It’s April, it’s finally spring in Tennessee, and it’s National Poetry Month – all great reasons to emerge from my blogging hiatus and participate in this year’s BIG POETRY GIVEAWAY being curated by Kelli Russell Agodon. Be sure to visit Kelli’s blog for a list of all the blogs participating in this event.
How it works: I’m supposed to give away my own book and a copy of a poetry book I really love. I’m also throwing in my poetry and roots music CD and another chapbook from a fellow Tennessee poet. And for all that value, all you have to do is leave a comment below and hope to be the lucky winner at the end of the month. (And do a giveaway on your own blog, if you’re so inclined.)
Something about me (per the Poetry Giveaway guidelines): My bachelor’s degree is in computer science and I work in technology, so I tend to be very logical, and therefore my poems – especially my drafts – tend to be very logical, orderly, if-this-then-that creations. This is not necessarily awful, but it’s also not necessarily good. While I know that the “unexpected” in a poem is often a great part of its delight and power, it’s often one of the hardest things for me to achieve.
And that, ultimately, is one of the reasons I’ve chosen the particular book I’m giving away: Lisa Coffman’s Less Obvious Gods. Published in 2013 by Iris Press, I find so much about Coffman’s work to be unexpected. She writes odes to such things as time and secrets, to past tense and the comma, “little oar into the underworld.” She writes a whole poem to a tick – a tick, mind you – and I think I don’t want to read about a tick, I hate ticks, I just got the first tick of the season off of my dog Max tonight, bleh, ticks – but she calls it a “[h]arpoon-lipped wicked French kisser” and how can I not keep reading?
Coffman obviously has an affection for upright basses,which appear in several of her poems. I recently read one of her bass-related poems, “The Principle of Transformation at a Cadillac Angels Show,” to a roomful of women, and every one of them, ages 20 something to 60 something, swooned. We had to open the doors and windows to mitigate the pheromone spike in the room. In the only-slightly-less-sensual “Bass,” she writes that the bass carries harmonies “[l]ike the pelvis that carries/the chalky dishpile of the spine.” I also have a love for upright basses, not to mention a son who sings bass, and well, that just seals the deal.
So. Lisa Coffman. Less Obvious Gods. You want to leave a comment now, yes you do.
And back to what I do: When I get over my hyper-logical issues, I do manage to get a few poems written, and some of those are in a chapbook, Heaven Was the Moon, published by March Street Press. One of those poems, “At the Old Time Jamboree,” inspired my daughter Kelsey and I to start putting my poetry and her old-time, rootsy music together. We have a CD, Decent Pan of Cornbread, which I’ll also include in the giveaway package. The CD has some overlap with the book but has newer material as well, including a few blank verse sonnets that are responses to the lyrics of the old-time tunes Kelsey sings.
Sample one of the CD tracks – and read the poem here at Deep South Magazine: “Our Spirits Shall Sorrow No More”
Lisa Coffman, now a California resident, is from East Tennessee; I’m also from Tennessee and love to promote poetry in the state, so I’ll add one more of our state’s gems to the giveaway – Sandy Coomer’s Continuum, a chapbook from Finishing Line Press. Sandy writes of nature, motherhood and the “furious throb of life” that courses through past and present, art and science, and the tension between relationships and the self. She delivers a meticulously crafted, musical debut, as illustrated in the sensuous “Charmer”: [T]here is no bee not beguiled by the buzz/That sings them drunk on sound.
I’ll finish by sharing what Kelli says about why she’s coordinating this year’s Big Poetry Giveaway:
Because I want to introduce people to poets they may not have heard of.
Because I want more people to read poetry.
Because I love the idea of poetry books being mailed off to new readers.
Because I like learning about new blogs and bloggers.
Because it’s National Poetry Month and I want to bring more attention to poets and poetry.
Rules: Leave a comment below anytime in the month of April to enter to win. The winner will be chosen by a random drawing on May 1st from all who have commented here. I’ll contact the winner using the email you provide to obtain your mailing address. Indicate your email in the email address field, not in the body of the comment itself, so your email will remain private.
Please note, new commenters have to be approved before your comments will show. I’ll try to check comments daily, but don’t worry if it’s a couple of days before your comment shows.
Happy National Poetry Month!