Friday, 9 November 2012

Mark J. Mitchell

Herb Tea

Listening for the kettle
I cough. My lungs rattle
Hard, like trapped steam. The cold
Will pass, the cure is time.
Still, I can’t say I’m fine
Trapped in this midnight, feeling old.


TSTmpj:  Are you a night owl, Mark?  Do you write at midnight?

Mark J. Mitchell:  I used to be more of a night owl than I am these days. Still, every year during Lent, I write a poem every day, and I can't go to bed until I write a poem, so sometimes midnight is the time I have to write.


TSTmpj:  A poet friend of mine said years ago, "time heals all wounds, but time passes so slowly."  Do you see, in the contemporary progression of poetry, and the arts more generally, more "cure" or more "wound" to our society?

Mark J. Mitchell:  I find the idea of "progress" in the arts to be a little baffling. We haven't improved on Shakespeare. I think the insistence on innovation is going to be seen as very odd in the future. It is purity of expression that matters, not constantly building new, often ephemeral, forms. I think the fact that the world of the arts is open to more people, both to experience art and produce it, is a cure for all of us.


TSTmpj:  There are some famous examples -- Keats immediately comes to mind -- of poets producing great work within the shadow of illness.  What bearing do you see as your state of health having on your writing?

Mark J. Mitchell:  Luckily, I mostly enjoy good health. Still, when I get sick, it will turn up as a subject. I have had a couple of poems turn up in medical/literary journals. I use whatever is handy as a subject for poetry, especially when I assign myself the job of a poem a day.

Bio Note

Mark J. Mitchell’s new collection Three Visitors is available from

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

David James Olsen

Sonnet to Isaac

Dear laughing Isaac, listen if you please:
Don't dig your wells in New Orleans now tame.
I beg of you to curve your course with ease
And twirl out toward the sea from whence you came!
For seven years ago your sis did lick
This city's soul and break its levees large,
But screw their courage have they done to stick
And stand against your Grendel's gutt'ral charge.
A pact: like Milton, sell my sight I might
If you'd turn your blind eye at my request.
Ironic and coincidental blight:
Speed not o'er land, just ocean without rest.
Present your cruel account on waves of blue,
And leave pure hearts of people dry and true.


TSTmpj:  What is your take on the "soul" of New Orleans?

David James Olsen:  I feel the "soul" of New Orleans is the battered, but constantly cultured, jazzy and progressive spirit that energizes everyone living there. They may be downtrodden at times; they may have to ride through the rough times; but they keep moving. They keep marching to their own music and surviving their city's hardships, only to add more and more to the overall artistic quilt of America and the world. But their piece of that quilt is quite a bit bigger than most other cities that have forgotten the value of art and culture, and how it so powerfully reflects the fighting drive to survive and succeed within all of us. That, to me, is the riveting, exemplary "soul" of that colorfully vital city.


TSTmpj:  Do you usually write in formal ways?  What do you see as the future of formal verse?

David James Olsen:  I often write in formal ways because I like structure to guide me as I write a poem that can so easily spin off into chaotic confusion. I find that poems with great amounts of disorganized words tend to lose meaning when straying from a form. Perhaps that is just me. In the end, as long as one writes from the heart and in a way that is passionate and true, a poem should work just fine. I feel the future of formal verse is up to those of us brave enough to apply our modern emotions and events within its structure. Far too many people nowadays dismiss the poetic forms of the past. Frankly, I find them freeing and fantastic to experiment with while composing a new poem. I enjoy honoring what came before, but simply updating it with modern topics. Also, I love taking a form and, as long as I know all the rules well, breaking and twisting it here and there for emphasis. Shakespeare was famous for this, and wrote that way so as to guide his actors with hidden hints. I feel smart poetry readers pick up on this technique as well. But, one must know and respect all the rules of a form first.


TSTmpj:  How anchored in allusion do you usually make your poems?

David James Olsen:  I would say half to two-thirds of my poetry is anchored in, or applies hinted or obvious allusion. Again, I so enjoy reflecting on those great men and women that wrote before me, and if I can compliment their work by mixing it into mine somehow and therefore enhancing the richness and tone of my piece, it is irresistible to me. Both of my parents were English teachers as I grew up, so there has always been an inherent fascination with the great writers. Those classic and modern poets and novelists and such have surrounded me from day one, and what fabulous company to keep!

Bio Note

David James Olsen is a 29-year-old writer/actor living in NYC.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Gary Beck

Speechless in Another Land

When the dusky hour rumbles
towards another evening, mumbles
rising from the open windows tease 
the unfound variations of delight.
The maddened hopeless waiting
breathes a silent, urgent howling
deafened only by imagined growling
from the figment animals of fear.
When time again
this place to leave
untouched moments,
strangers pass unseen
waiting for arrivals, come
too late for expectations,
or never discovered.
To find one puff-ball escape
hidden in another language
discovery, making in this place
an instant of dissolving
self, pose, proclaimed hungers
extending just to the doom of desire,
renouncing only what was not had.


TSTmpj:  How do you sustain your imagination?

Gary Beck:  I appreciate every day and always try to be positive.


TSTmpj:  What do you feel are the essential differences between the practices of writing poetry, writing novels, and writing plays?

Gary Beck:  poetry is urgent and requires intense focus, a novel must be sustained and be consistent, a play is written to be performed and must be clear and structured.


TSTmpj:  What do you see as the creative challenges you still face?

Gary Beck:  to make sure content and meaning are more important than form and style. 

Bio Note

Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theatre director.  He currently lives in New York City.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Jan Napier

Zebras and Storm

Lightning mosquitoes earthskin

as electric equines
barred and pumped

reflect and flash

trample the ogres

of everyday.


TSTmpj:  Your vivid depiction of a storm suggests to me that you have been personally affected by some wild weather.  Is this so?  Is the poem based on any specific storm?

Jan Napier:  I live two streets back from the Indian Ocean. The wildness and power of winter storms brings out a mix of exhilaration and fear. Watching a silver storm cell coming in, seeing the leading edge of the rain, a sea whipped and bruleed by Westerly gales, is to know that you’re blood leapingly alive. So no particular storm. Rather all of them.


TSTmpj:  We all, necessarily, experience everyday routine as an "ogre" from time to time.  How do you cope with routine in life?  Is your own poetry writing a routine, or sporadic, depending on inspiration hitting?

Jan Napier:  Routine is an ogre at present. A year ago I broke both my wrists, and also have a frozen shoulder as a direct corollary. The frustration and helplessness engendered by this situation, made me pretty ogrish too. My days are still dictated by work, and medical appointments.  And of course my physical limitations. Such narrow constraints. As a consequence, my poetry has to fit in wherever it can. Not quite the priority I would like to afford it.


TSTmpj:  The poem alludes to the fact that nature can be transformative to the human psyche.  Is it the bigger, more spectacular things, or the smaller, quieter manifestations of nature, that you draw on most in your poetry?

Jan Napier:  To be honest, it’s nature in all its multifaceted glory which attracts me as a writer (as well as a person). I love that line about nature "in all its infinite variety." Who could live and be happy in a world without trees, or spring rains, or pets?

Bio Note

Jan Napier has had work published in SpeedPoets, Famous Reporter, plus other journals.  She also writes reviews for on-line zine Antipodean SF.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Afzal Moolla


clawing at my face,
slipping beneath the facade,

tugging, tearing, flailing,

stripping off the veneer,
exposing the fragmented decay,
under this mask I wear today.

groping for another layer,
embroidered on my thin skin,

peeling, rotting, searing,

shaving away the truths,
entwined in a jagged kiss,
the vacuum of an emotional abyss.

from myself yet again,
bound for nothingness,

desolate, cold, empty,

lost on barren pathways,
bruising my heart as I tread,
at the horrors that lie ahead.


TSTmpj:  Your poem is an overtly powerfully emotional piece, yet you still include a line like "embroidered on my thin skin" which has a much more delicate feel.  How do perceive, as a poet who clearly is affected by the politics of his circumstances, about the value of more pure lyric poetry?

Afzal Moolla: I have always appreciated the lyric poetry of Rabindranath Tagore, John Keats and Alexander Pushkin. Being a child of politically active parents who spent years in exile before returning to a democratic and non-racial South Africa, the power and value of lyric poetry as a means of expressing political and social issues, as well as more personal outpourings of emotion, has always been very close to my heart. The inclusion of a line like "embroidered on my thin skin" in my poem is an effort to counter-balance the pain expressed with a reference to the delicate nature of human sensitivities.


TSTmpj:  Where is "nothingness" for you?

Afzal Moolla: "nothingness" for me is the sometimes barren road that seems devoid of hope. It is the road that a person may be on at a particular time in their life, or the path that a country has chosen to take, with little or no regard for the less fortunate people and the complete 'invisibility' of the struggles and pain of that large portion of humanity.


TSTmpj:  Is a "jagged kiss" a "facade" that inevitably leads to a bruising of the heart?

Afzal Moolla: The impermanence of emotions, even deeply felt ones like love sometimes appear to me as being a 'facade'. A 'jagged kiss' is the bittersweet and often conflicting feelings and emotions that love stirs up in one's heart, and yes, at times it can be a convenient 'facade' to shroud the conflict raging within a heart, which also at times, may inevitably lead to the bruising of the heart.

Bio Note

Afzal Moolla lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa. He writes for pleasure and is an avid reader of history.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Elvis Fix

I Diverge

I diverge
I am the contra
to normalcy
slowly swimming
through the ether
the senselessness—
the senselessness that fills
the otherwise void world.
Tangent ray of light
Happily peerless
Happily alone.


TSTmpj:  What do you see as "normalcy", in however broad a sense you wish to interpret it?
Elvis Fix:  Normalcy, to me, is the complacency of everyday existence. It is the superficial, depthless state of those who blindly submit to the world. The formless nature of this normalcy is described as the ether where it is not only ubiquitous but also without true content and solid existence. The normalcy is the poison that etherizes the individual and robs him of his ability to be himself.


TSTmpj:  The age old question, pursuit, of "happiness" -- again, can your offer our readers your broader take on it?

Elvis Fix:  Happiness to the Divergent is of a different hue than to those of the normalcy. Happiness is not the shallow drives of ordinary pleasure but instead the desire to create. The Divergent, as I classify people of individualism, are those who can accept the world as senseless and thrive in the meaning they give to it individually. This is an existential pursuit to the self and self-crafted meaning.


TSTmpj:  What is your version of being "peerless"?

Elvis Fix:  Peerlessness is the state that an individual achieves when he has accepted himself. He has chosen to live an authentic existence with Emersonian self-reliance. To be peerless is to have obtained a level of self-awareness that it becomes incomprehensible to others. In this way “peerless” means not only solitude but also without equal in understanding. Through this transcendental state, one may find one’s own happiness.

Bio Note

Elvis Fix lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He has been published in Three Line Poetry, Haiku Journal and Counterexample Poetics.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Note from the editor...

A note to let all, sundry, and sundry others know that this journal is alive and kicking.  I am taking what might best be described as a tour of duty sabbatical.

To any potential contributors, please feel free to submit -- the waiting time for me to respond to you will probably be longer than I'd like, and to those who have submitted and are waiting to hear from me, please hang in there, I'll be responding to you first.

This journal is a one person labour of love, and sadly sometimes things go awry and I can't keep up the pace.

Bear with me: as I consider all of you friends and colleagues in our worldwide poetry community, so I wish, once I'm back on deck burning the midnight candle, to again devote time and energy to your excellent work.


Friday, 3 August 2012

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Art Heifetz

Love in the Latter Part of Life

Love in the latter part of life,
Is more than a sudden squall
On calm September seas
That rises and abates.
It is an unexpected gift
Like the smile of a young girl
To a stranger.

Or a childhood portrait
In black and white
Abruptly bursting into color.

Or a crystal
Dug from the dark, stony soil
Of a mountain slope,
Brushed off
And held up to the sun,
The intrinsic beauty
Of its pure geometry
Perfectly revealed.

So the facets of our
Late-blooming love
Catch oh so briefly
The brilliant light
Of the waning afternoon


TSTmpj:  It seems increasingly apparent to me that as poets grow older, the themes of old age and mortality, the past and nostalgia, inevitably more and more permeate their writing.  What do you wish to share about your feelings on your own "poetic mortality"?

Art Heifetz:  It’s true we aging guys reminisce a lot, but it also seems the memories become a lot sharper. My dad recalled a lot of things in the nursing home that I had forgotten but couldn’t recall what he had for breakfast. The fact that I’m at this stage of my life makes me try a lot harder to leave a mark.


TSTmpj:  And yet, given my first question, it seems that for you, love -- rightly as I see it -- usurps mortality.  Any thoughts?

Art Heifetz:  I feel that the memory of love does. I have a poem with that title, which unfortunately is more than 30 lines. If my first wife has any shot at "eternal life," it’s through memory and maybe the poems I’ve gotten published about her. I wrote this poem about my second one when I realized I would celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary at the ripe old age of 114.


TSTmpj:  Can love ever be "perfectly revealed" in this life?

Art Heifetz:  It’s like the crystal. When you find it in your sixties, it needs a little dusting off. But when it’s held up to the light, it shines every bit as brightly as it did at 20. When the kids see you dancing in the park, they know something has been "revealed" beside the fact that grandpa has gone gaga.

Bio Note

Art Heifetz recently retired from a career running an insurance agency, and returned to his first love, poetry.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Robert Demaree

October Song

A change of seasons
Shifts cloud and light about October skies;
Against a luminous gray, it casts
Albescent brightness
On those gingerbread cottages
Across the pond
Or on the red gold stripe of sugar maple
Up a ridge on Gunstock,
Dramaturgy on a crisp day.

At the restaurant the owner smiled
As though he might remember us.
I see him twenty years ago,
Holding the door for my mother,
A kind touch, softly, on the elbow,
Her gnarled hands gripping the walker,
Slowly up the ramp.
That was the summer my father died;
Time accrues before you feel
The mnemonic pull of a place.


TSTmpj:  The poem's delineation between the inside and the outside -- what nature does under those October skies and what happened inside the restaurant -- seems to me to allude to our inner and outer life.  Any thoughts on this comment?

Robert Demaree:  The structure of a poem can be dictated initially by the order in which the events actually happened. But then you see contrasts that tell you what was really on your mind. The outward dramaturgy in the first stanza suggests the possibility of an inner event. It takes the narrator a while to see what that event was—the touch on the elbow, the unlocked memory. I hoped that the exterior and interior experiences would come together in a particularity of place.


TSTmpj:  Another sense I get from your poem is family roots being natural roots.  Given that so many families are dysfunctional, do you see this dysfunctionality as "natural"; or are, perhaps, our ancestral, family roots to be viewed more as mythic, in the sense that they took place in those metaphorical "gingerbread houses"?

Robert Demaree:  The search for family and home, dysfunctional or not, is, of course, one of the classic motifs in all literatures. So I think that those roots, in our immediate and larger families, are indeed mythic, something you come to terms with, hang on to. You find home and family where you can. As Robert Frost famously wrote, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there,/They have to take you in." 


TSTmpj:  Memory is such a key aspect of our humanity.  Do you feel that for you personally its importance has grown over the years, and if perhaps it has, in what ways?

Robert Demaree:  Memory is also an essential part of poetry. Its importance of necessity grows over the years, as we struggle to keep it in focus and, coming upon a memory, like a lost note in the bottom of a desk drawer, ascribe a meaning we had not known was there. I love Billy Collins’ poem "The Effort," in which he jokes about teachers "fond of asking/ 'What is the poet trying to say?'" I find that what I am trying to say has to do almost completely with memory—the weight of the past, the abiding presence of loss, the mnemonic pull of place.

Bio Note

Robert Demaree is a retired educator who's authored four collections, including Mileposts (2009).  He has had over 550 poems individually published.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

B.T. Joy


we have believed too long 
creation is handed down 
from above 
something chipped away
and smoothed; or moulded, 
and then set by fire

creation is a dance 
the crystal sculpture of the river 
responding to the poetry of rain 

the copious monotone  
prose of winter, broken here and there 
by a blur of birds on the weather fronts  

the poplar reaches for the sky 
and the banyan tree 
spreads out for moisture 

the sky accepts the poplar 
and moisture gathers; shuddering 
like constellations on the banyan leaves  

shade exists while woodlands grow; 
the woodland hyacinth only 
because of shade

and you too have made this world 
the way it is, and the way it is not,
and that art goes on, cyclical as seasons,  

you, yourself, are an architect
tempering the fluid earth with every breath 
you take, or do not take   


This time, instead of the usual TSTmpj three question interview, I felt it may interest readers to read the exchange of e-mail correspondence between B.T. Joy and I about his poem.  I believe it gives an insight both into the deeply thoughtful nature of the poet, and the way I as the editor endeavour to run the journal.

Dear B.T.,

Thanks for submitting again, it's good to hear again from you.  I like this one a lot, but, I must be honest -- there is no point as I see it being anything other than that, even if I run the risk of offending you (and I know that what I'm about to say would offend some poets who have prickly natures) -- there is one image that troubles me.

That is, what is contained in the following two lines:

the crystal sculpture of the river 
responding to the poetry of rain

specifically the "crystal sculpture".  Crystal is a solid substance, it does not move, at least as it is perceived by the human eye.  While I accept that at the quantum physics, mystical level, reality always moves and dances, any image must work on all levels for me to be completely happy with it, and for me, this isn't working on the surface level.

Now, if you're not mortally offended that I've crassly missed the point of your lines, I invite you, if you wish, to respond to my concern.  I'm open -- I'd be happy -- to be persuaded of your intent.  If you are a poet who has the "my poem is what it is" approach, and doesn't wish to explicate further, then I must decline the poem.

Please do consider responding to my concern.  Thanks.




Dear Michael, 

Thank you very much for your thoughtful feedback on my poem "Creation" and, please, don't worry about offence. I am totally open to constructive feedback; especially in the measured way you have delivered it and I know from experience how helpful such input can be. For instance, I learned to write haiku by being told, by several dedicated editors, in no uncertain terms, that I could not yet write haiku. 

In response to your criticism what is interesting is that you happen to have pinpointed the exact image that acted as the genesis of the poem itself: the crystal sculpture of the river/ responding to the poetry of rain. Fundamentally I was considering the process of art as it corresponds to the concept of creation. My own view of both is that, as you can tell, of a collaborative process between all factors and not the bounded idea of something created by an individual and deliberate consciousness in isolation. The term which I was mulling over in my mind as I formulated the particular image you have taken issue with was the Greek term ekphrasis which, in art, is the response of written or oral art forms to tangible art forms such as sculpture; and in modern times the interdependent creation of say poetry and sculpture at the same time. This idea holds, for me, extraordinary beauty and I can't help but notice that a similar interdependent interplay exists between river and rain, woodland (as in the hyacinth) and shade, and so on. 

It was this similarity between ekphrasis in art and the natural interplay in creation that I wished to instil in the lines: the crystal sculpture of the river/ responding to the poetry of rain. Furthermore it is perhaps unfortunate, for this poem at least, that the word 'crystal' operates with a double meaning. You have, understandably, assumed (from context) that I intended to refer to the mineral 'crystal', whereas I, in fact, intended 'crystal' to mean 'in a state of transparency.' However, I assume that even with this definition taken on board you may still be uncomfortable with a river being referred to as sculpture. I tend to think that, despite its (apparently) more animate nature a river, with all its clear twists and turns, over-lappings and under-lappings, is the perfect natural example of sculptural excellence. 

I say apparent with regards to the river's animate nature for the same reasons you yourself outlined. That is to say even stone in animate and even flowing water is still to a certain physical perspective. I once expressed this in a short three line poem I wrote for the river Kelvin near my home in Glasgow: water racing passed/ the underside of the bridge/ relatively still. 

In all of this I suppose I could only ask that you consider the alternative meaning I have posed for 'crystal' and see if this changes your mind about the character of the image itself. 

I hope I didn't give you too much to read here, Michael, put if I write a post-it note it's invariably 500 words long. Please get back to me if you see fit. 

All my very best wishes, 

B.T. Joy


Hi B.T.,

First, a sincere apology for "dropping out of our correspondence in mid-air" so to speak.  I am not in the most robust of health -- I have a chronic health problem that hinders my capability to do what I'd like to, more often than I'd like.

That said, to pick up the threads of where we were up to, thanks very much for your good humoured and considered response to the concern I raised about your poem.

I have given the matter a deal of thought, and while I still have an oh, so slight reservation about one of the meanings of the word "crystal" being the mineral -- for me, this is the first meaning I think of, but it may not be for others, and in any case, I feel that other than this tiny point, your poem is such a fine one that I would be doing my readers a disservice if I didn't accept it, so I am.

Bio Note

B.T. Joy is a Scottish poet with a passion for Chinese Tang dynasty, Japanese Edo period and Sufi mystical poetry.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

j.p. christiansen

Of Mirth And Grave

Oh youthful rage,
unmet desire, now,
but do not sully,
speaks an age,
so as to caution.

Of minds oppressed,
time lends a loss,
a scar to ways in error.

One speaks of progeny,
to witness
where parents failed to see –
in this, time tempers me,
a reason for the living.

Below these stones they lie,
and are but visits
when memory comes
to remind that mistress roams,
a lover seeking, true.

This grief is wound to heart
and mind oppressed,
a salve to heal, by knowing –

a mirth, to counter,
a gift, a guide to mind,
like stern through water
for a calmer grace,
a dream for council,
after storm.


TSTmpj:  Are you English?  Please feel free not to say if you deem it too intrusive a question.  I ask it because your poetry reminds me of some of what I perceive to be the finest English poetry of recent decades.  Who are some of your favourite contemporary poets, and what in particular appeals to you about them?

j.p. christiansen:  No, I'm Danish, residing in the US. Favorite contemporary poets/poetesses? I have none, trying to forge a new direction for my poetry. I've read some classical poets as well as contemporary ones, both from the English-speaking world, as well as translations from around the globe. Classical Persian poets speak to me, especially, but I just read, and let 'osmosis' take the course whereby my poet absorbs to later write his own.


TSTmpj:  Your technique is superb.  In your formative times, who did you learn from?

j.p. christiansen:  Technique? I'm very ignorant of established poetic form and technique. I think, again, that I just absorb rhythm, flow, and format from what I read, and subconsciously apply what appeals to me.


TSTmpj:  Which is your favourite Shakespearean play, and why?

j.p. christiansen:  Being Danish, Hamlet, of course. Its message of personal struggle, encapsulated by "to be, or not to be", as it applies to theory and deed, is one each human being must come to terms with throughout life. Shakespeare's strength lies in the fact that his knowledge of human nature still applies to we who live today.

Bio Note

Much of j.p. christiansen’s poetry is inspired by music, in this case Shakespearean lyrics set to song by classical English composers.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Jamie Bradley


cadence & slow coronas of silt
the steam-soaped petrol in the weed's rug

the geological wrist of most demarcations
the secret life of tents & errant storms

points of tenure & recession
the bright head of limestone polices

the eye notes a scar
                              a scar notes

the imperial river
goes down by low & impassable degrees


TSTmpj:  It seems, given how vividly you paint the picture, that you may have had a specific river in mind when penning this poem.  Do you wish to share which river it was, and or its significance to your life?

Jamie Bradley:  The river in question is most likely the St. Lawrence, as I've lived on or near it for most of my life, though it could just as easily by the Ottawa or any number of others.


TSTmpj:  I personally am very interested in the ghazal as a form, having recently penned a collaborative one.  Care to share any thoughts on your take on the form?

Jamie Bradley:  One of the things I find most interesting about the ghazal as a form, and perhaps why it is so common in Canadian poetry, is its capacity to combine imagistic precision with the contextual leaps that inevitably take place between stanzas. The reader, and the writer as reader (though I try to avoid intruding) is encouraged to play with conceits and with paradox when considering how the poem means. The form lends itself to both precision and fluidity with an ease that, perhaps, other forms do not.


TSTmpj:  I asked this question of Amanda Earl, who featured with a ghazal in TSTmpj in March, but I'll ask you too, in a similar way: who are your favourite exponents of the form?  What have you learned from them?

Jamie Bradley:  I was ambivalent about the ghazal form until I read John Thompson. The range and energy his work displays. Its often elemental or mythic power. The return again and again to the process and difficulty of writing itself. I found all of this very attractive.

It's difficult to pin down more contemporary influences as so many of the writers I follow work in, or have been strongly influenced by the form, but I suspect one of the influences must be Amanda Earl, if only because we talk often about and through the form.

Bio Note

Jamie Bradley's poetry appears most recently in Contemporary Verse 2Rattle, and Poetry is Dead. His chapbook Compositions was published in 2008 by AngelHousePress.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Joseph Lisowski

When Does This Ride Stop?

How can I stop
This carousel
Of luck,

Mostly bad?
Flesh wrinkles
Grows limp

With age.
Yet the body-soul
Attempts to soar

At the sight,

Of female flesh
For touch.


TSTmpj:  I especially like the ending of this poem.  How did you arrive at it (says I, wincing knowingly at my choice of words)?

Joseph Lisowski:  What I hoped to accomplish with the ending was to kinda replicate the feeling of a sudden stop when riding the carousel, a kind of lunging forward with sexual overtones.  Regardless of your age, an attractive woman can draw your body toward her through her animal magnetism.


TSTmpj:  The "body-soul", both as an image and a concept.  Why "body-soul" and not "soul-body"?  Can you share a few thoughts on what the "body-soul" means for you?

Joseph Lisowski:  This pull comes from the body first, which, in turn, may drag the "soul" with it; hence, "body-soul," rather than "soul-body."


TSTmpj:  Finally, Joseph, the life of a Professor of English must surely be an eventful one.  Is there an experience, an anecdote or two you wish to share?

Joseph Lisowski:  Many years ago, I taught freshman writing at an urban campus, and at the end of the term, one of my students came to my office with a few of his essays that I had graded.  He nudged these wrinkled papers toward me and said, "hey, man, what's all dem 'FROGS' doing on my papers?"  I looked closely at the essays, then at him, noting his heavy lidded eyes and the smell of marijuana coming off his clothes.  "What I wrote there," I said in response, "was 'frag,' which stands for sentence fragment; your essays are filled with sentence fragments."  He stared at the papers for quite a while before finally saying, "still look like 'FROGS!' to me."  Well, I thought, at least they weren't toads.

Bio Note

Joseph Lisowski's most recent poetry chapbook is STASHU KAPINSKI LOOKS FOR LOVE published by erbacce-press (Liverpool, UK).

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Gisèle Vincent-Page ~ Rest In Peace


Gathering over the water
bars of steel
filthy river fluttering
something like noise

battling lightly touching

I haven't seen a thing

I have done.

I tried to push it all
back out but no I'm
swallowing it all
back in.

Blog the news it's all in my head.
The mercy of patterns sense I've
lost my way...

Acreages, apartments, condos,
bachelor suites. farms; with all
the furniture to match, but will
it last?

Cover it, clean it, protect it, hide it,
stock it, but for pete's sake
do no use it.

Rest In Peace Gisèle

Gisèle Vincent-Page passed away at St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg, on April 22, 2012 at the age of 54.

TSTmpj will be doing a special feature on Gisèle next month, including two other poems she submitted, and an essay written by the editor, who had an e-mail correspondence in recent years with her.

Monday, 2 July 2012

April Salzano

The Game

I am here. You, there. I miss
you. I still want you and I cannot
figure out why. For the life of me,
I cannot imagine how the jailed clings to
her jailer. Why the least you could give
me served as sustenance. Body fat slipped
away, left muscle hanging on bone.
Skin lost tautness, sunk wrinkled on my belly.
I became a ghost of myself, withered and dying to eat,          
but not hungry, wanting to sleep, but held awake.     
My eyes scanned the dark for the possibility
of something left behind,
a hair, a flake of skin, your smell among
the tangled sheets where we lay always
as if putting our heads on the pillows
might commit you to more
than you were willing to give.
For the life of me, I cannot find a reason
to love you to want you to crave holding
you in a way so without reason it bends me
in half to ease the kicking anxiety
that races my heart for breath.
Finally, you simply stopped,
simply chose not to continue, a child walking
away from a game before its end, ruining
everything for everyone else.


TSTmpj:  Relationships are probably the most serious "game" that any of us play. More like a sport where men and women hunt "game". What would you wish the reader of your poem to read in between the lines about how they might potentially approach their next relationship?

April Salzano:  Adrienne Rich’s "Trying to Talk with a Man" is one of my favorite pieces dealing with relationships: "talking of the danger/as if it were not ourselves/as if we were testing anything else." The metaphor of testing bombs says it all. That was in 1971, though it seems humans have always struggled with communication, and the lack thereof is as classic a theme as love itself. What we are capable of doing to each other is astounding. Unfortunately, our modern methods of conversing seem to be breaking down our ability to communicate. Entire relationships are conducted via text message and the internet. While I believe in the inherent value of the written word, we are losing the ability to truly connect with one another. That message is embedded in my poem, the necessity for reciprocal honesty, as is the need to recognize the difference between being genuinely cared for and respected and simply functioning to validate the Other’s self-efficacy. 


TSTmpj:  Your technique is good, your enjambments are working well. What advice, as a college teacher, do you give to fledgling poets on technique?

April Salzano:  Thank you. Beyond the most obvious advice to read more poetry, the advice I offer to poets is to recognize the distinction between author and speaker. Though we teach this to readers, it is as important to writers as a way to learn to experiment with voice. Even the confessional poets do not always function as the I of the poem. By assuming the voice (and thus perspective) of someone or something else, writers make available a whole new realm of experience and imagery, which adds dimension to their craft. Perhaps a more general bit of advice is to write. Constantly. Writing poetry is frequently misinterpreted as simply an act of expelling emotion, a catharsis. Technique not only outweighs "feelings," but it is what conveys them. Beginning writers often get that raw emotion on the page fairly easily, but need to experiment with form and style.


TSTmpj:  Do you always use simple language in your poetry. Is there a place, do you feel, for more, for want of a better word, abstruse language?

April Salzano:  My work often utilizes simple language but does not use language simply. I don’t want my readers to have to clutch the thesaurus while they read; I want them instead to understand the language and context first, and then go back and locate other possible meanings, to find duplicity. Plath was accused as being "Roget’s trollop" in her early work, but the language itself in Ariel is more accessible, the images sharper. Poets like Rich and Clifton allow the decoding to come from the image, metaphor, implication. Certainly there is a place for more, as you say, abstruse language. Some of my own poems might fall into this category, and many poets I admire utilize a style quite different from my own.

Bio Note

April Salzano teaches college writing in Pennsylvania and is working on her first collection of poetry.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Art Heifetz

A Small Love Song

My sadness was a heavy stone
That only you could lift,
My life a ragged shirt
Turned inside out
You patched the holes
And helped me
Get the sleeves on right
My heart an empty husk
Discarded on the road
You picked it up
And filled it with your kindness
My song a lifeless dirge
You placed my head
Against your breast
And hummed a comparsita,
Rocking me to
The rhythm of your heartbeat
The cadence of your breath


TSTmpj:  While not being a "New England poem" as such, it somehow has that feel for me.  Are you influenced by Frost and other New England poets?

Art Heifetz:  It really has nothing to do with Frost. I enjoy Latin American poetry and music and I tried to capture the feel of it in the poem, which was written in honor of my second wife, Mayela, who is from Nicaragua.  She came along during a rough part of my life. A comparsita is a Latin dance.


TSTmpj:  Given the melody of your poem, what sorts of music do you listen to?  How do you usually compose your poetry?

Art Heifetz:  I listen to jazz and Latin music. I write a lot of poetry while swimming or taking showers or walking in the park. Then I edit by reciting them to myself and making changes. I’m retired so I have sufficient free time to do this.


TSTmpj:  Your poem's ending reads almost as being sanguine to me.  Do you feel that's a fair comment?  What advice might you offer to inexperienced poets?

Art Heifetz:  Rather than "sanguine" I would say it’s the feeling you get when you begin again after a difficult period in your life. My advice is  to write simply and clearly, with honest emotion. I find much contemporary writing too abstruse and limited to a small, academic audience.


Bio Note

Art Heifetz recently retired from a career running an insurance agency, and returned to his first love, poetry.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Tanaya Nash


Dark Clouds
Fallen blossoms and pale moon
Hurried flight of birds
Arrival of lonely autumn
Time for us to part
Much have been said yet
We have not come to the end of our feelings
I leave you this poem
Read it
When the silence of the world possesses you
Or when you are fretted with disquiet
And remember
That all my thoughts have always been of you


TSTmpj:  How often are you, as a poet, "possessed by the silence of the world?"

Tanaya Nash:  Often, and it is then that i get closer to writing, it is then that i write actually.


TSTmpj:  Partings are intrinsic to life.  How acutely do you feel the temporal nature of "always"?

Tanaya Nash:  partings...hmmmm...yeah...they are intrinsic to life...when the distance does not do it, death does. But it is always...or better say every time. either ways you get used to it. to be honest i have never been so sure about "always" been temporal. May be it will be right to say i have never been so acutely aware of it.


TSTmpj:  How important do you feel it is for a poet to vary their tone, in their work?

Tanaya Nash:  ahh...finally here is something i know i can answer. Tone is more like Mood. You cant be in one kindda mood all day long. Actually, variation is essence of a poet, and a poetry. I wont be wrong if i say it is an essence to everything around. so in short, it is very important for a poet to vary their tone in their work.

Bio Note

Tanaya Nash:  a poetess..a writer..a reader. stays at Bihar, India..loves travelling, music and cooking