Tag Archives: National Poetry Month

We’re coming to the end of National Poetry Month. It has been a challenge to limit ourselves to just a month’s worth of influential poets and poetic forms, while including space for CSU’s own poets. We’ve barely brushed the surface. If we’ve learned anything this month, it would be that poetry is a powerful magic, a potent medicine, and poets are the ones we look to when “she cannot find the words/for the nothing in her center.”

One of our favorite poets, Camille Dungy, reading some of her poetry.

One of our favorite poets, Camille Dungy, reading some of her poetry.

To end our spotlight this month, we are featuring the fourth of our CSU English faculty poets, Camille Dungy. We remain excited about the recent release of her new collection of poetry, Trophic Cascade, (March 2017). “Dungy writes about the world in which we must all survive in a time of massive environmental degradation, violence, and abuse of power.” Earlier this week, Poetry Daily featured her title poem, Trophic Cascade, a powerful piece that compares the change that happened to the ecosystem in Yellowstone after the reintroduction of the gray wolf to the personal transformation that took place for the poet once she became a mother, “After which, nothing was ever the same.” This single poem does what the rest of the collection does so well — telling beautiful and sometimes brutal stories of life, embodying both the personal and the natural world in a single unified narrative.

We recently featured Dungy on the blog during Women’s History Month. There’s also a profile we did when she first arrived at CSU. Rather than repeat ourselves, we decided this time to ask the poet herself to speak for herself about poetry and this new collection.

Can you tell us just a little about Trophic Cascade and your inspiration for this collection of poetry?

It’s often hard to summarize a book of poetry. Here’s what we say about the book on the book: “In this fourth book in a series of award-winning survival narratives, Dungy writes positioned at a fulcrum, bringing a new life into the world even as her elders are passing on. In a time of massive environmental degradation, violence and abuse of power, a world in which we all must survive, these poems resonate within and beyond the scope of the human realms, delicately balancing between conflicting loci of attention. Dwelling between vibrancy and its opposite, Dungy writes in a single poem about a mother, a daughter, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, brittle stars, giant boulders, and a dead blue whale. These poems are written in the face of despair to hold an impossible love and a commitment to hope.”

In terms of the inspiration for writing the book, I was beginning to write new poems in a moment when I was bringing a new life into this world. But I also happened to be losing loved ones, to old age and illness, but also (if I think more proudly about what and who I love) to environmental degradation, domestic and global violence, and more. Thinking about regeneration (oh joy!) in the midst of peril (oh no!) moved my writing in a particular direction, and eventually I produced the poems you’ll read in this book.

Since it’s National Poetry month, what is your favorite poetry collection? Or favorite poem?

I always have a hard time answering this question. I’m a poet and a professor of poetry. This means I read for a living and I read for pleasure. There is just no way I can narrow things down to one favorite. Because I know that this question is meant to help readers discover poetry they might love, I can give a list of five books I find myself returning to again and again.

The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton (1965-2000). Boa Editions.
The Apple Trees at Olema, Robert Hass. (Ecco)
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, Ross Gay (Pittshburg UP)
Citizen, Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press)
The Verging Cities, Natalie Scenters-Zapico (Center for Literary Publishing)

Why do you think poetry is so important?

The great poet Audre Lorde says, in her essay “Poetry is Not a Luxury”: “Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought.” I agree. Poetry is a path toward empathy. Poetry is a path toward a deep brand of knowledge. Poetry is a means toward inscribing beauty on a broken world. Poetry is a register of life. I could go on…

In one sentence, what advice would you give a student who is an aspiring poet?

Read more poetry.

 

And that seems like the perfect thing to leave you with at the end of this month of celebration. Consider this your charge for not just the next month but for the next 365 days: Read more poetry. (And if you need any recommendations, just ask us).

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As National Poetry Month comes to a close, we’ll spend the final days focusing close to home, on our very own English department poets — Matthew Cooperman, Sasha Steensen, Dan Beachy-Quick, and Camille Dungy.

Professor Sasha Steensen has published numerous chapbooks and full-length poetry collections, including correspondence (a collaborative work she completed with Gordon Hadfield in 2004), A Magic Book (2004), The Future of an Illusion (2008), The Method (2008), A History of the Human Family (2010), Waters: A Lenten Poem (2012), and most recently, House of Deer (2014). She has also written and published a number of essays and reviews.

April 2014: “My mother is on the cover. I was about 2 years old when the photo was taken. She is in our garden in Ohio, where we were back-to-the-landers. The book is about that experiment, as well as the larger experiment of family, so it seemed fitting to feature her on the cover.”

A Magic Book received the Alberta duPont Bonsal Prize.

In addition to teaching poetry and literature courses at CSU, Steensen also serves as co-poetry editor for the Colorado Review.

This Steensen poem from 2008, “Parchment, Please,” originally appeared in The Method: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/55599

Check out Steensen’s faculty profile for more.

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As National Poetry Month comes to a close, we’ll spend the final days focusing close to home, on our very own English department poets — Matthew Cooperman, Sasha Steensen, Dan Beachy-Quick, and Camille Dungy.

Poet, professor and essayist Dan Beachy-Quick is next up for our local poets. He is an Associate Professor from CSU’s own English department.

Born in Chicago, he was raised in both Colorado and upstate New York. After graduating with a BA in English from the University of Denver, Beachy-Quick received his MFA from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 2000.

Since graduating, Beachy-Quick has both written his own poetry and taught others about the craft. Before teaching at CSU, he taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The Poetry Foundation explains that his poetry “draws its material from a wide range of sources” and “is often united by a focused engagement with the fabric of sound and the pattern of echoes.”

He has published five books of poetry, including Circle’s Apprentice (2011), North True South Bright (2003), Spell (2004), Mulberry (2006), and This Nest, Swift Passerine (2009).

This Nest, Swift Passerine was a finalist for three awards in 2010: the Colorado Book Award in Poetry, the William Carlos Williams Award, and the PEN USA Literary Award in poetry. The collection Circle’s Apprentice won the 2011 Colorado Prize in Poetry and it was named Notable Book of 2011 by the Academy of American Poets.

Publisher’s Weekly described Beachy-Quick as “a supple and well-read poet with a fine ear” and explains that he has “long studied–some might even say he has been obsessed with–Moby Dick.” It’s not surprising that this essay collection in 2008 titled A Whaler’s Dictionary builds off the journeys of Melville’s Ahab and Ishmael.

Beachy-Quick’s reach extends beyond the CSU English department. This year, he was awarded a Research Fellow from the Global Environmental Sustainability at CSU. He is the principal investigator for the Crisis and Creativity Global Challenges Research Team here at CSU. Beachy-Quick’s research team “represents a unique, trans-disciplinary collaboration between the natural sciences and the humanities that will address the increasing threat that specific loss poses to global environmental sustainability.” Read SOURCE’s article to learn more about his team and the other fellows.

Video: Dan Beachy-Quick, Live Your Passion at Colorado State University College of Liberal Arts

 

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As National Poetry Month comes to a close, we’d like to spend the final days focusing close to home, on our very own English department poets — Matthew Cooperman, Sasha Steensen, Dan Beachy-Quick, and Camille Dungy.

CSU professor Matthew Cooperman is the author of four chapbooks and five full-length books of poetry, including A Sacrificial Zinc (2001), DaZE (2006), Still: Of the Earth as the Ark which Does Not Move (2011), Imago for the Fallen World (2013), and his most recent, Spool (2015), which won the New Measure Prize.

Professor Cooperman did his undergraduate work at Colgate University in New York. He then went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Colorado and a Ph.D. from Ohio University.

His work has received the Jovanovich Prize from the University of Colorado, the Utah Wilderness Society Prize, an Academy of American Poets INTRO Award, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize, the O. Marvin Lewis Award, and the Pavement Saw Chapbook Prize, among other honors.

In addition to teaching literature and poetry courses at Colorado State University, Cooperman is a founding editor of the literary journal Quarter After Eight and a co-poetry editor for the Colorado Review.

You can check out some of Matthew Cooperman’s poetry on his website. You also might want to read his recent faculty profile.

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Maybe we are biased, but we have some of the best alumni. They are a diverse group of amazing humans doing interesting and important work in the world. We miss them after they are gone, and love nothing more than to brag about them, to share with you all the good stuff they are doing. When thinking about poetry, there are two alumna in particular that come immediately to mind: Chloe’ Leisure (MFA Creative Writing: Poetry, Spring 2006), and Felicia Zamora (MFA Creative Writing: Poetry, 2012).

Chloe’ Leisure was born and raised in Marquette, Michigan. She teaches community and elementary enrichment creative writing classes in Fort Collins, Colorado. She is the author of the chapbook, The End of the World Again (2015), and her poetry has appeared in publications including Fort Collins Courier, Matter, PANK, Paterson Literary Review, A Poetic Inventory of Rocky Mountain National Park, and Permafrost. She received her MFA from CSU and was the 2014 Fort Collins Poet Laureate.

 

A few more interesting things about and from Chloe’:

 

Felicia Zamora’s bio on her website says, “Felicia Zamora’s books include Of Form & Gather, winner of the 2016 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (University of Notre Dame Press 2017), & in Open, Marvel (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press), and Instrument of Gaps (Slope Editions). She won the 2015 Tomaž Šalamun Prize from Verse, and authored the chapbooks Imbibe {et alia} here (2016) and Moby-Dick Made Me Do It (2010). Of Form & Gather was listed as one of the “9 Outstanding Latino Books Recently Published by Independent and University Presses” by NBC News… She is an associate poetry editor for the Colorado Review and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Colorado State University. She lives in Colorado with her partner, Chris, and their three dogs, Howser, Lorca, and Sherlock.”

A recent update from Felicia shared that her manuscript Galaxy Inside Your Inadequately Small Heart was selected as a finalist in the 2017 Alice James Award and the 2017 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry. Her poem “In all the pretty roam” was featured on Zòcalo Public Square on Friday, March 17 and her poem “Virgule” was selected by The Georgia Review for publication. Zamora read her poetry for the AKO Collective’s Day Without A Woman recognition event on March 8.

A few more interesting things about and from Felicia:

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Bean Cycle, image by Tim Mahoney

“Spoken word poetry is the art of performance poetry. I tell people it involves creating poetry that doesn’t just want to sit on the paper, that something about it demands to be heard out loud or witnessed in person.” -Sarah Kay

We’ve spent this week celebrating the form of slam poetry and spoken word. We have our favorite performances, but there are also countless local opportunities to get involved with slam poetry. We’ve compiled a list of places around Fort Collins where you can hear slam poetry, and even share some of your own. Let us know if you’ve found other fun ways to get involved with poetry, we’d love to know!

Places to share and exchange poetry

  • Poetry Slam at the Bean Cycle, Fort Collins: On the first Friday of every month at 7:30pm, visit the Bean Cycle where you can listen to or share your own spoken word. For the last 12 years, the event has been hosted by Larry “Booger” Holgerson. The Rocky Mountain Collegian says “this accepting social poetry environment is a great place to meet poets and reach a larger audience.” Read the Collegian’s article for more information about these slams.
  • Slamogadro at Avogadro’s Number, Fort Collins: This slam poetry competition happens on the last Sunday each month at Avogadro’s Number. Readings start at 7pm. Follow their Facebook page for more information.
  • I AM Open Mic, Fort Collins: This open mic happens on the last Friday each month at the Bean Cycle Roasters. People are encouraged to “come and share their expressions with the Fort Collins Community.” This event is not limited to poetry, working to bring together musicians, poets, comedians, storytellers, and all creative artists. Open mic starts at 8pm.
  • Lo Co Poetry Slam, Loveland: Make the trip down to the Lo Co Artisan Coffee House on the third Saturday of each month for a local poetry slam. Visit their events calendar for more information on events at the coffee house.
  • Punch Drunk Press, Denver: This organization is located in Denver and hosts various spoken work and poetry events. If you’re interested in Denver and Boulder’s poetry scene, watch their Facebook page for upcoming events.

 

Places to hear poetry

  • ForkSocket Reading Series, Fort Collins: This reading series is hosted by the MFA students at CSU, taking place at the Wolverine Letterpress & Publick House. It is an “attempt at an atypical reading structure intended to inform if not challenge conventional ideologies that have been associated with the negative situation.” These events happen multiple times throughout the school year so watch their Facebook page for event information.
  • The Creative Writing Reading Series, Fort Collins: While the series ended for the school year, the CSU English Department brings in poets and writers both from within and outside the Fort Collins community. Watch the English Department Facebook page for information about next school year’s series.
  • Dead Poet’s Society, CSU Fort Collins: CSU’s own Poet’s Society meets at the Wild Boar on alternating Friday’s from 7-9pm. Visit their Facebook page for more information about this group.
  • Greyrock Literary Club, CSU Fort Collins: This purpose of this club is to “spread awareness about the literary publishing community.” To learn more about this organization, visit their page.
  • The Greyrock Review, CSU Fort Collins: The GreyRock Review is the undergraduate literary magazine at CSU. Check out what others are writing, and submit some of your own creative work! Visit their website for more information.
  • Creative Writing Club, CSU Fort Collins: As their page explains, this club is “for writers who want to improve and share their work in an encouraging and constructive environment.” For more information about meeting times, you can visit their page.

Other ways to get involved locally

  • Front Ranges Writers: This is a group created to compile different readings and events around the Fort Collins area. Visit their Facebook page for more information.
  • CSU English Calendar of Events: For events that are happening at CSU, and within Fort Collins, you can watch our calendar of events for information on upcoming events or speakers.
  • Wolverine Letterpress & Publick House: This local non-profit literary/arts organization is a great source for all things creative. From a calligraphy class to knitting session and Poetry Slams, make sure you check their calendar of events for any upcoming events.

 

Next week is the final week of National Poetry Month 2017. We’ll be featuring local poets, those near and dear to our hearts.

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Today we are continuing our focus on spoken word poetry and poets. These are some of our favorite spoken word poems. What are some of yours?

Video: “What Teachers Make” by Taylor Mali

Video: Rachel Rostad – “Names”

Video: Neil Hilborn – “OCD”

Video: Sabrina Benaim – “Explaining My Depression to My Mother”

Video: Beautiful Body by Natalie Patterson

Video: Lily Myers – “Shrinking Women”

Tomorrow we’ll conclude our week focused on spoken word poetry with some local open mic opportunities.

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For this week of National Poetry Month, we are featuring spoken word poetry and poets. Today, we wanted to share some spoken word projects you might be interested in.


Button Poetry was founded in 2011, launching the first Button website and blog soon after. They have being promoting and producing spoken word poetry, creating high quality videos and books and recordings, ever since.

 


All Def Poetry is a YouTube channel presented by Russell Simmons that shares weekly performances by emerging and established spoken word artists. “Fresh, riveting, and featuring some of the best voices in the genre.”

 

Project VOICE is “a team of highly accomplished writers, performers, and educators,” using spoken word poetry to “entertain, educate, and inspire” They say on their website that, “Through award-winning performances and innovative workshops, Project VOICE is dedicated to promoting empowerment, improving literacy, and encouraging empathy and creative collaboration in classrooms and communities around the world.” In related news, Speakeasynyc is “is the leading youtube channel for great spoken word poets from around the US,” including the poets involved with Project VOICE.

 


Poetry Slam, Inc. is “a non-profit organization that organizes the National Poetry Slam, the Individual World Poetry Slam, and the Women of the World Poetry Slam. PSi is also charged with overseeing the international coalition of poetry slams.” Their YouTube channel has a great collection of videos from these events and more.

 

Stayed tuned: Tomorrow we’ll be sharing some of our favorite spoken word poems. For today, have fun diving into these great projects and their collections.

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For this week of National Poetry Month, we are featuring spoken word poetry and poets.

Andrea Gibson is an award-winning poet and activist born in Calais, Maine. Gibson has lived in Boulder, Colorado since 1999. Gibson also goes by Andrew and uses gender-neutral pronouns. Their website bio says,

Andrea Gibson is not gentle with their truths. It is this raw fearlessness that has led them to the forefront of the spoken word movement…Gibson has headlined prestigious performance venues coast to coast with powerful readings on war, class, gender, bullying, white privilege, sexuality, love, and spirituality.

Now, on their fifth full-length album FLOWER BOY and their second book THE MADNESS VASE, Gibson’s poems continue to be a rally cry for action and a welcome mat at the door of the heart’s most compassionate room.

A four-time Denver Grand Slam Champion, Gibson finished fourth at the 2004 National Poetry Slam, and third at both the 2006 and 2007 Individual World Poetry Slam. In 2008, Gibson became the first poet ever to win the Women of the World Poetry Slam.

When asked in a 2015 interview “Which poets and/or artists have influenced your work?”, Gibson said,

Oh, so many. Spoken word artists who have influenced me a great deal are Sonya Renee, Rachel McKibbens, Derrick Brown, Anis Mojgani, Patricia Smith…that list is so long I could keep writing names for the next hour. The first poet whose work I truly fell in love with was Mary Oliver, and her books are still the place I find the most comfort in.

Video: Andrea Gibson performing “Angels of the Get Through,” featuring musical accompaniment by Kaylen Krebsbach

Video: Andrea Gibson performing “A Letter to My Dog, Exploring the Human Condition,” featuring accompaniment by her dog, Squash

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For this week of National Poetry Month, we are featuring spoken word poetry and poets.

Image by Jhayne

Hearing a poem read by its author adds an additional dimension to any work.The inflection, the empty spaces, the tone. All of these pieces work together to create the art of spoken word.

Shane Koyzcan was born in 1976 in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. At the National Poetry Slam in 2000, he won the Individual Championship title, making him the first Canadian to win. From there, he continued to garner success for his slam poetry. He went on to publish his first full-length poetry collection in 2005 called Visiting Hours. This work brought together a collection his spoken word and poetry, all dealing with the “intricacies of human emotions.”

His collection made The Guardian’s “Books of the year” list in 2005 for Koyzcan’s “ability to take you straight to the heart of what on the surface may seem like mundane actions but which turn out to be much more complex. He makes you feel the depth of love, joy, and pain in everyday life. Love, after all, is in everything.”

In 2010, he performed a portion of his “We Are More” piece at the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. In 2014, he released a digital spoken word album titled Silence Is A Song I Know All The Words To. Beyond the audio element, artist Gareth Gaudin illustrated his poems into a graphic novel of the same name.

Koyczan went viral online with his 2013 “To this Day Project.” The spoken word, set to an animated video on YouTube, addresses Koyzcan’s personal experiences with bullying. The video brought further attention to Koyzcan as a slam poet, and raised awareness about bullying.

Video: Shane Koyczan reads “To This Day”

As Koyczan explains, “My experiences with violence in schools still echo throughout my life but standing to face the problem has helped me in immeasurable ways. Schools and families are in desperate need of proper tools to confront this problem. This piece is a starting point.”

Through this project, Koyczan hopes to bring attention to the ongoing issue of bullying and its presence in schools today. As his poem explains, he grew up “surrounded by people who used to say/ that rhyme… about sticks and stones/ As if broken bones/ hurt more than the names we got called,/ and we got called them all.”

Spoken word has a way of sticking with people, hearing the words spoken with speed or suspended through dramatic silence. Koyzcan used his own stories to shed light on a problem children still have today. But, “to this day,” there’s still more we can do to help.

Shane Koyczan is currently on a Canadian and International tour that started in April and is continuing through June. This tour promotes his new album titled Debris. He will make an appearance at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado on June 16-19. (For more information: http://bit.ly/2nNHrE6.)

Want to know more about this poet?

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