Poetry

Interview with Naomi Shihab Nye
Interviewing Naomi Shihab Nye, one of my very favorite poets in the entire world and a deeply generous and genuine person. Photo: Christine Corrigan (2015)

My poem “You Moved Your Whole Town,” about the displacing of a free black town in the North Carolina mountains, won the Artist’s Choice in the October 2017 Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge.

Four other poems have appeared—and another one is still forthcoming—in Saint Katherine Review.

My interview with the poet Li-Young Lee appeared in Image 86.

My interview with Naomi Shihab Nye is looking for a home.

Some of the poets who have particularly meant something to me over time include Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, Jay Wright, Lucille Clifton, Naomi Shihab Nye, Li-Young Lee, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, and Scott Cairns. I also have an abiding appreciation for the poets in Bill Moyers’ The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets.


 

St. Joseph’s

Our county hospital rests, quiet as an abbey.
An IV pump murmurs mantras.
The saline pouch drips prayer beads.
Antibiotics are bread and wine.
Asleep with fever, moaning,
Your body, nine months pregnant, transfigures.
Your unbecoming becomes someone new.
And so do you.

Saint Katherine Review 5.2 (2017): 34.


 

Singing That One True and Final Shanty of the Sea

—after Gabrielle Wu Lee’s Iceland Revelations: Snow Storm on Blue Lagoon

When blue skies and blue seas
Begin to foment and froth, turn red and white,
The apocalypse is surely nigh.
Or perhaps a tremendous tempest.
Or at least a spectacular sunset.
Whichever the case, be afraid. So afraid you cannot move.
So afraid you cannot stay still. So afraid
You understand why awful means full of awe.

Of course, your boat will hold against the ice.
You will not drown, freeze, or be lit by lightning.
It is because you will live that you must fear.
So, row into the apocalypse. Row into
The tremendous tempest. Row into the spectacular sunset.
Muscles throbbing, boards cracking, waves towering,
Each pull of oar sheer stillness,
Each pause between pulls sheer movement.

So it will come to pass that a seagull
Will cry out from the last pale corner of open sky.
Then you will hear the whale song and the plankton song.
Then the squid and the krill will lift their voices.
And you will join them in that singing.
All the waters and all that is in the waters,
Without a sound, with every sound,
Singing that one true and final shanty of the sea.

Saint Katherine Review 5.3 (2017) 10-11.

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