She was a teenage girl who may have limped, who loved, who worked, who worried two thousand years ago in Bourtangemoor, the Netherlands–who was sacrificed and planted in a bog only to be discovered when she popped up like a Halloween prank on the peatcutters who unwittingly uncovered her remains. My poem “The Resurrection of Yde Girl” has been recorded by WILDsound. It’s one of a series of mummy poems I am working on, some of which are forthcoming in Green and Burning (WordTech, 2016).
Hy-Brasil / by Kathleen McCoy
in memory of Carole Dunson Moreau
It’s time for waking only when I sleep.
A big-hearted brainy broad born
to be a teacher went to bed last night
and never rose again yet the sun
dared shine without her.
Nothing’s right. Sugar’s gone
to sand, to salt, to silt and still
the world is green. What is
the demarcation between Otherworld
and this? Muons, quarks, black matter
musings in the dark? Where do boundaries
rub to sparks? The mist is real. Or not.
In any case it keeps my fingers busy
with its runes. My mind, another
matter, sketches polyhedrons in the rain.
I surrender to the waves in dreams
of oceans I have yet to cross. Hands
must stroke the open wound to know
what’s real. I read tonight why Venus burns
so brightly, how sulphuric acid reflects
the rays of sun, how Hy-Brasil knits an Aran mist
of molecules that have passed through
St. Brendan and Molly Brown alike,
how it disappears after five hundred years,
reappears, transmogrifies in fog
and crystal skies, unuttered word
at tongue’s moist tip.
I see her in my dreams, her smile still broad,
arms wide as the ocean she stirs with a pen,
its murky waters powerless to scare.
Rarely comes a chance to break open the hard nut that encases the creative writer who’s necessarily enmeshed in a workaday schedule. This past month I’ve been broken open to new ways of processing experience and producing new work. While I will always prize the rumination/marination requisite for meaningful revision, I’ve learned to press pen to paper more quickly than I’ve ever done before thanks to the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project. An innovative venture, it features new work by pre-selected poets for thirty days. My work will come down tomorrow, so please check it out today. You can donate (tax-deductibly) to an award-winning independent literary press and select “Kathleen McCoy” in the “30/30 Poet” dropbox, or, if you see this after July 31st, name “Kathleen McCoy” anytime in the “Honor” box to credit my fundraising goal.
I’ve learned I can write everyday, even when the inevitable “stuff” of life comes up: surgery, two deaths, a reunion, six plane flights, gardening, grant-writing–oh, yeah, and an academic job. That none of this got in the way of the poems is a tribute to the support of my family, writer friends, Tupelo Press staff Kirsten Miles, Marie Gauthier, and Jeffrey Levine, and the other 30/30 poets for July: Alexandra Beers, C.W. Emerson, Sara Femenella, Tobey Kaplan, Juan Morales, Carrie Nassif, and Kenneth Wagner.
Dear friends and poetry lovers, the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project for July is wrapping up this coming week. I’m doing well but have not yet reached my goal. Please check out the poems–there are wonderful pieces by (in alphabetical order) Alexandria Beers, C.W. Emerson, Sara Femenella,Tobey Kaplan, yours truly, Juan Morales, Carrie Nassif, and Kenneth Wagner. Anything you can spare, please go to http://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project/, click “Donate”; fill in your personal information, and in the “30/30 Poet” box, select “Kathleen McCoy” to credit my fundraising goal. . . . While you’re at it, be sure to scroll down on the main part of the web site to view the whole month’s poems by all of us. Thank you!
The 30/30 Project, 30 poems in 30 days, is halfway over already. I’ve been thrilled, stunned, encouraged, puzzled, stymied, and ultimately inspired so far this month. This project propels poets into perpetual motion: when we’re not jotting notes or phrases or dream images, we’re dashing about our daily lives to hurry back to the page, the screen, the task. I can give you many reasons to give to this indie press fundraiser (see below), the best of which is that it’s a win-win-win: it helps Tupelo Press sustain its award-winning publication of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction; it helps poets by giving us a readership and (temporary) publication; it helps donors by offering tax deductions for your charitable contributions (the exception is if you subscribe to the year’s worth of poetry books). If you haven’t given and would like to, please go to http://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project/ and click on “Donate” and “Honor”; in the latter spot, name “Kathleen McCoy” to help me get to my goal of $400. I’m less than halfway there, and time is running out.
While you’re there, check out the poems. Our voices are distinct; our subjects vary; our styles stand out. You’ll read about memory, love, pain, mourning, joy, anger, war, teaching, indecision, nature, urban life, parenting, dogs, research, travel, mummies, zombies, exercises in imagery and language usage, and many more subjects.
Then take the 30/30 as inspiration for yourself. Commit to creating whatever it is you create–poems, stories, souffles, parties, research, songs, gardens, experiences. Commit for a day, a week, a month. The rewards you’ll reap are rich as the berries the birds haven’t yet plucked.
My latest effort for the 30/30 Project, “Raw/War,” is featured on the site today–a taste of poetry, peace, and palindromes. . . . I hope you’ll enjoy that and the work of my impressive peers on the site.
I’m also gearing up for September 26th, when we’ll ask the world to think about war, peace, our green planet, and role the arts can play to make our time here more meaningful, peaceful, poetic. See 100 Thousand Poets for Change on Facebook.
Here’s to peace, poetry, and palindromes.
If you enjoy the raw process of sharing lightly revised fresh drafts, you’ll really enjoy the 30/30 Project by Tupelo Press. (If you can donate, please be sure to put “Kathleen McCoy” into the “Honor” box to credit my fundraising goal, but even if you can’t donate, please visit the site and read our work.) Here is my latest contribution. So far, I’m keeping up. It’s a great challenge for me. I’ve always been more like Elizabeth Bishop who wrote that she preferred to average one finished poem a year than to churn them out–but that approach won’t get your work out there anymore.
If you’re not sure whether contributing is worth it, I can show you why with a handout from CLMP, shown below.
COUNCIL OF LITERARY MAGAZINES & PRESSES © Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, 2003.
Why Support Independent Literary Publishing?
Jeffrey Lependorf, Executive Director Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Independent literary publishers are mission-driven—they focus on publishing literature.
Independent literary publishers provide access to the voices of entire communities.
Independent literary publishers produce over 98% of poetry being published each year, and the majority of literature in translation and works of fiction by emerging writers.
Placing the cause and calling of literature ahead of the bottom line, independent literary publishers serve as a primary link between writers—particularly those representing emerging voices, culturally specific communities, and literary art forms not fostered by mainstream publishers—and readers. Independent literary publications create an enduring record of cultural activity, and they provide an essential alter- native to the voices heard through large-scale, commercial publishing. Nearly a thousand primarily non- profit literary magazines, presses, and online publishers can be found across the country, in every state, serving hundreds of unique audiences. Ultimately, they connect diverse communities of readers who would remain otherwise isolated from their living literary heritage.
Currently, the fruits of independent literary publishing remain unknown to the larger public—the com- munity of readers. Nonprofit literary publishers as a whole have been grossly neglected by most private foundations and positioned as marginal within the arts in general. Most independent literary publish- ers lack the marketing muscle of their commercial counterparts and often struggle to compete within the larger publishing arena. Nonprofit literary publishers require support to fulfill their missions: to bring exceptional literature into the hands of caring readers.
Supporting the work of independent literary publishers provides readers everywhere with access to new literary voices and ensures that America’s evolving literary heritage remains diverse and vibrant.
For 35 years, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses has provided technical assistance to and advo- cated on behalf of independent literary publishers. CLMP guides literature through the business of publish- ing and engages diverse communities of readers through a variety of public programs.