Antidotes for an Alibi
Amy King's first full-length collection, Antidotes for an Alibi, insists that we examine the deceptive clarity of our actions and the goals that motivate us. How does one actually get from "A" to "B"-and is there ever really a "B"? What color is the white space between "A" and "B"? Upon closer inspection, surface realities reveal themselves to be porous and fragile, layered with textures and grains that lead the eye on varying pathways. So what are we to do in a world of newspaper narratives that instruct us toward tidy endings, murmuring that such endings are possible and even inevitable?
These poems greet us with leaking giraffes, dogs that lick lye, the Lone Ranger, the inhabitants of Dishwater Island, an unmarried wife and a Sikh cab driver, all acting within a familiar environment of telephone messages, factory work, walks through woods, red robins and hummingbirds, war zones and American histories. Both the characters and their shifting frameworks combine and overlap to point out the strangeness we tend to overlook for clarity's sake. King wants us to reconsider the possibilities of current events, to see that Truth is no longer a series of fixed notations in black and white, but is a shape-shifting, multi-faceted chain of perspectives. Her poetry celebrates the multiplicities that sing within the surface of every object and action; she aims at delectable surges, so that readers may touch and revel in the uncertainties of a complex world in motion.
I admire Amy King's poetry tremendously for the way it manipulates apparently plain language into thoughtful audacities. But her work is never in love with its own spiky cleverness. Quite the opposite: it is marked, even at its most pointed or witty, by an austere refusal to giggle at its own surprises. I first came to understand King's poetry, quite appropriately, by the accident of seeing what the British call "English mosaic" on a lamppost at the northeast corner of Eighth Street and Broadway in Manhattan. "English mosaic" is what happens when someone willfully creative takes pieces of porcelain, china, earthenware - ordinary, rare, or irreplaceable - smashes them (that violence being essential to rebirth) and forces the pretty shards into new relations to one another. That lamppost seems the perfect tangible representation of King's work, which takes up the tactile and moral world we perceive, holds it tenderly for a moment in a cherishing embrace - the better to dash it against a hard surface and rearrange the new fragments in strange, indelible ways. Reading King's poems makes the eyes smart in every sense of the phrase: readers are compelled to see as possible juxtapositions they never would have envisioned on their own. "English mosaic" also describes the cool fun King has with plain nickel words, artfully reshuffled. Hers is not a surrealist's art - she does not embrace chaos - but she does want to make readers feel that the comfortable rug and chairs they sit on have somehow grown ambulatory and are threatening to walk outside into the yard to sniff the air. Nothing is quite safe; nothing remains the same - deliciously so.
-Michael Steinman has written and edited six books, including The Happiness of Getting It Down Right and The Element of Lavishness, which was selected as a NYT Notable Book in 2001.
Amy King grew up in Georgia and now spends much of her time in Brooklyn and Baltimore. She teaches English at Nassau Community College on Long Island, and her first collection, Antidotes for an Alibi, is available through Blazevox [books].
Poetry at the library Islands' Sounder
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Three Sweet Poems, and Two Not So Sweet [now in: SPANISH and English]
1) End PoemWherever you are today- Is where you were meant to be; It's where God, dotted the 'i' and the 't'?!2) God's AngelsGod asked his angels: "Why do you look so sad?" Responded one angel: "Sir, we can't find the shade."3) An Empty SpaceOut of wisdom one will wait, travel far for love; the thirst will not kill them.
Poems have different cores, or so I believe, and can only be structured well for certain figurative language-heart beats; like all counselors are not made for all clients, so all poems are not made for the same person, or purpose; when we read we all have our likes and dislikes; I do not necessarily know what poetry is per se, but I do know what the greatness of poetry has, and great poetry is close to an illusion?it carries an echo I do believe-figurative yes, at best, and questionable yes, by far. Here are five poems I've recently wrote, all with a different core, focus and style.
Tsunami -a Poem Dedicated To Help Aid and Awareness and Encourage Future Harmony. Make Peace Not War
Real Power.One Tsunami, and all our armies, Seem belittled by their wars, What Animals fled, and tribesmen read, Finally Arrives with crushing roar, Wholesale slaughter, purely by water, Makes us seem an irrelevance, Concepts of power, change by the hour, Faced with primal elements.
Truth is stranger than fiction according to many people who have seen what happens around me and to them, on many occasions. Sometimes I have had others affect me in the same way.
The Art of Receiving Poetic Critique
You can show your poem to your mom, your spouse, your co-workers, or your friends, but you might not get the responses that you can suck up into your little writing fingers to use in an effort to refine your craft. What does it really mean when someone who cares about you, but not for poetry says, "Wow, this is great.
I AM SO GRATEFUL for simpler times. Stores were closed on Sundays, TV shows seemed to make more sense, Family members spent ample time with each other, And people were valued more than things.
Feelings, O How Glorious!
Sometimes we feel hard-pressed, Our backs against the wall; Sometimes we feel lightheaded, As if we are going to fall.Sometimes we feel fierce anger At those who misuse guns; Sometimes we feel ashamed Of how we treat God's little ones.
Here And There
My eyes opened. I am still alive; Living on planet earth.
No one should have to beg or crawl before humanity. No one should have to scheme to procure philanthropy.
Little Girl from Huancayo [a poem/in English and Spanish]
Little girl from HuancayoDo you really, really know? Just how fast those feet will grow,On the streets of Huancayo.Little girl with jumping jacksOn the street, looking back; Back to see whose watching her,A little boy with a bird.
The Goat and the Rope [a Poem: in Spanish and English]
The Goat and the Ropewhere there were devils I saw none. nothing.
Looking Out the Rear Window
The funeral rite concluded With the pastor shaking hands, Offering words of comfort I didn't quite understand.The undertakers came forth And summoned pallbearers' four.
As I picked up some of the polished gemstones in the rock store I began to think about what the stones looked like before they were polished. The store had several rocks on display showing the before and after and I realized that unless you knew what you were looking for, you could easily pass by a valuable gemstone.
Mother, I Dont Mind The Pain
I am among those who know that one never recovers from the loss of one deeply loved. We come to accept the death and adjust our lives - rather begrudingly, but we do not recover, we survive.
Farewell to Lester Graybill
I never met a man, who could shake my hand, and make my heart feel like a hearth afire.I never met a man, who could smile so easy, real honest.
Exalted Poetry; Two poem [and commentary]
Bells for Belphegor!..
Famous Poets Quotations - Top 30 Poetry Quotations by Famous Poets
"For this reason poetry is something more philosophical and more worthy of serious attention than history."-- Aristotle"Every American poet feels that the whole responsibility for contemporary poetry has fallen upon his shoulders, that he is a literary aristocracy of one.
Do you ever stare at the paper, waiting for poetic inspiration? Well, you can stop waiting and start using systematic techniques for creating poetry. If it seems too mechanical or artificial at first, don't worry.
Memoirs of a Wastelands Rim [a Poem: now in Spanish and English]
Memoirs of a Wasteland's RimIt still was light when she paused at the wasteland's rim- Over, the rim rest like a sleeping brute, a wooden frame Adjacent to the blue where early stars hung like oil lamps Hanging from old beams and shade?the wooden frame Her footing caught the beams, as she had fallen onto it Alone, she watched the forenoon, climbing around her A drifter woman, marked by life, and slanting dreams With appearance of hurt and molded muscle on her face Her figure etched against the wooden frame, She tried to jump, and lost her balance, hanging like a bird Now sipping the gloom in the ledge and shattered hopes She yielded before the sluggish advance of sunset Blood dripped, with her dying darkness And a crimson moon hurled a flame across The shadowy clouds, burning throughout the sky The tormented sky above her?Crossing the valley's floor her eye gripped it Rocky images, highest points Thrusting herself up boldly from to the ledge The painted morning blushed over the rim Her brows and nose, face against the granite stone Massive injuries was taking form, Her silhouette floating so indolently across the sun It was too great a task-to die alone?she wished now She had not jumped?a thousand feet below, yet to go. Too much for any woman in a lost world Out of the weak wood her mind had peace; She knew soon it would all be over-alas Mute and protesting against life's uselessness A narrow path lay below her slender body Between death and attainment, a careless foot The rocks beneath her weakening, she plunged Plunged to her death, in the carving hands of the valley Thinking of it, as she fell, thinking with a smiled, Saying, looking up-dead before her echoes: 'Time is short?time is short?time is short!' When they found her, her face was unafraid of falling.
Its What She Didnt Say
When I hear your voice inside my head it makes me think of you every single day as I fight back tears of sadness and wonder if you're okayMy life is empty without you I wish time would take away the pain but the ache in my heart persists and my simple hopes seem in vainI realize how much I hurt you and now I know it's too late to tell you how sorry I am and expect you not to hateI don't deserve a second chance to show you how much I care when you needed me the most I know I failed to be thereNow your trust in me is gone forever and I will never have the chance to say I really hope your dreams come true and happiness finds you every dayI would give almost anything in life if I could go back to that day and erase everything I said and did to make your heartache go awayWhat hurts the most is this is what you didn't say and the absence of these words haunt me each and every day..
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