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Andrea Abi-Karam created a playlist • 17 hours ago
Andrea Abi-Karam’s debut poetry collection, EXTRATRANSMISSION (Kelsey Street Press, 2019), takes on military exploitation of human and animal bodies, the scourge of bro culture, and the Uber-fication of urban space. Their forceful, often capslocked lines pursue a “poetry of directness” in opposition to the pervasive, unrippling “language of avoidance” that smooths over everyday potentials for confrontation. Employing repetition and polyvocality to move between contexts of contested embodiment, Abi-Karam gets at the problem of individual agency in global conflict and imperialism.
"We live in a country that has mastered the art of using our brains against us. I look to poets who comprehend this and employ new vocabularies and forms to emblazon paths—new neural hallways lead to threshold decisions about how to live our day to day lives. Andrea Abi-Karam has written a singular and imperative text landing on a way to acquire our maximum potential as rebel beings who can kill coercion dead so we can move together 'beyond this one type of experience,' perhaps the most threatening, and frightening, act we can take as beings."
Verse is honored to share a preview of Ilyse Kusnetz's Angel Bones, out this week from Alice James Books. Of the collection, Mark Doty wrote, "In the face of her cancer diagnosis—'candle-bright spots in the marrow'—Ilyse Kusnetz’s sense of the fragility and impermanence of the world became an inescapable fact. In this second and final collection, the poet tries on every stance she can find toward her own mortality. Sometimes illness is a quotidian fact: 'My hair fell out, I learned to walk again./Before we knew, it was summer...' Sometimes the world she is leaving is radiant: 'wonder at the perfect Hebrew letters/imprinted on a green crab’s back...' What carries Kusnetz through, binding together what could have been the chaos of her last days, is love, the way she is held in her beloved’s care, the way she holds him firmly in her unwavering gaze. Angel Bones is a book of love poems, a testament to the way two lovers held strong until the end, and it leaves its readers more than saddened. We’re strengthened."
When asked about the advantages of poetry in the face of political exile, poet and activist 'Bra Willie' Kgositsile said, "Because poetry can be memorized, can be passed around orally, it render[s] the banning irrelevant." The following five poems are written by poets who have either faced exile and extradition directly, or have inherited the narrative of exile through cultural and inter-generational trauma. Let their stories live on.
J. David Ockunzzi created a playlist • 5 months ago
2018 was the worst year of my life. I say this not knowing how it will end, but I dare-say I was not happy. Maybe this is because happiness so often is reliant upon circumstance, and as someone with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and borderline personality disorder- the odds are rarely in my favor. Yet, here I am writing this. Because of joy. Because in the dark spaces I chased it, until my life was sore, until I was dancing cheek to cheek with that yellow grace. Joy, in its purest form is reliant on nothing but awe and openness to something other than our perception of our present selves. While similar, it is far from happiness, and thankfully neither is fully invested in the other’s presence—they exist, with or without each other. In the dark places, you must store joy where it is accessible for when it is necessary. This is where I found myself—in the dark. Driving way too fast on a highway past sun-down, my friend Emily in the passenger seat, together screaming the lyrics to Augustana’s "Boston"… and I woke back into my life, out of the nightmare, out of the vast plain of dark—I was alive again, and the stars… they were everywhere.
Elizabeth Metzger created a playlist • 5 months ago
In "Letters from Max", Sarah Ruhl refers to Virginia Woolf’s idea of “the voice answering the voice” and applies it to Max: “For most poets, the voice answering the voice is an internal dialogue. Max had the gift of an internal voice, and also the gift of answering back to so many other poets.” As I was one of the poets lucky enough to be answered by Max, I wanted to compile and share a playlist of ten of the poems I most answer to from "Four Reincarnations" and "The Final Voicemails" (in Part I, previously). I also wanted to include an accompanying playlist of poems Max answered to—the poems of his mentors and masters—as these were not only the poems that colored his voice but also the poems he offered me and many of his poet-peers for inspiration or solace, challenge or solidarity. This second list directly and indirectly shapes the first.
Among the voices that influenced Max: the gnomes of Dickinson, the love poems of Jack Gilbert, the playful F-U music of Franz Wright, the blur of allusion and personal narrative in his teacher (and the editor of TFV) Louise Gluck’s Meadowlands, the idea of “the first draft of humanity” in Nathaniel Mackey’s Splay Anthem, the go-for-broke rhythm of Wallace Stevens’ thinking, Timothy Donnelly’s zesty intelligence in a sip of anything, the scrimshawed suffering of Lucie Brock-Broido’s animals, Dottie’s primordial drive for the all-colors of survival, the wicked self-analysis of Berryman’s Dream Songs.