A poetry discucssion A poetry discussion

A poetry discussion

A poetry discussion about the PBPF

Exciting things are happening in the world of poetry here is south Florida.

I will be Marie Howe’s intern/assistant in January 2010 at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival.

Hey, folks–some scholarships are still available. APPLY NOW! Get in touch with Miles Coon, director, and Lauren McDermott, coordinator extraordinaire! (Laura@palmbeachpoetryfestival.org)

Check it out!


This year, on November 1st in Delray Beach–place to be announced–the interns and staff of PBPF will read some of their favortite poems. The staff will read Florida poets.
The interns will read work written by workshop leaders (a great line-up this year), personal poems from the interns themselves, and reflective poems on the selection they choose to read from the body of work of their assigned poet. Pretty cool? I’ll say.

Here’s my personal poem, “The Hazel Nut,” from my debut collection, Cooking Lessons, followed by Marie Howe’s poem, “What the Living Do,”and then my poetic response to hers.


round like me,
pointy at the top
like Clemente’s ideas
of other universes,
scattered here and there
on a dwarfed tree of fall bounty—
this one plunked in between persimmons.
I cull a nut, winnow and bounce another as a picker would, weighing fullness.
I crack the shell and crunch the core.
The sun-tongued firelight smokes and curlicues
acrid snakes above burning leaves.
It’s autumn now in Soriano nel Cimino.
Who climbs our rooted hazel tree
now that you, friend,
are gone and I am
left remembering?

Here’s Marie Howe’s poem about her brother’s death.


Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil
probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes
have piled up
waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is thee
everyday we spoke of.…

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of
myself in the window glass,
say the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a
cherishing so deep
for my own blowing hair, chapped face and unbuttoned coat
that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.

And here’s my response to Marie Howe’s poignant poem:


You’re on a lunch break, walking in Piazza di Spagna near Bernini’s sinking boat fountain, when it hits you among the stop and go of traffic lights,

the Carabiniere’s whistles and Charlie Chaplin arm waves, the bustle of passersby,
the honking horns, the sight of children holding hands, you are alone. And lonely.

You yearn for a past time and, seeing yourself reflected in shop windows,
at once your muscles weary and wilt onto sagging bones. Then the weight

of your years, the heft of your misery gives rise to blanket your spirit:
for wasted moments, for love gone awry, for the anger in sword-sharp words.

The sun peeps through a cloud, a bird takes flight from a smoky chimney,
a wistful guitar melody wends and wafts its way along concave red tiled

rooftops. You hum along with the old song, Scrivimi, Write to Me. And of a sudden your mood soars with the remembrance of a tiny word spelled: hope.