Tag Archives: Sarah Gridley

Books I Didn’t Review But Really Liked

18 Dec

For many, many reasons, I’m unable to review a lot of the books I read. Instead of putting together a “Best of the Year” list, I thought it might be more interesting to create a “Books I Didn’t Review But Really Liked” list. Below, then, are a handful of titles I thoroughly enjoyed, along with an excerpt of a poem that I thought was particularly swell:

Blaser, Robin. The Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006.

from “Image-Nation I (the fold”

the participation is broken
fished from a sky of fire
the fiery lake pouring itself
to reach here

that matter of language caught
in the fact      so that we
meet in paradise      in such
times, the I consumes itself

the language sticks to
his honey-breath      she is
the path of a tale, a door
to the perishing moonshine,
holes of intelligence
supposed to be in the heart

Gridlley, Sarah. Loom. Richmond, CA: Omnidawn Publishing, 2013.

from “Shadows of the World Appear”

It isn’t difficult to remember
how it went.

A wordless world would be a relief
until it expects you to see a horse.

Try to sing and stand where the aspens quiver.
The breeze will always

be almost there. Go back those few steps:
it isn’t difficult to remember:

the wind will always shine as if
it loved its armored riders.

Hall, Joe. The Devotional Poems. Sommerville, MA: Black Ocean, 2013.

from “Trailer Park”
In an algorithm of trees exploding in your face, shaved from soap
in a prison cell, in a pair of yellow finches
alighting from high power lines over all these dudes
lying on their beds, palming their cocks, waiting for me
leached from circuits in a baroque array of evolving graphical
representations of a black economy, cancer, subverting process,
O Beast! O Christ!
in the mother fucking sound and the mother fucking light
the iterations of thunder, the bass so high
it hurls you into the grass, Beast!

Hass, Robert, ed. The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō, Buson, & Issa. New York, NY: Ecco, 1994.

from Bashō’s “Learn from the Pine”

Learn about pines from the pine, and about bamboo from the bamboo.

Don’t follow in the footsteps of the old poets, seek what they sought.

The basis of art is change in the universe. What’s still has changeless form. Moving things change, and because we cannot put a stop to time, it continues unarrested. To stop a thing would be to halve a sight or sound in our heart.

Wieners, John. Selected Poems: 1958-1984. Santa Barbara, CA: Black Sparrow Press, 1998.

from “Poem for Painters”

                                                    No circles
                           but that two parallels do cross
And carry our soul and bodies
       together as the planets,
                      Showing light on the surface
                              of our skin, knowing
                      that so much of it flows through
                              the veins underneath.
                      Our cheeks puffed with it.
                              The pockets full.

Wilkinson, Joshua Marie. Swap Isthmus. Sommerville, MA: Black Ocean, 2013.

from “Upholsterers’ Moon”

so then the moon
drifting way too close
gets leaky

going through treeline when
a voice in the radio
accidentally says your name

Xu, Wendy. You Are Not Dead. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland State Poetry Center, 2013.

from “We Are Both Sure To Die”

Clutching a tiny molten piece
of someone else’s life. I tried sleeping
in a bed made of heavy light. I tried moving
out into the forest where everything
was a deer. Say you will be nothing or
beside me. How best do you correspond
in the darkness of a year? But look the year
rolls over and gives me a new face. Now
you go toward the ocean with a terrible
spirit of discovery. There is getting to know
your body and disowning it. The ocean says you
are not dead. What else did you want
it to announce?

Zukofsky, Louis. “A.” Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978.

from “A-12”

Together men form one sky.
The sky is a man,
You must know this to understand
Why places are different
And things new and old
Why everywhere things are different,
You cannot find out
By looking at skies alone
But from their effects.
One sky is rich in each of us,
Undivided.
When a child is conceived
It gets a sky for a gift.

I would suggest checking out all these books if you already haven’t. Each one will melt your face in their own special way.

Dossiers: Poetry & Ohio, Sarah Gridley

7 May

For the final installment of the Poets of Ohio reading series on 18 April, Cleveland-native Sarah Gridley read from her new collection Loom (Omnidawn Publishing, 2013). Below is a video clip the event wherein Gridley reads her poem “Charcoal”:

After spending several years away from Ohio (in states such as Massachusetts, Montana, and Maine), Gridley returned to Cleveland a few years ago. In an interview with Joshua Marie Wilkinson (which originally appeared in the Denver Quarterly in 2010 and re-published last year in The Volta), Gridley had the following to say about her birth city:

How does one develop what Eliot calls “tender kinship for the face of the earth” when one’s childhood takes place in a part of the earth like Cleveland? This is what’s striking to me about being back here: despite the many ugly things about Cleveland, the severity of its physical and socio-economic decay, I find there is in me a habit of the blood, a sweet habit of the blood, that responds positively and lovingly to being here.

Through the sensory channels of memory, my lived experience at present finds weird communion with my lived experience from childhood. The native things, the snow, the rain, the winds, the thunder boomers and magnolias, the grime, winter’s flat gray light, the boarded up buildings, the ethereal, silver-leaf interior of Severance Hall, towering horse-chestnuts with blooms like candles, gloomy Lake Erie, the gentle Cuyahoga valley, downtown’s meager skyline—the good, the bad, and the ugly all flow through my blood creating a sense of loyalty and obligation that’s difficult to explain.

It is not that Cleveland doesn’t offer places of natural and manmade beauty; it is that you cannot possibly take them for granted. The scars of industry are livid here: they are, you might say, part of the city’s shame and its hope, its catalyst for re-direction and renovation. On a positive note: the Cuyahoga catching on fire did lead to the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, and the creation of the EPA (today, as cautionary reminder and/or badge of shame penance, Great Lakes Brewing Company makes a pale ale called “Burning River”). Today, there are a number of organizations and institutions working collaboratively to improve both economic and environmental sustainability, most notably, Green City Blue Lake, The Cleveland Foundation, and Cleveland Botanical Gardens.

The Volta! The Volta! The Volta!

31 Oct

Can you tell that I’m really stoked about The Volta? Oh man, that big wonderful stack of literary goodness founded at the beginning of 2012 by Joshua Marie Wilkinson and Sara Renee Marshall (read a stellar interview with Wilkinson about the project here)! Somehow, I missed this sexy thing (I’m sorry I’m sorry), but now that I know, wow, I’m not going anywhere.

The Volta has so much to offer–new poems, interviews, reviews, videos, manifestos, etc.–all under one hottttt jacket. I spent the entire second half of my Sunday poking around the site. Man, coming at it late was a little overwhelming (major thx to their About page for explaining what the different sections are/the site’s smooth design for making browsing the archives so easy). Below, I’ve plopped some of my favorite pieces from my glorious evening with The Volta. Please, once you’re hooked, as I know is bound to happen, let me know in the comments what your favorite sections or pieces are.

In a Word, A World by C.D. Wright

My relationship to the word is anything but scientific, it is a matter of faith on my part, that the word endows material substance, by setting the thing named apart from all else. Horse, then, unhorses what is not horse.

The Neighborhood by Chris Martin

I was partly human partly
waves breaking quiet
on wide tarmacs of conversation
that surged or dimmed
thwack thwack
retuning the neighborhood solemn
each tree nodding
off before jolting into readiness
I was holding my neighbors
like deep green
swaths of virgin grain
holding the neighborhood
undiminished
by fear
of whatever new malevolence
might be thwack

LONG POEMS LONG POEMS LONG POEMS at Heir Apparent

An Interview with Sarah Gridley by Joshua Marie Wilkinson

I do not experience a natural world as distinct from any other world. Natural—social—symbolic worlds are to my mind expansions and contractions in the same place at the same time, in the moment’s movement from the perceptual to the conceptual. Charles Simic says, “One is neither world, nor language, nor self.” I am one sensing being among a diversity of sensing beings—not all exclusively human. My vagrant subjectivity is given contour, or as Hopkins would say, “instressed,” through its insufficiencies, its searches for reciprocities. I experience these backwards and forwards movements not as checkmarks in a quest for coherence or self-assertion—I experience them as tenuous affirmations of my momentary inherence, of being “kind” in the literal sense of kindred, of belonging to something far beyond my ability to know or name. As Paul Crowther writes in Art and Embodiment,

Otherness is radically transcendent. We can take some hold of it, but there is always more than can be contained in any present moment of perception or sequence of actions…our most fundamental relation to this world is not that of an inner ‘thinking subject’ gazing out upon and ‘external world.’ Rather, we inhere in the sensible.

Seriously, GO READ THIS STUFF.