I have 6 new poems published in Thrush Poetry Journal. These poems were written as part of a series I wrote last fall focused on the themes of want, consumption, and taking.
Writer/editor Victor Infante wrote a review of my reading in Worcester last week + some thoughts upon my book. This is the first time I've read written critique on a reading I've done. Not going to lie, I had to take a series of deep breaths before reading it, but I am relieved to say that the article is overwhelmingly positive, even when discussing things that I would consider to be flaws.
"Edwards has an endearing nervous energy on stage, an odd mix of awkwardness interrupted by flashes of supreme confidence, a sort of mania reflected in such wonderful poems as 'What I Mean by Ruin Is' and 'The Hippie Church I Was Raised in Doesn't Believe In Sin.'"
It reminds me of a time a colleague of mine said something along the lines of "Hey, you should keep doing that cute awkward thing" after I gave a reading at Cornell. On one hand, I'm glad people (or, at least two of them) are charmed by my weirdness. On the other hand, it'd be kind of cool to just be normal/competent/etc (is it normal to be competent? I guess I'm not sure).
P.S. the article also discusses a reading by Jane Cassady, which I unfortunately missed due to a conflicting reading in Boston, but it sounds like it was really swell.
I'm really excited to be teaching the following books this semester at Cornell! I highly recommend taking a gander at all of them.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (short stories)
Brother, I’m Dying by Edwidge Danticat (Memoir)
Home by Toni Morrison (novel)
Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith (Poetry)
What Work Is by Philip Levine (Poetry)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (novel)
PANK Magazine recently published a very thoughtful and encouraging review of my book. It was really cool to get to read the review, and go "Yes! That's exactly what I'm trying to do! Some one read it and experienced the thing I was trying tog et them to experience!" Thanks to Gretchen Primack for the kind words and careful reading!
"I had a physical reaction, the nodding and head-shaking and eye-closing and deep breaths that come when I read a wonderful poem. I made a lot of those motions as I read this collection, and I was grateful for its tackling of life’s sadness and uncertainty."
--Gretchen Primack, PANK
1) My poem "I Go Back to a House Party in 1980" just got a Best of the Net nomination from Fox Chase Review!
2) My poem "Steering Wheel" just came out in Stone Highway Review. The issue is available as a free PDF download or for purchase as a hardcopy (for a pretty darn reasonable price: $4.75). This poem is from a new series I'm writing in the voices of things I'm afraid of.
3) Touring in New England is pretty awesome. Maybe someone should give me a job out here when I'm done at Cornell. :)
Recently, upon observing that I had expertly treated my entire apartment for bed bugs (despite the fact that there were zero signs of bed bugs), a pest control expert commended my thoroughness and offered me a part-time job. “Thorough” is possibly the best euphemism for my slightly neurotic and anal-retentive approaches to many tasks in life.
I was raised to chase precision. I recall being a child and struggling to execute the prescribed stitches and patterns for embroidery samplers – the care my mother would take unknotting the mess that I’d inevitably make out of pastel flosses. Her stitches: always immaculate. She’d continually fix the bridesmaid and prom dresses of friends, family, and acquaintances, who'd fallen prey to lousy alterations by less skilled and often higher paid seamstresses – carefully undoing the seams, re-cutting, re-sewing, re-envisioning. Before she had an adjustable dress form, I’d model the dresses so she could see how the hems fell, if the seams puckered, if everything was good enough to wear.
Although I’ve never been quite as good with my hands as my mother, I think I’m attracted to editing because it allows me to practice a degree of carefulness that is often absent from my daily life. Correcting a misplaced comma or homophone error is a bit like fixing a stitch – methodical, exact. Correcting form and structure is a bit like pinning a dress and taking your scissors to the fabric – an act of faith in how much you know about the medium, in your ability to make things better. But restructuring a poem or essay is less brave than cutting the extra fabric out of a waistline because you can always go back to the earlier draft. Nothing in editing is irreparable (except, perhaps, the ego).
At the end of the day, I want people to look at the poems and essays I’ve obsessed over and find them as flawless as my mother’s work. I want the work I edit to be good enough to wear – something I can be proud to have my name attached to.
This exists! I flubbed the opening a little and hadn't showered in like two days...but here's me reading at the pulpit in Rachel McKibbens' backyard during the first Poetry & Pie Night/ Pink Door Retreat.
Also, there are now three videos of on youtube of me reading "Three Rachels" and basically none of me reading other poems. I guess I need to work on that.
Poet Ronnie K. Stephens wrote a review of my book Good Grief, which says a ridiculous amount of kind things about my work. :)
Also, poet Donna Vorreyer recently posted an analysis of my poem "No Ceremony," which I wrote when I thought I wasn't going to make it home for Christmas last year. It was actually one of the last poems I wrote for that book.
Also, here's the full text for the poem she discusses:
I KNOW NO CEREMONY
for Christmas Eve dinner
for one. Should I summon
my mother’s sugar cookie recipe,
roll out the precise dough
of my childhood, cut it into
Santas and evergreens
to eat with Thai delivery
and the dregs of gifted wine?
Should I adopt a church
with a children’s pageant
and off-key singing? Maybe
walk far into the deep cold
until I hear a voice like
God telling me to go back
home—kiss the scratched
wood floor for being mine
and there and covered
in my very own dust?