Poems read Jan-Mar 2020

Here’s some of the poems that have drifted my way, by the thoughtfulness of their sharers and by my good fortune to happen to see them, during the first three months of 2020. I am grateful for these.

John Ashbery, “The Chateau Hardware” in The Double Dream of Spring
Cameron Awkward-Rich, “Meditations in an Emergency”
Anna Akhmatova, “The Last Toast,” [“And here, in defiance of the fact”] (both translated by Judith Hemschemeyer)
Mary-Kim Arnold, “Q1: Who Are You Looking For?”
Mark Bibbins, “13th Balloon”
CL Bledsoe, “A Kind of Spring,” in Grief Bacon
Blake Butler, “Asphyxiation” in Folk Physics
Jennifer Chang, “The Winter’s Wife,” in Some Say the Lark
Lisa Ciccarello, in At Night
Lucille Clifton, “blessing the boats”
Kwame Dawes, “Before Winter”
Heather Derr-Smith, “At the Crossing”
Linh Dinh, “WHOAAAA!!!”
Lauris Edmond, “The lecture”
Laura Eve Engel, “Burden of Belonging”
Ross Gay, “Sorrow is Not My Name”
Brigit Pegeen Kelly, [“It was not a scorpion I asked for…”]
Lisa Matthews, “Of these, abandonment,” in The Eternally Packed Suitcase
Jamaal May, “In the Future You Will Be Your Own Therapist”
Alicia Mountain, “Almanac Traction”
C.D. Wright, “Questionnaire in January,” in The Poet, the Lion…”
Louise Glück, “Crater Lake”, “Reunion,” “March,” “Image”
Linda Gregg, “Heavy With Things and Flesh”
Jim Harrison, “Becoming”
Jane Hirshfield, “I wanted to be surprised”
Kasey Jueds, “Birthday”
Galway Kinnell, “Prayer”
Noelle Kocot, “Ligeti,” in Soul in Space
Ted Kooser, “At the Office Early”
Danusha Laméris, “Small Kindnesses”
Audre Lorde, “October”
Osip Mandelstam, [“A body is given to me”] (trans. Robert Tracy)
Jeffrey McDaniel, “The Quiet World”
Lisel Mueller, “When I Am Asked,” “Snow”
Carl Phillips, “Dirt Being Dirt”
Ellen Bryant Voigt, “Deathbed”
William Bronk, “The feeling”, in The World, The Worldless (translated by Paol Keineg)
Naomi Shihab Nye, “Burning the Old Year”
Vijay Seshadri, “Enlightenment”
Grace Paley, “Proverbs,” “Drowning (II)”
Luke Palmer, “Boy on the Beach”
Nathan Parker, “4”
Linda Pastan, “RSVP Regrets Only”
Carl Phillips, “Said the Horse to the Light”
Eugenia Leigh, “Selah”
Frank Lima, “On Poetry”
Mary Oliver, “A Thousand Mornings”
Adrienne Rich, “Final Notations”
Jaime Sabines, “La luna”
Stevens, “First Warmth”
Adam Tedesco, “Achenes”
Marina Tsvetaeva, “Prayer” [trans. Ilya Kaminsky & Jean Valentine], in Art in the Light of Conscience
Chase Twichell, “Vestibule”
Hannah VanderHart, “Heart: An Anatomy”
W. S. Merwin, “When the War Is Over,” [“I needed my mistakes”]
Mark Strand, “The Man in the Mirror”
Maggie Smith, “Good Bones”
Richard Siken, “Dirty Valentine”
Susan Stewart, “The Forest”
Trakl tr. Tapscott, “A Winter Evening”
Catherine Wing, “The Darker Sooner,” in 32 Poems
Franz Wright, “Petition”
Adam Zagajewski, “Try to Praise the Mutilated World”

Virtual Poetry Readings, March 2020

Participate as a reader, or listen in!

March 20 – 5:30 PM EST – Online Literary Happy Hour hosted by Matt Bell. Interactive Zoom is already at capacity; watch YouTube livestream.

March 23 – 8 PM EST – Costura Creative Living Room Reading Series – Donation-based “tickets” through EventBrite
March 23 – 8:30 PM EST – Boston’s Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola hosts a poetry reading with Crystal Valentine. “The Remedy” on Instagram Live.

March 27 – April 11 – The Stay-At-Home! festival, “a free and completely online literature festival designed to shine some light, joy, and connectivity.”

March 28 – 6 PM-midnight EST – #TweetSpeakLive (you must sign up in advance to read)

Wednesdays noon EST during April (National Poetry Month) – Simon & Schuster on Instagram – April 1, William Evans gives writing tips

Performance Anxiety – a monthly reading series, organized through Twitter, archived on YouTube

Poets in Pajamas – a bi-monthly reading series, Sundays 7 PM ET

Poetry Circle – an ongoing tweet-thread of poetry videos, started by Tara Skurtu

Distāntia Remote Reading Series – Seeking video submissions by poets. All videos are captioned.

Poets of the Pandemic – Videos are being planned. Captions anticipated. Likely prerecorded.

Shelter in Place (Maris Kreizman, with Lit Hub) – Discussions with authors about new releases

Train/Car Reading – Instagram-based, videos archived online

Vintage Victorian style quill pen engraving. Original from the British Library. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel. Wikimedia Commons.

How to “loan” a Kindle book

Two women browsing books on "Australian History" and "Ships" in the library stacks in the 1940s.

Some titles for Amazon Kindle have “Lending” enabled. The product page for each title indicates whether this option is offered. When the owner of a Kindle book offers a book as a loan, the recipient will have 7 days to “accept” the loan. Upon accepting it, they’ll have 14 days to read the loaned book. At the end of those 14 days, the rights to the Kindle book automatically revert back to the original owner, and the owner can’t loan out that particular title again.


Create a URL that looks like this:

Replace “B07T3WCYQC” with the ASIN of the book you’d like to lend. The ASIN can be found on the book’s Amazon product page and usually also in the URL of the Amazon product page.

If you don’t own the book corresponding to that ASIN or if the title can’t be loaned, the URL will redirect to the book’s product page. If it’s available for you to loan, however, the URL will bring you to a page that allows you to enter an email address for your recipient.


If you’d rather navigate the Amazon site to find the lending page “organically,” here’s instructions and screenshots.

Once you’ve bought a Kindle book, go to “Account & Lists” -> “Your Content and Devices.” You’ll see a list of all your purchased books. Find the title you want to loan. Click the square button next to it. Click the link “Loan this title.” (The link isn’t offered when the title can’t be loaned.) You’ll be taken to a page where you need to input your recipient’s email address. You can add a personal note.

For each book title, under “Product details,” there’s a field called “Lending.” It will say either “Enabled” or “Not Enabled.”
When you are logged in, use Amazon’s main menu to click “Account & Lists” and then “Your Content and Devices.”
Next to each of your purchased book titles, there’s a square button with a three-dot icon. Click that. It will pop up a box with more information and options. If “lending” is enabled for the title, there will be an option to select “Loan this title.”
You will need to provide your recipient’s email address.

EBook giveaway: ‘Ten Past Noon’

A white locomotive approaching on yellow train tracks on a blue background.

After years of research, I’m ready to share this hybrid work: biography, history, philosophy, personal essay. Edward Cumming (1901–1940) planned to write about historical castrations, but my book, Ten Past Noon, is about much, much more than that. It’s about suicide, free will, and fortieth birthdays. If you like long, elaborate, experimental nonfiction, this is for you.

Check out the first giveaway for Ten Past Noon, my recently published book.

Ten Past Noon book cover

Copies will be delivered as Kindle eBooks. Never read on Kindle? You don’t need to have a Kindle device! You can install the free Kindle app on any device, and you can even read without installing any app by using Amazon’s “cloud reader.”

100 free copies are available. Goodreads will randomly select the winners. You can enter through March 17, 2020. [Update: Nearly 300 people entered, and copies were distributed! Thank you for your interest!]

(Psst — can’t wait, want to guarantee your copy, or prefer paperback? Buy your own copy today!)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ten Past Noon by Tucker Lieberman

Ten Past Noon

by Tucker Lieberman

Giveaway ends March 17, 2020.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

‘The Bride Minaret’: Poems by Heather Derr-Smith

The Bride Minaret
The Bride Minaret by Heather Derr-Smith

Heather Derr-Smith’s poetry collection The Bride Minaret (Akron Series in Poetry, 2008) is an intricate, heavy narrative, focusing in large part on the poet’s relation to her son and the specificity of places she’s visited or lived in.

Within this beautiful arrangement, three poems especially caught my attention.

‘Star Chamber’

In the book’s first section, “Portents,” I noticed the poem “Star Chamber.” Farm machinery would be strange to me, and this poem gives me such a clear image of what it might be like to encounter it.

“There are farm machines that look like spacecraft with spotlights
And drown out the stars above. You know what they are called,
The machines with names like pets and attachments.”

‘The Girl Named Tents, Tanf Refugee Camp’

In the book’s second section, “Prophecies,” the long poem “The Girl Named Tents, Tanf Refugee Camp” reads like a biography and a prayer. “She was supposed to be a boy, as all girls are”—thus begins her journey.

“She is nine years old and beginning to know.
But dreams continue to cudgel her, bit by bit, stone by stone,
Knocking her off balance.
The wind writes its calligraphy in invisible ink.”

This same form of silent messaging makes itself known to all the girl’s people:

Alif by alif,
Every bone in the camp is bound together like the stitching on a codex.”

‘The Pelican’

In the book’s third section, “Histories,” the poem “The Pelican” tells a wildlife rescue story. The bird’s mouth-pouch was hooked on a fishing line, “an episiotomy / That birthed only fear.” The poet’s father had a sewing kit — “He was prepared for anything but fatherhood” — and he “crept low to the ground in a gesture of humility the bird recognized,” enabling him to save the bird, according to the story she was told.

What the world communicates to us

In these lines I’ve selected, the common theme seems to be how some information is conveyed not through language but through embodiment: that of objects, people, and animals.