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Archive for October 2013

Cheryl Pallant wins Pollak Prizes for Excellence in the Arts

 Pollak Prizes for Excellence in the Arts


Movement in Writing: Cheryl Pallant

The selectors said: “Author, poet and dancer Cheryl Pallant weaves her three forms together seamlessly in her work, which includes publishing nine books and more than 200 reviews and interviews with dancers, performance artists and others. Her work scintillates through Richmond’s cultural fabric.”

Photo by Chris Smith
Words are not ideas — they help express ideas. Remove the rules, and ideas soar. Remove the rules, and words dance. Cheryl Pallant’s poetry draws power from words freed to break, bend and redefine the rules.

“There’s a lot of wordplay for sure, but from having studied Buddhism for years and from structuralism in college … I’ve developed a facileness with words,” says the New York City native, describing her poetry-
writing style as “agile” and “unpredictable” — like the contact-improvisation dancing that is her other passion. “Words are very pliant, and I tend to make many associative leaps.” 

Her study of Buddhism — and some life experiences that required Buddha-like patience — helped define Pallant. Diagnosed as a young girl with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, she was encouraged by her doctor to cease all physical activity. The supposed cure becalmed her, but stillness and superhuman posture became her new athleticism.


Read Cheryl Pallant's poetry

She also developed another sort of muscularity to compensate for what looked like the end of childhood play. Writing became her swingset; words became movement.  

While attending college — after an adolescence spent in constant pain caused by her spinal curvature — she finally decided to try movement again, enrolling in a modern dance class. It set her free.  

It also made her a polyglot. As she became fluent in dance, she learned to invent new ways of expressing her thoughts on the page. “I would say … they’re both languages,” says Pallant, who teaches at the University of Richmond. “Poetry makes me aware of the power of image and the power of articulation in words. And then in dance, there’s articulation in motion. They both work with breath. They both work with rhythm.” 
Read the whole article here
Check out here book, Continental Drifts here

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Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning is reviewed in the Star Beacon


October 27, 2013

In the name of love

A gift from long ago now shared with the world

ASHTABULA — For more than 50 years, Kent State University-Ashtabula English Professor Roger Craik kept a hidden manuscript tucked away with his most treasured possessions.

The book is a facsimile of Robert Browning’s “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” illustrated by Craik’s parents, Tom and Wendy Craik, and given to him on his 6th birthday in 1962, when he was considered old enough to enjoy it.

However, his parents created the book some years earlier. His father described the circumstances to his son as follows and described in the foreword of the book:

In September 1958 I went to New York to teach for the academic year at Queens College (CCNY), and Wendy accompanied me. (You remained in England, at Kingston, with Rita and Gary.) (Roger’s maternal grandparents). During the day, while I was teaching, she pursued her research on Jane Austen’s novels in the New York Public Library. We were living in East 58th Street.

In February 1959 we used the break between semesters to visit Williamsburg, Va., where we bought the attractive traditionally-bound book in handmade paper which now contains “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.” Our idea was to create a present for you on our return. I calculated the length of the poem and the space available, and in the evenings of about a fortnight wrote it out and drew the pictures, which Wendy coloured in watercoulour. We returned to England in May 1959.

Of course, Roger Craik remembers nothing of this, being only 3 years old at the time, but he does remember enjoying “The Pied Piper” being read to him, and sensing his parents’ relish in reading aloud and their pausing to point to the illustrations.

Only a handful of people, visitors and friends have seen the book since it was written in 1959. A few years ago, with his parents’ permission, Craik made a copy of the treasured book in Nottingham, England and began sending it out to friends as an email attachment.

“Everyone who has seen the book, loves it,” he said. “The book shows the love of a young couple (my parents), and their young son from whom they were separated a year.”

Tom Craik penned Browning’s words, nothing added or deleted, but the illustrations come entirely from Tom and Wendy Craik’s imaginations. They were 32 and 25 years old at the time.

Editor and Publisher Geoffrey Gatza of BlazeVOX (books) said he was taken by the story of the book as much as the book itself.

“This was one of those golden moments for a book publisher, where you can instantly see a worthwhile project and say yes in a minute without ever having to worry, and just focus in on its potential success,” Gatza said. “I am a fan of Robert Browning’s poetry and this poem in particular has a significant place within our culture. This matched with the blithe drawings by Roger (Craik’s) father, you can see the gentle hand that lies behind the pen.

“The blending of talents in the parents’ artwork making an object for their son, who they are separated from by an ocean, makes this book more poignant. It all comes together in a lovely book that I think will become a cherished item in anyone’s bookshelf.”

Craik said he is very excited about the book, which he tried to get published as a gift to his parents.

“I am far more excited about this book, which is for my parents, than I am about my own book of poems, ‘Down Stranger Roads,’ which will come out later this year,” he said.

For the 2013-2014 academic year, Craik is teaching English at Oradea University in Romania having been honored as a Fulbright Scholar. He is teaching poetry writing and literature to Romanian students and is enjoying it very much.

Traveling to faraway places to share his creativity and knowledge is nothing new for Craik. Two years ago, he spent two weeks as a poet-in-residence at Al Ain University in the United Arab Emirates. There he presented his latest poems and taught a poetry writing class at both the men and women’s colleges. A professor from the AAU English Department translated for him. Craik read the poem in English, and then the professor would read the poem translated in Arabic.

Craik said it was a very memorable trip.

English by birth and educated at the universities of Reading and Southampton, Craik has worked as a journalist, TV critic and chess columnist. Before coming to the U.S. in 1991, he worked in Turkish universities and was awarded a Beinecke Fellowship to Yale in 1990.

He has written three books on literature, including an edition of John Donne, with his father, as well as a host of academic articles and scholarly notes, and six books of poetry.

Craik is widely traveled, having visited North Yemen, Egypt, South Africa, Tibet, Nepal, Japan and Bulgaria, where he taught during spring 2007 on a Fulbright Scholarship.

His father was born in Warrington, Cheshire in 1927, and educated at the Boteler Grammar School there, from which he won an Open Exhibition in French and English to Christ’s College Cambridge, where he studied under F.R. Leavis and Enid Welsford.

He taught English at Leicester University College (later Leicester University), Aberdeen, Dundee and Durham, where he was Professor of English from 1977 until his retirement in 1989. After “The Tudor Interlude” (1958) and “The Comic Tales Chaucer” (1964) he devoted himself chiefly to the critically editing of the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

His mother, Wendy Craik, was born in East Finchley, North London, in 1934, and evacuated to the countryside in World War II.

After receiving a Ph.D. at Leicester University College, supervised by Monica Jones, she worked as a schoolteacher before entering academia.

She was Reader in English at Aberdeen University, and Professor of English at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, and has written four books on the 19th Century novel.

Today, the couple resides in England.


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Beth Copeland interviewed in Writers Digest



Please join me in welcoming Beth Copeland to the Poetic Asides blog. I first came across her work last year when I judged a North Carolina book contest. Her book, Transcendental Telemarketer (BlazeVOX), was among the finalists.

Beth Copeland

Beth Copeland

Beth Copeland lived in Japan, India, and North Carolina as a child. Her book Traveling Through Glassreceived the 1999 Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Award. Her poems have been widely published in literary journals and have received awards from Atlanta Review, North American Review, The North Carolina Poetry Society, and Peregrine. Two of her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is an English instructor at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She lives in a log cabin in the country with her husband, Phil Reich. Learn more at her website:http://bethcopeland-writing.com/.

Here is a poem I really liked from Transcendental Telemarketer:

Wisteria, by Beth Copeland

How the word sounds like mysterious
and wistful combined,

how vines twine, counter-clockwise
around telephone poles

and twist around dying pines;
how flowers dangle

like amethyst pendants from pergola
posts, how branches

from a distance look like purple smoke
from unseen fires

on gnarled vines that tighten like wires
around a choking host.


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Flux by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa Now Available!



 Words conflate and peel apart with equal ease in Jane Joritz-Nakagawa's poetry. Elliptical but charged by that desire to traverse absences in search of deeper truths, the language in FLUX opens and closes like a fist -- full of haiku-esque moments, fragmented to epigrammatic revelations, tensions, and lyrical, poignant releases.


Give moving a chance! Perhaps part Acker, perhaps part Ono, FLUX features language agent Joritz-Nakagawa as she writes her way out of a self-torn, flower-torn, money-torn zone . . .


In Jane Joritz-Nakagawa's FLUX, we encounter a poetic temperament equally at home in the openness of the personal lyric and the laser-sharp probe of social commentary. In her dexterous handling of lineation and compression, the poems oscillate— challenging us to reconsider just about everything we hold dear. Some things, as she says, cannot be translated; yet, with the help of these poems, we are better prepared for what the strange world offers us.


About incidental music (2010) and notational (2011):

. . . these collections show a poet in full control of her powers and pushing the boundaries of poetry, a fearless and challenging writer in the mode of Lyn Hejinian, Alice Notley, and Susan Howe.

—STEVE FINBOW, The Japan Times

Book Information:


· Paperback: 104 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-155-9



 Pre-Orders Welcome




FLUX by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa Book Preview

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Vow by Kristina Marie Darling Now Available!

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Kristina Marie Darling’s latest collection, Vow, stunningly enacts the ominous anachronism of the word vow itself—“promises committing one to a prescribed role, calling, or course of action, typically to marriage or a monastic career.” In this airy, white-spaced book of veils and concealment, the wordless invisibilities of the institution of marriage are glimpsed, but only from the margins, in deft footnotes to blank/missing text and haunting fragments—situating the ghostly bride behind the battlements of a moldering mansion, or castle, filled with endlessly locked rooms from which there is no escape barring catastrophes such as fire, or suicidal leaping. Evoking the Gothic domestic spaces of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, Vow startles and speaks through the uncanny silences of white space, echoing the erasure and effacement of the wedding gown, the growing silences of the marriage hidden behind the vow, as—powerfully, heartbreakingly—the frozen couple locked inside desperately make “paper wings and little box kites, hoping they'd bear us over the iron gates.” 

—Lee Ann Roripaugh, Author of On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year


In Kristina Marie Darling’s Vow, a bride maneuvers in a locked house as it goes up in flames. Vow has the brilliance we’ve come to expect from this author, inventing and mastering forms—footnote poems, expansive sequences. Where Bachelard claims a home is memory, Darling’s poetics of space presents the house on fire, inaccessible and full of mystery. The house is a structure one is in yet all the while kept from and intimacy seems to be in the burning embers, the cordoned off spaces. In these poems, emotion feels as though it could physically move away from private life. Bluebeard meets Synechdoche, New York with the eerie sense of the self as a brooding other, the one who watches as everything burns. Our house became a small fortress. Every night we take turns stoking the fires.

—Farrah Field, Author of Rising


How name this strange invention, this kaleidoscopic script, this lyric aggregate? Kristina Marie Darling’s Vow is one part the salvaged fragments of a gothic romance, one part the careful records of a fastidious archivist of the imaginary, and one part meta-documentary. Above all, this book spotlights the nature of vows, how a vow “reveals, harbors, and conceals, and how “we are made and unmade by those we love.” Truly, this book projects this making and unmaking in every aspect, of the wedding gown that is painstakingly tailored only to have its “endless rows of white stitching” undone with a pair of scissors, of the house that is inhospitable, “a corridor filled with locked rooms,” of the vows themselves that the lovers “bury one by one,” and finally, of the book itself, with its innovative approach to form—its fragments, footnotes, appendices, and erasures—that makes Darling’s themes echo through the hollows, haunting and delightful.

—Katy Didden, Author of The Glacier's Wake


In Kristina Marie Darling’s Vow, both text and subtext paint the fraught institution of marriage, particularly the subjectivities of the bride’s several selves. Written in candle, tale, and glass, the book “reveals, harbors, conceals” in an exciting new collection.

—Carmen Gimenez Smith, Author of Goodbye, Flicker


Kristina Marie Darling is the author of twelve books, which include Melancholia (An Essay) (Ravenna Press, 2012), Petrarchan (BlazeVOX Books, 2013), and (with Carol Guess) X Marks the Dress: A Registry (Gold Wake Press, 2013). Her work has been honored with fellowships from Yaddo, the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation. Kristina is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Poetics at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo, where she holds a Presidential Fellowship.


Book Information:

· Paperback: 62 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-160-3



Vow by Kristina Marie Darling Book Preview

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Photos on flickr