After Our Friends arrived, we took them to Burger King for the cinnamon-bun breakfastand along the way, showed them our skyscrapers and cars,several war zones and exploding beached whales, plus all that pollution and the Beijing women bending through morning exercises—the usual signs of a modern society reflecting upon itself,lamenting all its wrongs as it commits them, at the first right after the second turn of the century. But we bought them coffee,even remembered to ask if they took cream, and we were quite charming, and for some reason longed for a jukebox to playin our booth, so we could show them more rock ‘n’ roll—just the classic stuff—and when we explained jukeboxes to them,it made us nostalgic for nostalgia and Johnny Cash, and Our Friendshad to mop up our tears with paper napkins, nodding alongagain that yes, the dancing must have been wonderful. (from Copper Mother by Alyse Knorr. “After Our Friends arrived” first appeared in Elective Affinities). Copper Mother is a novel in verse taking as its inspiration the Golden Record, a time capsule of human civilization launched into space aboard NASA’s Voyager probe in 1977. The Golden Record, which contained images, sounds, world language greetings, and music from Earth, was intended to represent our species to any intelligent life forms who may one day come across it. The Voyager probes are two of the only human-created objects to ever leave our solar system. Copper Mother imagines what might happen if an alien civilization were to find the Golden Record and visit Earth. In addition to poems exploring the contents of the Golden Record, the book includes stories of the aliens (“Our Friends”) navigating public libraries and public restrooms, visiting the Golden Gate Bridge and the Grand Canyon, watching the Academy Awards and playing Clue. “If the Voyager Golden Record was intended to display the diversity of culture and life on Earth, Alyse Knorr's wildly inventive Copper Mother is a retake, our new rendition. Honest in critique of gender, violence, and environmental decay, these poems allow that we see ourselves from afar.” --Sally Keith, author of River House “Knorr’s poems contain such a heart to them, one that is aware of the complicated ethics of its own endeavor, and one that does it quite artfully and seamlessly too.” --JD Scott, Real Pants “Knorr's collection reads as a cautionary tale of ethical engagement with the other, and how such interactions can easily transform into solipsistic explorations." --Joshua Ware, author of Unwanted Invention andVargtimmen Alyse Knorr is the author of Super Mario Bros. 3 (Boss Fight Books 2016), Copper Mother (Switchback Books 2016), and Annotated Glass (Furniture Press Books 2013). She also authored the chapbooks Epithalamia (Horse Less Press 2015) and Alternates (dancing girl press 2014). Her work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, The Greensboro Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, storySouth, ZYZZYVA, Caketrain, and The Southern Poetry Anthology: Georgia, among others. She received her MFA from George Mason University. Alyse is a co-founding editor of Gazing Grain Press and teaches English at Regis University. She is a former resident of Anchorage, where she taught for 49 Writers and at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Copper Mother is published by Switchback Books and is available as a paperback. For more information and to purchase, visit http://switchbackbooks.com/coppermother.html.
A team of Juneau educators traveled to Washington, D.C. at the end of June for a three-day conference on Arts Integration sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The team included four principals, an art specialist, and … Continue reading →
One of my favorite poets, David Budbill has been dealing with rapidly declining health lately and while the conversations I’ve had with him over the years have been marked by a striking optimism, the challenges of being a writer who is losing the physical ability to write are becoming too much for even the most optimistic and zen of mountain recluse poets. Here’s a recent conversation between Budbill and longtime friend, David French. HIt the link for the full conversation, http://www.davidbudbill.com/1500/a-conversation-with-david-budbill
David French’s questions and comments are in italics. Unless otherwise indicated, all the poems are David Budbill’s.
But let’s talk about what’s happening in your life right now.
The major thing that I’m dealing with is my Parkinson’s disease, my rare form of Parkinson’s disease. It has incapacitated me and made me incapable of all the things I used to love to do: I would cut wood and garden and mow, and I can’t do any of those anymore. So I’ve had to revise my life completely. So far I haven’t revised my life; I’ve just cancelled it, dropped out.
Now that’s not entirely true, because before I dropped out, I was able to finish a novel and a short story and a collection of poems, and they’re all coming out in the next year. So I did that before I cancelled my life.
The last time I was here, you said all this happened a year ago, when you moved to Montpelier.
Up until then, you’d still been working on your novel and your stories and your poem.
I suppose, yeah.
There recently was a song cycle of your poems at the Elley-Long Music Center. One song was about doing things for the last time. It was beautiful, but with an ache to it. You must have done a lot of that leaving Wolcott, walking around, looking around, knowing that was the last time you’d cut this wood or stack it or put it in the stove.
It was. Yeah, it was heartbreaking, because that was my identity, and now it’s no longer that. Which is no doubt one of the reasons I’m in limbo now.
So you’re not writing now.
No, I’m not.
You’re not making music.
Another theme that keeps coming up in your poetry, sometimes in very funny ways, is the lament over not having been a major voice in the poetry world. You wrote about the life of “genteel poverty and meditation” you lead:
…which gives me lots of time
to gnash my teeth and worry over
how I want to be known and read
by everyone and have admirers
everywhere and lots of money!
Is that something you would still write a poem about at this point, or is that an old theme that isn’t something you think about anymore?
I certainly think about it.
You still do?
You would like to be higher on whatever the poetry best-seller list is?
And have more money from it, recognition.
Yeah. Of course, who wouldn’t?
When I came to Judevine Mountain
all my troubles would cease,
but I brought… my ambition –
so now, still,
all I know is grief.
Well, that’s true. I have this thing about ambition. I can’t live with it, and I can’t live without it.