...In-between sets from poet Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow

November 23, 2020

Some New Poems Are Live and Not Wearing Masks

 The winter themed-issue of The Ilanot Review is called "Toxic." In it is a new poem of mine. When I posted a link to the poem on Facebook, along with it went a warning the size of a railroad crossing that went this way: "I have a poem in the aptly named "Toxic" issue of The Ilanot Review and a person tells me I am supposed to tell you a little thing about triggers. So if you have a trigger about mothers, or about metal, or bedrooms, or food, or dreamstates, or lipstick or toques or corners, you know. If you have a trigger about triggers you should most probably not read this poem."

If you've sidestepped the landmine and would still like to read the poem, please click its title: "Dream Poem of Mother Over and Above Her Kitchen-Skill Capacity."


To honor the 11th anniversary of the truly international, wondrously realized "mega-sized" (for this special occasion) literary journal Live Encounters, helmed by editor/publisher Mark Ulyseas, a man I deeply admire and respect, I contributed two new poems, "Dried Mangoes" and "Vibe Organic." The 11th Anniversary Edition became so large with beautiful poetry from around the world that Mark felt to do justice to the work being showcased he would have to create two distinct volumes, one exclusively of women poets and writers, and the second solely of men poets and writers. Here, I am posting links to both volumes, with their Table of Contents, and poem titles: 

Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume II

If you just can't help yourself and you have to read where it proclaims:
"We are all of us/marginalized" and 
"Shoots in plum jackets" -- let me step
right aside right now.


Thank you for reading.

February 28, 2020

Horn Section All Day Every Day is a 2020 Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award Finalist

Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award
I am honored. Along with six other finalists, my second full-length poetry collection, Horn Section All Day Every Day, is a 2020 Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award Finalist. Sponsored by the Department of Writing at the University of Central Arkansas, this is the exemplary mission statement of the book award:
  • to honor the contributions of Phillip H. McMath to the Arkansas literary community;
  • highlight, and promote stellar books by emerging writers;
  • identify authors who can serve as role models for our students;
  • to develop the Arkansas Writer’s MFA Workshop Resource Fund.
Among the many reasons I am thrilled, a huge one is that on the merits of these poems alone, my book, as with the other finalists, was picked from a huge and worthy pool of poetic effort. I knew no one in Arkansas and no one knew me. There were no affiliations and no connections; no lunches were ever had, no names dropped, no somethings for somethings. I love that. I love that so much. When the poems and only the poems speak for themselves. Mightily enough. How a competition should be. Clean and true.

Many thanks to Stephanie Vanderslice, Sandy Longhorn, and all the students and teachers associated with the Department of Writing at UCA and the Arkansas Writer's MFA Workshop.  They run a boss program there in Arkansas and I hope one day I can visit and thank everyone personally. I am proud for these poems. 

...And I plan on being eternally emergent with my poetry lifework.

December 2, 2019

Live Encounters Marks a Milestone

After editor Mark Ulyseas contacted me for new poetry to include in celebration of the milestone 10th anniversary edition for Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, I was just entering the first crossroads of a new collection-in-progress where I knew it was appropriate and essentially crucial to "shed a skin." The two poems that emerged, as Mark joyfully expressed, came "freshly baked!" for his journal, emphasizing the nature of a turning, and here they are for you~
Contributors include really fantastic poets: Jeanine Hall Gailey, Sandy Yannone, Richard Jarette, David Rigsbee, Eileen Casey, and many, many more, and that's some of the roster in the second volume, alone. The first volume, too, is chock full of glorious reading! This is a beautiful journal in all respects. Hats off to Mark Ulyseas for his dedication and stewardship over a decade showcasing international poetry in his splendid journal. The entire LE Volume Two, December, 2019, 10th Anniversary Edition, at your fingertips!

September 23, 2019

Divine Paraiba, Talk to Me

I'm not what you'd call adept at asking friends for favors, like "will you please review my book?" or "can you get me into the private lounge where the illustrious poet is yawning and thinking about: where did I put that credit card a few days ago or, whose phone number is this on this slip of paper and do I need this thing?" Because friends have their own lists of "gotta-do's" up to their necks, and I'll never be comfortable pushing aside an ottoman to get my question answered, all at the expense of losing someone's respect. 
So it's looking like if you want me you'll find me at the house, usually with the mister, usually letting him watch his crazy Westerns. 
And that's why, and when I say blue, I mean out of the flawless blue, like the, Oh excuse me, Her Name is Ethereal Carolina Divine Paraiba, all 191.87 carats, she's a dinner plate, baby, a flawless, inclusion-less, see-through-perfection majestic piece of earth's dynasty, from the legitimate Paraiba mine--now shut down forever, mind you--...and, out of the complete blue, I get an email...

Sincerely, if you have to ask, you can not come close to affording....

...from a friend, a wonderful fellow, and a good poet to boot, and a student in my poetry workshops, Al Fournier, just a great guy, who writes me, this laudatory "review" of a new poem of mine just published in Plume Journal called "I'll Be Fine." So the really striking point to me is he gets it, straight on. What he writes, aside from the really sweet complimentary stuff that I do appreciate very much, is pretty much on target with what this poem is essentially conveying. How happy, how lucky, I felt, to have a friend who comprehended the underscore behind the overlook. 
Al Fournier, watch for his poetry. He's coming for you.

Here's his review of "I'll Be Fine":

"I have been enjoying your poem in Plume so much. I have returned to it and read it several times. It is beautiful. Alive and a little bit heartbreaking. I love your word choice throughout. Delicious!

I feel as if the horse is poetry itself. “the most turnabout, brimful thing” to be admired and aspired to. The people cannot keep away. The people, maybe, are aspiring poets, mesmerized by the horse’s grandeur and gorgeousness.

At first, I thought maybe the horse was the poet, not be lauded from the towertops (great word). To be prevented by whomever put up the fence, from running free, from being fully appreciated.

And the bit about the Oreos is real, charming, funning and mysterious. I don’t see how it fits the whole, exactly, but it feels right. It is like a consolation prize for the speaker / poet. A human moment. While some things are beyond our reach, we can enjoy the simple pleasures.

Whether my interpretation misses the mark or not, I adore this poem. I feel its energy, the way it moves. I can see the horse’s broad shoulder in the glassy sun. I will return to look at him again later."


August 9, 2019

No Egg, No Soy, Lots of Fiber

Someone I know talks on the phone to me, sometimes an hour goes past, and afterward I think to myself, "People in NYC actually get upwards of 250 bucks an hour for this very thing," but I listen, and am truly interested for a bunch of reasons. He's a very kind person. He knows a lot about a few pristine areas and freely shares everything he knows with me. I always have one ear courtroom-tuned where I've caught him in info that tells me he's considered "x" prior to just this once, or an approach to something set him off in the wrong direction, which is why "x" is now the situation. I miss working in law. It took me years to find great, totally ethical attorneys to work with, and really remarkable that they were the most monetarily generous. I remember that bird's-eye maple conference table that took up the entire size of the conference room. That wood was the prettiest I ever saw. All this time later, now, I know whomever did the lacquer job on that table was a master.
It looked very much like this--

A really long time ago, something like 28 years, maybe 27, someone sat me down in front of a computer. A tiny Apple computer I'm pretty sure, with a screen that was maybe 10"x 6" and that's if you measure the length before the height first. I revolted like a sprayed-on wasp's nest and kept saying all I wanted was a sheet of paper to write on, a sheet of paper and a typewriter! And this man kept patiently showing me what one key did, and another key, and all I wanted was a sheet of paper because every time I hit a key myself the thing talked back to me. It spoke. It said, "I'm tryin' to think but nothin' happened!" And I looked at the man, and I said the words I've been repeating about technology these past 3 decades, just about: We're going to hell in a handbasket now, boy! 
Because I knew, I knew it, just like Dr. Einstein knew about his bomb, they wouldn't be able to corral that thing back. Oh, to live in Mayberry with Andy. 

March 26, 2019

AWP book signing notice

There'll be some poetry book signing going on at AWP this Saturday. Come on by and say hello!

March 2, 2019

PLUME POETRY 7 is in publication and order-able--one click away!

Publisher: Canisy Press
An author roster like this is a poet's dream come true. I am thrilled to have my poetry in this anthology with these splendid, exemplary poets. You don't have to look too hard for the "needle" of my name in this haystack line-up, I'll say. I swoon just having Stephen Dunn's name above mine.

You can order your copy of the anthology today at Plume Poetry 7. I am confident this anthology will excite and satiate your literary spirit.

February 6, 2019

Old and New

The Nortown Theater, on Western Avenue, just south of Devon Avenue,
west side of the street
Gene Siskel and I both, but not together, watched the movies of our youth in this great movie theater. Stars in the blue night sky actually did twinkle above our heads. The walls were lined in jewel-toned frescoes. There were large spiral columns holding up the sky, at least as all we children thought, but the spiral columns encircling the audience seating were real.
There was a second story to the building, where a marble staircase led you to the marble ladies' restroom. Once inside, it was magical to an 11-year-old. I will never forget the metal machine affixed to the restroom wall at which you could purchase, for two quarters, ladies' private needs, bobby pins, soft thick wrapped kleenexes, and most fantastically, a rich, red miniature lipstick. Ah, Debbie and Geralyn and me, we were swept away. 

It was at the Nortown Theater we saw Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet over a dozen times, Buster and Billie, still a film dear to my heart on so many emotional levels, on top of which with that gorgeous Hoyt Axton theme song, oh! The Exorcist, once and once only. I believe it scared me so much I did sleep with the light on in my closet for a week. So many, many movies. You know the phrase--it holds truer here about theaters than almost anyplace: they really don't make them like they used to. I think I bought that lipstick once. I think also I was too timid to try it on.

Meanwhile, front and center, I've been teaching poetry workshops quite often and having a grand time. I have a student who has published a new chapbook with a fine press for which I have provided a blurb and the book is sublime. I'll write more on that on a future post. Gads of other students are sending their brand-new shopped poems out all over the place! I'm thrilled for them and their best cheerleader. Here's a photo of one of my classes at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe--these folks are great people, and very good poets.
Poetry Ms. Workshop Students
They've inspired me to light a fire, finally, under my own self. No less than eight poems for my next full collection are in progress as I write this blog post. I'm very happy that my muse has returned and unpacked his bags. Always a good sign.

October 31, 2018

Poem Acceptances Are the Best Candy


McCall's vintage pattern for a "Poet Shirt" costume
What's better than chocolate and candies? I used to think nothing, but things do change...this morning I received not one but two poem acceptances, one from an outstanding annual anthology, and the second from a well-read and much-respected literary journal, so I'm good if I go put on an old white nightgown, wrap a black leather belt around it and swashbuckle my way into throwing something in the skillet tonight for dinner. Eye patch, I need an eye patch. I can't help it; it looks more like a "pirate" than a "poet" shirt to me.

Bring two eye patches, please. Keep one for yourself.

October 23, 2018

October 2018 Poetry Book Exemplars, you say? 'Bout time you asked!

Ms. Grace Cavalieri

This is the lovely and gracious Poetry Book Reviewer, Grace Cavalieri. She has a monthly column with the above-bannered magazine called Poetry Book Exemplars, further indicated by pertinent year and month. This month's is called 2018 October Poetry Book Exemplars, and I have the amazing great fortune to have had my new collection, Horn Section All Day Every Dayselected as one of October 2018's outstanding books for review. It's a thing like delicious freezing ice cream mouth shock when I think of the magnificent company my book keeps among its fellow exemplars. Listen, and I don't go around prefacing sentences with single words like "Listen" or "Look" at all, ever, but this time, this time, let me tell you....
It's funny, because in Ms. Cavalieri's review you can see down below--I reprint the whole thing for you, that is the size of my overwhelmed state--she has a sentence that is more than precious. She says, "This girl's got game...." Girl. I love that. There's something about me that people sense doesn't get old. I can't deny it. It's not a deniable thing. I wear the lingerie. I dance the dance. Heck, I'm the one pulled over getting the speed ticket. And tomorrow's my birthday. I can't help it, it's my favorite day of the year. It's a very special day to me! Yours should be to you! Sixth decade and counting. Harry Winston, you can keep that flawless 15c. Burmese ruby. This is a birthday gift priceless to me. I'm overthrilled about this review because something like this has never come my way during my poetry career--my plus-forty-year poetry career.
So I'll sing a little while, and then I'll get back down to lacing up these word-boot Redwings, and climb on up those word-trees, have me some more looksee around.
Thank you for all time, Miss Grace. They named you exceedingly well.

Horn Section All Day Every Day by Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow. Salmon Poetry. 80 pages.

“Super Dan,” a hero from outer space, comes to Edlow’s consciousness to observe our humanity. These thought shards are in the form of “Super Dan Comics Question Box Series,” and they number 88 poems. Super Dan poems are interspersed with others: riffs on music, animals, brothers, baton twirling, policemen, drummers, and even a love poem to bison. What I’m telling you is this is encyclopedic high holiday where Edlow romps with language, risks everything, uses dialogue as if she invented idiom, and writes with high-octane energy.

Edlow houses her imagination in couplets, haiku, narratives and all respectable versification, but the end result is the same. The words burst at the seams with insistence to be original and incorrigible and seem to say if poetry isn’t fun, who needs it. This poet is in her own lane, and manages structural success with unconventional methods. It’s intense reading because Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow believes velocity is trajectory. The girl’s got game. She brings it, and her verbal connections are skill, not coincidence.

 Baton Twirler With Horns

Only the trumpeters and Sharon
drink the peppermint schnapps

under the bleachers.
Good thing half-time is over.

Two-inch white-heeled go-go boots
on a spongy grass field don’t jive

with a flying metal rod
above the head. Keeping the free hand

L-shaped, and pretty all the time,
the non-stop smile even as her head is

thrown back to gauge
shimmering rotation against the overcast

sky. Blue skies disorient the game out of her.
Through a soft chilly schnapps fog

her mind revives the crown of her routine—
the forward bending at the cinched, spangled waist,

her mom rising out of her seat. Dad, silent.
She catches the descending baton

with her right shoulder blade. The wand jumps high, still
in revolution and on the arsis

she grabs it from the air like an oriole. Then kicks on.
Which is when the tassels finally get their due.

[end of review]