Saying Goodbye to Reviews (for now . . .)

IMG_20170715_223634_564.jpgTwo years ago, I thought poetry was dead. I’d never picked up a collection from a living poet, the only poems I’d ever read were written by dead people, and I spent most of my time writing awful poems that I felt way too proud of. When I took my first poetry class and met a real, living and breathing poet (Mary Biddinger), I was dazzled. Why hadn’t anyone told me that real poets existed? For months (and even today), I felt I’d accidentally tripped over a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I wondered what I’d done to deserve such luck.

Beyond feeling lucky, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I wanted to read every poem I could get my hands on. The poetry world felt endless and vast. It fed into everything I loved and needed. It was the end of 2015 and the very beginning of 2016. For months, poetry was my life raft, the thing I clung onto because everything else felt broken. It was the only thing I looked forward to.

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I remember holding onto The Endarkenment by Jeffrey McDaniel for months. I read the poem “Little Sadness” obsessively, to the point of memorization. The first time I picked up Seam by Tarfia Faizullah, she described the athan, the Muslim call to prayer, perfectly. It was the first time I’d read a poem that reflected the religion I’d grown up with. Sandra Simonds’ The Sonnets shattered everything I thought I knew about poetry and Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon empowered me. These are just some of the first collections I held in my hands. They shaped me, not just as a writer, but as a human being.

Three weeks ago, I used by DIY book shelf to organize the poetry collections I’ve bought over the last couple of years. I have them face up, and they’re the first thing I look at when I enter my bedroom. I want it to be that way. I am still full of more gratitude for poets than I can fit inside my body. I am still hungry for collections, for more poems.

Every post on this blog has been an act of thankfulness to the poets I’ve reviewed. I’ve grown to love reviewing collections, not because I’m an expert, but because I feel that the relationship between a poet and reviewer is special. I loved taking time out of each week to really study the collections I read. I took pride in helping promote them, even if it was on a small blog. Reviewing, to me, is the best way to give love to a collection. It’s been a way for me to say “thank you” to the poets who’ve influenced me beyond the page.

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That’s why I’m sad to be stopping the reviews. Although I’m forever grateful for the collections I read and cherish, I’m ready to move on to other projects. I just finished up reading manuscripts with Mary for Akron Poetry Prize, and for the last six months, I’ve been reading for BOAAT Journal. In a little over a month, I’ll be starting the NEOMFA program for poetry, and teaching Composition for The University of Akron. I’ll probably be blogging more about my time in the program and teaching than doing poetry reviews, but the blog will be still be up.

I’m thankful for whoever has been out there reading my posts. There aren’t a lot of you, but I hope I’ve encouraged at least one person to buy a collection they wouldn’t normally buy, or discover a new journal.

As usual, thanks. Here’s to never forgetting that #POETRYLIVES.

~ NPP

Temporary Break

Hey, friends!

Before I kick off the summer for NPP, I wanted to take a short break. I graduated yesterday with a B.A in English and a minor in creative writing (my graduation cap is pictured below).

What’s next? I’m really excited to jump back into school and get my MFA in poetry through the NEOMFA program. I’ll be starting the program this fall.

I’ll be back in a few weeks, but until then, thanks for your patience!

See you in a few weeks, friends! 🙂

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HAPPY POEM IN YOUR POCKET DAY!

poem in your pocketHappy, happy, happy Poem in Your Pocket Day friends! My #PocketPoem for this year is Fatimah Asghar’s “If They Should Come for Us.” This poem shatters me each time I read it. In her essay “Against Explanation” Tarfia Faizullah writes “The first time I read Vievee Francis’s poem “Say It, Say It Any Way You Can,” I didn’t breathe. It’s a poem that doesn’t let you.'” This is how I felt the first time I encountered Asghar’s poem. I didn’t breathe. When I finished reading it, I was crying, and feeling absolutely struck by its beauty. I often think about the following lines, “my people my people I can’t be lost / when I see you my compass / is brown & gold & blood” (lines 22-24). I have a lot of appreciation for Asghar for writing this poem, and lots of gratitude for Poem in Your Pocket Day, which allows me to celebrate wonderful poems like this one.

No Post This Week

Frowny1aSorry, friends! I’ve been busy with school and admission stuff for my MFA (eeeeek!).  I’ll be back on the blog next week. I’ve also lined up a review and interview for the chapbook Al Youm by George Abraham. In the meantime, please check out the newest issue of Sixth Finch, which just came out Friday and features some stunning poems and artwork! Happy Spring and National Poetry Month! – Noor

 

Happy First Birthday NPP!

16649078_736749459815404_5258057867507540360_nHi friends!

This is a very special week, as Thursday marked the one year anniversary of this blog! This is also the 50th post for NPP, and why-god-is-a-woman-175x250I’m so proud of this blog for making it so far. In its first year, NPP has helped promote over 40 collections. Aside from this, 12 interviews have been posted for readers. Every week this year, I was able to celebrate my favorite collections and poets. Each post means the world to me, as I was given the chance to rave about the thing I love the most: Poetry.  I have SO MUCH appreciation to the poets who allowed me to interview them, as well as the poets who wrote the fabulous collections I was able to read and write about. Poetry is such an important part of my life, and I’m grateful to be part of the literary community. 16708403_736749439815406_7767143907815017065_n

Aside from all of this celebrating, it’s also NATIONAL POETRY MONTH! While I usually post stuff for this blog on Sundays, today is special. To kick of National Poetry Month, here’s a small list of ways you can help support the literary community in a meaningful way this month.

How to Support the Poetry Community: 

13347004_608829139274104_1614682480243620820_n1. If you have the financial means, find a small press from this list and help support the authors and presses by purchasing a few of their books. I’ve also been featuring small presses under each of my blog posts for NPP, so if there’s a book you like, jump over to that press and check out their catalog. Something else you can do is purchase a subscription with one of your favorite magazines or journals. Aside from this, donating to the National Endowment for the Arts, which supports poets and writers (among many, many other things), is another way to help.

515WTSK+d1L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_2. Read. There are SO many free online journals to read. Support them just by reading their works, and helping promote the amazing poets they feature. I’ve compiled a small list of my favorites on this page.

3. Follow some of your favorite poets on Twitter. Kaveh Akbar
does a great job of featuring work from poets. Also, check out Astro Poets (lead by Dorothea Lasky and Alex Dimitrov), Kelli Russell Agodon, Chen Chen, Jayy Dodd, and Zeina Hashem Beck.  41N5RXJMZ6L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

4. Participate in Poem in your Pocket Day. Last year, I carried the poem “Gate A-4” by Naomi Shihab Nye. This year, I think I’ll be carrying the poem “If They Should Come for Us” by Fatimah Asghar.

5. On a community level, you can support poets by attending readings or visiting your local library and encouraging them to add contemporary poetry collections to their catalog.

As always, thanks so much for reading and following. I couldn’t ask for a better way to kick off National Poetry Month! Feel free to browse through Nervous Poodle Poetry this week — our interview page is always up and available. Same goes for our resources page. 🙂 I’ll be posting a new review next week.

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Preparing for AWP

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AWP is in a few days and I am so excited to be attending! This is my first time at the conference, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet some of my favorite poets and writers. The book fair will give me a chance to restock on poetry collections for this blog, too.

Here’s a few panels / speakers I’m enthusiastic about seeing:

  • Criticism or Poetry? Poetry Reviewing Today: Thu, Feb 9 from 1:30-2:45 PM with Andrew Ciotola, Kyle Dargan, Shara Lessley, Kaveh Akbar, and Kelly Forsythe.
  • Keynote Address by Azar Nafisi: Thu, Feb 9 from 8:30-10:00 PM.
  • A World of our Own – Women’s Voices from Three Continents in Cultural Exchange: Fri, Feb 9 from 12:00-1:15 PM with Tess Barry, Jan Beatty, Eleanor Hooker, Zeina Hashem Beck, and Clodagh Beresford Dunne.
  • Page Meets Stage: Fri, Feb 10 from 4:30-5:45 PM with Taylor Mali, Sarah Kay, Carolyn Forch, Nicole Homer, and Derrick Brown
  • The Art and Importance of the Poetry Interview: Sat, Feb 11 from 9:00-10:15 AM with Kaveh Akbar, Melissa Studdard, Emilia Phillips, Lindsay Gsrbutt, and Hafizah Geter.
  • A Reading by Rita Dove, Terrance Hayes, and Ocean Vuong: Sat, Feb 11 from 8:30-10:00PM.

Also, on Friday, February 10th, I’ll be reading for Diode Poetry Journal alongside the magazines and journals posted in the flyer above.

Be sure to download the AWP17 application, and follow NPP on Facebook here. I’ll be posting photos on the FB page, as well as my Twitter.

Temporary Break

Dear poetry friends,

Thank you for your continued support! With the summer coming to an end, the Nervous Poodle Poet is taking a temporary break for two weeks. Do not fear though! She’ll be back on Sunday, September 4rth with a review and interview from poet Kristen Evans (MAMMAL ROOM). Until then, please continue to check out previous reviews and interviews!

Thank you for your patience!

– NPP

(photo below courtesy of SpringGun Press)

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