Tobias Wray reviews Susan Firer’s Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People

firer-susan.jpgFor many poets, place is more than physical or lyrical proximity. Place can be an impetus, the inspiration for how and why their verse goes where it does. But, where it begins and where it ends is something of a protean contract between poet and process, between reader and time. We humans are ever locating ourselves. The recent discovery of a potentially habitable world orbiting, as Susan Firer calls it in a new poem, our “next nearest star,” reminds us how much imagination is at play in place: despite the facts, that this planet has no seasons, an 11-day year, that the sky is likely the general color of orangutans, etc., the news exploded with headlines translating those findings into hope, the Most Earth-like Planet Has Been Found! It seems we care most about places we can imagine being in, inhabiting. Continue reading

Freesia McKee reviews Lesléa Newman’s “I Carry My Mother”

lsleanewman.png“I know how to make matzo balls/big as fists/and how to live on nothing/but cottage cheese, cigarettes, and air/but I know, too/that my mother is involved/in everything I know”

Last year, I watched my mother lose her mother. As my grandmother approached hospice care, we sorted through her stuff. My grandmother hoarded things: coffee mugs, clothes bought from garage sales, cookbooks, newspapers. My mother and her sisters spent weeks clearing out half a duplex stuffed with our matriarch’s many belongings.

My grandmother saved many things, including items from her own mother—my great-grandmother. On the day I visited the emptying house to divide up items with the other grandchildren, I found my great-grandmother’s purse stuffed in a drawer, full of what was in there when she died in 1990—a full wallet, pens, tissues, all the items intact.  Continue reading

Beware the Jabberwock! Poetry Camp Day 2

Day two of the camp was somewhat less awkward than the first day. As I observed each group I noticed each individual becoming more comfortable with the people they would be spending the next five days with. Jokes were being made and there was a good response of laughter from the others. The workshop today was a representative from Milwaukee’s Repertory Theater. She worked with the two groups during two separate times to find ways to connect poetry to writing, acting and reading. After each group had their chance to work with our guest artist, we said goodbye to her and it was time for lunch! Having lunch seems to be the best part of the day for some students. When lunch was over, it was time for a field-trip. Today’s field-trip was to one of my favorite Milwaukee locations: the Art Museum. While at the museum, students were challenged to find a piece of art that was extraordinary to them. This challenge of course followed this week’s theme, “Be extraordinary, not equivalent.” Our time at the museum went so quick, and by the time students really began to enjoy the art, it was time to return to the bookstore. In my books, seems like another successful day at poetry camp and hopefully the third day is just as great!


All poetry camp blogs are written by Nahjai Trotter. Nahjai is a former poetry camp student who has come back as a Social Media intern. She will be blogging and posting to social media each day. Follow her tweets and posts by searching #WPpoetrycamp.