For the Love of This Blue Planet 7/26 @ 7 pm

For the Love of This Blue Planet: An Evening of Eco-Poetry
Saturday July 26, 7pm, Big Blue Marble Bookstore

I’ll be reading as part of this great group of poets. Three of us are contributors to the anthology The Lake Rises: poems to and for our bodies of water: Lisa Wujnovich, Sam Hall, and me. Three of the poets are local to Philly: Hila Ratzabi, Anne-Adele Wight, and MaryAnn L. Miller.

All of us think and write and dream and scheme about how to use language to reflect the hard realities of human effects on nature — we speak of the beauty, of the horrors, of resilience, of a deep sense of connection to our world and all it contains.

Join us!

2 upcoming readings

Hi Fans and Friends,

I have two readings coming up:

Wednesday, June 25th, 6-8 pm, as part of an event called “Bold New Voices” at the National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 South Independence Mall E, Philadelphia, PA 19106. I’ll be reading some of my own new work, and new translations from the Israeli poet Shez. Map for NMAJH

Wednesday, July 9th, 7 pm, as part of the Moonstone Series at Fergie’s Pub in Center City at 1214 Sansom Street. I’ll be reading with Amy Small-McKinney. Map for Fergie’s

Because this little poem made me remember what “yearning” means

From the Telephone
Florence Ripley Mastin

Out of the dark cup
Your voice broke like a flower.
It trembled, swaying on its taut stem.
The caress in its touch
Made my eyes close.

Bio

Side note from official bio, but not “side” to me: When Florence Josephine Mastin was in her 20s and already a published poet, she decided to replace her girlish middle name with “Ripley.

Florence Ripley Mastin was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Piermont, New York. She earned a BA from Barnard College and spent many years teaching English at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York. Mastin was a popular teacher, and her student Bernard Malamud described her classes as “unusually exciting.” Her collections of poetry include Green Leaves (1918), Cables of Cobweb (1935), Over the Tappan Zee (1962), and Flowers: A Birthday Book (1964). Her work was regularly published in journals such as Poetry and national periodicals such as the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune, among others. The New York State Commission on Historic Observances chose Mastin’s poem “Freedom’s Dream” for its Hudson-Champlain Celebration in 1959; the poem was also awarded the Freedom Foundation Medal. Mastin retired from teaching in 1952 and returned to Piermont, where she died in 1968.

Shez on screen at Cannes!

shez film 1Maayan Turjeman as Tami

Shez, the Israeli poet and novelist whose poetry collection “Dance of the Lunatic” I’ve been translating, has had her newest novel turned into the film That Lovely Girl which just premiered at Cannes. The novel, Far From His Absence, is harrowing in print, the story of a daughter in her 20s who has had a violent sexual relationship with her father since she was little.

Director Keren Yedaya, who won a Camera d’Or at Cannes a decade ago for her neatly titled debut “Or”, pulled together some of Israel’s most highly-regarded actors to create this tightly-controlled, nearly claustrophobic “kitchen sink” horror story.
shez film 2
Will this make my translation of her poems easier to get published? No clue. The novel behind the film is being translated into French and published by Harper Collins, so that’s some clout the name didn’t carry before.

Below are links to various reviews in English.
That Lovely Girl

Hollywood Reporter: That Lovely Girl

Hitfix: A Solemn Game of Unhappy Families

Variety

imdb

NaPoWriMo 14/30 Henrietta Lacks grew in a culture

Henrietta Lacks grew in a culture
Tuskegee Tuskegee the Negro Insane
Henrietta Lacks grew in a culture
Tuskegee Tuskegee the Negro Insane

They momma’s cells by the billions and millions
grew the cure for 47 diseases and
counting the billions and millions of
patents and trademarks and Endowed Chairs
They momma’s cells’ offspring grew flew all round the
world they momma’s children grew locked
in closets and basements and battered and thin in a part of
East Baltimore too Black to be on the map

Poke a little prick a little steal a little
Oh! Poke a little prick a little steal and
sell a little, it ain’t profit its
scientific progress it ain’t profit
least not for you

Grow out of control, them Negro
woman’s cells, out of control contaminating
them Negro woman’s cells
anything they come near
cost us millions of dollars millions lost
cost us millions of dollars those
contaminating cells cost us
but then they made us
billions more

Henrietta Lacks grew in a culture
Tuskegee Tuskegee the Negro Insane
Henrietta Lacks grew in a culture
Tuskegee Tuskegee the Negro Insane

Science might need consent to sell a part of a person
but them Negro woman’s cells ain’t human at all
though after the war she became more than 3/5
of a human no Negro was person enough to be more
than research without messy morals

Henrietta Lacks grew in a culture
Tuskegee Tuskegee the Negro Insane
Henrietta Lacks grew in a culture
Tuskegee Tuskegee, the Hospital for
the Negro Insane where they drained Elsie’s
brain to get their picture crisp
and clear.

From here, Henrietta, from here
no picture is clear not the one with your hand
on your hip, not the notes on your death determined by what
the white drs wanted to see, nothing is clear from here
Henrietta

Poke a little prick a little steal a little
Oh! Poke a little prick a little steal and
sell a little, it ain’t profit its
scientific progress it ain’t profit
least not for you

Henrietta Lacks grew in a culture
Henrietta Lacks goes on growing
in a culture and it’s thick and it’s fetid
and tastes goddam awful and all
of us swallow it, swallow it whole.

NaPoWriMo 13/30 cloud and rain and flow and salt and wave and cloud and rain

O! Mother Water O! salty womb of sea O! pure daughter
rivers spawning billions of grandchildren with every
bend and flex. O! rivers how you belong
to yourselves how your waters belong
in your ever-reshaping bodies how you are a container
of water in the same way a human body
is container of blood how blood and water
can both be drained and how
these are acts
of murder.

Little fishies little fishies feed on
even littler fishies and then are feed
for bigger fishies a story that goes on forever
no matter where you open its book O! the cloud
and rain and flow and salt and wave and cloud
and rain of the neverending story

With its chapters ripped out and hidden where children
won’t see O! the horrible consonance of dam
and drain O! the body, caged, O! its water sucked
vampirically as salve for hungers huge as
galaxies.

O! Mother Water, O! salty womb of sea, O! grieve
grieve
grieve for the bodies of your daughters
drained and left to desiccate for their trillion generations
never to be born.

NaPoWriMo Guest Dane Kuttler 14/30 Passover, Night 1: and with not those who show up, then with whom?

Passover, Night 1: and with not those who show up, then with whom?

oh and what i didn’t tell you about tonight’s improvised seder,
how i pulled together the ritual foods from the cupboards:

habanero hot sauce
some limp-nearly-dead kale from the bottom of the veggie drawer, revived with salt water
a hardboiled egg with a monster face drawn on it in sharpie
molasses (which looks EXACTLY like date syrup, how have i not seen that before)
half a lemon (we had no oranges)
a half-jar full of the crappy olives she thinks makes martinis taste bad and have been living in the back of the fridge

my box of matzah

how we sat around the table
and I was the only one who knew the words,
but they gamely beat each other with the leftover kale
while I sang Dayenu

and how they asked questions,
questions like a seder was built to answer,
and how we used four different Haggadot,
but somehow stayed on the same page

NaPoWriMo 11/30 Endlings

Endlings

Endling, Ender, Terminarch, Relict,
Martha, Benjamin, Incas, Celia,
and George oh George oh Lonesome George.
I saw George before he died not because I was
endling gawking but only because
I was there. Gawking.

Galapagos tortoise young
don’t know how to fuck so those
who grow up in cages without elders
without watching adults get it on
will never do it. We have yet to learn,
the naturalist said, how to teach them to want
to breed
.

Endling, Ender, Terminarch, Relict!
Get your endlings here, see ‘em quick afore
they be gone! The last of her species the last
of his kind! Last Passenger Pigeon! Last Tasmanian
tiger! Last Carolina Parakeet! Last Pyrenean ibex!
The last won’t last so get in quick!

Minor footnotes, one and all, before a storm of
endlings blows us clean
away. Last large land mammal, last large ocean
one, too. Last smaller-than-a-thumb Pine Barrens
frog. Last North American river without
fracking fluid, last 17 year cicada, others all
paved permanently under, last fluttering
heartbeat of a black-footed ferret.

But look, the sky shadowing, flocks
for miles coming in to feast, millions
of vultures and buzzards and bald-headed
consumers of carrion, population exploding until
they’ve ripped apart every ripened rotted
carcass until they too are fine feathered final
numbers before zero         familiar story but
with no humans left to give the endling turkey vulture
a sweetly sympathetic name. So you

can nominate your favorite name now!
Harold, I suppose, or Maude, or with that bright red head
how about Valentine? Valentine, the Very
Last Vulture
. The end of endlings
out with a bang.