poetry

Remembering Edgar Allan Poe on the Date of His Birth

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Annabel Lee 

It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
   I and my Annabel Lee—
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
   Coveted her and me.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
   My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
   And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
   In this kingdom by the sea.
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
   Went envying her and me—
Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love
   Of those who were older than we—
   Of many far wiser than we—
And neither the angels in Heaven above
   Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
   Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride,
   In her sepulchre there by the sea—
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.

 

A Dream Within a Dream 

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

 

The Raven 

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door –
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door –
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; –
This it is, and nothing more,’

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door –
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door –
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,’ I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door –
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.’

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered – not a feather then he fluttered –
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before –
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.’
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.’

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never-nevermore.”‘

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he has sent thee
Respite – respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil! –
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!’
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.’

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

Alone 

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—
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Two Poems by Mike Cohen

sunrise
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A Final Aubade
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There is no adequate narrative for this
or any morning
when an early glint of sunlight
slants between leaves
as clouds mount breathlessly
beneath the great breadth we call blue.
Now that morning has come, the poet assumes
that morning requires an aubade,
missing what sunrise reveals
as he tries to catch it in his flimsy net of lexicon.
Let it come without comment.
Morning is a greater thing
than all the words dedicated to it.
There is no adequate narrative for this
or any morning.  A morning is
simply to be witnessed,
greeted with due silence….
Be quiet and watch it progress
acknowledging there is
no adequate narrative for this.
Yet we cannot help
but help ourselves to these grand pronouncements –
these pretentious aubades –
a profusion of insufficiency
like treatments for what cannot be cured.
It’s far too much and not enough.
There is no adequate narrative
for this or any morning.
Au revoir to you, Aubade…   – not another word.
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Bovine Mantra
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“Moo,” I say to the cow.
She is surprised I can speak Cowish.
She’d assumed I was just another of those
who talk so much, with so little to say.
She’d looked at my boots on the ends
of my two legs, my silly colored clothing
and the hat that conceals my pathetic lack of horns,
and judged me to be capable only
of sub-bovine speech – some low human babble,
profuse and pointless and prattling on
so it could drive a cow over the moon.
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This is what cows have come to expect of people.
I want to show her that we humans are not all alike.
And as, face to face, we stand in silence,
a trace of respect seeps into her big brown eyes.
She sees that I too recognize how inept words are
at expressing thought.
There is nothing more for me to say.
I have said my “Moo,”
and allow the resonant syllable
to fade into the beyond.
“Moo…,” the cow’s mantra,
is the consummation of language…
The rest is only cud,
a regurgitation to chew on and on and on.
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Hour after hour the cow bears with me,
her jaws at work, her eyes on watch
until, finally satisfied that my understanding is sufficient,
she turns away and lows at the moon.
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mike-cohen (1)
Mike Cohen hosts Poetry Aloud and Alive at Philadelphia’s Big Blue Marble Book Store. His articles on sculpture regularly appear in the Schuylkill Valley Journal in which he is a contributing editor. Mike’s wry writing has appeared in the Mad Poets Review, Fox Chase Review, and other journals. His poetic presentations feature humor and drama against a philosophical backdrop. Mike likes to bring poetry and audiences to life in cafes, libraries, book stores and venues including Princeton’s Café Improv, the Pen and Pen Club, the Hedgerow Theatre, Fergie’s Pub, Harlem’s Apollo Theater, and neither least nor last, Philadelphia’s Laurel Hill Cemetery.  Look for him at http://mikecohensays.com/  on youtube at mike cohen   and in his book, BETWEEN THE I’S
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War of Elements by Akshaya Pawaskar

-fire-tornado
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War of Elements
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Who is fighting in this war?
It’s not a war between
countries or continents.
It’s not a war between
armies and insurgents.
It’s between elements.
It’s between humors.
It’s between the air and water
with its stratagems of winds
with its velocities
and pressures,
with its whirls
and whorls in which
we are mere civilians
flying round and
round on a carousel
of the drunk thunderstorms.
It’s a war between
land and the seas
dams and rivers,
nation of trees against
Guerilla of fire,
with the forests breathing out poison
as they burn with centuries of
rage and felling
to clear a land for the new ending
which is as old as the first man
himself digging his grave.
It’s a war between
a glacier and it’s strong mind
to stay solid and its
giving in to melt
to meld into the ocean
usurping the shores,
infiltrating the hinterlands.
It’s between the deserts
and the rain.
Between the seething belly
and the silent mouth
of a mountain.
It is a breakdown in the
face of heat of
boiling earth
of thinning skin of Ozone
of hardening hide of
Carbon dioxide.
Tears of fossil fuels
Tears of earth.
The long and the short of it is,
we are not the collateral damage
that we are not
the helpless slaves,
that we are not
the mute victims.
It’s a war between humankind
and platoons of nature.
It’s a war between
the creator and the creature.
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Akshaya
Akshaya Pawaskar is a doctor practicing in India and poetry is her passion. Her poems have been published in Tipton Poetry journal, the punch magazine, Efiction India, Ink drift, The blue nib, North of oxford, Indian rumination, Rock and sling and Awake in the world anthology by Riverfeet press.
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This Land is Full of Noises by Robert Nisbet

preseli hills
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This Land is Full of Noises
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Ours being a small and rural region,
much of our noise will be ripples and shifts,
quirks, half-mutes and ghostly sounds.
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Yes, traffic certainly, a few loud racers,
the odd blasting exhaust, but get a mile away
from the small towns and it’s more a grumble.
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The jets to America are too high to be heard.
There’s the now-and-again light aircraft drone
and the gliders, lower, hinting at a wind’s rush.
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The sheep’s bleat can sometimes reach crescendo
but is often more a token of a stolid self.
The cow’s low is placid, stays short of the mournful.
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The coastal winds can rise to a shriek, a pounding,
which can quickly drift on down to stillness
and soon to the sinking hiss of sea on sand.
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Two sets of footsteps, trudging a Preseli peak,
just a slight crunching, faintest puffs of breath,
then the one flurry of the spoken …
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Just .. well..  just want to say .. sorry ..
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Few other sounds, just a slower breathing,
one long sigh, words of a kind ..  ah .. well .. yes ..
and above, just the piping of the buzzard.
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a photo robert nisbet col
Robert Nisbet is a poet from rural Wales, about as far West of London as you can go. His work has been published widely in Britain and the USA, including regular appearances in San Pedro River Review and Panoply.  
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Perspective by Robbi Nester

sycamore seed
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Perspective
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Sometimes in winter, I sit on the red bench
under the sycamore, remembering spring,
the faint green florescence of the earliest leaves,
almost a rumor, then the brash unfolding,
the tree sifting sunlight through its branches,
hoarding its riches in the roots. Though it
cannot be discerned, all trees, crowned
with moonlight, grow toward the brightest stars.
In autumn, the seeds come coptering to the ground
in their hundreds, where they send out cautious roots.
In this cold season, the bench too remembers
that before the shaved planks, sweet smell
of sawdust, it once was a tree, holding sunlight
deep underground, awaiting its next incarnation.
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Robbi_Nester1_sqr
Robbi Nester is an elected member of the Academy of American Poets. She is the author of four books of poetry–a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012) and three collections: A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has edited two anthologies of poetry: The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014) and an ekphrastic e-book published as a special issue of Poemeleon Poetry Journal)–Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees–celebrating the photography of Beth Moon. Her poetry, reviews, articles, and essays have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, most recently in Is it Hot in Here, or is it Just me?, an anthology, Pirene’s Fountain’s Culinary Poems, Lady Liberty, Tiferet, and Rhino.
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On an Acre Shy of Eternity: Micro Landscapes at the Edge by Robert Dash

on an acr

By Greg Bem

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“When it comes to exploring, it’s possible to travel real distances without going far at all.”  – Robert Dash, from the “Preface”
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Epic encounters across time and space are often represented with examples of time and space. Such is the case of the 2017 book of poetry and images by photographer, naturalist, and educator Robert Dash. In his insightful, exhausting collection, where he examines the microscopic through the lens of the human, Dash reveals that time and space do not need to be large to be encompassing. This is a book that at its core explores the artistic fervor of the scanning electron microscope, Dash’s tool and medium of choice, and it is a book that explores how the photographer might internalize and become captivated by the worlds that fill their imagery.
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“A community of processes, creatures and tools–termite jaws, fungal hyphae,
tunneling earthworms, wind, ice, drizzle, springtails, pecking nuthatches,
chemical magic, entropy, the ruthless blender known in slang as time–built this bridge.”
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(from “Gossamer Thin,” page 99)
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On an Acre Shy of Eternity reveals what an artist can do in a confined, constrained landscape. The muse cries out as a collective: from cliff rock to bunch of moss, the inherited imagery that is within, beneath, deeper still, is that imagery which is cherished and collected. In making this book, Dash situated himself across time while focusing on the subject of his home: the microcosmic subject matter within and along the periphery of his property, his corner of one of the San Juan Islands in the Salish Sea. The world is vast and vaster still, and it is one of mystery and intense—enormous even—forms of inclusion.
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Camas Lily, by Robert Dash

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The book is divided into four natural categories: plants, animals, water, and stones. Their presence reveals a quasi-alchemical relationship to reality and materials, and yet the subjects within carry range and precision. These are real images, a captured reality freakish and exquisite. Like the description of the X-Ray in Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain, the use and results of the scanning electron microscope feel hyper-potent and, at times, unfathomable. And in their space of fringe, in being known and untouchable one and the same, Dash provides juxtaposition, and tension. This leads to romance. To poetry. To feverish, undoubtedly spiritual insight.
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“this one hops me back across decades
and reveals every wave, leaf, cloud, shadow and feather
as a trace of eternity.”
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(from “Small Wonder,” page 57)
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This circumstantial structure is directed by Dash’s own poetry. The poetry begins with the photographs themselves. Dash has given relatively straightforward descriptions to the plates within the book, which when strung together read as a poem themselves: “Grass pollen: four hundred pollen grains would span a pinhead,” “Garry oak leaf in autumn,” and “Cliff ice at sunset,” to name a few. The educator, the naturalist, in collector’s mode, constructor’s mode, educator and describer, traveler of the unknown universe beneath our limbs.
Poetry is here: poetry is reflexive, and it is functional, and it is emotional. The photographs may be visual poems through and through. And then, too, most of the photographs in the book are paired with their own short, lyrical poem. The text is elegant and brief—enough to entice and allure. It is poetry that is as cleverly portrayed as the subjects of the photography. The verse may commentary on the process itself: “and you can’t parse these facts / and sometimes life falters even when relief is at hand” (from “Relief at Hand,” page 72). And at other times, Dash extends the lesson or intention of the photograph with additional explanation:
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“Down below, water shatters bedrock, free silica for diatoms
who float free to make half the globe’s oxygen,
only to come back around
wed to hydrogen
a lover returned.”
..
 (from “Water is a Lover,” page 82)
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Dash’s efforts to provide a mixture of science and art is what I consider this book’s best quality. The photographs and the images each add to the weight and the significance of the overall message within the book. Much of this has to do with the flow of material across pages. Book designer Robert Lanphear allows Dash’s work to shine—quite literally, the expansive and intricate imagery is set evenly alongside the text. Images and poetry complement and provokes, in a dance between representation and self-awareness. As much as this book is about the tides that sit swollen alongside Dash’s island property off the coast of Northern Washington, so too is this book about the rhythm of the artist who inhabits, who occupies, who respects the surrounding and enveloping world.
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Vac-High PC-Std. 15kV x3400 (46mm)

Camas Lily Pollen by Robert Dash

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All but three of the photographs in the book were taken on this small nook of island geology. Three others were taken while in a boat, not far from the property. This proximity is fascinating when also considering the process of Dash’s poetics. The invisible hand of the writer, the invisible hand of the photographer: a sense of place is only afforded through the work itself. But Dash is generous in his literal descriptions of the work and offers challenges to the reader after setting the stage. This context, this establishment of bond, I can’t help but imagine reflects the bond Dash has discovered between his life in the macrocosmic alongside his life in the microcosmic.
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Since the publication of On an Acre Shy of Eternity, Dash has continued his use of and passion for the scanning electron microscope, and the abundance made visible with such a tool. His collection Food for Thought – Micro Views of Sustenance: Threats and Prospects looks at the resources we (and the world) consume, from food to soil, from crops to deforestation, and the conversations in between in the context of climate change. Dash’s photographic work has evolved into even greater levels of precision, and curation. To see his early microscopic work thrive alongside his recent, empowered imagery is marvelous.
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Greg Bem is a poet and librarian living on unceded Duwamish territory, specifically Seattle, Washington. He writes book reviews for Rain Taxi, Yellow Rabbits, and more. His current literary efforts mostly concern water and often include elements of video. Learn more at http://www.gregbem.com.
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RIP Poet Lyn Lifshin (1942-2019)

Lyn-Lifshin

The poet Lyn Lifshin passed away in early December at the age of 77. Lifshin, a writer of poetry, prose and a participant in the art of dance had a career that spanned from the 1960s to 2019. Approximately 130 of her poetry collections and chapbooks were published over her lifetime and she was a dominate force in the small press world having her work published in thousands of magazines both in print and electronically across the globe.  https://www.lynlifshin.com/index.htm 

Listed below are some links readers may have an interest in:

Poems on Line:

The Paris American: https://www.theparisamerican.com/lyn-lifshin-poetry.html

Terrain: https://www.terrain.org/poetry/25/lifshin.htm

At Sun Magazine: https://www.thesunmagazine.org/contributors/lyn-lifshin

At The Coil: https://medium.com/the-coil/my-afternoons-with-dylan-thomas-poem-lyn-lifshin-9e4179da0592

Books by Lyn Lifshin:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyn_Lifshin#Books_and_chapbooks_(partial_list)

At Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?i=stripbooks&rh=p_27%3ALyn+Lifshin&s=relevancerank&text=Lyn+Lifshin&ref=dp_byline_sr_book_1

lyn lifshin black dress (2)

An Autobiographical Essay by Lyn Lifshin:

http://www.albanypubliclibraryfoundation.org/2019/06/14/an-autobiographical-essay-by-lyn-lifshin/

Interviews:

At North of Oxford: https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/an-interview-with-lyn-lifshin/

At ppigpenn : https://ppigpenn.blogspot.com/2014/01/interview-lyn-lifshin.html?zx=e13e69e324534189

At Word Mothers: https://wordmothers.com/2015/02/15/interview-with-poet-lyn-lifshin/

At The Roanoke Review: http://www.roanokereview.org/interviews-backpage/lyn-lifshin

At Lucid Moon: https://www.lynlifshin.com/Int-holder.htm?fbclid=IwAR0XQC-u99UZ0h94NPVG33HSlZG5T7ablpER5DaojhDfrJK90wSfcW5qjwE

At Open Arts Forum: https://openartsforum.com/an-interview-with-lyn-lifshin/

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On Youtube and Vimeo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqpPoxPd60g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R8N0iv5Nn8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09OE6v-LTGw

https://vimeo.com/79502353

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Everything Lifshin on Google:

https://www.google.com/search?q=poet+lyn+lifshin&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari#imgrc=8jmo_zhcavIJaM

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