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Informal poetry reading series with Myrna Keliher, live on Instagram @expeditionpress and archived here.
Reading “Sunflower Sonnet Number Two” by June Jordan
I don’t remember when I first read this poem but it was in a different book and a different time. I do remember how I felt when I read it, longing for long term love and recognizing the perfect contradictions and depth of it this poem names so well.
Reading “In a Time of Peace” by Ilya Kaminsky
The war. All the wars. Still we are living. I think Ilya’s work asks us how, how are we living? And can we do better?
Reading “November 19, 2016” by Cedar Sigo
This poem has my mind branching and stretching in many directions, I love the simplicity and open feeling I get alongside very concrete imagery. Maybe because of the imagery?
Reading “Middle of the Way” by Galway Kinnell
When I read the line “Concocted a little fire in the darkness.” I immediately thought of poetry being the fire, and writing it being the act of concocting.
Reading “Saturn’s Rings” by Ellen Bass
I feel quite calm every time I get to the end of this poem. While it draws up many sadnesses and curious connections, it lets them go as it moves through memory and acknowledgment back to being.
Reading “Thank you” by Ross Gay
Wishing you so many thanks, both given and received, and much time outside. Remember when you’re at a loss, and have nothing to say, “thank you” is always a good bet.
Reading “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich
I love “worn by salt and sway” and the fact that the haunters are tentative. That the wreck is terrible yes and hard to see, takes time to get to, but once you’re there it’s quiet and oh so beautiful and you get to be your many selves without any which one competing. Everyone’s allowed.
Reading “The Creation Story” by Joy Harjo
I can’t remember when I first read this poem but my strong association with the book is slipping it into a tote bag on the way to the ER. Even in emergencies—actually, especially then—I bring poetry.
Reading “Miss you. Would like to take a walk with you.” by Gabrielle Calvocoressi
When I am overcome with grief, even in the seizing, halting, gasping, blustery nose-blowing throes of it, there’s always a small hard seed of gratitude for the feeling I am feeling.
Reading “Where I End Up” by Donika Kelly
I love the idea of personal ghosts being faithful and true, and able to choose one day to stay while we ourselves move on. It’s a mysterious process letting go of ghosts...
Reading “Torso of Air” by Ocean Vuong
I can’t recommend enough the whole book that this poem comes from; it was a rare reading experience for me the first time through, all at once and punctuated by several sudden bursts of uncontrollable sobs.
Reading “Printer’s Note” and “Poem at Lunch” by Gray Zeitz
Gray reminds me that huge amounts of work can get done, and pleasurably, by practicing one’s craft well and unhurried, and all while prioritizing poetry and people. His poems settle me in the daily life of neighbors and the natural world...
Reading “Crossing” by Jericho Brown
A poem for you about water, and vastness, and movement. Each time I visit this poem I feel recognized in my cycles of work and it makes me pause and step back to wonder...
Reading “Apenimonodan / Trust” by Margaret Noodin
Wishing you so many people in your life worth polishing, and plenty opening alongside any needed shutting.
Reading “water sign woman” and “i am not done yet” by Lucille Clifton
Books! They hold us close and never judge and hold whole worlds in slim volumes for us to pick up anytime and find a thing we need. And wow is poetry needed. Always in the most unsuspecting of moments, too.
Reading “The Layers” by Stanley Kunitz
When we are reading poetry we are looking for something. And that something is often held in a line or two. And when we find it, it’s not that we don’t need the rest, but often there’s a great pause to consider and hold the thing we needed.
Reading “Reprieve” by Jenny George
“Reprieve” is a poem I come to again and again, like that line about arriving at one’s self. I wonder about what that means but I feel it deeply. I know the feeling of being outside of myself, ungrounded, spaced, anxious to varying degrees and spun out on too many possibilities.
Reading “Kingdom Animalia” by Aracelis Girmay
A brother. A train. Fat persimmon, sad heart. Impossible stars and dirt kissing and the idea of allowing your body love—this poem conjures a kind of longing to be touched that goes past what I think I know about love.
Reading “Sisyphus” by Anis Mojgani
Well that’s the way poetry goes, isn’t it—an inkling, a bit you remember and lots you don’t, something that draws you back and then bam! A huge wave of feeling washes up and over as you start reading. It’s a basic way I interact with poems but they never fail to surprise me...
Reading “Self-Portrait as a Dead Black Boy, VI” by Geffrey Davis
I don’t know how our country heals. Our society. Our world. I do know one to one, human to human, heart to heart openness is a path to change. It is slow. Poetry can help. If you’re like me and largely unaffected by day to day racism, maybe share this with someone in your life who can’t empathize or doesn’t care to?
Reading “What Space Faith Can Occupy” by TC Tolbert
I remember wandering around in the little woods and grassy knoll next to my shop, my new puppy nosing every inch of ground and my mind leaping from thought to thought through wide open process-oriented conversation. We talked about writing, poetry, printing, and publishing. Woodworking, teaching, backpacking, guiding. Dogs and road trips. Organizational pivots and flowers in ditches.
Reading “Choices” by Tess Gallagher
Dan used to always say, “Community isn't quid pro quo. You give what you have when you have it, and you get what you need when you need it.” I have experienced this to be true over, and over, and over again. Both in my giving and in my needing.
Reading “The Great Fortune of Material Existence” by Mary Ruefle
Delight is what gets me first with Mary’s poems, yes; but it’s the feeling of wild open possibility—the leaps of association that are not only permitted but reveled in—that stays with me through a day and keeps me coming back. The way she writes makes me feel free and seen and allowed to think the weird ways that I think, too.
Reading “Thanks” by W.S. Merwin
This poem I have gone to many times over when I don’t know what to say when things are bad and hard. It reminds me I can still say thank you. The other place I’m reminded of that is outdoors and it’s no coincidence the book this poem is in looks like a field guide. It was designed that way to honor how Merwin lived and breathed with trees especially.
Reading “Dead Stars” by Ada Limón
Second episode of Poetry Lunch. The series is inspired by the many incredible conversations I had with my gramma at our regular Tuesday lunches, when I would share proofs of what I was working on and she’d read them closely and critique them soundly and wander on speaking to personal connections and universal human feelings.
Reading “Alive Together” by Lisel Mueller
Hey everybody, here’s a poem for you read in honor of my grandmother who I used to have lunch with on Tuesdays—this is me (Myrna) reading “Alive Together” by Lisel Mueller, from her new and selected collection by the same title, published by LSU Press.