CWW Alumni News: Aaron Graham’s “Blood Stripes” to be published by Sundress Publications

AaronGrahamPhotoWe at CWW are thrilled to hear that Aaron Graham’s manuscript, Blood Stripes, will be published in 2019 by Sundress Publications. Aaron, an alumnus of our 2017 New Orleans workshop, hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, which boasts seven bars, six churches, a single 4-way stop sign and a population of 1159. He has twice served as editor of the Squaw Valley Review and is currently the assistant poetry editor for The Tishman Review. Aaron is a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where he served with the The Marine Corps Human Intelligence and Counterterrorism Task Force Middle East as an analyst and linguist. He is an alumnus of Squaw Valley Poets and the Ashbury Home School and was the Cecilia Baker Memorial Visiting Scholar at Seaside Writers. His poetry has won the Penumbra Prize and f(r)iction Magazine’s Best Poem for Summer 2017. He has also been nominated for Best of the Net. Aaron is currently finishing his Ph.D. in Literature at Emory University, hosting elaborating tea parties for Disney Princesses and his daughter Alexi and holding down an English Lectureship at Kennesaw State University.

Proposal

So marry me with my guns

on and with a big bag of

earth plant a couple of

morning lights some solar

lights, the kinds

that often come up stolen.

We have a headstone, a big one,

So put bricks down, dig the dirt

in between. I put flowers there ever

since I bought that plot to be buried

in.

 

I wore my best wig, and put her Mole

on my heel. My brother brought his actor

friends and they performed late into each

night

and gave away pink umbrellas.

A week before her birthday, we held her

wake and we didn’t know that at a birthday

wake there is a raising, then a lowering of

the casket.

Aaron Graham

Advertisements

Announcing Our New Editing and Communications Intern: Amanda Toronto

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is pleased to announce the newest member of our executive board. Amanda Toronto has officially joined the team as our newest Editing and Communications Intern. As the Editing and Communications Intern, Amanda will be aiding the CWW in our upcoming programming and communications projects. We’re so pleased to have Amanda join us and we can’t wait to see what she brings to the team.

Amanda Toronto received her Ph.D. in English and American literature from New York University where she focused on contemporary American literature, art and religion. She lives with her family in New York City and is at work on her first novel.  You can follow her on Twitter @TorontoAmanda

Book Launch: Echo in Four Beats (poems) by Rita Banerjee Available for Pre-Order October 10 – December 8, 2017!


Rita Banerjees poetry debut, Echo in Four Beats, is now available for pre-order on the Finishing Line Press website from October 10 – December 8, 2017!

Combining elements, rhythms, and personas from American jazz, blues, and ragtime, poet Rita Banerjee presents a modern-day spin on the love story of Echo and Narcissus in her debut full-length poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats.  But in this story, told in four parts, Echo is more than just a fragment, she is a Sapphic voice that speaks, foretells, forestalls, and repeats.  Echo in Four Beats, which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, the Three Mile Harbor Book Prize, the Aquarius Press/Willow Books Literature Award, will be released by Finishing Line Press on February 2, 2018.

Early Praise for Echo in Four Beats:

Echo in Four Beats sounds the singular pulse of Harlem, Kyoto, Nainital and San Francisco to uncover a deeper mystery; what makes a word into a sensation, a sensation into a moment and what, in the swirling constellation of geographies, turns a moment into the sublime. Amidst the kinetic search for buried treasure in everyday encounters with photocopiers and the breathless search for lost objects, there are also unexpected collisions with silence so shocking, they stop us dead in our tracks. We realise the whiteness between words was here all along; its stillness curving the inside of this syncopated journey across time and space.”

— Dipika Guha, playwright and author of Mechanics of Love and The Rules, and screenwriter for American Gods

“Rita Banerjee’s Echo in Four Beats is a lyric wonder. Wildly intertextual and multilingual, Banerjee mines literatures, histories, and geographies, both eastern and western, to produce an expansive collection of poems. The breadth of her work is staggering and yet utterly approachable, at once intimate and worldly. This may well be the first truly post-national book of poems I’ve ever read. I look forward to reading it again and again.”

— Jaswinder Bolina, author of The 44th of July, Phantom Camera, andCarrier Wave

“Rita Banerjee’s Echo in Four Beats is a multilingual, intercontinental arpeggio of a journey on which ‘one layer/ of enchantment// dispels another.’ From Ovid to Baudelaire, from Manhattan to Atlantis to the Ganges, these poems conjure shape-shifting and gyroscopic worlds where erasure is sustenance, myth is religion, and home is but a constant state of momentary arrivals. Banerjee’s attentive, precise, incantatory poems reverberate ‘not sound not/ voice” and resound with the “enchantments of art/ and life.’”

— Tara Skurtu, author of The Amoeba Game and Skurtu, Romania

“In our narcissism-addled times, Rita Banerjee awakens Echo out of mythical slumber and accords her center stage, with stirring results. These poems dance nimbly from the playful to the sacred, the pentatonic-ancient to the jazzy-contemporary, the observational to the contemplative, and cross languages and borders with abandon, from trains in India to a Munich museum to the local copy shop. Yet while they may ‘change [their] temperament as quickly as salamanders change skin,’ Echo in Four Beats  is constantly returning us to a tonic center and rebuilding its chords and arpeggios anew, offering a music both savory and profound.”

— Tim Horvath, author of Understories and Circulation

“Banerjee’s polyglot collection–pushing at the edges of language; abounding with erasure, mistranslation and wit; impossible to contain in a single tongue. From the smallest pieces of our world–the falling snow, cobblestone, a reflection in the water–Banerjee has crafted something astonishing that reaches towards higher truths.”

— Stephen Aubrey, author of Daguerreotype and What I Took in My Handand Co-Artistic Director of The Assembly Theater, NYC

Pre-Order Echo in Four Beats on the Finishing Line Press website now!

ritabanerjeeRita Banerjee the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, March 2018).  She is the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, February 2018), which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, Three Mile Harbor Poetry Prize, and Aquarius Press / Willow Books Literature Award, the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press, 2016), and the poetry chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in the the Academy of American Poets, Poets & Writers, Nat. Brut.The ScofieldThe Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere.  She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington.  She is an Associate Scholar of Comparative Literature at Harvard and teaches at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich in Germany.  She is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.

Cambridge, MA Fall 2017 Creative Writing Workshops & Craft of Writing Seminars

CCAEClasses2-2017
The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted announce that we will be hosting our second annual fall writing series at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education at 56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA.  Our Craft of Writing Seminars and Creative Writing Workshops will take place on Saturday mornings from 10 am – 1 pm from September 23 – December 2, 2017.  Registration opens July 26, 2017 at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.  Classes are $40 each.

Location:

Cambridge Center For Adult Education
56 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA

Time:

Saturdays, 10 am – 1 pm, September 23 – December 2, 2017
(Registration opens on July 26, 2017 on the CCAE Website!)

Class Schedule:

September 23: “Trance Poetry”
(with Janaka Stucky)

Many writers work in a self-induced trance state—which proves a powerful tool to access creative, free- associative, & innovative forms of consciousness. Whether you want to call it “flow,” or “meditation,” or “channeling,” there are multiple techniques artists can use to access & regulate this incredibly generative mindset. We will explore what it means to work from a trance state, ways we can safely induce trance, & look at works of writers who are known for espousing similar techniques.

September 30: “Writing Poetic Prose: Rising to the Lyric Register”
(with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

In this writing workshop, we will practice writing in the lyric register and elevate our writing into descriptive, poetic prose. We will look intensively at writing “the moment,” slowing down and unpacking a single turn of the prism. After examining some examples in literature, we will take to writing and revising our own pieces to unlock the lyrical qualities of a single moment. Our aim will be to pull our readers into the emotionally charged and poetic world of our narratives.

October 21: “Black Mountain and New York School Poetry”
(with Megan Fernandes)

In this class, we will look at different elements of the Black Mountain and New York School poetry movements. The class will analyze how the use of monosyllables, experimental syntax, stream of consciousness, prepositions, and dental consonants were employed by poets in each of these eras including Frank O’Hara and Robert Creeley. Students will be expected to draft two poems by the end of the intensive that play with the major tenets of each movement.

November 4: “Crafting Storytelling that Sticks & Compelling Characters”
(with Diana Norma Szokolyai)

When telling a story, what are the underlying structures that make people want to keep reading? We will unpack the elements of timeless stories, examining what makes them memorable. When crafting our characters, we want to inspire empathy in our readers and of course, make them believable. We will learn from the examples of bestselling authors and try our hand at several strategies to build unforgettable characters. Expect to walk away from this class with a toolkit for crafting your story.

November 11: “Me Against The World: Tupac & the Power of Hip- Hop”

(with Frederick-Douglass Knowles II)

This workshop examines the poetry and musical works of Tupac Shakur in order to delineate social responsibility in Hip-Hop culture. The seminar will explore the historical significance of Hip-Hop culture and social injustices. The class will examine Shakur’s T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. philosophy— and his identity as the progeny of a Black Panther Political Party member. Participants will devise poems on Shakur’s turbulent, dichotomous lifestyle; addressing the question: Tupac. Menace or Martyr?

November 18: “Haiku Intensive”
(with Janaka Stucky)

Often misrepresented or only partially understood, the heart of Haiku contains many lessons and silence. This intensive will survey the history and core principles while reading ancient and contemporary examples. Multiple haiku will be written and workshopped. By the end, you will be equipped to incorporate the powerful discipline of haiku into your life, using it to hone your poetic practice and increase your daily awareness.

December 2: “See Something/Say Something: Poetry in the Age of Terror”
(with Megan Fernandes)

We live in an age of terror where suspicion is elicited from us daily. We animalize immigrants and fantasize about borders that cage us into an insular nationalism. In this class, we will read poems about how discourses of terror create environmental wastelands, subhuman protagonists, and militarized kinship. What emotional landscapes are part of this era? What kind of speakers teach us how to navigate it? Students will be expected to draft two poems by the end of class.

Featured Faculty:

Janaka Stucky is an American poet, performer, and publisher. The founding editor of Black Ocean, as well as the annual poetry journal, Handsome, he is also the author of a few poetry collections. His poems have appeared in such journals as Denver Quarterly, Fence and North American Review, and his articles have been published by The Huffington Postand The Poetry Foundation. He is a two-time National Haiku Champion and in 2010 he was voted “Boston’s Best Poet” in The Boston Phoenix.  In 2015, Jack White’s Third Man Recordslaunched a new publishing imprint, Third Man Books, and chose Janaka’s full-length poetry collection, The Truth Is We Are Perfect, as their inaugural title. Janaka’s poems are at once incantatory, mystic, and epigrammatic. His esoteric & occult influences, combined with a mesmeric approach to performance, create an almost ecstatic presence on stage.

meganfernandes_newbioimage2015Megan Fernandes is an Assistant Professor of English at Lafayette College and teaches courses on poetry, feminist theory, and science and technology studies. She holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MFA in poetry from Boston University. She is the author of The Kingdom and After(Tightrope Books 2015), the poetry editor of the anthology Strangers in Paris (Tightrope Books 2011), and the author of two poetry chapbooks: Organ Speech (Corrupt Press) and Some Citrus Makes Me Blue (Dancing Girl Press). Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Boston Review, Rattle, The Adroit Journal, Pank Magazine, The Walrus Magazine, Postmodern Culture, Guernica, Memorious, the Academy of American Poets, Redivider, the California Journal of Poetics, among others.

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-10-52-49-amFrederick-Douglass Knowles II (Yesod) is a Poet-Educator-Activist involved in Community Education and the Performing Arts. He has competed on three National Poetry Slam Teams (2x Connecticut and Brooklyn, NY). His works have featured in the Martin Luther King Jr. Anthology by Yale University Press, East Haddam Stage Company of Connecticut, The 13th Annual Acacia Group Conference at California State University, Folio– a Southern Connecticut State University literary magazine, Lefoko—a Botswana (Southern Africa) Hip-Hop magazine and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: AIDS Anthology by Third World Press. Frederick-Douglass is currently an English Professor at Three Rivers Community College where he infuses English Composition with social injustices, such as AIDS, Poverty and War. His debut collection of autobiographical poetry, Black Rose City, was currently released by Author House.

Headshot.McCarrenPark,WillamsburgDiana Norma Szokolyai is a writer and Executive Artistic
Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Her edited volume, CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, will be released by C&R Press on March 7, 2018.  She is author of the poetry collections Parallel Sparrows (honorable mention for Best Poetry Book in the 2014 Paris Book Festival) and Roses in the Snow (first runner-­up Best Poetry Book at the 2009 DIY Book Festival). She also records her poetry with musicians and has collaborated with several composers including David Krebs (US), Robert Lemay (Canada), Claudio Gabriele (Italy), Peter James (UK), Jason Haye (UK), and Sebastian Wesman (Estonia). Diana Norma is a founding member of the performing arts groups Sounds in Bloom, ChagallPAC, and The Brooklyn Soundpainting Ensemble.  Her poetry-music collaboration with Flux Without Pause, “Space Mothlight,” hit #16 on the Creative Commons Hot 100 list in 2015, and can be found in the curated WFMU Free Music Archive. Her work has been recently reviewed by The London Grip and published in VIDA: Reports from the Field, The Fiction Project, Quail Bell Magazine, Lyre Lyre, The Boston Globe, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, The Dudley Review and Up the Staircase QuarterlyThe Million Line Poem, The Cambridge Community Poem, and elsewhere, as well as anthologized in Our Last Walk, The Highwaymen NYC #2, Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Always Wondering, and Teachers as Writers.  She is currently at work on her next book and an album of poetry & music.  Diana Norma holds a M.A. in French (UCONN, La Sorbonne) and an Ed.M in Arts in Education (Harvard).

Rita Banerjee to judge the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest – Deadline: December 1, 2017

Poet, editor, professor and Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Rita Banerjee will judge the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest.

Minerva Rising is an independent literary press, celebrates the creativity and wisdom in every woman by giving them space to tell their stories and to tell them well.   This year’s contest embodies and embraces the theme “Dare to Speak” by opening up the Minerva Rising annual chapbook contest to writers whose voices have been suppressed.  If your poetry speaks a message that has never been heard before, the Universe is ripe to listen.  Now is the season to Dare.

Writers are invited to submit 14-36 pages of a chapbook-length poetry manuscript (along with a table of contents and acknowledgements page) to Minerva Rising by December 1, 2017.  Winner receives $250 and 10 copies of chapbook.  More information on contest available here.  Submission fee is $20.  Applications open at minervarising.submittable.com.

Rita Banerjee is the editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, March 2018) and the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, February 2018), which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, Three Mile Harbor Poetry Prize, and Aquarius Press / Willow Books Literature Award, the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press, 2016), and the poetry chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in the Academy of American Poets, Poets & Writers, Nat. Brut.The ScofieldThe Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. She is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Germany.  She is currently working on a documentary film about race, voyeurism, and intimacy in the United States and in France, a novel about a Tamil-Jewish American family in crisis during a post-authoritarian regime, and a collection of essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.

CWW Fall Harvest Retreat in Rockport, MA: Day Four

Sunday, October 15 was the last day of our Fall Harvest Retreat, and we made sure to make the most of it. We woke up to fog covering the area, which presented a great view as we made our final breakfast.

Over breakfast, we discussed what we took away from the retreat. We shared what we accomplished and what our goals from here on out would be. Some of us even shared the work we did for Rita Banerjee’s workshop.

After that, the fog had dissipated enough that we all moved out onto the deck to share our Bake Offs. We discussed whether or not we succeeded with the assignment, and if not what we had gotten done and what we had planned to finish. Some of us shared our work, showing how me managed to create work featuring lobster traps, Joan Baez, lavender, waves, pots, “stunned,” and whiskey stains.

Once we were done, some of us moved over to the nearby town of Salem, MA for a farewell lunch.  Every year, Salem hosts a month full of spooky and fun events with “Haunted Happenings” throughout the month of October.  As we roamed the town, we saw the streets turned into a Halloween carnival, with caramel apples, kettle corn, customized elvish ears, and skeleton swords.  Mixed in the crowd of humans, were also goblins, witches, and fantastic monsters just strolling around Salem’s haunts, like yarn shops, magic shops with potions and tarot cards or seaside cafés. The Peabody Essex Museum has an exhibit “It’s Alive! Classic Horror & Sci-Fi Art,” and some of us enjoyed exploring it, while others roamed the streets traveling through hundreds of Halloween & New Age/Occult-themed booths.

CWW Fall Harvest Retreat in Rockport, MA: Day Three

On Saturday, October 14, we had our third day of workshops. While some of us were tired from working late into the night on our Bake Offs, we still convened in our meeting space for breakfast and our first workshop. Diana Norma Szokolyai led a workshop on Writing in the Lyric Register. In this workshop, we looked over studying lyricism in writing and how paying attention to lyrical structure can improve our writings.

We also had two writing exercises for this workshop. The first was to write a scene that was slowed down to just five seconds. The second was to listen to a piece of music, Edgard Varèse’s “Nocturnal,” and to write whatever came to mind. The challenge was that we were unable to stop writing during the entire piece, leading to over 10 minutes of nonstop writing.

Once we were done, we shared our work. Some of us shed tears, others were surprised by the imagery that came from listening to the piece. When were were done, we all felt we had a better understanding of writing lyrically.

After that, we all went into Rockport for the Harvestfest. We went back to the same area from our first day to look through stalls for local bakeries and restaurants, crafts, and breweries. It was a cool, cloudy day, but it was still nice to walk around and see so much local color. And it certainly helped that all the food was extremely delicious.

We then returned home for the second part of Maya Sonenberg’s Beyond the Plot Triangle workshop. We learned more about unique ways to break through plot structure, such as writing through different formats. We even played quick games of Snakes and Ladders to see how we could use a board game to make a story. This led to a short story about two men named Razzle and Dazzle trying to get beer before all the bars in Rockport closed for the winter.

After that, we broke for dinner and to continue work on our Bake Offs. We had to finish our 20 pages by the next morning, and thus, we prepared for the final day of our retreat.

CWW Fall Harvest Retreat in Rockport, MA: Day Two

On October 13th, we had the first full day of our retreat. We started by working together to make breakfast, with CWW Artistic Director Diana Norma Szokolyai serving a veggie omelet along with fresh fruit and toast.

We then gathered for our first workshop with CWW Director Rita Banerjee’s workshop on Character Development & the Law of Desire. In this workshop, we discussed how we can create rounder, more dynamic characters. The participants looked at classic character archetypes and compared them to modern archetypes they see in literature. They were then challenged to find a character and write two scenes for them: one where they were alone and the reader could see entirely who they are, and another where that same character is confronted by one of these static archetypes.

After that, we took a break for lunch and to do some writing work. Some of us walked to the nearby Wingaersheek Beach, where the tide was low enough for us to walk far out. There we took in the beauty of the New England coast and observed people playing with their dogs and looked for any interesting shells or rocks we could find on the beach.

Once break time ended, we reconvened for our next workshop. Guest faculty member Maya Sonenberg led the first part of her workshop Forbidden Forms: Beyond the Plot Triangle. Here she brought in numerous examples of poems and short stories that played with worm and encouraged us to find ways to play around with plot and action. She even shared some interesting writing exercises that can help the reader break form and discover something new about their work.

After that, we all took a walk to a nearby beach. There, we played Literary Taboo. Each of us had to pick a word that was inspired by something we’ve experienced so far on the retreat or something we experienced on our way to and on the beach. Once we knew what our words were, we had to each write a short piece based on it that the other participants had to figure out. The only catch was that we couldn’t use the chosen word at all in the piece.

Once we all shared our pieces, this led to our Bake Off portion of the retreat. In the next 48 hours, we had to create a chapbook-length piece of work (around 20 pages) using all seven words however we pleased. We could create a book of poems, a series of short stories, or one short novella in that period of time. The words that we had to use were:

  • Lobster trap
  • Waves
  • “Stunned”
  • Joan Baez
  • Pot
  • Lavender
  • Whiskey stains

After that, we went to a lovely seafood restaurant, where we enjoyed oysters and other locally-sourced dishes. We used this to share ideas and to think about what we’d do for our Bake Off, and we all got to work.

CWW Fall Harvest Writing Retreat in Rockport, MA: Day One

On Thursday, October 12, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop made its way to coastal New England for our Fall Harvest Writing Retreat. We arrived at our home in Gloucester and were immediately taken by the spacious rooms, large windows, and clean elegance offered by the space. We found plenty of places to sit and write, especially with the gorgeous view from our back deck.

In the afternoon, some of us went to Downtown Rockport and walked along Bear Skin Neck. We passed by small little shops selling tons of local merchandise and kitsch. We also stopped for lunch and enjoyed a meal of crab rolls and fish and chips. We spent time taking in all the views of the harbor, the adorable looking stores, and all the cute dogs walking around.

After that, we returned to our house and settled in for the evening. We made a meal of Chicken Alfredo together, then went around the table introducing ourselves. We each shared our backgrounds, our writing history, what projects we were working on, and what we hoped to gain from this retreat.

After dishes, we all went our separate ways; some went to bed, some stayed up to do some writing. Whatever we did, we all were excited for how the retreat began and for what was to come next, as our first workshops begin tomorrow.

Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czesław Miłosz

You whom I could not save,
Listen to me. 

Can we agree Kevlar
backpacks shouldn’t be needed

for children walking to school?
Those same children

also shouldn’t require a suit
of armor when standing

on their front lawns, or snipers
to watch their backs

as they eat at McDonalds.
They shouldn’t have to stop

to consider the speed
of a bullet or how it might

reshape their bodies. But
one winter, back in Detroit,

I had one student
who opened a door and died.

It was the front
door to his house, but

it could have been any door,
and the bullet could have written

any name. The shooter
was thirteen years old

and was aiming
at someone else. But

a bullet doesn’t care
about “aim,” it doesn’t

distinguish between
the innocent and the innocent,

and how was the bullet
supposed to know this

child would open the door
at the exact wrong moment

because his friend
was outside and screaming

for help. Did I say
I had “one” student who

opened a door and died?
That’s wrong.

There were many.
The classroom of grief

had far more seats
than the classroom for math

though every student
in the classroom for math

could count the names
of the dead.

A kid opens a door. The bullet
couldn’t possibly know,

nor could the gun, because
“guns don’t kill people,” they don’t

have minds to decide
such things, they don’t choose

or have a conscience,
and when a man doesn’t

have a conscience, we call him
a psychopath. This is how

we know what type of assault rifle
a man can be,

and how we discover
the hell that thrums inside

each of them. Today,
there’s another

shooting with dead
kids everywhere. It was a school,

a movie theater, a parking lot.
The world

is full of doors.
And you, whom I cannot save,

you may open a door

and enter a meadow, or a eulogy.
And if the latter, you will be

mourned, then buried
in rhetoric.

There will be
monuments of legislation,

little flowers made
from red tape.

What should we do? we’ll ask
again. The earth will close

like a door above you.
What should we do?

And that click you hear?
That’s just our voices,

the deadbolt of discourse
sliding into place.
                                           –Matthew Olzmann

MatthewOlzmannMatthew Olzmann is the author of Mezzanines (Alice James Books, 2013). He teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lives in Durham, North Carolina.  This poem is courtesy of Poets.org