April 14, 2014

Annual Print Edition, 2013

Poppy Road Review's Annual Print Edition, 2013, is now available on Amazon and Createspace.  This beautiful 116-page book features all poets published in 2013, to include Byron Beynon, M.J. Iuppa, Michael Keshigian, Steve Klepetar, Donal Mahoney, Joan McNerney, James Owens, Scott Owens, Richard Schnap, Martin Willitts Jr., and many others.  

The poppy cover photo was generously provided by James Owens and his poppy images may be located in the "Art" link at the bottom of the page.

I'm working on the 2011 and 2012 print editions but it is a very slow process, so stay tuned for the release of those books in the future.  I hope that you'll consider acquiring a copy or two for your personal collection; it would also make a thoughtful gift to give a friend or family member who enjoys poetry.  I absolutely cherish my copy.

April 12, 2014

Two Poems by Rose Mary Boehm

I once had a garden

Spring the blues,
burst from black, hard and white
push open the crust.
Ice is bigger than water.
That is the kind of enchantment
which comes with March.

Snowdrops cut through remaining crystal blankets,
bamboo shoots push through grey flesh,
man’s impatience will force paperwhite.
While the earth is still drowsy, chattering daffodils
annoy the pious iris reticulate;
forscythia and scilla bloom
beneath the soft branches of pussy willow.

Break open the word.
Tulips stand to attention before
they give in to gravity and bend their
heavy heads in acquiescence.
Rhododendron show off in red and white,
pink azaleas look down, abashed.
For more see muscari, redbud, dogwood,
magnolia, trillium, and primrose.

Witch hazel flies by moonlit night,
croci knit multicoloured dream coats
while helleboreae modestly wait
for the upbeat. Camelia plays
hard to get but offers itself
as boutonnière; and I get drunk
on lilly of the valley and peonies
under the nearby lilac tree.
A remembered Spring is boundless.

Never more than now

I read a poem about silent growing. Not like the grass
making a racket or the holly scratching and whispering
behind thick roots about magic as though memory makes up
for loss. It walked through me then and left behind stillness
and wonder, grassland and willow, soft brown muzzles and ruminations,
the chatterings of droplets on moss, the rustling water rat
and coolness. Coolness. Then the cloud rolled in from the sea
and broke over the mountain.

German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and a poetry collection (TANGENTS), her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many major poetry reviews. 

April 10, 2014

Interview w/ Poet Michael Keshigian

1.  When did you start writing poetry and why?
You could say that I transitioned into poetry from music.  I've been a performing musician and educator for most of my life with undergraduate and post graduate degrees in performance and musicology.  The close relationship of both disciplines attracted my  attention to the written word, especially poetry, where musical characteristics are most prevalent.  It seemed natural therefore, to utilize rhythmic and melodic concepts within the concise and articulate format of poetry. That's been going on now for about 20 years, providing another gratifying creative outlet.

2.  What is your writing process?
The writing process begins with an appreciation for those poets and writers who have contributed to the growth of the genre.  I tend to do much reading, which I believe fosters a solid foundation for the creative process.  Beyond that, I tend to write about events with which I am familiar, personal experiences and interactions with interesting people.  That being said, I rarely carry a full blown idea with me to the keyboard, but rather plant a seed on the screen and work on it until it blossoms into something that is satisfying.  Although it is cliche, the words seemingly have a tendency to write themselves.

3.  Which poets throughout time have influenced your writing?
It is difficult to name one or two poets as leading influences.  Usually I move from one poet to another and discover that poet's idiosyncrasy and the uniqueness he/she brings to the discipline.  With that appreciation come a synthesis of styles and influences that allows me to trickle out my own expression.

4.  What do you consider your poetic style to be?  Most of my writing is free verse though my earliest attempts were in more traditional forms.  I've also dabbled with haiku and other fixed line forms.

5.  What topics do you tend to write about?Almost anything can trigger an internal urge to write a poem, any single, momentary experience to a monumental event that has touched the lives of many.

6.  What advice would you give to a novice poet?
The process begins with becoming aware of oneself; tendencies, idiosyncrasies that are salient characteristics that offer you your perspective of life and the world.  Take that perspective and foster its growth on the written page.  But it is not all about inspiration.  Read and learn from those who have developed the technique to become successful.  Synthesize your imagination with familiarity and the technical ability to deliver your message.

7.  What advice would you offer to someone who is frustrated because his/her work is constantly being rejected by journals he/she submits to?
Identify the problem.  It might be as simple as finding the proper venue for your efforts.  If constructive criticism is offered, re-evaluate your delivery without sacrificing your intent.  There is an editor out there who will like your subject matter if you know of what you write and your technique sells the product.  Above all, be persistent.  Most times, it really does boil down to a matter of taste.

8.  What is your ultimate goal as a poet?  Are there any specific awards or prizes you strive for?
Just to keep on writing with the hope that those who read my efforts take a piece of my insight with them. An ah ha moment, if you will.  Awards and prizes can be satisfying by-products, but the ultimate goal is to get your message out and your perspective acknowledged, which essentially translates into continued publication.

April 8, 2014

Diagnosis by Richard Schnap

There was an animal inside him
That kept changing shape
That wore different faces
A ravenous rat
With a ceaseless hunger
Burrowing through garbage
A cold-blooded snake
Coiled around itself
Drinking its own venom
A maddened dog
Crouched in the shadows
Howling at ghosts
And an earthbound bird
With a broken wing
Dreaming of the sky

Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

April 5, 2014

Two Poems by Martin Willitts Jr.

Painting by Georgia O'Keefe

Fragment of the Ranchos de Taos Church

Sometimes, all you get is a fragment
of time, space, love, kindness,
morning light of fresh coffee,

Sometimes, you get fragments of God,
and she is a potter of Zuni images
tumbling through space

Sometimes, she lets you into her church,
where the holy water never is dry
and burns if you are a sinner

Sometimes, she lets you look out her window
where constellations are still born
out of her womb, each with a special blessing

Sometimes, she sells turquoise jewelry
humming Mozart, or makes blankets
with stories of before time, before anything

She wears a shawl of prayers,
sits among all the other old Indian women
nobody pays attention to

But she is paying attention —
the ones that talk to her and smiles
she remembers, the ones ignoring, she curses.

Painting by Georgia O'Keefe

Pelvis IV
"I like empty spaces. Holes can be very expressive."  

In a violent times
when wars fight over continents
because someone was not content,
blue is such a calm color

the world is being reduced to bone
I refuse to stay quiet
on the sidelines,
someone must speak out

blue has been here since the beginning
it will still be here
after men are finished with destruction,
like blue bonnets, or bluebells

the spirit resides in blue
like blue auras, blue mountains in haze,
cobalt shadows in skulls
when I lift one to the azure sky

all I can think of
is blue tea kettle steam
poured into a blue cup,
slices of blueberry jam in blue light

empty spaces are talking to me,
telling me, someday, wars will end,
men will stop their nonsense
be sensible as blue coyote fur

those days seem far away,
yet in relative time
close as blue varicose veins, or

blue beetles crossing blue shadows

Martin Willitts Jr. is a frequent guest at Poppy Road. He has 6 full-length books of poetry including national winner, "Searching for What is Not There" (Hiraeth Press, 2013), as well as recently, "Before Anything, There Was Mystery" (Flutter Press, 2014). He is also the author of over 20 chapbooks including national winner, "William Blake, Not Blessed Angel But Restless Man" (Red Ochre Pres, forthcoming).

April 3, 2014

Legacy by Michael Keshigian

Town of his birth, he is rushing back
to the house of his infant years,
escaping throngs of cars
and frenzied employees
that clutter city sidewalks,
searching with his headlights bright
for the narrow country roads
that lead to the place
of his grandfather’s voluntary exile.
To the chagrin of co-workers
and business bosses,
he is consumed, a knight,
galloping backward in time
toward the black and white world
of family history to save the home
and the barely valuable heirlooms
of his predecessors, significant only
in longevity and the decades of old fingerprints
that might have survived,
family portraits, antique bedrooms,
the grand piano he never learned how to play.
Tonight, within the seclusion
of secrets and memories,
he will clean and pamper them,
listen to all their stories,
and accept them again as house guests,
at least for another lifetime.

Michael Keshigian, author of eight poetry books, has been widely published in numerous national and international journals. He is a 5-time Pushcart Prize and 2-time Best Of The Net nominee. (michaelkeshigian.com)

March 30, 2014

Jongo by Neil Leadbeater

Goes back a long way. Was Semba or Masemba in a distant African past.
Those old Angolan guessing games, the Jinongonongo
alive in the Vale do Paraíba: that rich metaphor
revering an ancestry of magic, movement and music
the circular dance with the couple in the middle
instruments tuned by fire
and the jongueiros beating out a rhythm
on loud Caxambu drums. When they caught
your eye and saw your soul
they took it out of the skin of your body and gave it a ritual shaking.
You watched it spinning out in the open
whole and frail like anaemic jelly
that never lost its shape
until they returned it from where they had taken it
letting it loose into the folds of your body
so that when you left you were no longer scared
but a person as whole as you will ever be
this side of heaven.

Neil Leadbeater is an editor, author, essayist, poet and critic living in Edinburgh, Scotland. His short stories, essays, articles and poems have been published widely. His most recent books are Librettos for the Black Madonna published by White Adder Press, Scotland (2011) and The Worcester Fragments published by Original Plus, England (2013). His work has been translated into Spanish and Romanian.