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

December 15, 2015


Po crowds and their wrinkled affairs. I go there dressed like I'm waiting to boogie, then have a pleasant, expensive, and tasty dinner afterward. A friend found this photo on the nut, of a poetry reading taken some time in the 2015 fall, and sent it my way. Looking at it I remember I'd just scratched my ankle. Looking at it I think again how easily I'm made happy. The person at the lectern has said something. Everyone else has heard it. Who else is gulping air like a lake fish? Right on; I knew that you could.

November 11, 2015

Flagstaff, O Flagstaff

Flagstaff early morning sky from hotel window
Now this is what I call cloud cover.

Last week I gave a reading for the legendary Narrow Chimney Reading Series in Flagstaff, AZ, masterly-stewarded by Jesse Sensibar and James Jay, proprietor of the Chimney's venue, Uptown Pubhouse. I read with Chelsey Burden, an MFA at Northern Arizona University and she gave a great reading (which you can hear by scrolling down the NCRS link above). Then I read, and you can hear my entire poetry reading here, including semi-related stories to the poems. What an amazingly warm, embracing and enthusiastic audience! The Flagstaff poetry community is just phenomenal. I was blown away by their genuine kindness and welcoming spirit. They stole my poetic heart and that's that. 

Here are some photos from that night, including an exterior of the Uptown Pubhouse:
Uptown Pubhouse
Flagstaff's wonderful audience

Chelsey Reading

Cynthia Reading

Stopped off at Barefoot Cowboy Bookstore where the also amazing, kind, and lovely Nancy Nelson, owner and proprietress of Barefoot Cowgirl Bookstore, bought a few copies of The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor on the spot to put directly on the new shelves of the Poetry Section in the new bookstore. Overexcited for the photos, to say the least.
With Nancy Nelson at Barefoot Cowgirl Bookstore

O, Flag, I can not wait to get back to you...

...You and your gigantic Flagstaffian Crows!

See You Next Time!

September 16, 2015

The right amount of letters, just the right sound

I've been appointed Guest Editor for Poetry for Blue Lyra Review's Spring 2016 Issue and I couldn't be more excited about reading all of your wonderful poetry manuscripts, so make sure you check out the submissions guidelines and send me your best and strongest poetry. I can't wait to start reading. You still have time to draft new, wild, fabulous work because submissions do not close until February, 2016. I will be eagerly waiting for your work.

And in this corner, I've got new poetry forthcoming this month from Iodine Poetry Review, edited by the enormously gracious and brilliant Jonathan Kevin Rice, both a gifted poet and painter in his own right. In fact, he created the cover for the latest issue, in which my poetry will be appearing. For me this feels bittersweet, as the journal itself after many years will be taking down its shingle after the very next issue comes out. But I'll be happy to say that I have had poetry appear within its covers, and actually, a twofold happiness, because the poems Jonathan chose to take are a trio of haiku, a form I do not normally write in, and certainly have never published in before. So this is special on that count as well. Here's a look at the gorgeous artwork he created, called "Earth," on the cover of the issue:
Artwork -- "Earth" by Jonathan Kevin Rice
And then in late fall, I have poems appearing in two literary journals I am overwhelmed with enchanted joy and gratitude to be in -- Plume and Fulcrum. [[Update, 2016: It is now going to be a 2016 publication in Plume, most likely spring, possibly summer, and for Fulcrum, the hefty 2016 anthology is expected to be ready for a March/April release, just in time for the LA AWP.]] To say I am fortunate comes nowhere close to the immensity of my feelings -- for all of these journals on this post to have chosen my poetry for their pages, or chosen me to guest edit for others' literary work to be displayed under their banner. I am so thankful.
To editors: Helene Cardona (Fulcrum), Daniel Lawless (Plume), Jonathan Kevin Rice (Iodine Poetry Journal), and Matthew Silverman (Blue Lyra Review). I will never stop giving poetry my best ~ and it's too late to stop now. Instead, cherish is the word.

August 15, 2015

My Point Exactly

August. 108 degrees in the shade. In an interview with Willow Springs in 2006, poet Beckian Fritz Goldberg said: "...[t]he desert hates you. It doesn't want you to live there." If you live in southern Arizona with a couple of decades under your belt, you have the right to a make statement like that. Not simply because it's true, but more accurately, because you've earned it. It's so hot out there today I opened the French doors onto the back patio and just (had the luxury) said no. It's not a Saturday; it's a Bible parable out there. I've actually had people who live elsewhere ask me if the streets melt. 

Regardless, it's been a grand summer. Lots of good poetry news on deck and forthcoming. I've learned, from a commission last year that I advertised and then which proceeded to fall through (due to lack of state funds), not to celebrate poetry news sooner than the party extending it. So while that's my approach now, just know yet again I'm overexcited by the myriad types of poetry opportunities blossoming for me now and the ones that are mounting in 2016. I will shout it out good and loud as they happen right here on these very blog pages, so stay tuned! One thing that amazes me is to say I have a booking for a big reading gig I am absolutely thrilled to be part of, way out in 2017. Booking that far in advance feels like "running with the big dogs." 
And why not, I say, why not indeed. 

May 25, 2015

Quiet, everybody; Susan said something!

Ah, yes, as promised, the  Fourteen Hills literary journal cover. It's wild and spectacular. The cover art is by Stephen Albair. I am very excited to have a poem appearing in this wonderful journal. I've loved Fourteen Hills for years, and I'll say probably once a year for at least oh, the past eight years, I've sent a manuscript to them for consideration. Perseverance means so much in this poetry business. You've got to have the right work at the right time, right there at the right place, and even in the right hands under the right circumstances. Everything matters in terms of timing because this art, like other arts, is brutally subjective. 
There's a backstory to this poem appearing in Fourteen Hills. Of all places, the genesis for the piece came from Facebook. Someone had written a post, and a new friend of mine, Susan Klein, whom I didn't know except virtually, but liked immensely, made a remark which I riffed on. I gave an offhand series of staccato responses to a subject matter I find basically gross and finished off my cluster with a responsive kicker. Left it at that. Moved on. Ten minutes later, I heard a "ping" at the computer, saw there was a comment, clicked to read it, and Susan had left a remark for me -- "That's a Zen poem!" 
A little polishing here, snipping there and cementing altogether, and most especially, knowing when to back away and leave a little one alone, and there the compact poem stood. And now it is proud to have a home under this striking cover:

Susan Klein
Which just goes to show you, you never know. So if this intricate, dazzling woman makes a comment your way about something of value to you, you might want to listen extra hard for your own good. Word to the wise.

May 17, 2015


Smack dab in the middle of May, so I think I can say with some certainty that although I did not win a Pushcart Prize this year, again, for which I was nominated back in February, it was a heady ride getting to this month~significantly, because this time was different. The last time, I had been nominated by a wonderful journal that had published one of my poems that was included in my first poetry collection.
This time I have been nominated by a member, or members, of the Board of Contributing Editors for The Pushcart Prize Fellowships Inc. Along with my congratulatory nomination letter from Bill Henderson, publisher of the Pushcart Prize Anthology for the past 39 years, came a 4-column list of heralded, outstanding poets' names, none of whom I personally knew (at that time), and even more surprising, none of whom was an editor or publisher of one of my poems published in a journal in the last year. These were complete strangers to me. So, right now, while there yet may be a candle's flicker of bright hope left in these next two weeks, I write to say to these anonymous poets who have been this moved by my own poetry, to have selected me for nomination for this superb prize, thank you so very much, I thank you dearly.

And the world does keep turning~
I am fortunate. As of this writing I have poetry forthcoming in five extraordinary literary journals this year. The first journal debuting a new poem this year is Fourteen Hills. I am overjoyed, as it has taken me over eight years to break into this journal. The new issue will be debuting next week in San Francisco and just as soon as I can figure out how to post the magazine's wild cover art for the new edition, I will! It is a knockout.

April 28, 2015

They Really Need to Turn that Conference into a Week-Long Thing

~AWP 2015 at Minneapolis!~
I posted most of these photos on facewatch, but they're all over the place on my wall. Much tidier here. Thought you'd like to see a pictorial of some AWP 2015 moments. It was a splendid conference. 
I love being a poet. I love writing poetry and reading poetry and I love poets. And if that sounds elementary, so be it. 
With the Staff of Fourteen Hills Literary Journal

Claudia Rankine, three-quarter view

Claudia Rankine, straight on

With Daniel Lawless

With Eduardo C. Corral and Brent Goodman

With Jericho Brown

Displaying Salmon Poetry titles with Salmon Poetry Managing Editor, Jessie Lendennie

With Carolyne Lee Wright and Kelly Davio, at the Tahoma Literary Review Table

Marie Howe, twofold 
With Oliver de la Paz and Lee Ann Roripaugh

The Pink Tuxedos, l to r: Sophie Cabot Black, Rita Dove, Carol Muske-Dukes, Marilyn Nelson

With Fred Viebahn and Rita Dove
With M Scott Douglass, at the Main Street Rag Booth

At the Salmon Poetry Booth, l to r: Yun Wang, Lori Desrosiers, Stephen Powers,
John Morgan, Cynthia, Jessie Lendennie
When directed to express how we feel during the first hours of the first day
of the AWP Conference

And then to express how we feel on the last hours of the last day

Stephen Powers, Cynthia, John Fitzgerald, Helene Cardona and Jessie Lendennie
~See you next year in LA!~

April 6, 2015

Off to See Just About 11,000 of My Closest Friends

Minneapolis AWP, 2015
As I look forward to boarding the plane for Minneapolis AWP and greeting old poet friends and meeting new ones, and roaming book aisles for select jewels to bring home, and panels and readings to attend, I'm happy to say that with this AWP conference I for once have my schedule down to a perfectly timed note. If it goes askew, it will only be because I've allowed it to do so. I'm sure I too will have photos and anecdotes from the conference of thousands of poets and writers to share. Certainly, there will be one or two stories that can't be disclosed, because in the retelling or the bright light of day, the facts themselves just somehow will seem, shall we say, less or possibly more than luminous. In fact, I'm also looking forward to returning home. An entire summer, albeit a desert one full of bright heat, waits patiently before me and I feel great promise in it. This is a summer to finish my next poetry collection which is so very close to being completed. This is the summer I read all the wonderful books I've collected these past months from glorious poets and writers and the books I will be picking up at the conference. This is the summer for household decisions, and the plotting for machinations required for roads accustomed to less usage. This is a baggage-less form of travel.

February 21, 2015

To Every Season

January whizzed past. All I remember is when I looked down, in my flowery basket of hardy roses was a lovely assortment of poetic invitations of one type or another. This is special to me because it's beginning to happen more frequently...

...that I am now being solicited by editors from a few sparkling, wonderful journals (and e-zines!) for new poetry, instead of grinding out that well-worn, hopeful, meek, cold submission among hundreds of other manila-enveloped eager ones arriving at some dim-lit magazine doorstep. Nothing like a tad bit o' drama...

...there's also the out-of-the-blue, phenomenal, never-expected, am-I-reading-this-right? news of a race my poetry is running right this very minute, which of course I can not say a single word about, or perhaps the spell might be broken, so please just wish me the tightest, strongest good fortune, and as I hold my figurative breath -- and more to come about that in the future...

...in April, in honor of National Poetry Month, I have been invited to be the featured poet for the City of Tempe, a city well-known for housing Arizona State University. Also in my basket, and through ASU and its department in Project Humanities, captained by the simply remarkable and inimitable Dr. Neal Lester, I will be creating poetry in response to the exquisite landscape paintings created by artist Beth Ames Swartz...

...she is presenting a power point show next week at the historic Ellis-Shackelford House, where Project Humanities holds its offices. I will be meeting her for the first time to go over our collaboration~I'm so excited about this! And indeed a collaboration it will be! Projects Humanities is planning for us to hold at least four separate events involving Ms. Swartz's artwork and my joined poetry at locations including the Phoenix Historical Society and Phoenix Art Museum. Whew! All of this begins its momentum pretty much as soon as I exit the plane from having spent the better part of a week at the AWP conference in early April. Bring on Spring, and Beyond, is all I can say!

The Ellis-Shackelford House
Changing speed to a honor a common man of words~

Some weeks ago the great poet Philip Levine passed away. He and his work meant many things to my family for a variety of reasons. I wrote an homage to him on Facebook, and there was such a response to it that many people told me I should post it in its entirety here, on my blog, where there may be audience who can read it who might never have been able to otherwise. And my feeling is, hold on, you guys are on to something, because this is including Mr. Levine, for that matter, because I know he wasn't on facewatch, as I call it, so I know he wouldn't have seen it through that venue, and I'm thinking if I post it here, and I'm also hoping he might have some kind of  really strong internet connection where he's at, he just might be able to run across my loving words. I wish he does. Rest in Peace, Mr. Levine. You ran your race especially well~~

PAGING: Mr. Philip Levine -- Good Sir, before you get busy with the unpacking of your essentials, and finding out that the drawers have small ink marks inside them, and you'll want to put in your request for more towels right now, because you don't even want to look at the line that's forming behind you, so don't turn around, keep going in that same direction, there's only the one direction to go, but before you get busy with all that I just quickly want to stuff this note in your pocket--
There's a man back here for whom poetry was thrust, and when I say "thrust" I mean literally thrust (with a wooshing noise) upon him. He is a man of numbers. He was born into numbers and only comfortable there for the longest time. The alphabet was not a place of deep-seated interest for him. But when a book of your poems was placed in front of him, he read it like he ate ice cream. He read the whole book, and would carry it from room to room with him. He said, "I like this man's poems. They're honest. No tricks." 

And that's a very big deal, having an essential foreigner embrace an essentially foreign way, and trust it thoroughly. Your words did that to a man.

I daresay your words have altered countless others, and those to come. You did a fine job here.

Painting, "A Suggested Permanence" (2014) by Jonathan Kevin Rice, with thanks to Mr. Rice for the use of his work for this post specifically.

"A Suggested Permanence" (2014) by Jonathan Kevin Rice
Mr. Philip Levine

January 10, 2015

You're My Interest

Revivification. Recharged. Onward, 2015~