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Charles Simic Will Bring His Stealthy Surreal Pleasure To This Year's MPF

by Jacquelyn Malone

What is it that I love so much about Charles Simic’s poetry?

For one thing, he often puts me in the dream-like world—not the woozy, charmed land of whimsy but a strange land, at once familiar, but peculiar. It’s a dreaming that pulls me into complete attention, placing me in a timeless reality. For some strange reason—maybe it is Simic’s childhood in war-torn Europe—his poems make me think of scenes from Carol Reed’s The Third Man, which was filmed in post-World War II Vienna when the streets were still littered with the bomb-strewn rubble of buildings. The camera is occasionally tilted so the framed shots are off-kilter, not so that it consciously draws your attention to the camera angle, but so that the viewer feels slightly disoriented, a feeling that something you can’t name is wrong.

Deep Image and "What the Living Do": An Encounter with Marie Howe's Poetry

by Elisabeth Weiss

~ Marie Howe will be one of the featured poets at this year’s Massachusetts Poetry Festival.

I first encountered Marie Howe’s work with the poem “What the Living Do.” Because of this poem, I immediately became her fan and knew whoever she was, Howe had what it took to make me feel “gripped with a cherishing.” Marie Howe writes deliberately and slowly. Her language is exact. Words in her poems gather like a coat around us.

“What the Living Do” is addressed to a “you”:

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably
fell down there. 
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes
             have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday
             we spoke of

( lines 1-6)

Ocean Vuong: A Knife of the Tongue

by Jennifer Martelli      

    ~ Ocean Vuong will be one of the featured poets at this year’s Massachusetts Poetry Festival.

A small group of poets meets the fourth Tuesday of every month upstairs at the Salem Athenaeum. The Incessant Pipe Salon is a noisy bunch: side conversations, political speeches, mini-workshops, Skype. One night, in the background, Joey Gould played the New Yorker podcast (May 4, 2015) of Ocean Vuong (Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Copper Canyon Press, 2016) reading his own poem, “Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong.” One by one, we stopped talking until it was only his voice reading his words: “are you listening? the most beautiful part/of your body is wherever/your mother’s shadow falls.” Vuong’s voice rose and fell with each of the forty-two lines, the way the chest rises and falls; and each line reflected images that almost break a heart with their simplicity and their danger. When the poem ended, I didn’t ask “who was that?” I asked, “what was that?’ because the poem and his reading of it produced something physical inside.