Newsletter #134 October 2022

Newsletter #134 October 2022
March 13, 2023 Christina Mullin

California Hallway, c 1940 Narcissa Niblack Thorne

October, 2022

Welcome to Plume #134

October, and once again this month, in lieu of Joseph Campana’s usual discourse on topics literary and otherwise (to be taken up again – I promise —  in November), I think a little PR for our new anthology is in order.

As I indicated last month, Plume Poetry 10 is everything we at the journal hoped it would be: a beautiful cover and layout by Kristen Weber; poems by 42 “established” poets from Gregory Orr to Jane Hirshfield to Carol Muske-Dukes to Ramón García, who then introduce a “partner-poet” – say, Yona Harvey, or Rushi VyasBrandon Som or Glorious Piner; and an exciting Feature on M. Rimbaud, with essays from Mark Irwin and Alain Borer, along with new translations of poems and photographs.

Available for purchase  at SPD and the Plume Anthologies Store, (with discounts for orders to be used as texts), Amazon, et al.

And now rather than the ever so pleasing comments of Chase Twichell and Amit Majmudar,  perhaps this excerpt from the book will communicate the level of craft and inventiveness, the sense of magic to be found as two poets/poems speak to one another. Here, we have Bob Hicok’s “Yet again, again” and  his partner Karan Kapoor’s “The Table”, preceded by the former’s introduction of the latter.

Bob Hicok

Yet again, again

When a man beats a man to death, he has time to stop.
For example, between punching, tasing, punching, cuffing,
shackling, tasing, kicking, punching, tasing, choking,
kicking, tasing, tasing, punching, standing on, punching,
tasing, punching, punching, tasing, punching, punching,
punching, kicking, choking, and complaining about all the blood
he was getting on them, the cops who also dragged Ronald Greene
face-down and left him prone for nine minutes to suffocate
under his own weight, could have stopped at any point
and smoked a cigarette or had a heart transplant or wondered
if god or the moon would approve of beating a man to death
for his skin. Eve doesn’t want to watch the video,
Weston doesn’t, Karim, my mom, my cat won’t, the maple can’t,
and I feel stupid that I can’t breathe in an out simultaneously
like a bird, that I can’t find that ease and fluidity
or write a poem that makes men like this put their fists down.
They worked him over for about an hour. In an hour
I could move several yards of dirt or watch an episode
of Law and Order in this universe or Law and Disorder
in an alternate universe or meditate for sixty times as long
as I’ve ever meditated in my three hundred attempts combined
or read 2008’s anemic and unpoetic H.Res 194
three hundred and twenty times, including congress’
“commitment to rectify the lingering consequences
of the misdeeds committed against African Americans
under slavery and Jim Crow and to stop the occurrence
of human rights violations in the future.” From the future
I can ask the past, how’s that going for us?
They had time to stop and debate the definition
of first-degree murder and I’ve had time to stop
knowing what to say about this shit
except that we’ve had time to stop and debate
if a society that lets this happen over and over
isn’t a society that wants this to happen over and over,
and I’m not great at breathing if you ask a bird
or haberdashery if you force me to remember what that is
but I’m aces at noticing that we could have prosecuted
the fuck out of people like this and locked them up
until rapture came and god said “I don’t want em, you keep em,”
but we didn’t and don’t and this means
that you don’t need a rope to lynch a man: you need a badge.
As long as that sentence is true,
I don’t see a way forward in America, a way toward the America
America wants to see in the mirror. Maybe apologizing
is what makes us human, more than darts and electric cars
and art, than all the Taj Mahals and Under Pressures
put together, and we never have, we white to black,
not genuinely officially or sufficiently, not with pomp
and circumstance and cash, not proficiently for whips
and chains and brands and rapes and illiteracy,
for red-lining and poll-taxes and tests and crack,
and all the rest, all the all that surrounds us every day,
the two Americas you see if you drive through any big city
from top to bottom, east to west. When a country tries
to beat a people to death, it has time to stop.
We need actions that speak louder than nooses and guns
and love for all our daughters and sons. Civil people
don’t deny but apologize for their mistakes, seek to mend,
not rend, offer an open hand, not a fist, and ask forgiveness
by acts of repair. The only way to set the burden of slavery down
is to pick it up. We never have. Not really. Not like Germany
did the Holocaust and do you really want that comparison
to stand? The dumb fucks were mad at Ronald Greene
for getting the blood they beat out of him all over them.
Seriously insane in the membrane. You can’t make this shit up
and don’t have to in a country that’s made an art
of such lunacy for four hundred years.

Bob Hicok — Introduction to Karen Kapoor

Karan reads poems to the Ganges. The Ganges carries them downstream and plants them in the earth. The earth grows flowers that look like mouths. Lonely people kiss the flowers and feel wanted. Karan’s name comes from the Sanskrit word “karna,” which means ears. His name is a good listener and his poems help me hear a world that I recognize but don’t inhabit. All of our worlds are like that, populated by exactly one person stuck between what they have and what they believe they are missing. I love this table, that it holds the full weight of how Karan sees his father. I love the chasing and the following light. I love lists and I love this list for staying true to itself and for changing as it goes. The book of ruins should be everyone’s bathroom reading. I am sitting here wondering why the best poems appear to have written themselves.

Karan Kapoor

The Table

My father comes home a few minutes after midnight. He puts the keys to his shop and motorcycle on the table. He takes off his helmet and puts it on the table. All the light that came in as he opened the door — some of it chasing him, some of it following — he collects all of it without prejudice and puts it on the table. Hoping for relief, he deposits his knife, anger and fog next to the light. He opens his hands and the rivers which flow out of his palms find rest on the table. He takes out a pack of gold flake from his pocket and tosses it in the colossal river. On Tuesdays he brews his dreams for dinner — shaking his head, he spills them on the table. He lays out on the table his sleep and the table does not creak. He unchains his old watch, inherited from his father, and docks it beside a puddle of sweat. He takes off his shoes and socks, picks up the book of ruins from the table, and walks to the bathroom. I am standing here wondering how the table looks so clean.

What else? Ah — a shot of the cover —

Zoom partnered readings from Plume Poetry 10 have begun, under the auspices of the Writers Center in Washington, DC.

Many thanks to Ani Gjika and Olivia Banks, and Beckian Fritz Goldberg and Miguel Murphy, for their marvelous (and well attended) reading on Saturday, the 24th.

Here’s looking forward to Saturday, October 29, 5 PM – 6 PM, when Martha Rhodes and Rushi Vyas, and Kelli Russell Agodon and Katerina Canyon will do the honors.

Another from the Writers Center is in the works, in December, as well. Details shortly.

Also, readings will take place at Beyond Baroque in Los Angeles and the Dali Museum in Saint Petersburg, Florida, TBA.. Others to follow.
Penultimately, our cover art this month is California Hallway, c 1940,  by — of course — Narcissa Niblack Thorne, part of the Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. For more information on the artist and the installation, a good start might be made here and here.

Finally, as usual, some recently published/forthcoming books from Plume contributors:

Laura Kolbe                             Little Pharma

Maggie Smith                          Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change

Eileen Myles                            Pathetic Literature

Luther Hughes
and Carl Philips                        A Shiver in the Leaves (New Poets of America, 48)  

Jill McDonough                        American Treasure

That’s it, for now.
I hope you enjoy the issue!

Daniel Lawless
Editor, Plume