Vallum Poem of the Week: "Not Exactly Dawn" by Karen Enns

 

Not Exactly Dawn

At not exactly dawn
the numbness in the streets
holds the early click and shudder of sparrows
…………………………………at a distance.

The shortcut through the park is endless,
windows of the houses on the border
have drawn back into walls,

the last air breathed out of the city,
…………………………………or almost.

And the walk through the gate to the house
and through the garden,
past the apple tree and up the steps
by the trellis is imagined,
…………………………………or delayed, or both.

There is no way to know for certain.
The sense of coming light is paralyzed.

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Enns is the author of three books of poetry: Cloud Physics, which won the Raymond Souster Award in 2018, Ordinary Hours, and That Other Beauty, nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award. Her poetry has appeared in many Canadian literary journals. She teaches piano and works as an editor in Victoria, BC.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 16:2 “Fear”, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

 

Vallum Poem of the Week: "How to Spill and Be Spilled" by P Sazani

 

How to Spill and Be Spilled

1.

Tender weather: ………………………… What towers turning. What syllables of
heat. Press sound into me. …   …..If a pile is a spectacle. ……..  …..How a
column walks, how distance aches—if friction. …     …….If my limbs make
promises. Dear aloof and looming. Tear me. ….     …..Show me how to be
fifteen miles away from myself.

2.

How you drop pieces of yourself. How every creek every pool. …………..To
want to be a building. Or some swamp. ……………………What hands I would
need to grip you. Say, the field where I learned to read. How you run out
of the faucet and over.

How you carry your daughters around and drop them.

3.

An object is a thing you can put your mouth on. …………..Say, how far, how
loud. Say, …..how blue. If reaching is dangerous. ………………. If you draw a
line in the dust..please, take P into and away. .Show .me .how. to .swell.
Or press me into and up the hillside. …………………Put my mouth against the
ground and say, but if I’m afraid of porosity. ………………….. The terror of an
undone center. …………………….. How to put your mouth on a sound. How to
touch a swarm—a vacuum of language. If you kneel I will kneel too.

4.

Soak me in it. ………….. The throat opened to a cooed question. The throat,
repeated, loses its meaning. ……………. ……….. How to leak into each other.
Say,. ..What fields bloom to be my bouquet? ……..What bodies arrange
themselves in my hands? ……… Press sound into me, ……….. say, There is
power in symmetry. Lie.…………. If fruit rots and fertilizes.………… If a cup
my .grandmother .drank. from..then .a rag .your daughter will chew.
If passive. ………………. Rain on me. ……………… Say, sad sorry throat, or—
If I spit on my palms, rub on your lawn. Would you feel it, on your skin?

 

 

 

 

 

 

P Sazani is a writer, artist, and teacher in Los Angeles. Working mostly with sentences and mostly in the speculative mode, she writes about the agency of matter, the instability of language, and the queerness of weather systems. With Sam Creely she edits DanceNotes, a chapbook series that publishes experiments in dance notation. She is currently finishing a fellowship at CalArts. 

 

To view other content published in this issue, 16:2 “Fear”, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Losing the Game" by Brent Cassan

 

Losing the Game

…….A vanished name for a human face might still strike
a tiny spark at the back of the brain, a tingling reminder that it
sounds like pestle or jostle, a name far from being as gentle as
smooth or suave. Then a split-second recall for its sound
vanishes into swirling silver cloud, to a spot where I can’t
command my mind to snatch even an echo of its ephemeral
voice. Still, old labels for lost lovers may come back like ants
to honey, perhaps sounding like a lively Mm in the throat, a
murmur gently softening as it eases through the nasal cavities.
She used to sip martinis so avidly, almost addictively, that flow
of slightly oily liquid across speckles of ice, jazzing a voice that
once tried to sell our gang a dazzling variety of Ponzi schemes.
She was a dog walker and a lot of fun.
…….I search for bright side effects, rummage through my
mind for a spotlight clue, nicely sequined and properly placed.
Could this be it! Perhaps I’ve found gold as evening descends,
with the pageantry beginning once moonlight falls, as day-sky
implodes, far in where our elves keep such appellations,
historically hot, bubbling and loud. I place just enough oomph
on the initial Germanic syllable to make the quizmaster grin
from ear to ear, but there are no Bravos or Hurrahs. The trophy
clatters to the floor, and I am left alone as our ship blasts off for
Venus.

  

 

 

 

 

 

Brent Cassan spent thirty-two years involved with EFL in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Japan. He is retired with fingers still in the universe of poetry, and in his second love—the stock market. Recent contributions include American Railroading: a Basic Research Bibliography; two books of poems titled Texas on My Mind, and History of China, as well as items in three issues of Vallum, and one in both Grain and The Prairie Journal.

 

To view other content published in this issue, 15:1 “Memory and Loss”, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: "It’s Winter the Gods Love" by Jane Munro

 

 

 

It’s Winter the Gods Love

high and wind-swept
where rivers begin and snow
whirls like Sarasvati circling

Brahma, his lust
growing five faces
to keep ten eyes on her

but that comes after mountains
moon, sun, an ocean of stars
after darkness and light differ

in winter, the gods shed headgear
and garlands, sandals and spears, limbs
and vendettas—they shed names

honed to weightlessness, they flare
and drift, rise, buckle, fold—explode
from a hierarchical operatic cast

the thinned weave of their turning
sparkles and floats—holds a delta’s silt
lifts with snow geese, falls on peaks

darkness in winter nights
ruthlessly itself—in winter days
light frayed through ice crystals

dogs the sun
before collecting again
in moon’s gaze

 

 

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Jane Munro’s sixth poetry collection Blue Sonoma (Brick Books) won the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize. This poem is from her new collection Glass Float (Brick Books, spring 2020). https://www.brickbooks.ca/books/glass-float/

A member of the collaborative poetry group Yoko’s Dogs, Munro’s taught Creative Writing at several universities in BC, given many informal writing workshops, and read her poetry to audiences across Canada. She has also given readings in Ireland, the USA, Italy, India and Egypt.

In 2012, Munro moved back to Vancouver—where she grew up and raised her children—after spending twenty years living rurally on the coast of Vancouver Island. https://www.janemunro.com/

 

To view other content published in this issue, 13:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

 

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Tokyo Cinema" by natalie hanna

 

tokyo cinema

tonight i want to hear no sound
that is not your heart
or your sated sigh
as i hold you
in the
dark
surrounded
by strangers
and kiss the skin
that holds your sadness

why have we never
been so tender and so quiet?

even once-fine machines
will break their gears
mumur down into stillness

the soundless scene
in every film
builds tension

let’s dissolve into
silken inner elbows
unwrapped collarbones
and the texture of a cheek
as perceived by calm fingers

  

 

 

natalie hanna is a queer, feminist, lawyer of Middle Eastern-descent. She runs battleaxe press (poetry). Her work appears with above/ground press, In/Words magazine, shreeking violet, phafours press, Hussy, poemeleon, Canthius, the League of Canadian Poets, etc. She received an Honourable Mention in Arc Poetry Magazine’s 2019 Diana Brebner Prize. www.nhannawriting.wordpress.com

 

To view other content published in this issue, 17:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Waiting for What and When" by Aaron Williams

Waiting For What and When

Soon, a day will come
when I will look in the mirror and not know who I am
not recall how I got that scar above my eye
stare at photos, unable to place names on faces

Already, I am opening drawers filled with rings of
keys to doors in buildings that have been demolished

Daily, I pass structures haunted by long kisses from lovers
whose lips have long abandoned me

Today, I pulled the cord on the bus, stood up
stood out standing still like a stilled life
and did not think at all

I smiled, charmingly
they like me more when I smile

Aaron Williams placed his poems in shoeboxes until his recent 60th birthday celebration in Montreal— where he discovered Vallum. This
issue contains his first published poem. He is founder of the 7th Grade
Poetry Foundation, editor of its six student poetry anthologies, and a Washington University in St. Louis graduate.

To view other content published in this issue, 15:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Featured Interview: Lillian Allen

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Interview by Natalie Podaima

Lillian Allen: Internationally acclaimed poet/performer and language innovator, Lillian Allen works at the intersection of dub, sound and rebel poetics. She has several award winning recordings and several critically acclaimed books of poetry. Considered a cultural de-programmer, Lillian has been a strategic initiator of programs, networks and arts organization in the city of Toronto for several decades now. She is a longtime arts activist. now in her sage years and focuses on mentoring the mentors and in intensifying work to decolonize aspects of the Canadian cultural terrain as she remains an instigator for liberation and change. A professor of Creative Writing at OCAD University, she initiated and led the development of Ontario’s only Honours BFA in Creative Writing.

Lillian Allen is the judge for the 2020 Vallum Award for Poetry. With the deadline for this year’s competition fast approaching, we asked Lillian to tell us about her own writing process and share some advice for those submitting.

Can you talk a bit about your writing process, and specifically, how the multidisciplinary nature of dub poetry affects this process — do you begin with words?  With music? Is there one aspect that you prioritize while developing a new piece?

I approach writing my pre and first drafts in a variety of ways. Anything can spark me to write; an idea, an insight, an image, a phrase, an action memory, a rhythm, a pulse, a flash, a clearing away of the brush, an aha moment. I see what flows out of my pen, I try and capture an emotional feel. As I continue to explore and evolve my writing subject, I do some research/searching around. On the side of my page I jot ideas and feelings related to context which helps with why I’m wanting to write the particular piece. I write with creating images/imagery in mind, working with figurative language through the senses. I always think in metaphors too. I usually develop a kind of pulse for the piece and my entire body is involved with the motion of ideas flowing out on the page. It is a deep pleasurable moment in the writing process, like a peak experience. In further developing the piece I have to shape it and then bring the things I understand about the craft to bear making sure it is saying/conveying exactly what I want to get across. In the polish, I shape for meaning and impact. Later on, say if I want to record or perform, I’ll bring those particular skills to create that experience.

To what degree do you consider your audience in your work, and are you seeking to elicit a kind of dialogue? Would you say this is influenced by the act of performance, as opposed to written or recorded work?

Dialogue, engagement with ideas, creating consciousness, sharing & building culture and community, leaving a document, all these things, but the performative aspects are also about creating and engaging in community rituals and being fully embodied and present.

What are you reading right now? 

Larissa Lai’s Tiger Flu, Lee Maracle’s My Conversations with Canadians, In a While or Two We Will Find the Tone: Essays and Proposals, Curatorial Concepts and Critiques by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, and loads and loads of books for toddlers (which I wish I had written) including Feminist Baby by Loryn Brantz, Woke Baby by Mahogany I Browne illustrated by Theodore Taylor 111, The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland. You can guess, I’m isolating with my granddaughter!

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Don’t forget to submit to the Vallum Award for Poetry 2020! First place receive $750 and publication in the upcoming issue of Vallum.
Deadline: July 15th, 2020
For more information and to enter online today, visit our website

Vallum Poem of the Week: "The Inadequacy of the Present" by Carolyn Marie Souaid

The Inadequacy of the Present 

The subject is female……the subject is
fear itself thrashing underwater
the moment at which breath withheld is finally
released……the subject is adrenalin
flanked by surrender
as four minutes and thirty three seconds of darkness
fill her lungs
mudswirl in the aftermath of seismic explosions
through her core…….finite hands on submerged hull

…………………………groping       

Carolyn Marie Souaid is the Montreal-based author of seven poetry collections, and a novel, Yasmeen Haddad Loves Joanasi Maqaittik (2017), which won the Silver Medal for Best Regional Fiction (Independent Publisher Book Awards). She has performed at festivals and literary events in Canada and abroad, and her work has been featured on CBC-Radio. Her videopoem, Blood is Blood, garnered a top prize at the 2012 Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin. “The Inadequacy of the Present” is from a new manuscript, The Eleventh Hour.    

Vallum Poem of the Week: "I Was Here" by Heather L. Kelly

I Was Here

I’ve been here before
I know this air, this smell, this terrain
Pent up clouds release a downpour
Watch drops slide along the pane

Pent up clouds release a downpour
Memory washing away in sheets
I watch drops slide along the pane
Took all my pills for the week

Memory washing away in sheets
Sure I know where the lawnmower is
Took all my pills for the week
I think someone is breaking in and stealing things

Sure I know where the lawnmower is
When are you coming home, Son?
I think someone is breaking in and stealing things
Look at all these little locks, each with its own key!

When are you coming home, Son?
Where was it that you said I was born?
Look at all these little locks, each with its own key!
Nobody calls or comes by anymore

Where was it that you said I was born?
Need your help to work the microwave please
Nobody calls or comes by anymore
Have I been here before?

Heather L. Kelly is a writer, poet, book artist, communications consultant, organizer, and educator. She is the author of four chapbooks; Textianity (2019), Serendipity (2018), Night Toad (2017), and Her Nature (2015). She has lived in Alberta, B.C., and Ontario, and currently lives in Toronto with her husband and aquatic family members. www.AitchkayBooks.com

To view other content published in this issue, 15:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.

Vallum Poem of the Week: "Tower" by Elana Wolff

Tower
At first there was the brain-grey plane.
……………………………………………………………..Warmth arose

as cover. Context dawned elliptically and swiftly: tower,
……………………………………………………………………………………….town:
the intersect of upright/horizontal, portrait/
………………………………………………………………………ground.

Light replaced the anvil with a silver wingtip-touch,
the fluency of flutes.

…………Outwardly, I’m drawn toward the swath of corn-pone gold.
Here there could be anything—
…………………………………………………..all the mirth of rose un-
……………………………………………………………………………..folding mauve
…………………………………………………………………………………………in perfect birth.
……………………….Inwardly, I’m focussed on the sliver—
………………………………………………………………………….gun-grey blue:
the tower, and the old familiar sequence it reflects:

reach and freeze,

…………………………block and dodge.         

………………………………………………..Fey………and fade away.

………….The soul slips into the hidden oubliette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elana Wolff is a Toronto-based writer of poetry and creative nonfiction, literary editor, and designer and instructor of social art courses. Her poems have recently appeared in EVENT Magazine, Room, Riddle Fence, Acta Victoriana, and White Wall Review. Her nonfiction pieces, “After Kafka in Berlin” and “Franz among the Animals,” are currently featured Eclectica Magazine and GRIFFEL, respectively. Her sixth collection of poems, Swoon, is forthcoming with Guernica Editions in spring 2020.

To view other content published in this issue, 10:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website for details.