01 April 2013

April 2013: a new issue and more

Greetings PQ friends!
Welcome to our new issue of PQ. Please visit the Current Issue to see our latest content. We have a wide assortment of reviews, interviews, and essays for you to enjoy and share. 

We’re excited about this issue coinciding with National Poetry Month. We’ve stocked the issue with plenty to explore: thoughts on sources of inspiration, engagement with the community, and there seems to be a strong music and multi-arts theme in much of this issue’s content. 

In recognition of National Poetry Month, we wanted to see what our own PQ community is up to for the month. Be sure to check out this Community Q &A to see some inspiration for celebrating.  

If you’re interested in writing reviews or other work for PQ, be sure to check out the Guidelines to know where and how to direct your queries and submissions. Remember, we’re always on the hunt for entertaining and insightful blog posts in between issues, so talk to Leslie if you have an idea! Reviews and interviews may be submitted any time, too. 

Thanks, as always, to our magnificent and generous team here at PQ. Our department and contributing editors volunteer their time to share their reviews, ideas, and questions with you. 

We’ve also recently added an intern here at PQ. Kaitlin Keller joins us as Assistant Editor, as part of her publishing internship experience in the Wilkes University MFA program. You’ll see Kaitlin’s been busy with poet Q&As and more. Get to know her better by checking out her bio.  

We hope you enjoy this latest issue and share our links in your social media spheres. We appreciate the word of mouth!
Thanks for your continued interest in Poets’ Quarterly. Like us on Facebook and stay tuned for more great content coming soon.  

Kind regards,  
Lori A. May  
Founding Editor/Publisher

p.s. If you’d like to make a $3 donation to help us cover our web domain, email provider, and occasional postage costs, we welcome your support. Our contributors and editors are volunteers so we spend very little on PQ, but if you’d like to donate a few bucks to offset office costs, you may now do so through Submittable. Thanks!

PQ Community Q&A

Visit Poets.org for more info on National Poetry Month

The PQ community is celebrating National Poetry Month in a variety of ways. Through workshops, readings, and new book releases, we thought it would be fun to share what our PQ friends are up to this month (and beyond). 

What are you doing to celebrate National Poetry Month?

"There’s a ton of local poetry events here in Albuquerque, including the Grand Poetry Slam which decides the local Slam team for the national slam competition. As/Us literary journal is celebrating their book launch on the 28th at Bookworks. I’ll be there to read and hear some amazing work from contemporary Indigenous women and women of color. There’s a local writer’s fair going on next weekend which should be great. Also, I was one of the winners for New York Public Library’s National Poetry Contest on Twitter. My poems will be going out on NYPL’s social media as part of their month long poetry celebration and are being published electronically. I’ll be helping out with some of the publicity for their events, which is very exciting." – Shauna Osborn, PQ Contributing Editor
Andrew Ruzkowski

"I’m publishing a chapbook! It is called A Shape & Sound and is forthcoming from ELJ Publications." Andrew Ruzkowski, PQ Reviews Coordinator

"Every year I try my best to create 30 poems in 30 days." – Jason Carney, PQ Contributing Editor

"I’m celebrating National Poetry Month with the release of my latest pamphlet, Warburg’s Tincture of Sonnets, which should be out from Like This Press by mid-month."  Elizabeth Kate Switaj, PQ Contributing Editor

"I’m teaching an intro to poetry class this semester, so I’ll be celebrating Poetry Month via the curriculum. The college is sponsoring a “favorite poem” reading, and I’m a participant. There are quite a few poetry events going on in my region (eastern PA) this month, so I will be attending a variety of events. I’m also looking forward to virtual events on blogs and sites that my friends have recommended, and I’m planning to add even more than the usual number of poetry-related posts to my blog." – Ann E. Michael, PQ Contributing Editor

"I will take time, really take time, to read The Writer’s Almanac every morning rather than skimming like I usually do most days when it arrives in my inbox." – Dawn Leas, PQ Contributing Editor

Brian Fanelli
"For National Poetry Month, I’m doing a few readings. I’m especially excited to read and give a lecture at Reading Area Community College, thanks to the Berks County Bards, a wonderful organization that has several National Poetry Month events in the Reading, PA area." – Brian Fanelli, PQ Contributing Editor

What are you writing/working on now?

"I just finished a rewrite of my poetry book which I am sending out called Antes Taabe (Before the Sun), which is exciting. I am currently in the process of finishing a new chapbook about the Southwest Border Region tentatively called Red Earth Woman and White Buffalo Gal Go To Mexico." – Shauna Osborn, PQ Contributing Editor

"My book Need to Know will be released from Outskirts Press (Denver CO) later this Spring. Maybe by mid-May. The book is a memoir, a telling of my several years in the US Intelligence Community, working for (among others) the CIA and for US Special Operations; and my reinvention to English prof and poet following a return to grad school. Subtitle:  journey of an American intelligence officer to professor and poet." Arthur McMaster, PQ Contributing Editor

"Right now I’m finishing the edits for the book I have coming out with Akashic/Kaylie Jones Books in the winter of 2014." – Jason Carney, PQ Contributing Editor

Elizabeth Kate Switaj

"I’m working on a long poem about the experiences of the victims of Aktion T4, the Nazi ‘euthanasia’ program." Elizabeth Kate Switaj, PQ Contributing Editor

"I have a completed manuscript of science-themed, nonce-form (and a little free verse) poems called The Red Queen Hypothesis. I hope to send that out for submission this spring, but I’m working on a new manuscript that’s somewhat memoir-based and that’s kind of taken precedence since I always prefer writing and revising to sending out work! Also, I’m gardening, which for me is a form of pre-writing. I get lots of work done in my head while I’m preparing soil and grubbing out weeds." – Ann E. Michael, PQ Contributing Editor

"I’m working on a chapbook examining the water systems of Chicago. The details are immense, but tunnels, fires, diseases, and hogshead casks abound!  Also, love poems." Andrew Ruzkowski, PQ Reviews Coordinator

Dawn Leas
"I am working on a batch of new poems and revising some older ones that will hopefully find homes in journals and come together as a chapbook." – Dawn Leas, PQ Contributing Editor

"Right now, I’m working on a series of poems regarding climate change and some of the more recent disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy. A lot of these poems are based off of various newspaper reports and other articles. I’m also working on some other poems that have nothing to do with the series. Right now, I’m just writing and reading and not too concerned with creating another manuscript." – Brian Fanelli, PQ Contributing Editor


What are you doing, dear reader, for National Poetry Month?

Chinoiserie by Karen Rigby


Karen Rigby
Ahsahta Press
Paperback, 63 pages
ISBN: 978-1-934103-25-8
Reviewed by PQ Contributing Editor Felicia A. Elam   

By definition, the word “chinoiserie” means a European interpretation of Chinese style in design such as furniture and textiles. In French, the word literally means “China made”. By Karen Rigby’s definition, Chinoiserie, her third collection of poetry, and the winner of the 2011 Sawtooth Poetry Prize, means an interpretation of myriad cultures in poesy by layering on colors, language and images. In one poem, “Red Dress” Rigby inserts Spanish words like llantos and susurrando to balance and soften English words like “red” and “fist”. This not only challenges the reader’s expectations but it also forces us to think in another language—outside of our boxes. The use of Spanish is neither gratuitous nor strained, but rather appropriate, as well as expansive.  

With “The Lover”, a poem based on and named after a 1992 movie by Jean-Jacques Annaud, (which was based on a memoir by Marguerite Duras), Rigby gives us her take on the working definition of “chinoiserie”; the movie is about an affair between a teenaged French girl and a Chinese businessman in 1929 Vietnam. Instead of going for the obvious and illicit, Rigby’s “The Lover” evokes images of the Mekong, and “the smells of roasted peanuts/Chinese soups, roasted meat”. She takes us to a place that’s China but not quite China because, in this instance, it intersects with France in Vietnam. Rigby paints a foreign place that we can access through the author’s layering of cultural images, language and the familiarity of wayward youthfulness. 

Rigby carries her definition in another direction with “Red Transferware”:

The pagoda’s roof curls beyond the lake-view glazed
in reproduction pink on serveware matched to the
butter dish, the gravy boat, the once-a-year-feast--no
Villeroy & Boch, but good enough, herr doctor, to fake
the recherché look. Pastorals stand for the village, and
candles, like black trees in Brothers Grimm, script
happiness we can drown in.

The image of the pagoda on “reproduction pink” sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The reader will find Britannia in the same sentence as East Asia, and Josiah Spode mentioned one stanza before Hokusai, an Edo-period Japanese print-maker whose most famous work is The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. The men were contemporaries of sorts, and each has had a lasting influence over his respective art 

Not only does Rigby draw on the foreign to stretch the reader’s imagination and her images as well, but she also employs color to add a sensory layer of depth that makes the poems stick deeper in the subconscious. In “Red Transferware”, the title color alternates with white to build on images and to give the poem a certain rhythm. There are “White rose, red ranunculus/red rose, ganglion of wires/White asparagus, red coulis, cool arrangements”. But then Rigby gives us black trees and bread, breaking up the red, white and pink, while painting a picture of unhappiness, bitterness and loneliness. 

In other poems, such as “Cebolla’s Church” we see the desert as a “lion-colored seam” and we have “walls radiating gold”. In “Orange/Pittsburgh” that color “is girder/& rusted flange, citrine”.  And the color shows up without being named as “the molten globe/of a glassblower’s rod.” Then she makes us feel the orange, describing it as:   

Orange is Japanese carp
beneath the tattoo needle,
habaneros sweating
in their grocery bins.

There is pain associated with the tattoo needle and to think that habaneros sweat makes the reader consider the color orange, and the city of Pittsburgh in a different way. This displays Rigby’s attention to detail and her ability to use them to ground emotions and to give feeling to place. 

With Chinoiserie, Rigby draws from her various interests from movies to anime, from Leonardo da Vinci to Pittsburgh to create a collection of poetry that is both surprising and thoughtful.  It is meant to be savored, read slowly, contemplated, then read again. The reader will not be disappointed and will find themselves reaching for this collection again and again.

FeLicia A. Elam is a West Coast-based writer. She is an Elizabeth George scholar at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, (NILA) and will graduate August 2013.  Her work has been featured in storySouth, Soundings Review, and other publications. She is a Hedgebrook Fellow and a winner of the New Short Fiction Series (2013).