cynthia * arrieu * king

Thank you, Cindy, for sharing your gift of poetry, which arrived in the mail today!  What a treat as I emerge from hiberating in the post-finals Chocolate Cave of Grading (i.e. as my beloved students know, I eat chocolate while I grade final projects.  Well, actually… I eat chocolate, regardless of grading, weather, et cetera). 

Congratulations on your stunning collection from Octopus! So sad I missed your November visit to Pomona College… 

Now for a cup of rose & peach chamomile tea. 

emily * dickinson

Today is Miss Dickinson’s birthday!  Happiness.  Years ago, when Amherst College opened the Homestead & Evergreens to guests, I took a summer day to visit.


Although I grew up in Massachusetts, my childhood forays into the Berkshires were rare, so this was quite a treat!

Here is Jorie Graham’s essay on her visit to Amherst.


Thanks to Logan Esdale, who introduced me to poet & visual artist  Jen Bervin‘s “The Dickinson Fascicles,” based on Miss Dickinson’s “variant words:”

The variant words are preceeded by the + mark and often appear listed in clusters after the poem but before the horizontal line Dickinson drew to signal the end of a poem. To read the variants, you move backwards through the poem trying to find the point of insertion, the corollary word or phrase (preceeded by a +) that the variants refer to in the poem. They are sometimes quite close in meaning to the marked word, but in other instances, they are as far ranging as “+ world, + selves + sun.”


Prayer:  “Faith — is the pierless bridge / Supporting what We see / Unto the Scene that we do not — / Too slender for the eye.”  ~ Emily Dickinson


dg * nanouk * okpik

I recently enjoyed Arthur Sze’s article on the Alaskan Inuit woman poet, dg nanouk okpik.  The article first appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of American Poet (Academy of American Poets).


A Living Testament by Arthur Sze

“dg nanouk okpik is Inupiaq, Inuit, and was raised by an Irish and German family in Anchorage, Alaska. Her family had oceanfaring boats and, growing up, she fished in many rivers, lakes, and seaports. As a poet, dg nanouk okpik wants to incorporate—to embody—Inuit mythology and worldview into finely crafted poems in English. She thus draws on her Inupiat heritage, but she is firmly rooted in the complexities, tensions, and challenges of our contemporary world. She writes with clarity—’she prepares // the poultice in the mortar bowl, / cotton grass, seal liver, rainwater’—and she frequently employs the image of a map as a way of locating oneself in the natural world.”


wangmo * dhompa

Two poems by  Tsering Wangmo Dhompa appear in the latest issue of Cerise, the gorgeous international e-journal edited by Sally Molini, Karen Rigby, and Fiona Sze.  Here’s an excerpt:

from An invitation to a struggle

Consider the stories we tell, the moral
or meaning lost over time. Perhaps it is culture
hindering the dog from learning
good etiquette. Colour as a cause. Naturally,
in a volte-face we can say it is a native’s
compliment because we advertise
for a fairer tint. In stories of war
the other is chimera, a shapeless
behemoth in need of a lesson…



 Tsering Wangmo Dhompa is the author of three titles from Apogee Press: In the Absent Everyday (2005), Rules of the House (2002, finalist for the Asian American Literary Awards in 2003) and My rice tastes like the lake (forthcoming). A former fellow at MacDowell Colony and Hedgebrook, she was raised in the Tibetan exile communities of Nepal and India. She now lives in San Francisco.


la * radio

Gratitudes:  Christian Wiman and Don Share will discuss my work on an upcoming media cast for the Poetry Foundation in Chicago.  Their project features my poems in an upcoming issue of Poetry Magazinehence a recent visit to the radio station at the University of California, Irvine.  Many thanks to Margaret, who arranged everything with the sound engineer.  I’ll visit again next week. 


On the UCI campus, I was happy to see Li Po’s head restored!  He’s in a garden off Aldrich Park, posed with three other Chinese poets & philosophers.  Last time I visited UCI, the venerable head of our moon-in-the-lake poet was missing from his marble torso.  Glad to see his new noggin intact!


Written in Chinese, his “Li” is the same as my “Lee.”  Though I, too, may lose my head while gazing at beautiful Aldrich Park in the center of the Irvine campus, I’m not sure whether we’re actually related, literally.

Endless River: Li Po and Tu Fu : A Friendship in Poetry  

Prayers:  For people, everywhere, who write poetry… inspiration through words, languages, and healing.


sawako * nakayasu

Here’s my appreciative review of Texture Notes by Sawako NakayasuMany thanks to Colin & the good folks at Cutbank Literary Journal, University of Montana! 

From me:  “The latest collection by translator and poet Sawako Nakayasu, Texture Notes, features 48 original journal entries dated from 2003 to 2004, arranged in a variety of textures and rhythms. With echoes of Zukofsky poetics and Steinian word-play, Nakayasu explores the objectivist challenge of describing physical textures in the external world: bicycles, fresh laundry, love in the air….”