Archive for the ‘Chapbook Finalists 2011’ Category

Ice and Gaywings

November 21, 2011 1 comment

Ice and Gaywings coverWe’re very pleased to announce the publication of the first-place winner of our 2011 poetry chapbook contest, Ice and Gaywings, by Kenneth Pobo, in dual print and electronic versions.

The print edition, published in collaboration with our usual partners, Phoenicia Publishing in Montreal, is 38 pages long with a full-color, glossy cover and black-and-white interior. (See Phoenicia’s complete description.) Although typically chapbooks of this quality retail between $10.00 and $12.95, we’re charging only $7.95, which we think brings it well within the budget of even the hungriest fan of poetry or the Wisconsin north woods, where the poems are set.

Like its predecessors (A Walk Through the Memory Palace, by Pamela Johnson Parker, and Watermark, by Clayton T. Michaels) the online version of Ice and Gaywings is a fully operational website incorporating audio readings by the author, and is intended to bring the poems to the widest audience possible. We hope the minimalist design and unique style of navigation make the poems equally accessible across all browsers and platforms. We also commissioned a short film based on one of the poems in the collection: Tom Kessler, Stockton Island, 1887, by the Belgian multimedia artist Swoon Bildos.

In case you missed it, we wrote about the chapbook contest selection process in the announcement of the contest results back on August 1.

Please let us know if you review the book. We’ll link to any review we think is fair-minded from our Twitter account and Facebook page, as well as on the online version’s News section. We’d also really appreciate customer reviews at Amazon.

Anna Atkins

September 30, 2011 4 comments

to her father

from Periodicity by Iris A. Law (Runner-up)

Something of you
still slips through the keyholes.
A whining in the pipes, or wind
nudging the leaves
of the mulberry tree—

I bristle, hearing your boots
at corners, but round them
to find only spiders, mice
sniffing at crumbs on a sill.

I’ve been poring over your
shelves of pickled things,
looking for a wisp of hair or smear
of oil, small evidence of your hands

on these jars. But their walls
remain crystal. The pupil-less
bodies rise in their fluid, bump
dumbly against the glass.

I’ve locked my folios away, will live
a little while in the darkness of this room,
the curtains drawn. Lately, I’ve found
the color blue to be untenable alone.

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Iris A. Law is Kundiman Fellow and a graduate of the M.F.A. program at the University of Notre Dame. She edits the online literary magazine and blog Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry and currently works as a teacher of college composition.

The Peace Movement

September 29, 2011 1 comment

from Inchoate by M. G. Stephens

Take care of your side
of the street. Be kind.
Ask how others are,
and listen to their responses.
Listen. Listen.
Stop talking, and listen.
See the stars and moon or,
in daylight, the sky above,
the trees below, the birds.
The birds: listen to the birds.
Listen to what the birds
have to say. Drink green
tea, take walks, read
for at least two hours
every day, write down
random thoughts and ideas.
Eat well. Sleep. Love
yourself and others.
Take care. Be well.

Note: This poem originally appeared in
Deadly Writers Patrol magazine.

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M. G. Stephens has published eighteen books, including the novel The Brooklyn Book of the Dead (“a great, great book,” says Roddy Doyle) and the essay collection Green Dreams, which Joyce Carol Oates picked as one of the notable American nonfiction books of the 20th century in Best American Essays of the Century. His poetry frequently appears in literary magazines in the U.S. and the U.K., and he is completing a long nonfictional work about downtown New York in the 1960s.

Truth About Margaret

September 28, 2011 1 comment

from Chain Down the Moon by Carolyne Whelan

At Nana Kate’s 90th birthday party, a woman from The Home,
Margaret, insisted I ought to move to Hollywood.

You are a movie star, she told me, and she wandered
to that place the senile go for comfort, the created past.
She and I, both in our early twenties, playing the roles of sisters
in a feud for the same man. Perhaps my father standing nearby,
perhaps her long-dead husband who still visits daily.

Nana Kate smiled every time I sat by her that day—
she knew she ought to be happy to see me, whoever I was.
All the other strangers and returned dead relatives told her so.

I remember this now, reading a Bukowski book I picked up
at a garage sale, 25 cents. It looked like it had been read once, half-way.

It’s old Bukowski, crotchety regretful Bukowski bloated
with women and shoes under the bed, with an ugly life
and finally after all those years a wife he maybe loved.

Not my grandmother’s life, though I can’t say
the truth about Margaret. The two of us beaming down Mulholland Drive
big glasses and tiny, full purses, camera flashes, a night club.
Margaret whispers something to Tommy Dorsey, our song comes on,
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning, Sinatra with that longing look,
our fans, our love.

She thought I was Hollywood beautiful.
My father tells me she was neurotic, movie stars can’t have tattoos
or piercings in strange places, so many visible mistakes.

But I believe in multiple truths. That somewhere Margaret is still young
and wild and sane. Old people can still know beauty, can still find it oddly.
Inside their own sad faces, inside the faces of those they want to love.

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Carolyne Whelan (website) currently lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as a legal secretary, writing instructor, and freelance-anything. Her first chapbook, Glossary of Tania Aebi, was recently published by Finishing Line Press.

Messiah auditions Saturday

September 27, 2011 Comments off

local headline October 20, 2006

from Messiah Auditions Saturday by Nancy Devine

Willing to cast against type
Petite blonde female, hearty Asian male,
gay, straight, transgendered, etc.
Prior messianic experience unnecessary,
probably not even helpful.
No water-walking, stigmatas, rising-from-the-dead
required. Should be able to bake as well as break bread,
turn wine into water and vise versa; heal the sickening,
the sick and tired. No dress or tech rehearsals. Ever.
Unlimited comp tickets, great dental benefits, 401k possibilities.
Must be willing to work nights, weekends and days.
Leave your SAG card at home.
No fuss-budgets, nay-sayers, molly-coddlers, politicians.
Past work as psychopomp, amateur or professional, a plus not a must.
Stage fighting, mime, dance training, singing… all the same.
For more information, visit a website or, better yet, close your eyes. Call.

Note: This poem originally appeared in
Stirring: A Literary Collection Volume 9, Edition 5 (May 2007).

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Nancy Devine (blog) teaches high school English in Grand Forks, North Dakota where she lives. She co-directs the Red River Valley Writing Project, a local site of the National Writing Project.

and we at bed and purest

September 26, 2011 2 comments

from a lazarus by morgan downie

for me all purest leaves
that may a mountain move
with each morning will we
pleasures make, of buds
and buds that be, steep
the sing of gown valley
to the shepherd in gold

and in this flower morning
this kirtle of delights
the embroidered straw
a fragrant, fragrant
madrigal of thee
the wool of each
shall be gold to me

morning dances myrtle
groves my love
and we at bed and purest

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morgan downie lives and works in the leafy lushness of central Scotland. His collection stone and sea is available from Calderwood Press. He can be found at his website.

at the Piggly-Wiggly in East Nashville

September 22, 2011 1 comment

from all origins ask why by Irène Mathieu

“a wummin always afta a man money!”

he says as tripe unfolds under plastic wrap.
rabbit loins look like chicken
beneath fluorescent glisten.

“where you put my money, wummin?”

she fumbles, tense.
three teeth two few,
baseball hat cocked back,
he relishes the scene he’s making
between 99¢ Cheetos
and 20%-off gum.

ice crystals pack
frozen burgers, frozen pizza,
and the man behind the glass
restacks, his hands reaching
toward me on the other side.

sugar is more than
its carcinogenic substitute;
everything costs. he clamors,
“a wummin always afta a man money!”

I think of his cells
blinking toward eternal pause,
insulin receptors rewired,
a heart that emerges,
both hands up, tired,
an ECG frozen
in a lipid prison.

history’s always after
a man’s vitality,
a woman’s vibrancy.
too much black and too little money,
and you could get frozen right in your tracks.

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Irène Mathieu is a second-year medical student at Vanderbilt University, where she is embarking on a career in global public health, activist medicine, and social justice-oriented primary care. Irène has been writing ever since she was able to talk, and her published work can be found in The Lindenwood Review, The Caribbean Writer, Muzzle Magazine, Damselfly Press, Magnapoets, Haven Magazine, and 34th Parallel. She was a finalist in the Jane’s Press Stories Foundation’s 2010 poetry contest. Irène’s photography and a painting have also appeared in print, in 34th Parallel, The Meadowland Review, and Hinchas de Poesía.

Summertime Locker

September 21, 2011 1 comment

from From the Grey by Susannah Lior

When they took me in
under wings of prestige, white feathers
glowed like new
shelter sprung from darkness

I thought I had found
home in a park picnic
with the seniors,
older siblings I never had making
hamburgers and lemonade

On the grassy hill,
afternoon idols clutched
stories of hallway hijinks
like war medals or
debating trophies,

prizes plucked from memory’s shelves and
pooled with their comrades’
for a richer treasury —

On display behind glass, small
museum in the school foyer,
it was a show they curated laughing,
arms grappled like hoops of steel.


The stories that didn’t fit:
edited out
of the yearbook

The public record of portraits:
laminated name tags, matching faces
for wearing to lockers

Little fish in my summertime locker —
last gasps ballooning, deflating a
see-through sandwich bag —
breathed the last
idea of home
out of me;

I was submerged in a sea
of pulled faces,
dead girl’s float

where schools of guppies swim by
in cafeteria formation:
no vacancies.


This is the place
where enchantment with the stars
ends, and we
must begin:

in this sallow
hall, school of eroding
Edwardian brick, asbestos resting
three feet thick
in the walls,
the city’s best and brightest swimming
upstream to arrive


This is the place

where the stars in my eyes
are gouged out

where I begin to doubt
the best in me,

where the smell of the threat and Lysol
teaches me hate,

drowns me in waves.

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Susannah Lior lives in Montreal, where, in addition to writing, she sews, pets stray cats, and studies law.

The Discreet Charm of Prime Numbers

September 20, 2011 2 comments

from The Discreet Charm of Prime Numbers by Gail Segal

Sky that promised to fall
hangs on, not clear of its pick
on the wheel of color.
No cars, no buses,
trucks asleep
in the highway stops
and they call this morning?

You think of nothing
but death and its probabilities.
When the mind relaxes, drifting
to weather or fashion
you are called back by numbers
on the door of the hotel room,
or numbers on the cabana
at the beach, or the young man
at the next table
bereaved by his bride
dying in her sleep. You are sure
it belongs to you as nothing
ever has, to hold and to have.

The night will fall out
with mint crushed in a glass
over lemon and rum,
mermaids lounging by the pool,
men with puissance toasting — what?
the moon, of course, full —
and you will wear sandals glittering
with rhinestones, the night
with its long table of candles,
the heat lamps,
an orange buzz like people
milling about sharing
what’s left of their faces.

Rumors stir — a woman
set in motion by
a “system of vibrations,”
the story events of her life,
a “map of endless resonance.”
And hearing of her,
you want to know what accounts
for her destroying
every concrete goodness
with a will to be acted upon
seized unexpectedly
by an agent of magnificence.

You dream as if worn
by days of vacation,
his arrival, even in dreaming,
an intrusion upon a life
with the man you will marry
and you notice a glass
tipped to breakage, the wine
puddled beneath it,
a bed unfolds from the sofa
and he plants himself there
for a long stay.

Note: Section 5 originally appeared in
Chelsea 80 (2006) under the title “Prime Numbers.”

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Gail Segal is a poet, filmmaker and teacher. Her first book of poems, In Gravity’s Pull, was published in 2002. She teaches in the Graduate Division of Film at NYU.

Tom Kessler, Stockton Island, 1887

September 13, 2011 1 comment

poem from Ice and Gaywings by Kenneth Pobo – video by Swoon Bildos

watch on YouTubewatch on Vimeo

Again this year we decided to produce a videopoem for a piece from our winning chapbook to serve as a video trailer and help build anticipation for what we think is a very engaging collection. The book will be released early next month, and this film will have a permanent place in the online version. In the meantime, please feel free to share either the Vimeo or YouTube version of it far and wide, to blogs, Facebook or other social sites, with or without a link to this post. (It’s embeddable media. That’s the point.)

Swoon Bildos, A.K.A. Marc Neys (website, blog) is a Belgian artist and filmmaker who has made some 35 videopoems, in English and in Dutch, in little over a year. Montana-based poet Sherry O’Keefe recently interviewed him about his videopoetry, asking about his process, philosophy, background and more. Marc blogged (in Dutch) about this project at the beginning of the assignment and also after completion. He remarked that he found Kenneth’s poems at times reminiscent of the atmosphere conjured up by David Vann in his book Legend of a Suicide, in the devastating, raw beauty of these remote forests.

Kenneth Pobo, the winner of qarrtsiluni’s 2011 chapbook contest, has four full-length collections of poetry and, including Ice and Gaywings, twenty chapbooks. He teaches creative writing and English at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania. He and his partner and two cats enjoy gardening, music, and the Wisconsin Northwoods. You can catch Ken’s radio show, Obscure Oldies, on Saturdays from 6:00-8:30 pm EST at WDNR 89.5 FM.

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