Friday, September 30, 2016

I'm still a poet! And a teacher again! Professing writing!

Friends, Romans, frenemies,
This year: New people. New book. New body. New geology.
I need to take photos of the raw land I pass on the train in Jersey.
A track record of the Ice Age.
This past year has been whirlwindish in its fevered funneled tumultuousity. Multi-funneled, at that.

There was the final editing and input from and with my most wonderful publisher, Michael Broder of Indolent Books. And then, voila, Geographies of Soul and Taffeta, a tasty, delightful book of poems of which I am immensely proud. With which I am outrageously pleased.

Like the proper Southern belle it's not, Geographies had a debut, a coming out, as should an elegant and coy assemblage of poems. This, 3,000 miles from its home. This, at the Associated Writing Program's annual conference. This, in Los Angeles.  Along with the four other utterly wonderful books published by Indolent (by Robert Carr, Lisa Andrews, Joe Osmundson, Michael Broder), also debuting at the fete, Geographies sat upon a table, seductively fanning itself. Michael and myself and Robert Carr were behind the table, talking, selling, laughing.

Following that, I experienced a fallow period. Back in New York I felt, as they say, at odds. With myself and the world and certainly with poetry. It was what it was what it is which it was. After was-ing and is-ing ceased, I got my eyes checked and made the decision to get the operation I had feared, the second operation of my long life (the first involving appendix and an ovary).

Given my often hellish relationship with money and the fact my insurance company rep urged me to get the operation, promising they would cover it, and now is loathe to do so, laser surgery (not its grotesque predecessor, which involves cutting - cutting! - into the eye), was performed on one eye, then two weeks later, my other eye. My vision was made keener, crisper, not simply because cataracts were removed but because my surgeon surgeonated. He is a shining light and the first to be trained at Ear Eye Infirmary on laser surgery. So no matter what happens I now can read without glasses and get around as long as predators stay within five or so feet. After that, I need glasses.

And then, then being now, I begin teaching, or returned to teaching. Comp. Writing. Just comp. Just writing. Oh my gosh, my heart is open. I'm finding it so good to be with students again, and while I am teaching a ways away from my home, I am teaching, seeing new sights, commuting, helping. I am helping a group of people I want to help. I am doing service and being happy as a happy person can be.

So as of September 30, 2016, that's the deal in Sarah Sarai-world.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

BOOK REVIEWS: 2 poetry and 1 nonfiction: I wrote 'n published this year

The Cow with the Subtle Nose by Jean Dubuffet, 1954.

The three reviews I wrote and published this year (one more to come, most likely in October):
Wedlocked: the Perils of Marriage Equality by Katherine Francke, at Lambda  "Comparing African-American rights with LBGT rights is risky. Is it too strong to say that every group and individual with a grievance feels free to compare their plight to that of people-of-color’s? Everyone’s pain is real, absolutely and unequivocally, but the stories don’t always line up. My argument is illustrated by the two couples portrayed on the book jacket."
Trance by Debora Lidov, on Luna Luna Magazine                                                  "Debora Lidov’s short collection, Trance (Finishing Line Press, $14.49), contains poems of surprise, elegance, originality, wit, irony, beauty, dark humor, precision, pain, and lyricism. That is a long praise-list and could set up a reader for impossibly elevated expectations, but the high-stakes’ focus of these poems makes anything less than a full layout of its attributes a little lame."
Cancer Angel by Beth Murray, at Lambda                                                             "Murray’s is poetry that makes the body holy, that illuminates the dark. Diagnosed with advanced breast cancer when she was in her forties, Murray didn’t “struggle with it”-–a phrase often used to frame cancer patients’ experience of the disease. This sharp poet sidesteps, well, more like leaps over sentimentality or cliché. The images can be searing. In “scar,” for instance, the defacement speaks for itself, literally and brazenly: “scar across my chest says have done battle// scar across my chest says have been cut.”

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Poetry Squawks - at Indolent Books - a new weekly feature

from Harvard Museums' collection; what a beautiful squawking bird!; Jean-Baptiste Oudry, French, 1686-1755) 

The latest feature on the Indolent Books' website is a weekly-ish column - Poetry Squawk. A pretty great name, as is Indolent Books. In the column's first iteration, as "Writers on Writing," Poetry Squawk was intended to encourage poets to discuss means and methods native to their processes.

It still serves that function. But Michael Broder, Indolent's founder, broadened the scope of the column, if only by changing the name. Some squawks are loud. Here are links to a few poets' Squawks:

Jenna Lê's Secrecy and the Writing Life: "Like all kids who grow up to be writers, I was a daydreamer from the start."

Antoinette Brim's Why I Bury My Treasure: "I love trash T.V. Not the trash television of Kardashian fame. But, real trash—Flea Market Flip and Antiques Road Show trash—stuff found in dank basements."

B.B.P. Hosmillo's Towards an (Ins)Urgent Kind of Intimacy: "Once an American scholar in Japanese Studies shared a Japanese folktale with me."

To get Poetry Squawks delivered to your email, sign up on the Indolent site, here. Indolent Books is the publisher of Geographies of Soul and Taffeta, my second poetry collection.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Carley Moore: The Phenomenon of Ecstasy :: poem

The Phenomenon of Ecstasy

after Salvador Dali

If you lay the chair on its back it does not look like a woman.
If you push the chair back and remember me sitting in it,
it will remind you of a woman who was shaped by a chair.
When you sit on the chair you make the woman into
the ghost of the chair. When you leave the chair
on its back, you see the way my neck rested on
the edge of the bed. You see the way a chair that
has fallen becomes the liquid of the room.
You see the way the pushed chair lives outside of its shape.
Like the head that insists on the edge of the bed,
the fallen chair is not the reason we break.
The chair that has fallen on its side is not for you.
It is for the small kings who will use it like a carcass.
Best when warm, but best not seen.
The promise of the chair is that it will fall back
over and over again. The promise of the chair
is that it will be like my neck on the edge of the bed.
The chair is the promise of falling.
I am falling in chairs.
I am falling.
You are not the chair.

By Carley Moore.
First published in Painted Bride Quarterly, Issue 63.
All rights belong to Carley Moore.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Interviewee Publishes Her Interview - Sarah Sarai on Geographies

When Geographies of Soul and Taffeta (Indolent Books) was published this April, poet Karen Craigo sent me some questions to answer and suggested I could substitute my own questions. That photo was taken by Michael Broder, founder of Indolent Press at the book party at Zinc Bar, in Greenwich Village.

What did you want to be when you grew up, and why?

I was an enfant terrible of an existentialist who excelled at being what I was – young. I knew I’d been born and knew I would die but having no sense of becoming an adult I suffered no imagined adult iteration of myself. At age seven I fetishized lipstick smears on coffee cups, and couldn’t wait to make this art myself. I was an eight-year-old Annie Oakley. A nine-year-old lawyer in black heels which clicked on the courtroom floor. A friend of most characters in most novels.

What is one poem you particularly enjoyed writing?

“White Tunnel and the Night Return” burst from emotion recollected in an emotional state (as opposed to Wordsworth’s “emotion recollected in tranquillity [sic]”). On the way home from a difficult situation late at night, I ran into a keep-your-head-down ruckus on the subway. Jittery and jittery I was compelled to jot down a version of the first stanza, “I was vessel, dumb animal receptor. / DNA snaked me into life, / three insurrectionist rivers carried me. / Antiquity was my patron saint.” Even the refrain. “Jesus, dance with me. / Mary, in your arms.” came to me on the train. I love, if I may be allowed to love something I wrote, the poem’s feel, which I liken to the Muslim call to prayer which puts voice to church bells. Jesus isn’t Jesus and Mary isn’t Mary, although they both are who they are, as well as mystics and comfort.

Describe your worst poetic habit.

Poetic habits? Hmmm. Isn’t a “poetic habit” twisting my locks whilst doing a plie? Wistfully gazing at lambs leaping in a meadow? Weaving bright ribbons of grosgrain and silk to wear in May? I’m being silly and annoyingly so. Of course you mean the bad habits of a poet. While I will often write out the first draft of a poem – on paper – in longhand, subsequent drafts are on the computer. My bad habit here is that I don’t save draft and so have any partial history of a poem to refresh my thinking and creativity.

It’s time someone put out an anthology of poems about ___.

The sun. Hardware stores on Saturday mornings. Root vegetables. Elephants. Torture. An anthology of poems about grunge. Metal. Nightmares. Elves. What the world really needs is an anthology of poems about cats. Also, someone should invent YouTube. And load it with cats. And cute babies. And sex. Lots of sex.

It’s your poetic obituary! Finish it up, but not with your bio—finish it with an essential statement about your poetry.

My corpse is betrothed to Science. Will Science pay for a headstone? Thanks for asking, because if Science doesn’t pay for a headstone, please alert someone I want one. “Sarah Sarai, Loving Poet” will do. May groundskeepers, passersby, and friends leave irises, fuchsia, bougainvillea, narcissus, roses, night-blooming jasmine at my feet. Or head.

Indolent Books is an indie press. Its founder and everything-er is Michael H. Broder, poet.