Gary Barwin is Canadian writer, composer, multimedia artist, editor and the author of 19 books of poetry and fiction as well as books for kids. His most recent books are the short fiction collection, I, Dr Greenblatt, Orthodontist, 251-1457 (Anvil) and the visual poetry collection, The Wild and Unfathomable Always(Xexoxial), and Sonosyntactics: Selected and New Poetry of Paul Dutton (Wilfrid Laurier University Press), edited and with an introduction by Barwin. A novel, Yiddish for Pirates (Random House Canada), will be released spring 2016. He was 2014-2015 Writer-in-Residence at Western University and has taught creative writing at a number of colleges and universities. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario where for one long strange summer he shared a shoesize with Allen Ginsberg.
Jen Tynes lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is the author of Hunter Monies (Black Radish Press, forthcoming), Trick Rider (Trembling Pillow Press), Heron/Girlfriend (Coconut Books), and The End of Rude Handles (Red Morning Press) and several chapbooks.
Adam Schuitema is the author of the novel Haymaker (Switchgrass Books, 2015) and the short-story collection Freshwater Boys (Delphinium, 2010), which was named a Michigan Notable Book by the Library of Michigan.
Adam's stories have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous magazines, including Glimmer Train, North American Review, Indiana Review, TriQuarterly, and The Southern Review. Adam earned his MFA and Ph.D. from Western Michigan University. He is an associate professor of English at Kendall College of Art and Design and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his wife and daughter.
Robert James Russell is the author of the novel Mesilla (Dockstreet Press, 2015). He is the co-founder and Managing Editor of the literary journal Midwestern Gothic, and the founder of the online literary journal CHEAP POP. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and you can find him online at www.robertjamesrussell.com.
POETRY IN CONVERSATION with Kathleen McGookey, Elizabeth Kerlikowske, and Susanna ChildressThursday, September 17, at 6:30 pm
We had a lovely time listening and talking to poets Susanna Childress, Elizabeth Kerlikowske, and Kathleen McGookey on September 17, 2015.
Poetry in Conversation is an occasional series here at GLCL, where we invite writers to get together and talk about writing, their own process, love, life, and whatever comes up in conversation. We encourage the audience members to participate in this very casual and unstructured gathering.
Kathleen McGookey's prose poems and translations have appeared in many journals and anthologies including The Antioch Review, Boston Review, Crazyhorse, Denver Quarterly, Epoch, Field, Indiana Review, The Laurel Review, Ploughshares, The Prose Poem: An International Journal, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, Seneca Review, West Branch, and Willow Springs. She is the author of Whatever Shines (White Pine Press), October Again (Burnside Review Press), and Mended (Kattywompus Press), and the translator of We’ll See (Parlor Press), a book of prose poems by contemporary French poet Georges Godeau. Her book Stay is forthcoming from Press 53 in fall 2015; her book At the Zoo is forthcoming from White Pine Press in spring 2017. She has received grants from the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Arts Fund of Kalamazoo County, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and in 2014, she received a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, which supports artists who are parents. She has taught creative writing at Hope College, Interlochen Arts Academy, and Western Michigan University.
Elizabeth Kerlikowske is the author of two chapbooks of poetry( Postcards, Her Bodies), a collection of children’s stories (Before the Rain), and a prose poem memoir of her father (The Shape of Dad), all from now-defunct March Street Press in North Carolina. Her first full-length book of poetry is available from Mayapple Press (Dominant Hand.) Another chapbook, Last Hul, was the winner of the 2013 Standing Rock Chapbook Competition. Her works have appeared recently in Encore, Cincinnati Review, Passager, Poemeleon, and in many journals nationwide. She is the president of Friends of Poetry, a nonprofit dedicated to the enjoyment of poetry. The group runs the annual POEMS THAT ATE OUR EARS contest and sponsors a reading series for adults. Elizabeth completed her doctorate at Western Michigan University in 2007. She is a visual artist also, whose works have hung in juried shows. She makes big collages out of found materials with an emphasis on paper of all kinds.
Susanna Childress holds a Master’s from The University of Texas at Austin and a PhD from Florida State University. Her first book, Jagged with Love, was selected by Billy Collins for the 2005 BRITTINGHAM PRIZE in Poetry from the University of Wisconsin and the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Her second book, Entering the House of Awe, was published in the Green Rose Series from NEW ISSUES PRESS and won the 2012 Society of Midland Authors Award. She has received an AWP Intro Journals Award, a Michener Center thesis fellowship, the Creative Writing Award in Poetry from the National Society of Arts and Letters, the Kingsbury fellowship from Florida State, and a LILLY POST-DOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP in the Humanities and the Arts. Recently, Sherman Alexie selected one of her poems for The Best American Poetry series for 2015. She is an associate poetry editor at32 POEMS, writes short fiction and creative nonfiction, and comprises half of the music group ORDINARY NEIGHBORS, whose full-length album, The Necessary Dark, draws on her writing (the other half is wildly talented Joshua Banner, her spouse). She lives in Holland, Michigan, and is an Assistant Professor of ENGLISH AT HOPE COLLEGE.
The following conversation took place in April 2015 between Z.G. Tomaszewski and Jack Ridl. The questions were asked by Z.G. at the Writers Hub (GLCL) in Grand Rapids and Ridl responded while on his houseboat in Key West.
ZG) What is a poem trying for?
Ridl) Something one can't explain.
ZG) Does your life serve your poems or do your poems serve your life?
Ridl) Neither. As I think back over all these years of welcoming what wants to show up I realize that if they were a person I wouldn't let that person in the front door.
ZG) Which of your poems are you most surprised by?
Ridl I've never been surprised by any. Most of the time I hear myself saying, "Yeah, I pretty much expected something like that."
For me the paradox is that I seem to be one who is not surprised about being surprised at most everything. I don't need a poem to bring me surprise. It's, to me, not surprising that it's a surprise, it itself, not necessarily something within it. IT is the surprise. How DOES a poem bring about poetry?!!!?
What I want to say is that when I write there is this voice that accompanies the writing that is something, that had I known it would, I would have reconsidered writing poems in the first place.
ZG) I wonder that your lack of surprise by your poems may indicate you have a sense of what you're doing? For the young writer, what would you say on the topic of recognizing one's trajectory?
Ridl) A trajectory suggests a set time, distance, arrival, and direct route. I would have no idea why one would want such, have no idea how to recognize such. If one imagines a super highway, I would likely recommend getting off and travel wayward on the blue highways and dirt and gravel roads.
ZG) Can you elaborate on your realization about welcoming whatever wanted to show up you wouldn't have let it in as a person? What are some of those person-types (particular poems) you might have shut the door on?
Ridl) Those who laminate kindness and all that brings good with eye-rolling dismissiveness.
ZG) What are your thoughts on this so-called voice? When we talk about finding one's voice and all that jazz what, in your opinion, are we getting after? It seems an elusive and illustrious thing, this "voice." Do you think that among novice writers there's a tendency to individuate one's voice, to try and sound different and apart from the rest? What might this lend itself to?
Ridl) Tom Andrews and I worked on an essay that was titled "Against Voice."
And we meant it. Alas never finished.
My hunch is that among the most useless and most damaging emphases in the mentoring of those wanting to have the writing of any genre in their lives is that put on voice. When one learns both the art and is honest in the work, subjects and the art become seamless, and a voice can be heard.
Another consequence of this voice illusion is that it has pressured people to "be consistent in voice," "have a direction." Life's too short. Besides we "contain multitudes." This emphasis on voice has led to the proliferation of single and singular voices. The rest of the multitude is jumping up and down, waving, and chirping "Why not me??!"
Picasso often began a workshop by asking each participant to draw a circle. They then held them up. Not one resembled any other.
ZG) Brilliant! The Whitman sentiment, the Levine-like straightforwardness; yes, a voice can only be heard not taught! In Orient philosophy, how it can only be found and not sought. There's a belief resonating through Hermann Hesse's work that, "wisdom cannot be imparted."
I sometimes feel that this "proliferation of a single or singular voice" leads to the poetry of vertigo. Those that excite at the prospect of eloquent language and rapidly moving disjointed images. In these "damaged" poems there's something missing, maybe it's that the poet hasn't listened enough to their own voice, that it's not an honest enough subject or the work itself is lacking the genuine touch? We tend to lean on the seamless. I don't know though.
Fresh Ink BLOG
Musings, news, and information about the writing life in the Great Lakes region.
Retreats, Workshops, Etc.
Alcona Writers' Retreat
Bear River Writers' Conference
Kalamazoo Poetry Festival
Poetry Society of Michigan
Three Ponds Farm
Small Presses and Lit Mags
Broadside Lotus Press
Michigan Quarterly Review
World Weaver Press