Bramble: Summer 2018 will be available soon!
Greetings from the Editor
I’m sure you’ve experienced the unknown of getting from here to there, first draft to final poem, a pile of random words to a line that shocks you. But another element of magic and mystery is the collaboration process, how two (or more) people create a single work while still coming from their own unique vantage point. As in a relationship, a “third” enters that is more than the two that began. Art-inspired, music-inspired, the words of another-inspired, collaboration takes many forms. After reading Wendy Chen’s poem in Rattle, I began to think about translation as collaboration, and in her case, collaboration with a poet of the 12th century. I was thrilled to be able to invite her to submit her poems to Bramble. I hope you enjoy this issue from Jeffrey Johannes’s fabulous cover to Chen’s lovely translations to David Graham’s thoughtful essay and collaborative poems with his friend and Poetry Month co-conspirator Brent Goodman, as well as everything in between.
Happy Poetry Month! Try a joint venture with a friend and see what happens!
Cover art is “The Swing" by Scott Allen. Allen is originally from Michigan where he attended Central Michigan University as an Art Major, later he spent a couple years in Georgia at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He currently works as a freelance graphic designer in Milwaukee, where he also paints and designs marching band programs.
Allen paints in the Cubist style emphasizing the flat, two-dimensional surface of the picture plane. He presents a different reality in painting where the subject matter is portrayed by geometric, fragmented shapes and forms whose several sides and positions can be seen simultaneously.
See the evolution of "The Swing" from initial inspiration to final painting:
As in a Dream
Translated by Wendy Chen
Remember that day
spent on the stream,
watching the sunset glaze
So drunk, we could not find
our way back.
It was late
when we turned the boat around
and caught, accidentally, in the deep
tangle of lotus roots.
startling, from the banks,
First published in The McNeese Review
Butterflies Long for Flowers
Translated by Wendy Chen
Gathering of kin on Shangsi Day
In the endless night,
in an empty dream, I dreamt
and returning by the old road.
It blazed again with colors,
announcing the spring.
The light of the flowers.
The image of the moon.
Each shone on the other.
The cup, the plate,
though carelessly filled,
The wine, the sour plums
arranging the flowers—
But do not laugh.
Man, like Spring, grows old.
First published in The McNeese Review
Wendy Chen on the process of translation:
The process of translation for me is a process of communication, collaboration, and reinvention. In translating Li Qingzhao’s poems, written almost a thousand years ago, I wanted to remain true first to not only the meaning of her words, but also the spirit. As many of her poems are written in the highly regulated ci form, which contain certain elements with no English equivalent, I chose to be more flexible with form in my English translations to best highlight her vibrant and evocative imagery. Although translations are compromises and interpretations rather than perfect equivalents, I hope my work captures the striking inventiveness and freshness of her language that has sustained itself through generations.
Wendy Chen is the author of Unearthings (Tavern Books, 2018). Her work has appeared in Crazyhorse, Rattle, A Public Space, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Most Promising Young Poet Prize, and fellowships from the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. She earned her MFA in poetry from Syracuse University. Currently, she is co-founder and editor of Figure 1. For more, visit wendychenart.com.
After Claude Monet’s "Landscape at Giverny"
How the autumn wind
bends copper foothills,
tugs at the round barn,
rides the pewter ridge
Hymn to Morning
The first bird spoke
and broke open dawn's
bright shell. It inquired of the day
"Porte des Morts" by Sharon Auberle & Ralph Murre
"Invasive, They Call Them" by Sharon Auberle & Ralph Murre
On Completing The Jack Pine
There’s a solid truth to this place. I can smell it. I can feel it on my hands, and yet
my eye tricks me. On my left, the shadows seem sharper than I remember, and the sky
is now plum with a wild wind to the north. The way I saw it, it was drenched in blue,
Over the Tree & Across the Water
She is just nine and wide-eyed
big plastic glasses outlining
the blue, blue eyes that dart
Ring of Truth
Georgia Ressmeyer & Sylvia Cavanaugh
A ring of truth may wed you to a lie
Manipulation can feel, and reel, like love
The peel of bells. You’re netted, banded, tracked
So special, at first, to capture that attention
Cathryn Cofell & Sylvia Cavanaugh
In one week I lost three things: makeup brush, spirit stone, jump drive.
Some would say who cares about a brush or a rock,
but the failed stars have coalesced
Angry Flesh Cento
In 1911, women jumped from the Angry Shirtwaist Factory.
Today, she falls angry a lot,
she's done angry to that ankle at least five times,
Elegy for All Those Thousands of Souls Who Wrote Poems that No One Will Read but Who Loved Poetry Just as Much as Randall Jarrell or Marianne Moore or Your English Professor in College Ever Did
death is nothing
more than another knot
Haibun for this Floating, Fleeting Life
From Utamaro’s series on Fashionable Children *ca. 1795
Japanese printmakers called it ukiyo-e,
the floating, fleeting life, a meticulous
process of carved wood, paper and layered
Sonata for the Moon on the 120th Anniversary of Georgia O'Keeffe's Birthday
“Since I cannot sing, I paint.” Georgia O’Keeffe, 1922
Andante. Beyond the comforting
bulk of the house, November sky
shades from azure blue to piano black.
The heat is doing crazy things
to her head.
Children’s faces grow in flowers.
Portrait of Ernest Hemingway
Raise a stein
singe a way east.
Poem on the Subway
Marilyn Zelke Windau
Charles Simic was riding the R train.
His poem displayed there told me to look down at shoes.
Mine were wet from wintry mix in Brooklyn.
The Jilting of Lady Jane
What say ye rogue, that left me so,
with tear-stained face and dying rose
that once bloomed flush upon my cheek
but now like ice my visage’s froze.
Ready to Jump
Crowded into the ribs
of their flying ship, backbones
invisible, paratroopers align, hooked
Jan Hasselman Bosman
At the four-way stop,
we take turns.
"Ushers of Light, A Meditation" by Jeannie E. Roberts
"Seeing Beyond Our Feet" by Cristina M.R. Norcross
Jo Balistreri & Ferris Gilli
at the open door
of the cafe
spring meets just-baked scones