Author: Theresa Smalec

Spring Geography and Columbia Clutch by Fred Wah

Installment 12 brings together a poem from Fred Wah’s So Far (1991), and a new one, “Columbia Clutch” (2018). Both poems enact impending shifts, abrupt unearthings. Matter breathes, reveals, holds our attention. Yet the latter piece also attends to the double-edged amalgam of awe and harnessing at the heart of our interactions with nature: “Roll on Columbia, roll on/ Your power is turning our darkness to dawn.” *** Spring Geography Things appear suddenly not new but as they remain left over from the winter for example. dead logs caught in the brush at all angles a breathing pushes out of...

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The Red Car by David Cull

This eleventh installment features the work of David Cull, a contributor to and eventual board member of TISH: a poetry newsletter (founded in August 1961). Cull’s poem, “The Red Car,” confirms the cosmic complexities of any good anagram. Tish happens–even to cars and their accidental hosts.  *** the red car rots beside the entrance driveway 15 years of rusted metal, broken glass & plastic into garbage bags I punch holes in the floor boards with a pickaxe so the filthy water drains away no documents and therefore no way autowreckers will remove the junk the engine pulled and dumped at...

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Life in Dallas by Helen Gutowski

This tenth installment features our first poem by a millennial artist, and the first poem that Helen Gutowski publicly performed.  To give you some context, it was written in the summer of 2007; she was 16.  Fiercely precise in its rap-like rhymes and tempo, Gutowski’s poem enacts an era she describes as “youthful reckless abandon.” This poem recalls the pleasures of risk and rebellion, the lucky free falls that propel us into the future.        *** Life in Dallas A red ’91 Toyota Corolla, four door With more character than I could ever hope to have. Dallas,...

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Let’s Have Sex: Pushing Up Against Today’s Narratives of Female Vulnerability

Although I’m loving the power of #MeToo to take down men with histories of sexual misconduct, one significant shortfall of the movement—or rather, of the society from which the movement emerged[1]—is how it’s almost impossible now for women to talk about our sexual experiences from positions of agency and desire. A few months after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in October 2017, a young writer named Amber A’Lee observed on Facebook that stories involving even fleeting scenes of consensual sex “don’t get clicks anymore.” Instead, our culture’s current obsession is with women’s accounts of coercion and trauma. Female employees describe fainting during unwanted intercourse with their media bosses in dungeon-like offices. Aspiring actresses recall being mauled in hotel rooms by bigwigs wearing bathrobes. The singer Halsey performed “A Story Like Mine” at the Women’s March in New York, hailed by news outlets as a “raw and vulnerable poem about sexual violence.” Halsey’s rapper-style piece detailing her own sexual abuse was quickly shared online and viewed by thousands. Meanwhile, The Washington Post published an editorial about the lack of attention paid to women’s broader sociopolitical agendas: “Why is the Media Mostly Ignoring the Women’s March?” “Forced Sex” has all but vanished from the menus of popular porn sites, yet the theme migrates steadily into America’s middle-brow venues. Even before #MeToo, narratives about men controlling women’s bodies were hot commodities on...

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Framing Poems by Sacha Archer

This ninth installment of Car Poems shifts gears to visual poetry. Below, Sacha Archer introduces viewers to his Framing Poems and elaborates on the power of a given frame to defamiliarize, destabilize, and ultimately expand and resignify the signs we take for granted.       The four visual poems here are from a series tentatively titled Framing Poems. My main concern in this work and some other related projects is the role of the creator—in this case, the poet. Framing Poems presents the poet as guide rather than, perhaps, as singer. Someone who directs, or re-directs, your attention. As the...

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