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Posts Tagged ‘Ann E. Michael’

The Cockroaches

April 25, 2013 3 comments

by Ann E. Michael

This community carries itself on the hard backs of its citizens’
scented sweet chemical juiciness, soft interiors,
specific paths followed nocturnally, searching—
food and water, moistness of drainpipes and mildewed
crawlspaces and crumbling lath and drywall gone damp
with condensation, accumulated dust, oil, grease, the goo
primordial: life’s messy elixir, delicious. Who could pass up
such opportunity? Someone had to grab that fetid niche,
multiply the night, fill the humid dark with liveliness and,
on six swift legs, just run with it.


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Although Ann E. Michael (website, blog) hasn’t lived in a city for years, she has dwelt in apartments in New York, Philadelphia, and Grand Rapids, Michigan in the past. Her most recent book of poetry is Water-Rites.

JUBILATE PUERIS (Christopher Smart gratias)

February 16, 2012 5 comments

by Ann E. Michael

For I will consider my Boy Michael.
For he is the servant of no one, although we do request his assistance.
For when it comes to food, he worships in his own way.
For this is done by opening the peanut butter jar and swirling a knife seven times round with
deftness.
For then he spreads the peanut butter upon the bread, and closes up the jar, and leaves the
dirty knife upon the counter.
For he layers jelly upon the sandwich.
For having thus made his own lunch he does pride himself.
For this is the minimum of what is expected of him, that he make his lunch and put his
own clothes upon his body and occasionally wash his ears.
For having considered the basics of survival in a cursory way he then considers himself.
For he is a 13-year-old boy in each of the following degrees:
For first he outgrows his shoes in speedy fashion.
For secondly he practices insouciance.
For thirdly he sprawls himself upon the furniture, so as to take up as much room as possible.
For fourthly he allows no kisses at the bus stop.
For fifthly he provokes his sister into wrath.
For sixthly he does not always wash.
For seventhly he tosses his soiled clothing upon the floor of his room.
For eighthly he leaves his sneakers where we may trip upon them.
For ninthly he does look up to us for his instructions.
For tenthly does he ignore us.
For having considered his parents and himself he will consider his sister.
For if he meets another 13-year-old boy he will play games with him.
For when homework or piano practice are required he will devote his time to dallying.
For when dallying is no longer an option he will attempt to argue.
For he will attend to his work at long last, and receive good grades in school, and be considered
among the best of students.
For when he is awake his chatter is ceaseless.
For this chatter is a pleasure to his parents and an irritation to his sister.
For he is merry and of pleasant countenance.
For when his day’s work is done he will retire with a book.
For this his family feels gratitude and thankfulness, and tells him he is a good Boy.
For each family would benefit by having one such boy.
For Michael is the best boy in the World.


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Poet, essayist, librettist and occasional radio commentator Ann E. Michael (website, blog) is also Writing Coordinator at DeSales University in eastern Pennsylvania. She is the author of four chapbooks of poetry, most recently The Capable Heart, and a full-length collection, Water-Rites, is forthcoming from Brick Road Poetry Press. An avid gardener and an advocate for the arts, she is a past recipient of a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fellowship in poetry. She’s helped edit two qarrtsiluni issues: New Classics and Imprisonment.

Categories: Imitation Tags:

Imprisonment: issue summary

September 19, 2011 2 comments

by Ann E. Michael and Ken Lamberton

Imprisonment spurred many responses; the interpretations ranged from the literal to the metaphoric, as we’d hoped, and included meditations on its opposite: freedom. There were birds and bars and varieties of cells. There were visual images that summed up the sense of detainment succinctly and poems that led surprisingly to the sense of being ensnared or bound. We received submissions from people currently incarcerated and from others who have been in prison in the past or who have a loved one behind bars. Artists and writers expressed being imprisoned by relationships, or through physical limitations, or because of social or class barriers. Some of the submissions are full of rage, others of resignation, others, hope. We feel trapped, it turns out, by ourselves as well as by others. This is no surprise to a human being, yet some of the pieces we received were revelatory in their beauty or their honesty. We observed that few of the submissions dwelt on, or even dealt with, the punitive aspect of incarceration.

Interesting to consider: a relationship between this issue of qarrtsiluni and a previous theme, “The Crowd.” Imprisonment usually implies loneliness and isolation; but as the crowd issue paradoxically highlighted individuality, the theme of imprisonment seems, to me, to illuminate how common the sense of feeling trapped is: a thing we share, culturally, socially, psychologically. Being bound inherently awakens in us the desire to move — to struggle toward freedom. We learn, in that struggle, that freedom has as many forms as imprisonment does. When we feel surprised by something we think we know, understanding deepens. Editing “Imprisonment” offered that kind of revelation continuously. Many thanks to those who sent us their heartfelt work.

For bios of Ann and Ken, see the call for submissions.

The Sweet Community

September 22, 2010 Comments off

by Ann E. Michael

You show me the teeming hive
smoke-dulled into sluggishness,
magnetized—the framed comb
attracting the rapt attention
of all those hovering bodies.
This sweet community, you say,
absorbed in its constant task,
procreation, delivering and seeking,
sipping and sucking, hard at the work
of construction, regurgitating
what they know to raise
the next generation.

You say there is a dance that means food,
a dance for sex, a dance for “follow me.”
And when a virus enters the square,
stacked cities, all humming ceases,
empty shells litter the floor boards,
a spectacle of curled black legs—
they live and die together, collective
wisdom, you tell me: You,
their outsider in a wreath of smoke,
their mesh-masked god of plunder.


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Poet, essayist, librettist and occasional radio commentator Ann E. Michael (website) is also a college educator/tutor in eastern Pennsylvania. She is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, an avid gardener, and an advocate for the arts. She co-edited the New Classics issue of qarrtisluni with Jessamyn Smyth.

Categories: The Crowd Tags:

New Classics: issue summary

August 17, 2010 Comments off

by Ann E. Michael and Jessamyn Smyth

The challenge we gave our participants in this collaborative cultural experiment was to view, or re-view, the idea of a classic — and to re-invent it through some new lens of experience, point of view, or sensibility. We wanted more than persona pieces that fit the standard interpretation of these classics, more than contemporary re-tellings, and much more than simple parody.

What we got was re-visioning of classic forms and fables, familiar but fresh voices both canonical and chronically overlooked, and a flood of beautiful, intricate, funny, smart and fierce language and images raising familiar stories and archetypes in ways we had never considered. What a pleasure to guest edit qarrtsiluni, to have the opportunity to read such wonderful work, and to be able to craft an issue offering such fresh and startling takes on what we thought we knew.


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For bios of Ann and Jessamyn, see the Call for Submissions.

Learning to Curse

October 9, 2009 Comments off

by Ann E. Michael

Regaining breath, he
undoubles slowly
his back to the schoolyard’s
chainlink fence, too
surprised to swear.
His enemy’s grinned
with the cruel fear
of boys and skimmed
off with his pals
down alleyways
their crowing still
lodged in his gut—
slurs he could not refute
with his fists. Half-crawls
to the spot by the tetherball
pole where they collect
at recess and retches
up his humiliation,
wipes his hot face
with his damp wrist,
heads home with
each breath new
in his raw
throat, muttering
shit shit shit
to the five o’clock
suburban sidewalk.

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Ann E. Michael (website) is a poet, essayist, librettist and educator who lives in Eastern Pennsylvania. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and is a rostered Artist-in-Education with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and in newspapers, family magazines, poetry anthologies, educational and academic publications as well as on radio. Her chapbooks of poems include More than Shelter (Spire Press), The Minor Fauna (Finishing Line Press), and Small Things Rise and Go (FootHills Publishing).

Categories: Words of Power Tags:

End Times

November 14, 2008 2 comments

The silo, empty, has
shifted toward its
obsolescence.
Built like a barrel,
it rots like one:

mold-softened planks
dissolving, wood & iron—
now just rust—
meld and powder and at last
subside. Termites
and carpenter bees
dismantle the rest.

It once held grain enough
to feed a herd of cattle
gone, no lowing sounds
along the muddy creek
where the silo stood
full, upright
as a carillon tower,
a hymn of silage
amid mown fields.

What is contained
when the container’s
abandoned? Something
that pulls
the structure
over, the specific gravity
of absence

the hollow meaning
of after.

by Ann E. Michael

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