Tag Archives: Jericho Brown

June 2021 – Review of the Month

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June – we finally got our summer after perhaps the wettest May on record since 1967! The sunshine has made up for it since. The plants are finally thriving (with a bit of watering help). Festival season continues although I have made a conscious decision to calm the diary down and get back to the desk work (actually writing)!

Despite having to quarantine for 10 days, I didn’t have time to complete this post. So I will share it in two halves, like every wonderful Euro match!

PART 1:

FESTIVALS

HAY festival – ran until 6th June

Roxbury Poetry Festival 5th June

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 6th -11th June

WEEK 1:

I spent most of the week enjoying events at the Hay Festival. I blogged the 2020 Digital Hay extensively here on AWF – but this year I got to fewer events than I hoped. By the end of the week I was busy spending days organising the WLFF Festival. I managed to make Ade Couper’s Amnesty International event on Friday night. A deeply touching experience. I was quite involved with Amnesty International as a young person, it shocks me that are still having to do the same work decades later and more. I used to write quite a few social activism/political poems, I need to dust this part of my brain off because our words and actions are still necessary!

The weekend was complete madness! I discovered Roxbury Poetry Festival at the end of May and booked tickets. Three weeks before in a workshop with Denise Duhamel and Maureen Seaton, I met an Anglo-American poet, Chloe Firetto-Toomey. We collaborated together in the workshop and Maureen presumed we knew each other and had worked together before… well we are now and Roxbury was a chance for us to experience a festival together in real time! It was a fantastic programme of events and beautiful knowing we were there together. There were several simultaneous events and we had no communication over any of them* and yet we turned up attuned in each session the same.

*We did discuss going to Rachel McKibbens Craft Talk – as Chloe had sent me one of Rachel’s poems days before.

Roxbury was an amazing hybrid festival. I watched a reading, participated in a wonderful workshop, attended a craft talk reading and the Keynote Speaker Reading:

POETRY IS NOT A LUXURY
Reading & Discussion with Janice Lobo Sapiago & Angelo Geter.

Hosted by the Academy of American Poets, this reading and discussion brings together the Poet Laureate of Rock Hill,
SC, Angelo Geter and the Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County, CA Janice Lobo Sapiago. Poets will perform a reading of their work and engage in conversations around poetry, civic service, and landscaping spaces for youth poets.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

AT HOME IN THE MOVING BODY

Connecting Body, Breath, and Image: Writing Workshop

In this workshop we will connect and constellate the poet’s body to the literary image and to the poetic line.Taking a tip from breathing exercises, we will work together to create unexpected and deep images that bear our understanding of what the body can do as an antenna for our experience of being human. Central to this will be thinking through the various migrations and motions our bodies make and have a memory of making. This will include engaging the concept of home in its complexities for the poet and the poem’s speaker.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

This workshop with Rajiv Mohabir was intense and generative. Some incredible things came up for me, I was so glad to have the experience and with Chloe too. So much of what we’re tackling came up in theme or thought throughout the day, it was almost as if the organisers had seen right into our minds.

CRAFT TALK W/ RACHEL MCKIBBENS

This event is in partnership with GrubStreet

As poets, we use devices to resurrect or bury, but how often are we willing to lean into our own wickedness, to give it its rightful placement as the second face of our vulnerability instead of an agent of confession? This craft talk encourages participants to bring their lunch on screen while enjoying a craft talk from poet and performer, Rachel McKibbens.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

There was so much deep honesty in Rachel’s talk, that sometime afterwards in an email exchange with Chloe, I wrote the darkest, most honest work I have ever shared. Darker than any of my 42Worcester poems or anything I wrote in gloom. I have Rachel McKibbens to thank for opening that door.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS W/ JERICHO BROWN

2020 Pulitzer Prize winner, Jericho Brown, will read from his book The Tradition and answer a few questions from the audience. This talk will be moderated by a local artist.

© 2021 Roxbury Poetry Festival

I always love it when I am in a room with people who have never seen Jericho read live before. Such intense atmosphere and performance. I am grateful for the fortune of watching this man in action throughout 2020 and 2021. I have never seen him perform without tears, his and mine.

A truly exceptional spirit!

I saw Holly McNish & Simon Armitage at HAY. And Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe kicked off Festival week with the Launch and crowning of the NEW Worcestershire Poet Laureate.

You can read about the whole festival (link in Week 2).

Week 2

For any Fast Show fans… this week I have mainly been organising and facilitating Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Festival events. I am one of the Directors but also in charge of tech and port of call for a lot of the poets /judges involved in events. I was prepared for a HARD WORK week — what I didn’t bank on, was a week at the chalk-face too. Timing!

The whole WLFF Team worked exceptionally hard to make the mini-festival 2021 as successful as it was.

Read all about it!

Congratulations to Ade Couper – Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2021-22.

I kept things small the weekend after LitFest but did manage to have breakfast in Australia back with Perth Poetry Club, followed by a Sheffield Libraries workshop with Claire Walker and a night in America at the WWBPA with the Poet in residence 2021 – Forrest Gander.

On Sunday I went to the fabulous Black Pear Press Launch for Brian Comber and Beth O’Brien.

The weekend was exceptionally hot!

Week 3 & Week 4 (Part 2) Coming Soon!

NaPoWriMo 2021 Day 10

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Day Ten Click to read the full post.

As of today, we are one-third of the way through Na/GloPoWriMo 2021.

Our featured participant today is Ordinary Average Thoughts, where you will find, in response to our “unusual to-do list” prompt, the to-do list of a remote control.

Today’s reading is a pre-recorded event that you can enjoy at your leisure. It features the poet Jericho Brown reading at the Cuyahoga County Public Library back in 2019.

Finally, here’s our daily prompt (optional, of course!). It’s called “Junk Drawer Song,” and comes to us from the poet Hoa Nguyen.

  • First, find a song with which you are familiar – it could be a favorite song of yours, or one that just evokes memories of your past. Listen to the song and take notes as you do, without overthinking it or worrying about your notes making sense.
  • Next, rifle through the objects in your junk drawer – or wherever you keep loose odds and ends that don’t have a place otherwise. (Mine contains picture-hanging wire, stamps, rubber bands, and two unfinished wooden spoons I started whittling four years ago after taking a spoon-making class). On a separate page from your song-notes page, write about the objects in the drawer, for as long as you care to.
  • Now, bring your two pages of notes together and write a poem that weaves together your ideas and observations from both pages.

Happy writing!

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Congratulations – you made it! Double figure days and 1/3 through – well done!

This morning I felt the opposite of yesterday, I think the mind knows weekend. I had meetings and events booked today which kept me as busy as I was yesterday. So once again it was a disjointed, bitesize Napo day. I didn’t have the pressure of writing on my own project today, which was a weight lifted. Parts of today were high intensity – mentally – my walking tally’s still held at 1.

PROCESS NOTES:

The featured participant writes a blog I know/follow Ordinary Average Thoughts, so I knew I was in for a treat and the poem Remote control to-do list didn’t disappoint. A delightful read and a universal experience. The use of repetition for comic effect works well and the stanza which matched my own remote control’s bad behaviour, had me smiling:

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Fail to communicate regularly
with the set-top box,
so it will ask him “are you still there?”
in the middle of a show
he is actively watching.

The video is 45 mins – I promise you that time will fly but I wanted to properly listen to it so I saved it for later, to watch after the live events I am attending this evening. He reads for 20+ mins and then it’s a Q & A.

Acclaimed poet Jericho Brown won an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 2015 for The New Testament, a powerful examination of race, masculinity and sexuality. He’ll join us to read selections from his latest collection, The Tradition, and to announce the winners of the 84th Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards honoring the 2018 books that excel in confronting racism and exploring human diversity.

Previous winners include Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Gunnar Myrdal, Toni Morrison, Marilyn Chin, Sandra Cisneros and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King.

A native of Shreveport, Louisiana and an English professor at Emory University, Jericho Brown wrote the 14-line title poem included in his new collection The Tradition the year he was in Cleveland. Celebrated for his intense musicality, lyrical clarity and muscular impact, the poet begins “Night Shift” with “When I am touched, brushed and measured, I think of myself/As a painting.” © Cleveland Foundation.

I like Jericho Brown’s work. I found him through NaPo and his Duplex form a few years ago and have watched and read closely ever since. I had a workshop with him last year which was captivating. I am lucky enough to have another one later this month.

Although I know a lot of the poems (mainly from The Tradition) and have watched him read them before, they do not lose power. It is lovely to see him enjoying the audience so much too. A good audience makes all the difference and this crowd harness all the enthusiasm of the State!

I loved Jericho’s honesty. I think one of the attractions of his work and his readings is the soul level/spirit. Here he tells us how this book tried to kill him. How he fell out with it so many times… and this is something we don’t expect, but it is common. The publishing process for poetry can be fairly lengthy so by the time the books are in hands the work is several years old. We work so hard to get published that you would expect us to throw a party and celebrate (which we do as well) but as several points before the book becomes it does try to kill you. You do fall out with it. It does get inside your head. I almost hated the poems by the time they were bound – you learn to love them again, you just need to give yourself a little space. So I think it’s really good to hear this from a poet as established as Jericho Brown. Like rejection this love-hate relationship with our work is natural and normal and something to accept and learn to deal with. I only wish I had heard those words before 2015.

In the Q&A Jericho talks about process, which I have heard him discuss before. I love hearing different ways we all work.

NaPo always introduces me to poets. One of yesterday’s headaches was realising I had missed a reading which included Denise Duhamel, featured in Napo Day 8.

© Cleveland Foundation

Today’s prompt comes from a website that has a wealth of resources for generating more writing and has been added to my resources document.

It’s a great prompt – one I have done before (juxtaposed) but never with a junk drawer and music. The music part on it’s own, yes… recently in fact in our final Experimenting With… class with Tawnya Renelle. I was looking forward to writing this prompt but with such a lack of concentrated time, I just have notes at the moment. The junk drawer is great fun and I will update this post to let you know how it went tomorrow.

PROCESS NOTES for this wonderful prompt can be read here.

NaPoWriMo 2019 Day 26

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Four days to go! You can do this!

As always, click on the day for the full post.

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Day Twenty-Six

Today’s featured participant is Yesterday and Today, where the seasonal/sensual prompt for Day 25 resulted in a summery villanelle.

And now for our video resource! Today, we present this recording of the poet Jericho Brown reading his poem “Duplex (I Begin With Love).” Note how simple the vocabulary of the poem is, and how Brown uses the power of repetition, rewording and building on prior lines and phrases to drive the poem along.

Today’s prompt is centered around repetition. Repetition is at the heart of the rhetorical strategy of “Duplex.” We engage with it daily in the choruses of songs, and it’s long been recognized as one of the ways to keep a listener’s attention and create a sense of satisfaction or closure in spoken or written language, whether that language takes the form of a speech or a poem or even a comedy routine. Many forms of poetry expressly require or rely on repetition – for example, the villanelle or pantoum.Well-handled repetition can give a poem an incantatory effect. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that uses repetition. You can repeat a word, or phrase. You can even repeat an image, perhaps slightly changing or enlarging it from stanza to stanza, to alter its meaning. There are (perhaps paradoxically) infinite possibilities in repetition. Want to look at some examples? Perhaps you’ll find inspiration in Joanna Klink’s “Some Feel Rain” or John Pluecker’s “So Many.”

Happy writing!

 

NaPo Process Notes

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I happily read today’s prompt in bed this morning, welcoming poetry in with the crack of light between my curtains. It was a pleasant waking.

I started by reading I Smell the Salt in Seaside Breeze by Merril D. Smith. This vivid poem evoked the senses of my favourite season, summer. Merril (like me) is steps ahead of the NaPo prompts, producing a villanelle on Day 25. The repetition worked well here and made me think of the pull of the waves on the ocean. I can see this poem. I think it is universally something we have all lived/felt. It is saved to the Poetry Resources file. Fine work.

I then watched Jericho Brown.

I listened to Duplex a few times. Listening to the poem and then to the form, the repetition.

The duplex is a form I invented. It’s a fusion of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues. – Jericho Brown

I know how to write a sonnet and a ghazal and have heard the blues. I am hoping to be able to unpick this form.

I then read the poem on The American Poetry Review, saved it to my resource file knowing I would be unpicking it later.

I then read the example poems, as if it wasn’t enough to discover Jericho Brown this morning, I fell in love with Joanna Klink’s Some Feel Rain. I kept reading it over and over.

Do I imagine there is any place so safe it can’t be
snapped?

WOW. Breath-catching read. Joyfully saved this one to the resource file, which is jam packed for Day 26.

Lastly, (before getting up), I listened to John Pluecker’s So Many, grateful for the audio as I struggle to read a poem which has no punctuation. It was also great to hear it from the voice of the poet. Stunning moments captured in this emotive poem.

Both of these poems were great examples of the use of repetition. They also made me feel ready for writing!

 

On Writing

fashion legs notebook working

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I have already written one villanelle this NaPo and they are hard work, I often write pantoums but had never come across a duplex (other than an architectural term), so I fancied trying to write one and set about finding out more about this form Jericho Brown invented.

I read this article https://news.emory.edu/features/2019/04/creative-writing/index.html about the work Jericho does as a Professor at Emory University. It offered a little insight to the new form.

…inventing a new poetry form he calls the duplex. The new structure melds the formality of a sonnet, the inline rhyme and repetition of the ghazal, and duality of the American blues, all in nine to eleven syllables per line. It’s also the title of five poems in “The Tradition,” his third collection, published earlier this month.

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I also watched Stand.

I found this article in The Rumpus which goes into the form in more detail. It is a great interview, one you should read!

GUTTING THE SONNET: A CONVERSATION WITH JERICHO BROWN

BY CANDACE WILLIAMS 

The duplex is a new form that renders the musicality and structure of the ghazal, the sonnet, and the blues on a single plane. The poem starts with a couplet of two distinct lines. The second line is repeated and a new line is added, and then repeated until there are seven couplets of nine to eleven syllables each. Although the poem sounds iambic, it retains its relationship to the metrical tradition of the ghazal. The first line is the fourteenth line. The rhyme (via repetition) and the turn are reminiscent of the sonnet. The duplex holds tradition in its embrace while calling that embrace into question. This tension and release are a means for The Tradition’s speaker to interrogate and transcend their condition.

I also wondered why he had called the form Duplex and an article on Poetry Foundation helped me find the answer:

I decided to call the form a duplex because something about its repetition and its couplets made me feel like it was a house with two addresses. It is, indeed, a mutt of a form as so many of us in this nation are only now empowered to live fully in all of our identities.

I also found out more about the form and read more examples of Duplex poems.

Starting at the fourth line, every other line of the poem aims at “incongruous humor that…becomes ironic laughter mixed with tears.” The blues allowed for a poem that we teachers like to describe as “voice-y,” which is to say that the poems begin to take on more personality in those moments.

The end of the article gifted me the gold dust I had searching for. The form. 

Write a ghazal that is also a sonnet that is also a blues poem of 14 lines,

giving each line 9 to 11 syllables.

The first line is echoed in the last line.

The second line of the poem should change our impression of the first line in an unexpected way.

The second line is echoed and becomes the third line.

The fourth line of the poem should change our impression of the third line in an unexpected way.

This continues until the penultimate line becomes the first line of the couplet that leads to the final (and first) line.

For the variations of repeated lines, it is useful to think of the a a’ b scheme of the blues form.

Armed with a little more information I decided to have a go – and if I fail on the form then I have a poem which would not otherwise have existed in a parallel coat. Nothing will be lost. My ego will declare that I have invented a new form, the not-quite-a-duplex-poem. A Du. I am excited to give it a go.

HAPPY DANCE!

I managed to write a Duplex, unfortunately the battery died on the laptop halfway through the composition, so the 2nd half of the write was harder than it could have been, having lost the flow and the construction of the poem during my time offline.

I don’t think I changed the impression hard enough within the couplets. I got there though. Phew. It is an interesting result and is definitely a form I will attempt again.

I called it Remains which has layered meaning in the poem and think that the sense of the poem overall is beautiful. I think that is down to the Duplex/Blues rhythm and repetition. It is a love poem and this is how it ends…

A new tale on your chest tells of us.
Open to love, I’m weightless in my baggage.