Michigan poets who have been appreciated internationally will be highlighted by having their poems enlarged in freestanding frames in downtown South Lyon and Paul Baker Park for the month of April, National Poetry Month, sponsored by the Cultural Arts Commission of South Lyon. Among the featured poets are MPS Honorary Chancellor, Eric Torgersen.
The free-standing frames, in which the enlarged poems will be housed, were provided by the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs as part of a previous Art and Commerce Grant for holding artworks.
Poets whose work will be displayed are: Terry Blackhawk (Detroit; Mexico), Melba Boyd, (Detroit; China), Linda Nemec Foster (Grand Rapids; Poland), Tom Lynch (Milford; Ireland), Christine Rhein (Brighton; Italy), Jack Ridl (Saugatuck; Germany), Alison Swan (Ann Arbor, Ireland), Eric Torgerson (Mount Pleasant; Italy) and Melba Boyd (Detroit; China).
With In Which We See Our Selves, Eric Torgersen begins with the formal structure of the ghazal as popularized by Agha Shahid Ali and unapologetically makes a more American thing of it, arguing in his Afterword that this transformation is as inevitable as what happens when the children of immigrant parents pass through an American junior high school: not everyone is pleased with the result. “I’ve tried to avoid faux-Eastern themes and tones,” he writes. Fluently metrical and effortlessly rhymed, at times in short, hard-hitting lines with refrains as brief as a single word, these poems leap off the page with speech as American as this: My gang all quit when I didn’t split the take right. We crashed and burned when I didn’t hit the brake right. (Click the cover photo to order from Mayapple Press)
Eric Torgersen was born in Melville, New York. He has a BA in German Literature from Cornell University; after two years in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, he earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa. He retired in the spring of 2008 after 38 years of teaching writing at Central Michigan University. He lives in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan with his wife, the quilt artist Ann Kowaleski. Since retiring, Eric has volunteered for the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy. He enjoys fishing and foraging for wild mushrooms. He is available for workshops and readings.
Mr. Torgersen is presently serving a two-year term as Honorary Chancellor of the Poetry Society of Michigan.
Spindrift suggests stuff blown onto beaches, beaches of discovery in one’s mind. When these poems show a squirrel, a fish, birds, a beggar, an Irish pub, or a dish we see these as metaphors which conjure up ideas or feelings from our own familiarity with them. A poem that begins as an abstraction, like an enemy or peace or patience, becomes objectified. Spindrift is comprised of whatever little gems might be found along the shore, examined closely to become part of the reader’s experience. These jottings of spindrift take off from that experience like going to an airport when you want to be someplace else – or like poems which say one thing when they mean another.
Laurence W. Thomas is the founding editor of Third Wednesday Magazine. He has been around long enough to know the sting of rejection and the salve of acceptance. His shelves are lined with his own publications as well as the works of many other poets. He Chancelor Emertus of the Poetry Society of Michigan.
Between the yardstick and the mile The Rumor animates fields of Anemones. It feeds the fish that drinks the rain. It turns the plumes of broad winged hawks, Huffs into sails of lonely ships. It warms the tomb with candle flame And further than this star. All things breath in its trace, Taste with its tongue, Belie the exigence of form. And in a book I read, The wounded heart was freed Upon a day when the rain fell up.
Can one dream of what can never be? Is it outside of human possibility? Words and words thrown at the corner Where no one stands.
From friend Eben Gering: Write a poem about a carnival ride. Then get in a brawl with it at the end. ( I don’t exactly know what that brawl part is about, but carnival rides: what a rich source!) Thanks, Eben.
Read the poem “Your Birthday in the California Mountains” by Kenneth Rexroth. Write an elegy the way he does, misleading the reader that the subject of the elegy is still alive. Address the poem to the person who died. Keep it simple, clear, straightforward, and honest. From In the Palm of Your Hand by Steve Kowitt.
A Member Responds: Niagra Falls in Winter – David Jibson