Monday, April 28, 2008

Festival of New European film and writing at Oakland University May 9-10, 2008

Oakland University and Absinthe: New European Writing will host a festival of new European film and writing at Oakland University in Rochester on May 9-10th, 2008. All festival events are free and open to the public.

The festival will commence on Friday evening, May 9, with a presentation of short films from Europe by the Ann Arbor Film Festival, readings by the poets Eamonn Wall and Valzhyna Mort, and a silent auction to benefit the festival. Desserts and drinks will be provided, and door prizes will be raffled off throughout the evening. In addition, the first 100 guests will receive a free copy of the current issue of Absinthe: New European Writing.

Eamonn Wall was born in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland. His poetry has been published widely in Ireland and in the U.S. His books include Dyckman-200th Street, (Salmon, 1993), Iron Mountain Road (Salmon, 1997), and The Crosses (Salmon, 2001).

Valzyhna Mort was born Valzhyna Martynava in 1981 in Minsk, Belarus. She will read from her recently published collection Factory of Tears.

On Saturday, May 10, from 10:00 am until 10:00 pm, the festival will screen three award-winning European feature films, along with readings by the Detroit-area translators Keith Taylor, Marilynn Rashid, and Doris Runey, and Polish poet Piotr Sommers with Chicago-based translator Bill Martin. The films will be preceded by a selection of short films by Oakland University students.

10:00 AM--A screening of the German film Yella-a metaphysical thriller crafted by acclaimed writer-director Christian Petzold. The title role is played by Nina Hoss, who was awarded the 2007 Berlin Film Festival's Silver Bear for her performance.

12:30-1:00--Lunch will be provided for festival attendees

1:00 PM--A reading by the Detroit-area writers and translators Doris Runey, Keith Taylor, and Marilynn Rashid.

2:00 PM--A screening of the Romanian film The Way I Spent the End of the World-this film appeared at several film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival, and the Cannes Film Festival.

4:30 PM--A reading by Polish poet Piotr Sommer and translator Bill Martin

Piotr Sommer is a poet and translator of contemporary English-language poetry, including the work of Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Robert Lowell, and many others. He has published several dozen books of poetry, literary criticism.

7:00 PM--A screening of the Russian film The Island-this film was shown at several film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival, the Venice International Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, and the London Film Festival, and was awarded five major Nika Awards (Russian Oscars).

Presentation of The Island is generously underwritten by the Council of Orthodox Christian Churches of Metropolitan Detroit (COCC)-Promoting Orthodox Christianity since 1957.

The Oakland University/Absinthe Festival of New European Film and Writing is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and Oakland County Arts & Culture.

Additional information, including the full festival schedule is available at or by contacting Dwayne D. Hayes, editor of Absinthe: New European Writing at

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Poet's Follies

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Browsing the images of "Urban Edge"
at the Grosse Pointe Art Center

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Abdul Punnayurkulam talks about his
short story "Dedication"

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Marick Press publisher, Mariela Griffor,
reads from her latest book House

May 3rd Marick Press Author Workshops 50% off for students

Date: Saturday, May 3, 2008
Time: 8:00-8:45 registration with coffee & bagels.
Location: Grosse Pointe Artists Association
15001 Kercheval Avenue, Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
Admission: Individual workshops are $100.00 each.
$150.00 includes all workshops, buffet lunch and refreshments.


o 9am-11am Peter Conners: Flash Fiction: How & Why to Shrink your Story

o 11am-Noon Katie Ford : The Craft of Emotion

o Noon-1pm G.C. Waldrep: The Metaphor as Alchemy

o 1pm-2 pm Ilya Kaminsky: Reading Poems from Around the World

o 2pm-3pm Susan Kelly-DeWitt: Poetry Writing: The Poet as Camera

o 3pm-4pm Sean Thomas Dougherty: The Grammar of Metaphor

o 4pm-5pm Derick Burleson: Trailing Clouds of Glory: Making Poems with the Inner Child

To pre-register contact Mariela Griffor at, or Ryan Kelly at Or call (313) 407-9236. Registration for any workshop is available throughout the Festival.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jim Schley: As When, In Season

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Some cartographer’s error
and we squandered days,
a river on the map now swamp:
glacial fissures drained to marsh,
so a channel angled south goes east then north,
to halt canoes at a beavers’ dam, trunks big as cabin logs.
Millions of droplets per cubic inch, and brief efflorescence
in stalks, leaves and lacy ferns already by August
curling for an onslaught of snow. Head-high grass
spread by prows keeps no trail of keel, paddle blade or feet
as flies toil and bite, as boots spew rot from muddy sockets.
Redwings creak on cattails like farcical guides.
Bullfrogs thrum directions only a blackbird could decipher.
Who are you to the herons, to the beavers felling trees?
Who cares for you? say the barred owls,
as soft to disappear as puffs of mist.
How far to your vanishing point?

Our lives became things,
callused joints and scarlet knees,
with hair tied back to tumble behind. Six of us,
strangers since, a rank and cantankerous crew.
On day three we crossed a flowage in porridge-thick fog,
tracking island to island by compass
with twelve-foot visibility encircling each boat.
Near noon a bush plane, then growling saws.
The village on Red Lake. But remember

how the land made its own way, with no one there

Buy the book

“I like these poems immensely. What Schley has done is to reinvent the ode, especially in the nine poems for the muses. Prosodically he’s discovered an odic tone, grave but graceful, imaginatively objective. It’s extremely effective, and it tokens a very large degree of literary depth and experience.” —Hayden Carruth

Jim Schley grew up in Wisconsin and moved to New England in 1975 to attend Dartmouth College, where he majored in Literature & Creative Writing and Native American Studies. In 1986 he earned an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College. He has been co-editor of the literary quarterly New England Review, production editor for University Press of New England, and editor-in-chief of Chelsea Green Publishing Company and has edited more than a hundred books on a wide variety of subjects, including poetry and fiction, literary essays, history, art, Native American culture, organic farming and gardening, solar and wind energy, and natural architecture and building techniques. He has also been very active as a teacher with Community College of Vermont and the Vermont Humanities Council. A frequent performer with experimental theatre ensembles, including Signal & Noise and FLOCK Dance Troupe, he has toured internationally with Bread & Puppet Theater and the Swiss movement-theater company Les Montreurs d’Images. Jim’s poems have been featured in Best American Spiritual Writing, on Garrison Keillor’s radio program The Writer’s Almanac, and in Keillor’s companion book Good Poems, as well as in a poetry chapbook, One Another (Chapiteau, 1999;, which Christopher Merrill called “the most beautiful book of poems I've ever seen.” He’s an associate of the journalists' collective Homelands Research Group ( and is now executive director of The Frost Place (, a museum and poetry education center based at Robert Frost's historic homestead in Franconia, N.H. Jim Schley lives with his wife Rebecca Bailey and their daughter Lillian in a home they built themselves as part of an off-the-grid, multi-family cooperative in central Vermont.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Robert Fanning: The Seed Thieves

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Green Stephania

A full wood, wet bark
shower, the fresh drenched
trees, the leaves lush heavy,
so consequently, Stephania.

Stephania, curled finger ferns
unfurl and burst. Loose spores
string through mist and nestle.
Moss tufts rub.
Rain-slapped leaves, Stephania,
spring and drip on our deep
sogged glade, our soaked sunk roots.

Me and Stephania.
In a hiding place our slick lips sore
from pressing together.
Stephania, seaweed breath,
burrs in your tangling curls,
soiled nails and knees, giggling.
Eden, Stephania. The smell of dirt.
I never want to leave the world.

Through the streaming wash
of rain, through the windows
and pale curtains, our mothers ache.
Their bedrooms flicker with blue TV.
Scent of biscuits, chimney smoke, tea.
Our fathers cup their hands
against the cold glass panes
and look out.

It’s dusk, Stephania.
No one knows where we are.

Buy the book

“Passionate and accomplished — this poet’s ear is beautifully tuned — The Seed Thieves is an urgent, nervous, tender, and brilliant first book. Read it for joy!”
—Tomas Lux, author of The Street of Clocks and The Cradle Place

In addition to The Seed Thieves, Robert Fanning is the author of Old Bright Wheel, winner of the Ledge Press Poetry Chapbook Award. A graduate of the University of Michigan and Sarah Lawrence College, his writing awards include a Creative Artist Grant from ArtServe Michigan, the Inkwell Poetry Award, and the Foley Poetry Award. His work has also been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Atlanta Review, The Hawaii Review, America, The Ledge, and Artword Quarterly. He is the Program Director of the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, which brings professional writers into the classrooms of the Detroit Public Schools. He is a resident of Ferndale.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Russell Thorburn: Father, Tell Me I Have Not Aged

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Ambassador Bridge

We wanted to set the world right
on the Ambassador Bridge, returning
over a mile of steel to the American side.
We wanted the presence of the earth, the river
below lazy in its blueness like a sleepwalker
raising his hands to this mystery.
We looked down and knew goodness
with my lover’s baby in her arms,
and our friend innocent enough
to be a teenager. We were stopped
coming back to Detroit from Windsor,
our trunk searched, revealing dirty
laundry, a bag of detergent the officer
thought was drugs. We laughed
until he wanted to know our age.
Show me your ID photo, anything
to tell us why you are so young.
And for a moment we held our breath
prisoners of paranoia, naïve and lost.
And she was our runaway friend,
or so the Canadian thought.
Oh, to be that young again, as if one
of us were a runaway teenager,
and we, perhaps, kidnappers –
and with the baby in her arms, my lover,
her eyes heaven and looking
to be one and good with the world
from our excursion to Windsor
and the art museum. Our communion
with paintings and the sea gulls later,
with their tilted wings, forming a narrative.
And the Canadian officer
checking ID photos, his jaw sticking out
like a Maple Leaf flag, not letting us go.
Oh hosanna of his hands – and the river
in its blue painting, sun speckled,
a nameless feeling of having been
already painted by a crazy man,
soulful in the way of Van Gogh,
trying to make the world turn good.

Buy the book

A memoir in poetry drawing upon childhood, love and loss, with a french turn to film, especially Truffaut, in explaining the human spirit.
Russell Thorburn’s Father, Tell Me I Have Not Aged is as sure-footed and persuasive a poetry collection as I have come across in a long time. To say it both devastates and delights with its insights is simply to acknowledge the book’s depth and accuracy of emotion, its abiding humanity, and its vigorous pursuit of linguistic exuberance. I was not only moved by what I encountered in these poems, I was compelled. This is poetry of the first order. – Jack Driscoll

Read the Metro Times review

Russell Thorburn is the author of Approximate Desire (New Issues Poetry, 1999). His poems have appeared in a wide range of literary journals both on and off line, including Briar Cliff Review, Full Circle Journal, LitRag, Parting Gifts, Passages North, Poet Lore, Praire Schooner, Puerto del Sol, The Quarterly, Quarterly West, Sou'wester, Third Coast, Willow Springs and Witness. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and has been awarded creative artist grants from the State of Michigan. Since 2000 he has been teaching poetry in Upper Peninsula schools through Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs. He has taught college classes at Marquette Branch Prison and Northern Michigan University. He is editor of numerous poetry books. He lives in Marquette, Michigan, with his wife, Emily, and three sons, Gabriel, Christopher and Michael.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April is National Poetry Month

30 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month.

National Poetry Month was established by the Academy of American Poets as a month-long, national celebration of poetry. The concept was to increase the attention paid-by individuals and the media—to the art of poetry, to living poets, to our poetic heritage, and to poetry books and magazines. In the end, we hoped to achieve an increase in the visibility, presence, and accessibility of poetry in our culture. National Poetry Month has been successful beyond all anticipation and has grown over the years into the largest literary celebration in the world.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Coming soon: fiction editor Peter Markus' new novel, Bob, or Man on Boat

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"Markus has a remarkable ability to strip life down to its basics, to the point where the metaphors we manufacture as the looking-glass for our existence end up standing in for existence itself. Fish, mud, night and river come to stand in place of family connections as fathers and sons, by giving themselves to fishing, give themselves over to a lone search and to loss.”
—Brian Evenson

"With spare but magical language, Peter Markus weaves a tale with the currents of a river, a family saga that spins through both the depths and the shallows. In Bob, or Man on Boat, recollections rise from the muddy river bed to be illuminated by starshine on the surface, only to be lost once more in the river mists that mingle with the wind-scattered ashes of a dead man, and finally, to sink again to the bottom. Like the voice of the narrator, Markus uses words that “skip across the surface like a stone”, but take the reader to the depths of longing and loss, myth and memory."
—Pamela Ryder

Buy the book

Peter Markus is the Marick Press fiction editor and author of three short books of short-short fiction, Good, Brother (AWOL Press/reissued by Calamari Press), The Moon is a Lighthouse (New Michigan Press), and The Singing Fish (Calamari Press). His work has been published in a number of anthologies, including New Sudden Fiction (Norton), Fiction Gallery (Bloomsbury), Sudden Stories (Mammoth Books), and PP/FF: An Anthology (Starcherone Books). His stories have appeared widely in such journals as Black Warrior Review, Chicago Review, Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, New Orleans Review, Quarterly West, 3rd Bed, Denver Quarterly, Third Coast, Willow Springs, Seattle Review, Post Road, New York Tyrant, Sleeping Fish, Verse, Another Chicago Magazine, Unsaid, Dislocate, among many others. He lives in Trenton, Michigan, with his wife and two kids and is the Senior Writer with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project of Detroit.

Ancestral Radio, Book Review by Heather A. McMacken

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Listen. There are poets…and then there are poets.

Ancestral Radio was written by a poet.

His name is Edward Haworth Hoeppner, longtime English Professor at Oakland University, whose first book of poems, Rain Through High Windows, published by New Issues Press in 2000, was a gorgeous and intuitive collection.

Aptly titled, Ancestral Radio is about family. The word radio suggests a frequency, a channel to impart the observations of one particularly awake man.

Ancestral Radio’s broken into four parts. The first contains the autumn season. These are poems of frustration and melancholy chaos; about problems like alcoholism and vacations gone sour. The setting is either far away in actuality (Italy) or in the mind. The speaker is lost, agitated. In “East Dakota,” the complaint:

There are too many stars
on the prairie tonight.
They are too much here
and there is nowhere else
to turn.

The second section is not a season, but a location: the past. It faces backward—staring intensely at deaths and endings. At this point, memory is either vacant or a traitor. “Private Property” summarizes the lifecycle in this bone-chilling way:

You go off like a flash-bulb,
and people rub their eyes.

Poems in part three deal with winter: this dry, white ship, slow cage (70).
There’s frostbite, snowdrifts, sickness, and talk of how Michigan winters suck:

…brain’s not propped up
well enough to handle being shoved inside a box
and left for long

The most enjoyable section is the last—it’s spring! Here Hoeppner fulfills our need for a happy resolution, for transforming grief to joy. The setting for most are near Minnesota, his birthplace. The last word of the book is home, signifying serenity.

Notice Hoeppner’s descriptional mastery in “Early Spring:”

…for this season made from small
bells, in which you step once more
across the planks, to a bobbing edge,
spread your hands as if to float
straight from out your clothing.

As a whole, Ancestral Radio’s mostly sober, with glints of hilarity. The speaker appears consistent, autobiographical, and incredibly honest. All the indecision, flimsy, and misperceptions of this person are center stage.

The book reflects the contradictions, inaccuracies of the mind. Quite often the speaker will say how something is, and then immediately say that it isn’t. There’s also a riot of double (even triple!) negatives. What impresses most, though, is the poet’s clear appreciation of the intricacies of systems: systems of thought, systems of nature, the systems governing human relationships and time.

This universe, all flecked
by things that move so quickly they are partly gone
when they arrive

Edward Haworth Hoeppner cannot be called a simple poet. He is not an Alice Walker or a Billy Collins. Ancestral Radio asks patience. It calls for meditation, for time to fight the bafflement. This book reminds me so much of Hoeppner’s biggest influence, John Ashbery. It requires readers to do as they do with Ashbery’s poems: to let go. To process with something more than brain.


Buy the book

Heather A. McMacken has worked with Marick Press on various editorial assignments. She received her B.A. in English from Oakland University. She writes about art and culture for Detroit’s Metro Times, Real Detroit Weekly and Gazette van Detroi. Her poems have appeared in Oakland County Beat, The Fairfield Review,, 3rd Muse Poetry Journal,, Slow Trains, Autism Advocate, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a Liberal Arts Network for Development (LAND) poetry prize.

Contact Heather at