The Gates of Never by Deborah L. Davitt

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which I get to speak with Deborah L. Davitt about her new book The Gates of Never (Finishing Line Press, 2019).

Drawing on the author’s deep knowledge of classical literature, Deborah L. Davitt’s book of poetry The Gates of Never explores the intersections of myth, science, and humanity through her beautifully accessible poems, reflecting a variety of forms and linguistic styles. These poems morph between being moving, irreverent, unsettling, and erotic — offering up a richly textured collection of work.

“He writes me upside down
and backwards, so that
I hardly know myself yet,
but my hundred newly-open mouths
whisper secret meanings,
and offer atramentum kisses;

he soothes my wounds with
copper vitriol, making the words
holy and incorruptible,
incapable of fading into sepia;

yet as he kisses me, our tongues meeting,
the words spark white-fire
under my skin, the runes writhing
into new configurations”

– from “Testament”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


Subscribe to My Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram | Shuffle