More Good Poetry, Good People

So many friends have books coming out this year! It's a great year for poetry and this next generation of poets.

Here's a poem by Stephanie Lenox from her forthcoming book Congress of Strange People which will be published by Airlie Press in October, 2012. Stephanie is a wonderful person and poet. Many years ago when we were both undergraduates at Whitworth University, she was very encouraging to me and my early poems and she also provided me a clear example of the work ethic it takes to write poetry.

Stephanie lives in Salem, Oregon, with her husband and two daughters. Her chapbook, The Heart That Lies Outside the Body, won the 2007 Slapering Hol Chapbook Contest. She has received fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission. She teaches at Willamette University.


Sunday afternoons Grandfather and I studied
The Guinness Book, dog-earing our favorites:

Mike, the headless chicken that lived 18 months
before dying in an Arizona hotel room;

the man whose arm was severed and reconnected
three separate times—Lazarus, Jesus, and the lame girl combined.

Your grandmother is in there, he nudged me. Keep looking.
I scanned the Medical Marvels, Extreme Bodies

for the woman he said could balance a piano on the tip
of her tongue. I stared at each smudged photo

until every woman began to look like family,
same eyes squinting against amazing burden.

Other times we huddled over the family tree,
its names branching out on butcher paper, me captivated

by the word genealogy as if it contained the power
to grant my three greatest wishes, while he plotted everything,

traced us back to Sing-Go-Wah, chief of a tribe
of pranksters. He pinched my skin until the blood rose.

See, you are red. He showed me how to cup my hand
over my mouth to make a war cry.

Once before leaving, he said he had a present for me
and dropped something weightless, invisible in my hand.

The world’s smallest guitar, he explained,
like the one we read about, size of a human blood cell,

completely functional. Now, play me a song.
My pulse picked up as I tried to think of what I could do.

Leaning over, with the tip of his fingernail he strummed once
the center of my palm, told me to press my ear against it.

Stephanie Lenox
from Congress of Strange People

Support a poet and poetry. Click here for more information about Airlie Press and Stephanie Lenox's Congress of Strange People. It's now available for pre-order!