Wisdom from Writers: A Conversation with Erin Stalcup

This is really just an elaborate love letter. Which I guess is my definition of ars poetica. And naming it autobiographical … I mean, it isn’t. But it’s the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever written, and I guess I want that label to reveal that.

I recently spoke with author Erin Stalcup about her newest novel, KEEN, performance, revolutions, gender, Tool, and more.You can read the full interview here at Heavy Feather Review.

I hope I’m not appropriating stories that aren’t mine. I am trying to imagine what it would be like to be someone other than myself. I’m always channeling the wisdom of my teacher and friend Robin Black who says no one can imagine her own life experiences that they haven’t had, but it’s worth it to try. I’m willing to be told I got it wrong.

Find out more about Erin Stalcup on erinstalcup.xyz. Erin’s book Keen (February 2022) is available from Gold Wake Press.

Anonymous Grocer 30/30!

Hello friend!
 
Welcome back to Anonymous Grocer, a 30-day audio adventure in backwards poetry. Each day: a new poem, a new collection of words in unfamiliar and spiraling patterns, a new audio message to ease you into your day.
 
It is so bittersweet to write this final Grocer gram, but I send you my greatest gratitude for coming along the journey with me, for listening, and for getting in the poetry spirit with me each day this month.
What a way to welcome spring, with the wisdom of Frank O’Hara, Lauren K. Alleyne, Joy Harjo, Sarah Howe, Christina Rossetti, Ai, CA Conrad, Rumi, Jihyun Yun, Ilya Kaminsky, Naomi Shihab Nye, Octavio Paz, Terrance Hayes, Jos Charles, Angelo Mao, Mary Oliver, Ocean Vuong, Lewis Carroll, Anne Carson, Sherwin Bitsui, Kazim Ali, Chika Sagawa, Kathy Jitñil-Kijiner, Czesław Miłosz, Renee Gladman, Emma Lazarus, Gertrude Stein, Oliver de la Paz, and Alice Oswald to provide us with beacons on even the foggiest of days.
 
For our last day, I’m shaking things up a bit. To honor each of the poems we’ve experienced this month, I’ve collaged one line from each featured poem to create a collective jubilee. It gives me such pleasure to witness the brushing of great poetic shoulders in one epic piece. Can you match which line belongs to which poet? (*Surprise, the audio is actually not read backwards this time…thought that would be too much of a shake-up!) 
If you ever need a backwards poetry pick-me-up, you can return to our adventures this April here on my writerly web corner: https://ccfinch.com/category/anonymous-grocer/. And of course, please feel free to share Anonymous Grocer with anyone in your world who might enjoy it.
 
I’m already looking forward to next April 🙂 
Peace and love and GO POETRY!
Cam

Anonymous Grocer 29/30: [Line broken … its over]

Hello friend!
 
Welcome back to Anonymous Grocer, a 30-day audio adventure in backwards poetry. Each day: a new poem, a new collection of words in unfamiliar and spiraling patterns, a new audio message to ease you into your day.
 
On our penultimate day of Poetry Month (sad!), we portal into the deliciously strange and bleak worlds of British poet Alice Oswald. Eet smakelijk! 
Discover more about this poet here.
Peace and love,
Cam

Anonymous Grocer 28/30: [Returned miraculously]

Hello friend!
 
Welcome back to Anonymous Grocer, a 30-day audio adventure in backwards poetry. Each day: a new poem, a new collection of words in unfamiliar and spiraling patterns, a new audio message to ease you into your day.
 
Today, we solve for X and other lifelong mysteries and queries with the poet Oliver de la Paz. His book, The Boy in the Labyrinth, brilliantly and empathically uses the Theseus-Minotaur myth as a metaphor for the difficulties and joys of parenting neurodiverse children.  
Discover more about this poet here.
Peace and love,
Cam

Anonymous Grocer 27/30: [Dash likely]

Hello friend!
 
Welcome back to Anonymous Grocer, a 30-day audio adventure in backwards poetry. Each day: a new poem, a new collection of words in unfamiliar and spiraling patterns, a new audio message to ease you into your day.
 
On Day 27, we poetize ourselves with a wee bit and tender of Gertrude Stein: prose poet, modernist, expat, lover of Alice B. Toklas, coiner of “the lost generation.” Stein’s poetry reminds me of a mixed-up Rubix cube — that is, all the more beautiful when filled with vibrant wildness and unexpected patterns.
Discover more about this poet here.
Peace and love,
Cam

Anonymous Grocer 26/30: [Door golden, the beside lamp]

Hello friend!
 
Welcome back to Anonymous Grocer, a 30-day audio adventure in backwards poetry. Each day: a new poem, a new collection of words in unfamiliar and spiraling patterns, a new audio message to ease you into your night. 
 
Well, folks — if you know me and you know that I have an affinity for a certain green giant, then you knew this day was a-coming. Tonight (because everyone needs a little night poetry now and then) celebrates Emma Lazarus, the Jewish-American poet who composed the instantly recognizable sonnet “The New Colossus,” to help fundraise money for the building of the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal (one of the country’s original Kickstarters!) Lazarus was extremely active as an aid worker for Jewish refugees (fleeing anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia and Romania) at Wards Island, and her poem “The New Colossus” (1883) is said to have been inspired by the people she met on Wards Island and the stories of their lives. 
 
Discover more about this poet here.
Peace and love,
Cam

Anonymous Grocer 25/30: [Gone, something of half and loving]

Hello friend!
 
Welcome back to Anonymous Grocer, a 30-day audio adventure in backwards poetry. Each day: a new poem, a new collection of words in unfamiliar and spiraling patterns, a new audio message to ease you into your day. 
 
On Day 25, meet Renee Gladman, a poet-artist who is the creator of “Prose Architectures“: looping inky blueprints of imagined cities, all from squinted symbols and squeezed sentences beyond legibility, beyond comprehension. She writes her plans and dreams for her building blocks of language in short poetic lines. She’s literally creating a world out of words! Today’s backwardness are a few lines of Gladman’s “plans” for her drawing, “Fig. 14” (published in POETRY Magazine, March 2022). 
 
Discover more about this poet here.
Do you have requests for poems or poets you’d like to see featured in future Anonymous Grocer episodes? I’d love to hear from you! 
Peace and love,
Cam

Anonymous Grocer 24/30: [Last to it]

Hello friend! 
 
Welcome back to Anonymous Grocer, a 30-day audio adventure in backwards poetry. Each day: a new poem, a new collection of words in unfamiliar and spiraling patterns, a new audio message to ease you into your day. 
 
Day 24 has arrived, and here I am with another multimedia episode for you! If you’ve ever listened to track four, “Shadow Journal,” of Max Richter’s symphonic 2004 marvel, The Blue Notebooks, then you’ll likely be familiar with today’s poem. The poem sampled in the Richter piece is none other than “At Dawn” by the radical Polish poet and translator, Czesław Miłosz (a poet whose own whirlwinding history could be the basis for multiple marvelous albums). After you enjoy listening to Tilda Swinton’s velveteen voice recite the poem forwards, I hope you enjoy witnessing the sepulchral brick dust resurrect itself in reverse.
Discover more about this poet here
Do you have requests for poems or poets you’d like to see featured in future Anonymous Grocer episodes? I’d love to hear from you!
Peace and love,
Cam

Anonymous Grocer 23/30: [Leaves its unfurl]

Hello friend! 
 
Welcome back to Anonymous Grocer, a 30-day audio adventure in backwards poetry. Each day: a new poem, a new collection of words in unfamiliar and spiraling patterns, a new audio message to ease you into your day. 
 
I first was introduced to the poetry of climate activist Kathy Jitñil-Kijiner when the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) shared her poem-video of “Anointed,” which explores the nuclear testing legacy in the Marshall Islands and the disastrous effects of nuclear fallout and waste on the people and environment. [After World War II, the United States tested 67 nuclear weapons in the Marshall Islands.]
Kathy, whom Vogue named a “Climate Warrior” in 2015, continues to use her written, spoken, and video poetry to educate global communities about her island country and its dangerous nuclear history, and to spark conversations about environmental action, particularly with Marshallese youth. 
Discover more about this poet here.
Do you have requests for poems or poets you’d like to see featured in future Anonymous Grocer episodes? I’d love to hear from you!
Peace and love,
Cam