Fred Marchant’s fifth book of poetry, Said Not Said, is forthcoming in May 2017 from Graywolf Press. The poems in this book hover at the horizon of language, that place where what is said can only point beyond to that which is crucial yet one barely has any words for.
Paul Petrie (1928-2012) was born in Detroit, Michigan in an area which, at that time, was on the outskirts of the city. After receiving a BA (1950) and MA (1951) from Wayne University, he spent two years in the Army during the Korean War, the latter part in Alaska supposedly working in intelligence.
Rusty Morrison’s Beyond the Chainlink (Ahsahta) was a finalist for the NCIBA and also for the NCBA Awards in Poetry. After Urgency (Tupelo) won The Dorset Prize. the true keeps calm biding its story (Ahsahta) won the Sawtooth Prize, the Academy of American Poet’s James Laughlin Award, the Northern California Book Award, & the DiCastagnola Award from Poetry Society of America. Whethering (The Center for Literary Publishing), won the Colorado Prize for Poetry. Book of the Given was published by Noemi Press. She has received the Bogin, Hemley, Winner, and DiCastagnola Awards from PSA. Her poems &/or essays recently have appeared in Boston Review, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, Lana Turner, Pen Poetry Series, Prelude, VOLT, and elsewhere. Her poems have been anthologized in the Norton Postmodern American Poetry 2nd Edition, The Arcadia Project: Postmodern Pastoral, Beauty is a Verb, The Sonnets: Translating and Rewriting Shakespeare and elsewhere. She has been co-publisher of Omnidawn (http://www.omnidawn.com/) since 2001. http://www.rustymorrison.com/
Michael Palmer has lived in San Francisco since 1969. His most recent collections are Active Boundaries (Selected Essays and Talks) (New Directions, 2008), Madman With Broom (selected poems, with Chinese translations by Yunte Huang, Oxford University Press, 2011) and Thread (New Directions 2011). His latest collaboration with the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, Times Bones, had its San Francisco premiere in April 2014. He has taught at various universities in the United States, Europe and Asia and published translations from a variety of languages, in particular French, Russian and Brazilian Portuguese. A new poetry collection, The Laughter of the Sphinx, will appear from New Directions in the winter of 2015.
Jerry Williams’ entire family, on both sides, originated from Harlan, Kentucky, a coal town in the southeastern part of the Bluegrass State, a place of great importance to labor historians and country singers. His ancestry consists mostly of alcoholics and pill addicts, xenophobes, agoraphobes, preachers, toothless Felliniesque pinheads, veterans of foreign wars with unidentifiable diseases, attempted murderers, moonshiners and bootleggers, racists, golfers, magicians, disability royalty, suicides, freemasons, one cop killer, and a legion of mourners. Before he arrived on the scene, his mother and father and his two sisters moved north to Dayton, Ohio, birthplace of African-American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Guided by Voices, and sibling aviators Orville and Wilbur Wright. Over the years, he has been an infant; a child; an adolescent; an adult; a gym rat; an undergraduate at Vermont College, where he received a B.A. in English; singer in a band named after a Sam Shepard play; landscaper; typist; bartender; delivery driver (auto parts); cashier; telephone solicitor; dishwasher; librarian’s assistant; Los Angeleno; San Franciscan; Princetonian; Tucsonan (he did an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona); as well as a reluctant Stillwaterian, where he earned a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University.
Literary nonfictionist Mary Cappello and poet Peter Covino interview each other on the matter of “beauty” in their work and the work they love to read; on anti-beauty, un-beauty, disruptive beauty, and uncontained beauty in poetry and the essay. On trauma and poetic practice; on writing violence and literary nonfiction; on letting the wild in; on queer Italian/Americana; on the contrapuntal and distillate forms; on lyrical space, confluent energies, writing light. And plaid. The conversation was recorded at the University of Rhode Island December 2012, by Justin H. Brierley for The Beauty Salon, a radio program that explores everyday aesthetics in and around Rhode Island.
I want you on my desk again.
I want you on the roof
in Salvador. So I want you
on the stairs and in the shower, too.
In my bed, in the small of yours.
Against a bright wall and close
to a hallway. A puddle can’t keep
from being shallow,
but a young man can,
is that right? A young man can sit out
on the curb becoming
a river of decency in the rain.
Hello, my name is Charles Kell and I am the new senior editor of The Ocean State Review. Everyone here at OSR would like to thank Rachel for her outstanding dedication and effort in bringing the journal to its current state of success. For three years Rachel has been involved in gathering an array of disparate, important voices into The Ocean State Review. I hope to build upon what she has already accomplished. I thank Rachel for her help and wish her luck in the future and congratulations with her successful book, Quilting with a Modern Slant: People, Patterns, and Techniques Inspiring the Modern Quilt Community.
In celebration of the release of our fourth annual issue, we’re delighted to publish online this conversation between two OSR contributors, Amy Hoffman and Robin Becker. Hoffman’s work was published in last year’s issue, when her memoir, Lies About My Family, was released, and Becker’s poems appear in this year’s publication; her collection Tiger Heron was published in early 2014 to great reviews.
We’re honored to include this conversation here, and offer thanks to Robin Becker and Amy Hoffman for generously sharing this with all of us.
I was Evel Knievel. I was a Spaldeen. Yes Mom, I am made of rubber. I got a pink rubber soul. – Annie Lanzillotto, L is for Lion (34)
This spring at URI’s LGTBQ Symposium, Annie Lanzillotto spoke eloquently about gender identity and how she became a performance artist, writer, singer, world traveller, cancer survivor, and Tony’s Grandma Nunzio for an Off-Broadway revival of Tony and Tina’s Wedding. The students in my WRT 270: Writing in the Expressivist Tradition course were fortunate to have her visit before her talk that evening. They were surprised by her honesty and commitment to create community in the 75-minutes we were together. I brought a Spaldeen ball—a central conceit in her memoir L is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir, recently nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. The Spaldeen was a reminder of the ways in which Annie had to bounce back from numerous challenges. It was the rubber ball of her youth, which taught her as much about life as it did stoopball and stickball.
She eagerly took the ball from me and threw it from student to student, asking in her thick Bronx accent: “What’s your name? What do you want me to talk to you about today?” At first, they didn’t believe her questions. I suppose they thought she would show up and espouse her ideas on what it takes to be a great writer. But Annie refuses passivity from anyone. I could see by the looks on their faces that they weren’t sure what to do with the ball and what to make of Annie, but Annie is nothing if not patient. More important, Annie knows everything about how to work a crowd. She bounced the ball as one student tentatively asked a question. She used the bounce to create suspense, to formulate a compassionate response, to listen to their breathing, and to assess the vibration of the room. The ball became the metronome of our meeting. It became our heartbeat as one by one students opened up about their hopes and fears about writing, about school, about life. They asked how to write the hard truth. She was gentle, but prodding. They asked how long it takes. She said, your whole life. They asked how she was able to be so brutally honest. She answered with another question: What choice do I have? They were moved that she gave so much to them when she had already given them so much in her memoir.
In my introduction of Annie at the symposium that evening, I said, she “contains multitudes.” I purposefully recalled Walt Whitman and his “Song of Myself” since Annie, for me, is nothing less than the spiritual sister to Whitman. Like America’s iconic queer poet, she is “not a bit tamed” and chooses to “see, dance, laugh, [and] sing” with abandon. Like Whitman, too, she sounds her “barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” From the Bronx to Manhattan and Egypt, Italy, California, and, yes, even Rhode Island, she witnesses and interacts with the lives circling around her to create an American voice that recognizes the present moment of those most likely to be forgotten or stereotyped. Her “I,” like Whitman’s all seeing, all speaking “I,” honors everyone and everything, including the healing properties of garlic and lasagna. She makes space for the “old and young,” and “the foolish as much as the wise.” She does not judge someone for his or her station in life. She does not see pedigree—she honors spirit. She witnesses action; she witnesses speech; she witnesses silence most of all.
In L is for Lion, she writes with equal honesty, pain, and love about her family, especially her father Lanzi, her mother Rachel, her grandma Rose. She remembers the nuns at her Catholic schools, friends and lovers such as Johnny Denaro, with whom she marches in one of the first AIDS walks in NYC, and her long-time partner Audrey, who emerges as a peacemaker through numerous illnesses and family struggles. She honors the Egyptian cab driver Yusef, who gains her entrance to the teachings of Islam while she lives in Egypt researching the etiology of a local parasite. She engages with and is both witness and recipient of the benevolence and good works of doctors and staff like Dr. Kempin and Cecil the greeter at Sloan Kettering.
Annie, like Whitman, refuses to shy away from the difficult issues of our times. Whether she writes about the violence in her family, sings and performs about Italian tradition, marches to remember those who have perished in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and from AIDS, creates healing rituals with garlic and Spaldeens, or researches cancer, Annie confronts prejudices with regards to issues of class, ethnicity, cancer, and, most especially, as it related to URI’s LGBTQ symposium, gender. In her life, Annie has stood before cancer, classists, xenophobes, and homophobes and refused to give in to their negative and destructive energies. She believes in the bounce of the Spaldeen—that where you set your energy and love—that will be returned to you ten-fold. At the same time, she is “ever regardful of others” as she reveals the world in all its beauteous imperfection.
Lest you think I exaggerate, here are some of Annie’s credentials. She has a B.A. in medical anthropology from Brown University where she graduated with honors while undergoing treatment for Hodgkins, which was first diagnosed when she was nineteen and about to enter Brown. She earned an MFA from Sarah Lawrence and has received numerous awards, fellowships, and grants for her writing and performance art, including from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Dixon Place, the Franklin Furnace, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Currently, she is a Writer-in-Residence at New Jersey City University and just finishing up her run as Grandma Nunzio.
Annie’s presence on the URI campus was a joyful and thought-provoking day. She infused my students with a sense of determination about figuring out what stories they needed to tell, and her visit strengthened the trust that we had for each other and our work. She inspired them to show a bit more of who they were and not who they thought we wanted to see. It may have been a cold, cold February, but Annie arrived just in time to warm our tired from the winter hearts. Now, each of you will have a chance to read Annie’s vision and power in the latest issue of OSR.
Nancy Caronia is a Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose work has most recently appeared in New Delta Review, Lowestoft Chronicle, and 94 Creations. She and Edvige Giunta have co-edited Personal Effects: Essays on Memoir, Teaching, and Culture in the Work of Louise DeSalvo (Fordham University Press 2014).