Vallum Poem of the Week: “Erin Foley Just Cleaned her Kitchen (including the elements on the stove and the oven) and her bathroom. Tomorrow, the floors, living room and bedroom. Spring cleaning, one step at a time.” By Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang

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Sarah Tsiang

Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang – ERIN FOLEY JUST CLEANED HER KITCHEN (INCLUDING THE ELEMENTS ON THE STOVE AND THE OVEN) AND HER BATHROOM. TOMORROW, THE FLOORS, LIVING ROOM AND BEDROOM. SPRING CLEANING, ONE STEP AT A TIME.

 

ERIN FOLEY JUST CLEANED HER KITCHEN (INCLUDING THE ELEMENTS ON THE STOVE AND THE OVEN) AND HER BATHROOM. TOMORROW, THE FLOORS, LIVING ROOM AND BEDROOM. SPRING CLEANING, ONE STEP AT A TIME.

This morning a rock flew
through our window. My daughter
crying in the bedroom,
a man reached through the broken
glass and turned the lock.

I don’t know if it was my steps
or her cries, small and shattered,
that frightened him. He left
the door hanging, March wind
blowing through the kitchen.

All morning I swept glass,
the window frame rained
shards with every pass
of my broom.
My place has never been so clean.

That evening, my daughter
is in bed, the new window firmly in place.
Still, I’m finding glass under the fridge,
and in the dog’s dish.

No matter how much I sweep,
there it is: the window,
the rock, my daughter’s broken
cry. Small scattered stars.

 

Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang is the author of the poetry books Status Update (2013), which was nominated for the Pat Lowther Award and the Gerald Lampert award winning Sweet Devilry (2011). She is also the author of several children’s books,  including picture books such as A Flock of Shoes, the non-fiction Warriors and Wailers, and the YA novel Breathing Fire.  Sarah’s work been published and translated internationally, as well as named to the OLA Best Bets for Children 2010, Best Books for Kids & Teens from 2011 to 2014, and the Toronto Public Library’s First and Best Book List (2012). She is also the editor of two poetry collections, Desperately Seeking Susans  (2013), and the forthcoming Tag: Canadian Poets at Play.

 

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website here:

http://www.vallummag.com/archives_10_2.html

Caught in stereotypes…

Image result for saint

It is often the case that people get caught in stereotypes and set modes of thinking. Without an ability to shake up the conventional, there can be no creativity. Children are masters at the ‘surprise’ mode of being, which is lost when people join forces to field a singular cause. There are many points of view, many ways of being and different cultural norms. We cannot become convinced of the ‘propriety’ of a certain way when half of us are hypocrites on some level. Purely virtuous people may exist, but are they without the sin of scorning those who do not imitate their ways? It is so in every profession, and we poets are not exempt. In fact, some of us may be worse, since our ‘calling’ professes to deal with the spirit, or the esoteric on some level. And there is a level of more truthfulness in a redneck who helps out someone in trouble than in a highbrow who writes a ‘good poem.’ /ez

The Right Thing
by Theodore Roethke
Let others probe the mystery if they can.
Time-harried prisoners of Shall and Will-
The right thing happens to the happy man.

The bird flies out, the bird flies back again;
The hill becomes the valley, and is still;
Let others delve that mystery if they can.

God bless the roots!-Body and soul are one!
The small become the great, the great the small;
The right thing happens to the happy man.

Child of the dark, he can out leap the sun,
His being single, and that being all:
The right thing happens to the happy man.

Or he sits still, a solid figure when
The self-destructive shake the common wall;
Takes to himself what mystery he can,

And, praising change as the slow night comes on,
Wills what he would, surrendering his will
Till mystery is no more: No more he can.
The right thing happens to the happy man.

Featured Review: Down the rabbit hole: Subverting the urban world METROPANTHEON

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Metropantheon_cover-web

Down the rabbit hole: Subverting the urban world METROPANTHEON
Steven Artelle (Winnipeg, MB: Signature Editions, 2014, $14.95, 88 pp)
Review by Francesca Bianco

In thinking about Steven Artelle’s Metropantheon, a debut collection of poetry that seeks to unsettle the sometimes droid-like existence of urban life, another piece of creative work leaps to mind. The 1998 documentary, “The Cruise,” delves into the problematic nature of the New York City’s grid plan, with social commentator Speed Levitch at the helm. In his estimation, the blueprint of Manhattan emanates from our weaknesses: the puritan system of ninety-degree angles is homogenizing in a city where there is no homogenization available. As Levitch walks down a back street, he declares that, “[In New York] there is only total cacophony, a total flowing of human ethnicities and tribes and beings and gradations of awareness and consciousness.” With the same measured and polemic wit as Levitch, Steven Artelle’s Metropantheon tags over and deconstructs the urban space and elevates the city, in this case Toronto, to mythic proportions. The exposed streets and hidden alleyways are rewritten to erase the monotony of daily living to shift towards a reflection of our most embellished, hallucinatory fantasies. For a slim volume of poetry, Metropantheon contains so many implications and allusions we could come to regard it nestled comfortably in between the foreboding vibrations of Yeats’ “Second Coming” and the caffeinated exaltations of Ginsberg’s “Howl.” However, Metropantheon celebrates rather than gives caution to what the future holds.

In an online interview with rob mclennan about his poetry, Steven Artelle reveals that his writing “always circles back to the nature of cities, encounters with divinity in a secular environment, wrestling with individual identity in a collective culture.” Metropantheon, for, instance, is a space where Artelle has “tried to overwrite the secular experience of cities in western culture by inventing an urban mythology, rituals, supernatural interventions.” In Metropantheon, the poet channels the grit and grime of a dystopic city through graffitichild; a being who grapples with his / her relationship to the collective culture of the city space. graffitichild is a mythic personality on the urban periphery, a kind of trickster god who is at once a creator and a destroyer, a giver and a negator, who misleads and is misled. To make this work, Artelle corrals language suited to the chaos and density of the urban: portmanteau words (“gladhands”, “nightchurch”, “heartjawed”) gospel-like repetition (O blessed infidelity / O candles collapsed into swans), and erratic, staccatoed rhythms. The “lines and cracks of every sidewalk” become Artelle’s source for creativity. Something like love, like art, is happening “somewhere behind the drywall” and it “smells like a manifesto.” In Metropantheon the new and revolutionary mythology slouches out from behind the concrete curtains.

In the ancient world, a pantheon is a space dedicated to the gods. Roman consul and noted historian, Cassius Dio, remarked that Rome’s Pantheon, because of its vaulted roof, “resembles the heavens.” If Artelle’s collection is like the Pantheon’s portico, then graffitichild is the oculus: the structure’s central opening and a feat and wonder of human effort and ingenuity. However, in Metropantheon the bones of the city are not as dependable as one might think. The city, as rendered in the poem “heat”, is “constructed with slabs of fat / the whole thing slathered together / and wobbling under the eyeless mortar of the sun.” Beings either emerge above the city’s surface or are submerged. In this case, graffitichild states simply: “I am an outline” and at the margins of the speaker’s own sense of identity and relationship to the “splintered skyline.”

Interestingly, one of the strongest poems in the collection carries with it the most substantial emotional infrastructure. It is a break from the turbo-charged, dense imagery injected with Artelle’s mythic imagination. The poem, “the evidence of windows” begins concretely by placing us at “hinton north and wellington” in Toronto amongst “bikes and uncertain traffic” and then shifts to become an existential lament on love:

……….and it was your name over and over that afternoon and so it was
……………maybe you as I eavesdropped and maybe missed my calling
……….until the part about how we make the wrong decisions and
……………live with it or not in the acoustic dark and the part about love

It is an accessible piece redolent of the fluctuating doubt and melancholy we feel in relationships and in loss. It is a poem “about you and me unable to lean out.”

Artelle’s overarching project is less about narrative, less about understanding what exactly happens to, say, graffitichild than it is about refashioning language itself. The burning core of Metropantheon lies in the attempt to deconstruct and rebuild a pantheon of reinvigorated, resonant mode of expression fit for the gods. It should be noted that stamina is required in reading Metropantheon in the same way it is harnessed when slogging between subway, tram, and office building. In “half-skinned rabbit”, however, the speaker reminds us that we “stretch [our] hand into whatever new glove this is.” The reader follows a similar path to familiarity as they move through the collection. Metropantheon becomes our city, our experience, our new glove that molds, breathes, and expands to our daily elation and struggle.

 

Francesca Bianco is a writer and farm gal living in snowy northern British Columbia. She intends to complete a Masters in Journalism at UBC next fall.

 

This review was published in issue 12:1 “Surrender.” To see more from this issue, please visit Vallum‘s website here:
http://www.vallummag.com/archives_12_1.html

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Lethbridge” by Rocco de Giacomo

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Rocco de Giacomo at Poetry NOW 11. Photo by Linda Kooluris Dobbs

Rocco de Giacomo – LETHBRIDGE

 

LETHERBRIDGE

Noon’s vanishing point.
Where old men become
their younger selves
in shop windows: postscripts
written in glances
and left for the Native teens
learning to skateboard on the
old main roads. Realization’s cusp:
the museum of the Old Fort
is moved into the mall,
and the Japanese Garden
run by the teens of immigrants
reveals the very last
corner of itself.

 

Rocco de Giacomo is a widely published poet whose work has appeared in literary journals in Canada, Australia, England, Hong Kong and the US. His work has recently been accepted for publication in Contemporary Verse 2Grain and Queen’s Quarterly, and has most recently been published Descant. Rocco’s poetry has also been featured on the CBC. He is the author of numerous chapbooks including, in 2008, Catching Dawn’s Breath. In 2009, his first full-length poetry collection, Ten Thousand Miles Between Us, was launched through Quattro Books. His forthcoming collection, Every Night of Our Lives, will be published with Guernica Editions.

 

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website here.

 

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Last Evening I Stumbled” by Carla Barkman

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Poet Carla Barkman

Carla Barkman – Last Evening I Stumbled

 

Last Evening I Stumbled

Last evening I stumbled 
past smokers in doorways 
of boarding houses, 
ex-sailors’ rooming houses 
beside the inland sea, 
& up the gravel road again 
towards the lighthouse poised 
between two harbours 
now its panning light engulfed 
by Christmas strings of orange 
& white, & sat still 
on a Muskoka chair, 
its pair beside me empty 
thinking—I should smoke 
& reference you—but rather 
just sat still, my boots & cushioned legs 
in a feather bed of snow, 
& pointed out the constellations 
that I knew: Orion’s belt, 
Big Dipper & way up there 
the Little Dipper tinier than I recalled 
& the waves dark blue 
& the ships’ bells 
& the light swooping round 
over my silent hill, 
not stretching out my arms 
to make snow angels, 
not speaking or listening, 
turning or even picturing you 
in that white wooden chair.

 

Carla Barkman graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1999 with an MD and BSc (Med). She completed a residency at the University of Manitoba in 2002, and has since practiced family medicine in northwestern Ontario and Saskatchewan. Her poetry has been published in Grain, CV2 and other journals, and in Groundswell: the best of above/ground press 1993-2003, under the name Carla Milo. Several of her poems recently appeared in ditch, an online journal.

 

Carla Barkman was the second place contest winner for the Vallum Award for Poetry 2014. Don’t miss your chance to enter the Vallum Award for Poetry 2015, DEADLINE JULY 15th. For details, please visit our website here:

http://www.vallummag.com/contestrules.html

Vallum Poem of the Week: “The Long Study” by Alexei Perry Cox

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Alexei Perry Cox

 

Alexei Perry Cox – THE LONG STUDY

 

THE LONG STUDY

Mother, now listen to my words. I see
Your soul in anger; this is a foolish and an evil rage.
Oh, I know when we stand before a helpless
Doom, how hard it is to bear. [pause]

from “Iphigenia in Aulis,” Euripides

The Mother talked to me
as if I were drawing her naked.
There are no hard edges
to the living flesh
especially to the loosened skin
but we draw them anyway, deceive,
because we cannot see
what we see
we make believe:
Mother, now listen to my words. I see

She loves to say things:
The older I am
the more I know
I don’t know.
But also, sometimes just,
At my age
Oh I don’t know
love
It’s just another way to wage
your soul in anger; this is a foolish and an evil rage.

Tyranny doesn’t become palatable.
It becomes more palatable.
And when you are no longer
a woman drawn,
you are no longer a woman.
But not even an actress
can rehearse the underscore and colour
of the irony that who loved more
becomes less.
Oh, I know when we stand before a helpless

wish I could render her then
still her life
from the sadness
that takes over
from within
what she has become, with cause,
becoming her only perfect geometry:
the sharp pupil of her dilating eyes knows flaws.
Doom, how hard it is to bear. [pause]

 

Alexei Perry Cox currently resides in Montreal. Her work recognizes that a fixed ideal is not useful for trying to gain an understanding of things. Instead it is the process of reexamination that most closely articulates truths in all their complexities. Presently, she is working on a manuscript that has been largely written in Lebanon.

 

Alexei Perry Cox was the first place contest winner for the Vallum Award for Poetry 2014. Don’t miss your chance to enter the Vallum Award for Poetry 2015, DEADLINE JULY 15th. For details, please visit our website here:

http://www.vallummag.com/contestrules.html

 

Vallum Secret Poem Word Game: Week 6 (FINAL WEEK!)

We are offering a chance to enter the Vallum Award for Poetry 2015 contest for FREE! The catch is you have to be the first person to guess the title and author of the secret poem.

How it works:

Every week we will add one letter and give a clue to help solve the poem. Once you think you know the title and the author, email the answer to info@vallummag.com. Be careful, you only get one guess, so use it wisely! The secret poem will be revealed one week before the contest deadline.

WEEK 6

Clue: This poet is mostly a modernist and this poem might make a marvelous map of the moon.
Letter of the Week: M

 

___A_ _AE_E_E_

A s___e_ ____fe_
se__es
___a__e __ _______p_a

__ s_me s_m_am______s
__ a___es____ _____s
__ape_
__ sa_____a_ __ape__es

Pe__s __ ___e__
p_epa_e
_e__e
___ p_s__m___s pa__e__es

_e______s A_e__es
___
____ __e __a__e__e_ ____s
__ __f_s___a
_____ P_a__a_’s __m_s___es

_ea_
__ me_____a_ ___ms_a_s
_____s _as_s
__ f_____e_ p__sp_____s

__e e_e-____e s__-_____
____e-_____ __s_____
__ ___a_ __s_s

S_e__e_____ s___s
“____ s___s __ S_a__a_”
“____a_ _a____se_”

_______es
__ e_s_a___ __s_
a__ as_es _____
___sa_e_s
f___ _a______a____ ___a_e_s
__ s_a__e_e_ __ass
____ e_a__a_e __a_e_s

A f____ __ __eams
___se __ _e___p___s

F__m __e s___es
__ ____ __ea_s
__ __e ______e_ ___e__

____-e_e_ __a__s__es
a__ _____________s
__se__e
___ f_____
__ E__s __s__e_e

A__ “_mm___a____”
m___e_s …
__ ___ m__e_ms __ ___ m___

“_______a_ _____ps”
“___s___ ________e”

P___e_ ____ pe_s__f__a____
__e f_ss__ ______ __ ___ s__es
_a_es a__ _a_es


DEADLINE for the Secret Poem Word Game:
July 2nd, 2015
http://www.vallummag.com/secretpoem.html

DEADLINE for the Vallum Award for Poetry: July 15th, 2015
http://www.vallummag.com/contestrules.html

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Ode to a Garden Echo” by Symon Jory Stevens-Guille

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Symon Jory Setevens-Guille

Video by Marc di Saverio.

 

ODE TO A GARDEN ECHO

Struck flint flails; flutters of rouge reef tremble
in plume pillows;
sun-gauzed grapes, bevy-burst brail erupting
as globic grails.
Breeze deflates breath through the fern-born fifes, as
buds brim with petal pause, bloombasting peels
of a sun swooned
pollen, lung puffed
from tongue torrents, sap sputtering.

 

Poet Symon Jory

Symon Jory Setevens-Guille lives, or has lived depending when this appears, in Montreal. Symon studied linguistics and philosophy at McGill and will study linguistics to a further extent somewhere else next year. Symon’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Antigonish Review, The New Quarterly, Vallum; interviews with more interesting people have appeared in print and online in The New Quarterly.

To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website here:
http://www.vallummag.com/archives_10_1.html

To see additional audio and/or video content you can subscribe to Vallum’s digital editions here.

Vallum Secret Poem Word Game: Week 5

We are offering a chance to enter the Vallum Award for Poetry 2015 contest for FREE! The catch is you have to be the first person to guess the title and author of the secret poem.

How it works:

Every week we will add one letter and give a clue to help solve the poem. Once you think you know the title and the author, email the answer to info@vallummag.com. Be careful, you only get one guess, so use it wisely! The secret poem will be revealed one week before the contest deadline.

WEEK 5

Clue: This poet’s Feminist Manifesto was formulated in 1914 and ferociously fustigated the founders of Futurism.
Letter of the Week: F

 

___A_ _AE_E_E_

A s___e_ ____fe_
se__es
___a__e __ _______p_a

__ s__e s___a_______s
__ a___es____ _____s
__ape_
__ sa_____a_ __ape__es

Pe__s __ ___e__
p_epa_e
_e__e
___ p_s______s pa__e__es

_e______s A_e__es
___
____ __e __a__e__e_ ____s
__ __f_s___a
_____ P_a__a_’s ____s___es

_ea_
__ _e_____a_ ____s_a_s
_____s _as_s
__ f_____e_ p__sp_____s

__e e_e-____e s__-_____
____e-_____ __s_____
__ ___a_ __s_s

S_e__e_____ s___s
“____ s___s __ S_a__a_”
“____a_ _a____se_”

_______es
__ e_s_a___ __s_
a__ as_es _____
___sa_e_s
f___ _a______a____ ___a_e_s
__ s_a__e_e_ __ass
____ e_a__a_e __a_e_s

A f____ __ __ea_s
___se __ _e___p___s

F___ __e s___es
__ ____ __ea_s
__ __e ______e_ ___e__

____-e_e_ __a__s__es
a__ _____________s
__se__e
___ f_____
__ E__s __s__e_e

A__ “______a____”
____e_s …
__ ___ ___e__s __ ___ ____

“_______a_ _____ps”
“___s___ ________e”

P___e_ ____ pe_s__f__a____
__e f_ss__ ______ __ ___ s__es
_a_es a__ _a_es


DEADLINE for the Secret Poem Word Game:
July 2nd, 2015
http://www.vallummag.com/secretpoem.html

DEADLINE for the Vallum Award for Poetry: July 15th, 2015
http://www.vallummag.com/contestrules.html

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