Tag: poetry

“Underwear Girl, Don’t Go”: Three Poems by Elizabeth Hazen


Baltimore-based poet Elizabeth Hazen knows what burns you up inside.

Underwear Girl

The way, in movies, people move through ghosts,
you power straight through me, Underwear Girl,

trailing mascara in cartoon swirls,
your cotton panties pink as bubblegum.

A boy in a muscle shirt chases you. Come back!
He is young, embarrassed, maybe in love with you,

maybe just in love with the way your body
moves – all passion and mystery and control.

This Is Rigged: Poetry by Erin Sweeten


Poet Erin Sweeten — a graduate of the JHU Writing Seminars — sees the world like no one else. Tour her trio of poems for a stimulating and surreal break from your back-to-work Tuesday.


This Is Rigged

Alex Calder has got a room to himself at the National Gallery of Art.

Men with glistening sunburned heads come herding children to the center, a collection


of wacky animals.  They turn their attention up and out, to pieces

in the air; they think their kids could do as well. But the mobiles exercise


a perfect balance: arcs of steel hang by a thread, graduated

triangles dangling from the spines like guitar picks, moth wings, hearts seen


at an oblique angle (still, nonrepresentational).

But here, a fish spangled with colored glass; there, a man’s head


of twisted wire. The sculptures drift and spin on thin

strands, their duplicating shadows moving with them—


light and dark, heavier and slighter, big,

or smaller. They flatten and telescope;


they intrude, wheel across the body.

I’d open my mouth to them.  I


feel as a baby must:

her mom rigs a mobile


and leaves the room,

the contraption


to keep her


Adrienne Rich, RPCS Alum, Award-Winning Feminist Poet, Baltimore-Native, Dies


Adrienne Rich, a poet and essayist born in Baltimore in 1929, who won the National Book Award, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize and more, died today in her home in Santa Cruz, California.

Her father was a pathologist and professor at Johns Hopkins; her mother was a concert pianist.  Rich went to Roland Park Country School, which she described as a “good old fashioned girls school [that] gave us fine role models of single women who were intellectually impassioned.” Rich went to  Radcliffe College, where her first collection of poetry, A Change of World, was selected by the poet W.H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award.

Rich was best known as a feminist and advocate of women’s rights, which she wrote about in her poetry and prose. She also wrote antiwar poetry and took up the causes of the marginalized and underprivileged.

The Boys and Girls We’ll Always Be: Poetry by Leslie F. Miller


Leslie F. Miller’s sexy and daring debut poetry collection, BOYGIRLBOYGIRL, will be published this spring by Finishing Line Press. In Leslie’s own words: “The collection is about the boys and girls we know. It’s about the boys and girls we are. Betsy Lerner, literary agent and author, calls it, ‘anxious, angsty, and full of longing.’ She says that in my best poems I find ‘the loneliest knife in the drawer and [sharpen] it.’ Richard Peabody, editor of Gargoyle, calls my poems ‘arty’ and ‘electric.’ My daughter likes this book, too, though she thinks I’m a little weird.”

To pre-order by March 5th, and help determine a hearty press run, please go here.


you’d expect a girl named penny
to keep a bright one in each shoe
but penny had a feather
blue-black spear that poked an inch
beyond the toe
made the teacher glower
speckled egg
in a world of white
could spell parasite
before the class could read
had dogs to eat her homework
but chose the crows
pages poked with three-toed feet
composition with pointed beak
math with funky white out
oh penny I loved you then
your mother’s rescued birds
all those feathers
on the checkerboard floor
black silk beneath our summer feet
frost white polish shining on our toes
I pocket what I find
but thirty years of pennies is a mountain
thirty years of feathers and still I cannot fly   

improper noun right out of the womb
always hitching over the side
of your swim trunks
to wag your thing at a girl.
jimmy, sweet, sweet noun
and never enough of you
like your Sunday morning offering
behind the church rectory—
summer’s possibilities ahead
ours all gone.
swollen verb
wrestling bra hooks and buttons
shaking everything loose
heart jacking.
you were born to drive the big rig
haul ass with lumber and tools
made to wedge dirt beneath your nails
hammer all the pretty girls.
you were always so good
with your hands.
twenty-two years
and my skin still remembers.
twenty-two years
you’re still under there.   


Star Poet Alan Kaufman to Read "Drunken Angel" in Greektown


Acclaimed poet and author Alan Kaufman reads in Greektown this Thursday evening at 7, at the Acropolis Restaurant, 4718 Eastern Avenue at Oldham Street in Greektown. Dean Bartoli Smith emcees; Rafael Alvarez and Betsy Boyd, Baltimore Fishbowl’s senior editor, will read short fiction.

“Rebel poet” Kaufman — who gets compared to the likes of Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac — will read from his new memoir, Drunken Angel, an unvarnished chronicle of his jagged journey from alcoholism to sobriety, his personal spiritual quest and his quest to find the daughter he abandoned.

Kaufman is also the author of the memoir Jew Boy, the novel Matches, and is the editor of The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Key in helping to establish the Spoken Word movement, Kaufman was born in Brooklyn and lives in San Francisco. He is the son of a French holocaust survivor. Dave Eggers said of Kaufman’s Jew Boy, “There is more passion here than you see in 20 other books combined.” Go here to read his poem, “Who We Are.”

Come for a diverse literary show, free Greek appetizers and live accordion music!

And watch for regular monthly Greektown readings throughout 2012, always on Thursday evening, all curated by Alvarez — most to be held at neighborhood restaurants, with free-of-charge goodies to nosh.

It Can Be Solved by Walking: Poetry by Jennifer Wallace


We’re pleased to share two poems from Jennifer Wallace’s forthcoming book, It Can be Solved by Walking, a poetic sequence and collection of photographs that search for the place of self and the collective (human and nonhuman) in Baltimore’s urban ecosystem. The book will be published by CityLit Press in April, 2012.

Jennifer is Humanistic Studies faculty at MICA — she teaches creative writing courses, literary documentary and interdisciplinary courses dealing with ecological themes.

In love
because the city won’t let up
no matter how much rocking.
In love with this city
as if a surprise walked through the door
wearing suspenders and red-striped pants.
In love with the intersection
and its ingenious abutment of asphalt and grit
where chicory roots in their joining
and age-old rainwater bubbles in the gutter,
bobbing toward the harbor and the sea.
In love with the difficult stories
because they are not mine, because they are mine.
The just-after-dawn light
like Caravaggio’s on the row house bricks.

It can be solved by walking
or take a bike.
Something slower than driving.
Something less contained, especially. Something
that permits a breeze or a squirrel to enter, a rat
to rattle you—that sort of surprise
the kind that’s overruled by ‘the speed and strength
that is the armor of the world.’

Unplug the ears.
The honks and screeches roll in like Mozart. Unbuckle
the distaste for poverty and grit.

The world is either a beautiful iceberg
or a mountaintop
thrown from its source to the faraway sea.
And the gods, who aren’t believed in anymore, are out there hiding
behind windows, under the stoops.

One of them struts the sidewalks with his two-colored hat.
One side of the street sees red. The other side, green.
He passes again with his hat flipped around just for fun.
Everyone goes to court. It’s a kind of togetherness.
All of us arguing and ‘shining like the sun.’

“It can be solved by walking” is inspired by the medieval Christian practice of
pilgrimage and meditation, solvitar ambulando. The poem also quotes Frank O’Hara and Thomas Merton, and draws from a Nigerian folk tale re-told by Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth.

This Friday: Fun With Poetry. And Videos. And Kazoos?


Imagine a music video made especially for a Greek chorus — if that Greek chorus were, say, reciting your favorite poems. Well, that’s what Parallel Octave do, and trust me — it’s the kind of thing you never knew you were missing til you see it for the first time. For many people, the first time will be this Friday, when Parallel Octave — those zany local choral improvisers/poem lovers/mash-up artiststhrow a party at the Creative Alliance to celebrate their first film anthology.

Here’s some of the things they promise:  eight videos for Parallel Octave tracks shot by local creative types (“W.B. Yeats performed by giant plastic lizards! Emily Dickinson read over a soundtrack of pitch-shifting synthesizers!”); opening short films and performances by Baltimore superstars (including Cricket Arrison, Jimmy Joe Roche, and Bethany Dinsick); and a live set by Forks of Ivy.

If all that spectating starts to make you feel left out, no worries — the evening will also include a collaborative improvisation of a Hart Crane poem, complete with audience participation and kazoos.

It’ll be the most poetical fun — or the funnest poetry? — you’ll have all year.