Interview w/ Judith Skillman

By Carol Smallwood

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Judith Skillman

One of the many awards that noted American poet Judith Skillman has received is from the Academy of American Poets (for Storm), while Red Town and Prisoner of the Swifts were Washington State Book Award finalists. Her poems have been included in such journals as Shenandoah, Prairie Schooner, and FIELD; also, her collaborative translations in various journals. She’s in Best Indie Verse of New England as well.  Her latest full poetry collection is Kafka’s Shadow and you can visit her here.

How did you decide on Franz Kafka for your new poetry collection?

I read “Metamorphosis” again and was very taken with it. After a span of thirty years since the last reading, the story took on new dimensions. Then I read “The Stoker,” “The Judgment,” and “Letter to His Father,” as these have been reissued in a new edition titled The Sons (Schocken Books, Inc., 1989). After a visit to San Francisco, I wrote “Kafka’s Wound” and continued to find myself thinking and writing about Kafka. It took awhile before I realized the series might become a collection.

What are some of the most interesting things about him you discovered?

I learned that his relationship with his father was extremely complicated, and that helped my understanding of his work.

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Spring is here and we’re all going to die

By Jane Rosenberg LaForge

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In the spring, planting
commences, the roots of
verbs and gerunds
are persuaded to cloak
themselves in new
soils and stretch
into blank territory
without the sun’s
compass; the weeds
that hold as fast as skin
distracting the soft and
hairless on their route;
to thicken and thickening,
rinds and lemons,
the oranges trees
souring at the twigs
without ever flowering:

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Writing Donna

By Kevin Rabas

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Donna asked me
to run off to the farm,
raise goats and sheep and turnips
with her. Seventh grade,
   and I don’t know, don’t go,
though china doll Donna
   with her hair
like a central Kansas night
is still a Helen
   in high school,
every guy wants her,
  and I’m no different,
though I love
   what she writes me
in her letters
   as much as her looks.

I kept that one
   about the goat farm,
take it with me
   when I travel,
and sometimes I write back,
   cursive script
into the past,
letters to the girl
from that boy
back in junior high.

And she never
   writes back.

Kevin Rabas

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Cover to Cover with . . . Ryan W. Bradley

By Ryan W. Bradley & Jordan Blum

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Ryan W. Bradley

Ryan W. Bradley has pumped gas, painted houses, swept the floor of a mechanic’s shop, worked on a construction crew in the Arctic Circle, fronted a punk band, and more. He is the author of eight books of poetry and fiction, including the story collection Nothing But the Dead and Dying. He received his MFA from Pacific University and lives in Oregon with his wife and two sons.

In this episode, Editor-in-Chief Jordan Blum speaks with Bradley about balancing life as a writer and graphic designer, reflections on a scary run-in with a white supremacist, and thoughts on Twin Peaks and the new Queens of the Stone Age LP (among many other things).

Ryan W. Bradley

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Leiber and Stoller Experience the 1960s as Heraclitean Flux

By Benjamin Goluboff

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The ‘sixties went by in a blur for Jerry and Mike,
remembered in fragments, bright and discontinuous.

Phil Spector shadowing them in the studio,
his head swiveling like a bird of prey.

The Dixie Cups, Jewish Valkyries, setting up
harmonies that made Mike’s scalp cringe.

Hearing in ’64 The Beatles’ version of “Kansas City,”
knowing then something of the curve and contour of time.

Jerry at dinner with Motherwell and DeKooning.
Jerry wrestling with Mailer by the bar at Elaine’s.

Mike at the Village Gate hearing Stan Getz
blow long and long into the coming dark.

The stone-faced Customs man at Heathrow
who liked to say: “If you’re Stoller, where’s Leiber?”

These were not, like the fifties, the time of their time:
the days in diminuendo, a falling away.

It was in these uncertain years that the boys bought copyrights,
a hefty portfolio, in the songs of other writers.

– Benjamin Goluboff

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