Tagged! ~ The Virtual Blog Tour


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Dear friends, readers, and book lovers, I’ve been tagged! ~ that is, by fab friend and fiction writer Marianne Villanueva, who in turn was tagged by the exciting Rashaan Alexis Meneses – to participate in “The Virtual Blog Tour.”


When one is tagged, one must answer 4 basic questions, and then tag (and briefly introduce) 3 to 4 other writers who will then each continue the process with their own writing friends.

Inquiring further into the process, I was directed to this passage on poet and North American Review editor Vince Gotera‘s blog, which describes what it’s all about:

“The ‘virtual blog tour’ is an excellent, friendly way for writers, artists, and other creative folks to bring attention to their own work as well as that of others. It begins with an invitation from another artist or writer. Then in your blog you acknowledge the person who invited you, answer four given questions about your work and your process, and then invite three other people to participate. These people then do the same thing, referring their blog readers to the blogs of three more people, and so on. It’s a wonderful sort of ‘pyramid scheme’ that’s beneficial for everyone: the artists and writers as well as the readers of their blogs. We can follow links from blog to blog and then we can all learn about different kinds of creative process and also find new writers and artists we may not have known about before.”

The 4 Questions for the Virtual Blog Tour:

1. What are you currently working on?

I write every day / have been writing (at least) a poem a day since November 20, 2010, and posting these on Dave Bonta‘s Via Negativa site.

Out of my daily writing practice, I have gathered poems into books! I have two (2) new books: one has just been released~  Night Willow (prose poems), from Phoenicia Publishing in Montreal, in early June this year; and on August 3, 2014, Utah State University Press released my book Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser, which was selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Prize.

Currently, I am sending out a brand new manuscript and hoping that it finds a home very soon. I’m also excited to begin outlining work for at least a couple of new projects ~ essays on poetry/poetics, perhaps a book on poetry and food.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Every writer brings a unique voice, sensibility, temperament, and approach to his or her own writing. All this is informed by one’s particular history, milieu, background, and experiences.

In my work I am always interested in trying to write strong and compelling poetry that is lyrical and unafraid of complexity and intellect.

My sensibility, honed and informed by my history as a Filipina writer in the diaspora, as a woman steeped in family and larger histories in the Baguio of my childhood, growing up, and my imagination— all inform my writing in a singular way.

3. Why do you write/create what you do?

To play. To think and reflect. To dream. To argue (with/against/for/to ___). To be badass. To find light. To navigate the dark. To draw. To shade. To sift. To pray. To take apart. To tinker. To make and remake. To cook. To find and lose and find. To try. To be.

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

In other parts of my blog, and in recent interviews and reviews here and there, I’ve had the opportunity to share a bit more in detail on my creative process especially for the last three, going on four, years now of my daily writing practice.

I write and revise on a daily basis. The benefits for me of having cultivated a daily discipline: being better able to tune out external noise and tune in to the space where writing can happen.

On the other side of the solitary and individual space where the writing happens for each of us, there is that space which intersects with community, with others. It’s important that a writer find a way to balance the solitary act of writing and creating, with the ability to connect deeply to the world around her. ________________________________________________________________

And now, here are 4 writers I am tagging, and introducing ~ Ta-dah!

Sam Roderick Roxas-Chua SRC2014FL-12

I am very glad to have recently made the acquaintance of the poet Sam Roderick Roxas-Chua, who grew up in Glendale, California. Sam has read for Oregon Poetry Association, Windfall Reading Series, Isangmahal Arts Collective, NW Poets Concord, Talking Earth, PoetsWest, Brigadoon Books, Fault Lines and Word Lab in Manila, Philippines.

He is published by The Jefferson Monthly, The Inflectionist Review, Word Laboratories, Mixer, Concord, and Paw Print. In June 2014 he won the First Place award for The Missouri Review‘s 7th Annual Audio Competition in Poetry. He is a member of Red Sofa Poetry Critique Group and Centrum’s Madrona Writers Group in Port Townsend, WA. Sam lives in Eugene, Oregon and is a student at Pacific University’s MFA in Writing program.


Erica Goss

Erica Goss is 2013-2014 Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA. Born in Germany and raised in California, Erica Goss has been writing poetry since she was a child. As a writer, she is interested in the juxtaposition between nature and human beings, finding inspiration in that tenuous intersection of the wild and the domesticated. Her poems often deal with how far people can encroach upon nature, where the boundaries are, and how we project our own hopes and fantasies upon the natural world.

Erica is a former editor of Caesura, the journal of literature and art published by the Poetry Center San Jose. She taught high school poetry for five years, has lead art and writing camps for young people, and currently teaches poetry workshops for adults. In 2012, she began writing a column on video poetry for Connotation Press. Her poems, reviews and essays have appeared in many literary journals, most recently Pearl, Ekphrasis, Main Street Rag, Café Review, Perigee, Dash Literary Journal, Eclectica, Up the Staircase, Lake Effect, Stirrings, Passager, Caveat Lector, Rattle, Zoland Poetry, Comstock Review and Innisfree Poetry Journal. She received the Many Mountains Moving Prize for poetry in 2011.

She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2010 and 2013, and received the first Edwin Markham Prize for poetry, judged by California Poet Laureate Al Young. Wild Place was also a finalist in the 2010 White Eagle Coffee Store Press Chapbook Contest, and received a special mention from Jacar Press’s 2010 Chapbook Contest. Erica hosts Word to Word, a Show About Poetry, on KCAT Cable TV in Los Gatos.


R.A. Villanueva

I am very excited to read poet R.A. Villanueva‘s new book Reliquaria, which won the prestigious 2013 Prairie Schooner Book Prize. He is also the winner of the inaugural Ninth Letter Literary Award for poetry.

Reliquaria is available to pre-order now from University of Nebraska Press, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Here is the description of the book from Amazon:

“In his prize-winning poetry collection ReliquariaR. A. Villanueva embraces liminal, in-between spaces in considering an ever-evolving Filipino American identity. Languages and cultures collide; mythologies and faiths echo and resound. Part haunting, part prayer, part prophecy, these poems resonate with the voices of the dead and those who remember them. In this remarkable book, we enter the vessel of memory, the vessel of the body. The dead act as witness, the living as chimera, and we learn that whatever the state of the body, this much rings true: every ode is an elegy; each elegy is always an ode.”

A semi-finalist for the 2013 “Discovery”/Boston Review Prize and a finalist for the 2011 Beatrice Hawley and Kinereth Gensler Awards, additional honors include fellowships from Kundiman and The Asian American Literary Review, and scholarships from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Recent poems have been nominated for The Pushchart Prize and anthologized in A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry. He holds graduate degrees from Rutgers University and New York University.

His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Five Points, The Common, AGNI, Gulf Coast, Virginia Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, DIAGRAM, Bellevue Literary Review, Smartish Pace, Painted Bride Quarterly, Indiana Review, The Collagist, The Literary Review, Paperbag, Crab Orchard Review, RATTLE, Lantern Review, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2010, This Recording, Letters: A Journal of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Kartika Review, La Fovea, Mead, and The Margins.

He is on the Editorial Board of Tongue: A Journal of Writing and Art; and formerly served as the Poetry Editor of Washington Square and co-curator of Experiments & Disorders, a performance series at Dixon Place devoted to new poetic forms.

Born in New Jersey, he lives in Brooklyn and London.



Karen Salyer McElmurray IMG_0426

When I desperately need real, tell-it-to-me-like-it-is writing truths drawn from lived experience, I turn to Marginalia, the correspondence between two writing friends, Karen McElmurray and  Nancy Peacock.  I was very happy to have met Karen McElmurray in person, finally*, at the AWP this year in Seattle, where I went and listened to her talk at a panel on the “Hidden Populations” in the writing workshop/writing classroom.  Her voice, in person, was as I encountered it on the page: memorable and lovely because real and true.

Karen writes both fiction and creative nonfiction. Her memoir, Surrendered Child, won the AWP Award Series for Creative Nonfiction and was listed as a “notable book” by the National Book Critics Circle. She is also the author of Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven (University of Georgia Press), a novel that won the Lillie Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing and, most recently, The Motel of the Stars, part of the 2009 Linda Bruckheimer Series from Sarabande Books. Karen has an MFA in Fiction Writing from the University of Virginia, an MA in Creative Writing from Hollins University, and a PhD from the University of Georgia, where she studied American Literature and Fiction Writing. Her work has received numerous awards, including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She is frequently visiting writer and lecturer at a variety of programs and reading series.

*P.S.: My bad, bad memory!!! the 2014 AWP in Seattle was where I met Karen again, a very very very long time after I first met her (very briefly). This was at a local writing conference at Christopher Newport University, shortly before or after her first book was published!

P.P.S.: Here is Karen’s Virtual Blog Tour post!


 Please check out these writers’ works!!!


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Save the date!~ Sunday August 3rd at 4: 30 p.m.
Prince Books is pleased to host a poetry reading and book signing with
Luisa A. Igloria
for her latest poetry collection,

Night Willow

(Copies of the book will be available during the book launch and reading event.)


Like much of Luisa’s work, Night Willow employs memory and associations as well as the ingredients of the everyday, but goes beyond the narrative and the purely lyrical to create a dream-like atmosphere that contains beauty, bewilderment, anguish, and hope.




“In prismatic prose poems of daughters and fathers, of aging and longing, of loves and laments, Luisa A. Igloria fashions for us an ancient tongue for the 21st century, one that gets to the heart of why poetry is written: the pure lyric impulse of trying to live. In a time when words too often play flippant ironic games, Igloria instead takes us beneath language’s skin, to show us “how the planets align, how trees cast their shadows along the broken boundary; how the wolves howl as they press closer to their prey.”
Sean Thomas Dougherty, author of ?Scything Grace; Nightshift Belonging to Lorca (Paterson Poetry Prize finalist); Except by Falling (2000 Pinyon Press Poetry Prize); and ?Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line


“In old stories, the elders speak of warriors with heart: ‘nakem;’ of growing wiser as ‘growing in heart.’ In this fierce, sensual collection, Luisa A. Igloria tracks her own growing of heart, and in the process tears open the reader’s heart as well. Her poems knife through the surfaces of ordinary life to reveal layers of poignancy, depth, and vulnerability. …With razor-sharp language and an unflinching eye, she reveals a world of secret names given in childhood to confuse the gods, …the ways past and present shadow each other, the urgent desire “to touch, be touched, be filled with fleeting grace.” ~ Reine Arcache Melvin, author of A Normal Life and Other Stories


Readers may be familiar with Igloria’s poem-a-day project, published on Dave Bonta’s blog, Via Negativa; what they may not realize is that she was the first Filipina woman of letters installed in the Palanca Literary Hall of Fame in the Philippines, and is an eleven-time winner of that country’s highest literary award, the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature (in poetry, non-fiction, and short fiction) as well as having a very long list of American poetry awards to her credit.

Luisa A. Igloria is a poet, professor of English and Creative Writing, and Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University. Her books include Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Book Prize, Utah State University Press); Night Willow: Prose Poems, The Saints of Streets; Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press);Trill & Mordent; and 8 other books.

Luisa has degrees from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was a Fulbright Fellow from 1992-1995. She has lived and worked in Hampton Roads for the last fifteen years; she enjoys cooking with her family, book-binding, and listening to tango music.

For questions regarding the Prince Books event, please contact their staff at 757-622-9223 or send an email to: staff@prince-books.com


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Dear friends and lovers of poetry, Today I am filled with gratitude for the amazing Beth Adams and Phoenicia Publishing, for the beautiful work on my new book, NIGHT WILLOW (Prose Poems).


Phoenicia has just announced that NIGHT WILLOW is now available at a special pre-publication price of $12.50 (direct orders only) before the official book release date of June 17 ~



I wanted to share this opportunity so you can take advantage of this special pre-publication offer from Phoenicia— and also to ask that in the next few weeks, you check this blog  for information on the Norfolk Va. Book Launch and Reading Event for NIGHT WILLOW. Very soon, I promise!!!

Below, I  share 3 poems from the book.

Thank you so much for your readership and support, which I value beyond measure!!!

Mil gracias / Maraming Salamat ~


_________________________________________________________ Excerpts from NIGHT WILLOW (Prose Poems) by Luisa A. Igloria


Who’s to say what you can believe or not? For every animal of affection that walks into your ark, its snarling twin pulls at the chains, trembles the floorboards. You feed them both, you give the same milk and the same bone wrapped in meat, hunks of bread to sop up the oil and broth. In the dark, it’s hard to tell one from the other. Their eyes have the same marble sheen, obsidian or clear grey flecked with green. One will tolerate the length of the journey. The other will pace and pace, howl at the moon, the rain, the sun, its shadow. You know it could tear you to pieces if you gave it more than a chance. But you sing to both, you run your hands through their sorrowful pelt: this one thing they let you do without complaint, knowing you too must live in your skin.  


“Poem for Passing Encounters at the Grocery Checkout Aisle”

(after D. Bonta’s “Poem for Display at a Police Checkpoint”)

The cashier sporting a nose ring and Kiss Everlasting French Fake Nails cracks her gum every few seconds; her high ponytail bobs as she flips through a three-ring binder and its plastic-covered product list pages. Finally she asks, What’s that? pointing to the 4 small purple potatoes I’ve placed on the counter. After I tell her and she rings me up, the young man—a high school or college student working through the summer— bags my purchases. Paper or plastic? he asks, and I say Paper to Jihad, for that is what his name tag says. And I know his name might mean either a holy war or the struggle of believers in Islam to fulfill their religious duties or to make believers out of their enemies. But I do not think there are any mujahideen here, no children running through the frozen food section with homemade bombs strapped under their vests. A couple of men are buying lottery tickets in the corner, and it’s true, no one ever seems to buy any of the exotic imported fruit marked at ridiculous prices. The deeply sun-tanned man in the aisle next to us hefts two six-packs of Dos Equis into his cart, and whistles as he moves to the exit. When he passes I read Alma y Luz tattooed with roses on his right bicep. Behind me, a couple of local firefighters are waiting their turn with a cart full of pork spareribs, lean ground beef, and barbeque sauce. One of them picks out a foil-covered piece of candy from the rack near the chips and magazines. What? he says to his companion; I love Cadbury Creme Eggs. And his friend says Whatever, man and laughs.



Love is the opening of the heart, the welcoming of your beloved. Birdling, tiny thing that bumps head-on, unwittingly, into the glass— you are not yet the announcing angel. Like you I’ve been distracted by the flicker on surfaces, yellow-green, light-dusted, feathery as eyelashes. What do you see as you stop to take a breath, as you teeter, then center, weight full on the ledge? Indentations in the stucco: imperfect, unlevel— clumsy as a new lover’s caress, yet punctuated with ardor. I lie beneath the sill, hair in disarray, attempting repose. It is either the moment before or the moment after. When you find your bearings and flit away, your shadow mimics the pulse fluttering at my throat: momentary touch, what visited there last.

Today, on the Best American Poetry Blog


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Thank you to lovely poet Martha Silano (her books include The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception and Reckless Lovely)  for featuring me on her blog post today at The Best American Poetry Blog!


         NaPoMo may be winding down, but the poetry will keep going :)


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As I promised at the outset, I am rounding up all the prompts I wrote and shared daily this month on my FB and Twitter for NaPoMo 2014.  



April 1 / Day 1 NaPoMo 2014

Because this is the first day of NaPoMo (National Poetry Month), I will share the prompt I created for an assignment my Graduate Poetry Workshop MFA students are bringing to class tonight.

Also, because in it, I use the work of one of our superstar poets from The MFA Creative Writing Program at ODU, Natalie Diaz ~

From Natalie Diaz’s When My Brother Was an Aztec

- select (at random) 5-8 lines and turn them into questions and answer them in either lineated poem stanzas or prose poem stanzas to make one new poem.  Use the following words somewhere in your poem: corrugated, indeterminate, obsidian, rosary; use two colors, but use other, more evocative color names (not ROYGBV); use one place name.

Happy writing!


Day 2

Sharing another writing prompt I crafted for my graduate poetry workshop this spring in The MFA Creative Writing Program at ODU ~ also, because Karen An-hwei Lee was just here as our Visiting Poet in Residence!

In a 2009 essay accompanying her book Ardor, Karen An-hwei Lee writes:

“Anne Carson muses, ‘What makes a poet, accident or attention?’ Both experimentation and linguistic attention can make poetry challenging. While I’m not exhorting all readers to join a revolution in poetic language, it’s been noted that language-driven aesthetics are seldom considered accessible by general readerships. Indeed, poetic compression, complexity, and poetry’s elliptical qualities— accidents or surprises while paying exquisite attention to language itself— may render poetry and experimental prose difficult, but … that is what reading is. …The least intentional aspects of writing are often the most crucial to breaking open the geometry of craft. A unifying pulse is revealed, a flagon pours new oil or wine, or a source illuminates the internal architecture of a poem-organism. … In one writing exercise, I ask students to imagine a cell as a transparent room. What furnishes this room? Look inside. What do you see? A mitotic glass pool? A tarnished mirror, a fish vat, a box of clay shards, childhood, a burned orchard, a lake bottom, nebulae, an airplane lying in a debris field? … Use surprise to shift attention without losing focus.”

Write a poem following the above instruction on using the “least intentional” aspects of writing to lead to discovery, surprise, and insight. How can you use this “elliptical” approach without at the same time losing sharp focus (of feeling, language, and insight) in your poem?

If you would like, you might also try writing a poem using the mirror-hinge structure that appears in some of Karen’s poems in Phyla of Joy and elsewhere.


Day 3

Sharing another assignment I crafted this spring for my Graduate Poetry Workshop ~ this one, based on Joan Naviyuk Kane’s book Hyperboreal, which was one of several we read and studied this semester:

Examine the tensions in language, vocabulary, sound play, and everything? amounting to “white space” (not just line breaks or stanza breaks but other? forms of space- think for instance in terms of musical rests, or breathing?spaces) in Joan Kane’s poems. Do they stem only from knowledge of a?different (or other) language/s, or are they informed by other kinds of difference?

“Hyperboreal” means of or from far, far north, so it is informed by notions ?of extreme distance.

Write a poem in which you push your own comfort zone/s (in language, sound, diction, vocabulary, your usual/known sense of subject and place) away. Try to write your poem from that place.


Day 4

My poem prompt, because May Swenson ~

Write a poem that uses syntactical repetition (see “Question” by May Swenson, for instance) to highlight tensions, create the poem’s structure and development, as well as music.


Day 5

I am writing with my back deck as studio. I am excited because the fig tree is budding new leaves. There are violet blooms pushing up from the ground that I didn’t even know had been seeded here. Under the camellia bush, I am delighted to find clumps of mint. (We moved into our new home just this past December, and the backyard is going to be a place of new discoveries.)


Choose a word or bit of language that is dexterous in its grammatical uses, that might be applied as verb, as noun, as adjective, or adverb in its various perambulations; that is rich with a history of usage, emotional inflection, colloquial drama, etc.—and write a series of connected poems or write a long poem sequence that is a meditation on this word. You may write prose poem sequences, or free verse, or use forms (traditional, imposed, or borrowed).

Take as starting point this idea: ?“A single word holds a narrative of the human condition.”


Day 6

To witness is to behold, is to acknowledge, is to let one’s consciousness connect to history.

To witness is to attest to fact, to testify. It derives from the Old English martyr, from Late Latin martyr, from Doric Greek martyr, earlier martys (genitive martyros) – “witness,” probably related to mermera “care, trouble,” from mermairein “be anxious or thoughtful,” from PIE *(s)mrtu- (cf. Sanskrit smarati “remember,” Latin memor “mindful.”

To witness therefore is to commit to memory a human event – not merely what is beautiful or elevating or transporting, but including those moments of terrible suffering or tragedy, that which is difficult to look at.

> Write a poem of witness. You may write in free verse, or you may write in form.

> Challenge: Whether or not you decide to write in form, write your poem so that it introduces some innovation, however slight, in form.


Day 7

Sharing another writing prompt that I crafted for my students in workshop not too long ago:


Beginnings:? Paul Valery said that the opening line of a poem is like a fruit we have never seen before and that we happen upon, that has fallen on the ground—and that the task of the rest of the poem is to (re)create the tree from which such a fruit would have dropped.

As for endings: ?Many poets have said that despite the innumerable ways we can talk about theme or subject, there is only one ultimate subject~ temporality or change; and at the end is death, fin.

Write (a) new poem(s) using Paul Valery idea of a poem’s first line AND origins as your prompt.

Bonus prompt: Review and revise poems you’ve already written/generated, paying particular attention to beginnings and endings.


Day 8

Write a poem of forgetting.


Day 9

Sharing my firestarter writing prompt with you:

Here are two fragments, two sticks to rub against each other to generate a poem, a little fire, maybe a blaze ~

1. “…being inclines intrinsically to self-concealment.” ~ Heraclitus

2. “Every word carries a secret inside itself; it’s called etymology.” ~ Mary Ruefle


Day 10  

Who has not channeled the Duende in the intensity of the writing and creative process?

Who has not, more than once, been gifted with the Duende‘s luminous presence, dancing on the threshold of the poem?

Today, write a poem in which YOU do something for your Duende, for a change: treat your Duende to a meal; take a walk on the beach; show her your childhood home; take her to the fish market; cut a starfruit open and put a slice on his tongue so he will know the taste of green…

[ Federico Garcia Lorca on Duende

... And doesn't this dude have Duende? > Joaquin Cortes ]


Day 11  

Write a lyric poem with two truths and a lie.


Day 12  

Write a meditation that is also an ode to staying put (or staying home); or to leaving (abandoning?) everything behind.

In this poem, write mostly to weigh (or think about) risk and gain.


Day 13  

Write a poem which incorporates a set of instructions on how to get somewhere specific, and then on returning or coming back.

Baguio Market 1932

(Baguio City Market, 1932)

Day 14  

Pick three triggers – visual, auditory, and textural (ex: visual – Hieronymous Bosch, Salvador Dali, Rene Magritte? auditory – Bartok? koto music? gamelan? textural – hemp? granite? linen?)

Write a poem using any or all of, or beginning from, these. As you write, aim for three specific goals in both writing and revision afterward:

1. Expansion: Be (structurally) conscious of how a multitude of spaces can open up within a small one.

2. Development: How does a line, a group of images, a set of associations, move in other directions besides straight/forward?

3. Variation(s): What happens to the senses, in syncopated time? What happens to both narrative and syntax, when disrupted from their habitual dream?


Day 15   

Write a poem that inhabits the space of waiting.


Day 16  

Write a poem that is a page from an index of first (or last) lines.


Day 17  

Dean Young says in The Art of Recklessness:

“Poetry is a manifestation of the spirit as it triangulates itself through the desires and limitations of meaning… It forgets about itself as code making, has the supreme confidence of handling elemental fuels. The word then is not only fit referent but also magical embodiment of the thing, the word takes its flesh from the world. … Our poems are what the gods couldn’t make without going through us. We were answering back, not making codes, not manipulating literary devices, but offering thanks and accusation, mimicries of fundamental mysteries, the simplicities of urges that are always with us in the language of the creature, experience, weather. Our poetry is… the assertion of the monstrous if need be, the instinctual, visceral, sexual, rogue, absurd, sometimes derangement as a form of innocence. …Not iron[y].”

~ Think on this and, working from the visceral, write in a way that abandons your usual style and voice. Allow the poem to ride you instead of the other way around; give it the reins, loose the bridle— tell of where it takes you.


Day 18

In memoriam, Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

Write a prose poem that is one long and breathless sentence, using a full stop only when you come to the end. Fill it with narrow streets that wind through the towns of your greatest myth-making, where the sea billows in curtains, where windows flicker with light and the movement of unseen butterflies or doves.


Day 19  

Begin a poem with this:

“Coal-heaver, yeoman, caulker: your almanac…”


Day 20  

How does a drop of rain tell of the sky from which it came?

How does a shadow tell of that which casts its shape?


Day 21  

Write a poem about your secret name(s).


Day 22  

“Stanza” derives (1580–90) from the Italian: meaning room, station, stopping-place (plural stanze).

Write a poem in stanzas, but one in which you also try to convey a conscious sense of the passage from one “room” to another as being more than just a gap;

In this poem, also

- use three synonyms for “light;”

- use the words metal, electric, and blur;

- use the present tense;

- make reference to two sweets, one particular make of car, and one commercial (radio, TV, or print) from your childhood.


Day 23  

Using couplets, write a poem of literal and metaphorical transplanting in the form of instructions for drawing a map.

In the poem, make reference to a specific mode of travel, a body of water, and a mountain range. Also include only the tracks or sound made by two types of animals that creep along the ground, and one that flies.


Day 24   

Write a poem of craving.


Day 25  

Inspired by the title poem of my last collection The Saints of Streets

and by Christian Anton Gerard’s epistolary review of it for The Rumpus):

Write a long poem in letters to the patron saints of your childhood streets. (If you don’t have any, now is a good time to appoint them.)


Day 26  


What is your magnetic north?

Write a poem in which you describe it; also describe how it feels to write/work your way toward (or away from) it.


Day 27  

Write a poem which attempts to explain a word or concept from another language, which has no direct translation into English. Write the poem using/referring to only one or two of the five senses.


Day 28    

Peter Turchi writes:

“In stories, poems, and novels, we create worlds of consensus hallucination. While readers suspend disbelief, as writers our job is to sustain belief in a world of the imagination, one as real to us as our computers, as yesterday’s bread and tomorrow’s news, as our fears and our dreams.”

Write a poem which embodies such a “[world] of consensus hallucination” — make your reader fall into it, and having fallen into it, have the senses dramatically reoriented from the experience.


Day 29  

One life, they say: but one. What poem could match its expanse, its singularity, its exigency, its surprising joy? Write toward that poem.


Day 30  (how quickly a whole month flies!)

“The road is long. So do not mind the smallness of the present.” ~ Prajnadeva in a letter to Xuanzang, ca. AD 645

Every beginning, every end, has something of both the sweet and the not-sweet. Let me taste both, in a poem of beginnings and endings, endings and beginnings. Let it have doors and windows, ceilings, roofs, ladders, and stairs. Let it also have mountains and trees, the sweep of open spaces.


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THANK YOU to JUANITA RAISOR, President of the ODU Faculty, Wives, and Friends;
and to the ODU Faculty, Wives, and Friends membership
for their generous donation toward the 2014 ODU Literary Festival
(marking its 37th year this year)!
Your contribution means so much to all of us!
[in photo, L-R: Frederick Bayersdorfer, Assistant Dean for the Arts; Luisa Igloria, MFA Creative Writing Program Director and 2014 ODU Literary Festival Co-Director; Juanita Raisor, President, ODU Faculty, Wives, and Friends]
Dear Friends in our ODU campus communities,
If you wish to make a donation to The Dominion Fund through this year’s Campus Community Campaign, please consider earmarking your donation for the Friends of the MFA Creative Writing Program at ODU Writing Fellowship, account number 286088.  Please place the account number and the title of the fellowship in the “I wish to contribute to” section of the pledge form you received in campus mail.

And to everyone else – please consider becoming a Friend!
Mil Gracias/Many Thanks!!!


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On Thursday night, April 24, 2014, ODU’s MFA Creative Writing Program celebrated the accomplishments of 9 of its writers who are graduating this May 2014.

Big congratulations to Jerry Healy, Lauren Hurston, Amana Katora, Josh Norman, Kevin O’Connor, Sarah Pringle, Dillon Tripp, Geoff Watkinson, and Wendi White!~ we are so proud of you!

Here are some pictures from our Gala event ~