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Here we are on this bittersweet day: the last day of National Poetry Month and the last day of napomo at the  dictionary project. Thank you for joining us as we have celebrated poetry and bibliomancy and the play and beauty that can come from constraint-based writing.


I always find it fascinating when the word that comes is scientific or mathematical in origin, as with our word today, which is explored through physics and geometry. Although not universally the case, so many of us word types were drawn to words not only out of a love of language and story but a clear sense of doom evoked from math and science. So I think it is an extra challenge to engage through words with concepts that may be outside of our normal day-t0-day processes and frameworks. But then again, when we are searching for understanding is when the most interesting metaphors and twists in language can arrive.


Please enjoy these poetic interpretations by Meg and Ari of this:






and this:




and this:





el·lip·tic·i·ty noun (i-ˌlip-ˈti-sə-tē)  1.  deviation from perfect circular or spherical form toward elliptic or ellipsoidal form.  2.  the degree of this deviation.




Ari Ellipticity 1

Ari Ellipticity2





Ari Belathar is a Mexican poet and playwright in exile. Between 1994 and 2001, she facilitated creative writing and popular theatre workshops for indigenous women and children throughout Mexico. She was also a founding member of the first Mexican community radio station during the student strike at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1999. After being kidnapped and tortured by the Mexican National Army in 2001 due to her work as an independent journalist and human rights defender, she escaped to Canada, where she became a political refugee. A winning-artist participant in Artscape’s Gibraltar Point International Artists Residency Program, she has published poetry in literary journals and anthologies around the world. Belathar served as Writer-in-Residence through PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile Network at the University of Windsor and at Brandon University in Manitoba, the latter of which resulted in her first chapbook of poetry in English, The Cities I Left Behind. In Summer 2010, Scirocco Drama published The TAXI Project—a collective play about exile, originally produced by PEN Canada, with Belathar as lead–writer. The TAXI Project was performed by Alchemy Theatre in Toronto and toured high schools and community centres in ten southern Ontario cities and municipalities. In 2012, Belathar was selected as Alameda Theatre Company’s Playwright in Residency as well as being invited to be part of Cahoots Theatre Playwrights’ HotHouse Writing Unit. She is currently developing her first full-length play, La Danza del Venado, a multidisciplinary piece inspired by her own experience of crossing the Mexico/U.S. border into the United States as a child to reunite with her father. In 2013, Belathar lives and writes in Tucson, AZ.





MegWade Ellipticity






Meg Wade was born and raised in the hills of East Tennessee.  She received her MFA from the University of Arizona, where she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize.  Meg is currently finishing her first full-length verse collection, Blame the Woods, and is the working Assistant Editor for an anthology of contemporary, rural American poetry titled, Hick Poetics, forthcoming from Lost Roads Press.  Her recent work has appeared in CutBank, The Feminist Wire, and Phantom Limb, as well as work forthcoming in two anthologies set to be released from Locked Horn Press in 2014.  Beginning this fall Meg will be the 2014-2015 Diane Middlebrook Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  For now, she lives, writes, and teaches in Tucson, Arizona.




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packedHands Holding Soil


Today is the third post for napomo at the dictionary project. I’m pleased to introduce you to this pair of poets who I met at ::Throughlines:: an improvisational movement and writing intensive I participated in back in January of this year. They also have an amazing ongoing image/poem project, what they call a daily endeavor of poetic attention, which you can check out here: how we share the sky.

Speaking of attention, that is what I love so much about the dictionary project and annual series like napomo. Because it is all about attention: attention of one person at a particular moment in time to a particular word and meaning. Maybe it’s a word we’ve never heard of in our lives. Maybe it’s a word we’ve long forgotten. Maybe it’s a word that is part of our daily vernacular. In any case, we are asked to show up to that word in a new way, to see it with fresh eyes, to discover the ways in which our current mindset and circumstances and place in the world inform our understanding. What draws our attention in this word and meaning? How do make sense of it in this particular moment?

There is a majesty in this kind of micro-level attention. Because, in truth, all the micro choices we make add up to the macro of our daily existence and what we contribute to the collective. Our creativity is not only found in the novels we painstakingly craft but in that hard earned and alive sentence, in the way we set our table with consideration of color and light and texture, in the summer garden we co-create by digging our hands into the packed earth.

So thank you to Kathy (whose birthday is today!) and Katherine for their attention. Thank you to John and Jamison. Thank you to Johanna and Matthew. Thank you to the poets still to write this month and all the writers who have shared their work on the dictionary project. What a difference a word makes when you bring your attention to it.


pack  (pak),  v.t.  [< prec. pack, v.t.], to choose or arrange (a jury, committee, etc.) in such a way as to get desired decisions, results, etc.



k bio pic

Katherine Ferrier is a poet, dance artist, educator, maker and curator. She is a co-founder of The Architects, an improvisation ensemble with a performance history spanning over 20 years, and teaches and performs regularly throughout the US and abroad. Katherine curates /directs Cultivate, a festival created to nourish a growing community of contemporary dance-makers and dance supporters in Northern New Hampshire, and her writing about dance has been published in Contact Quarterly and Kinebago. Her spontaneous on-demand typewriter poetry service, THREAD, was recently featured in The Knot, and she offers ongoing writing workshops at The Gallery at WREN in Bethlehem, NH.





For 17 years, Kathy Couch has been designing and creating visual landscapes in performance and installation works. Through the use of light, language, readymade objects, photography and space, she attempts to craft experiences that allow people to linger and contemplate moments of being, that they might become more aware of the power they possess to influence and shape the way they move—alone and together. Kathy is currently engaged in the year-long collaborative photography/writing project How We Share the Sky with Katherine Ferrier. This past January, in collaboration with Katherine, Kathy created and taught ::Through-Lines::, a 4-day writing/movement workshop exploring the intersections of language, body, space and objects in Tucson, AZ. Kathy makes her home in Northampton, MA.


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Today, we have our second series of poems for the third annual napomo at the dictionary project in honor of National Poetry Month. All month we will be posting poems written from bibliomanced dictionary project words. In an added twist, this year, two poets are writing to each word. We are discovering what happens in these pairings when two different minds and aesthetics hold space for the same word.


Poets Johanna Skibsrud and Matthew Schmidt have written on screw. Please enjoy their poems and feel free to write your own poem inspired by screwin the comments if you so desire. The actual piece my finger landed on when selecting the word was the image of a lagscrew below.






screw  (skro͞o), n.  [ME.  screwe; OFr. escrone, hole in which the screw turns  <  L. scrobis, vulva],  1.  a mechanical device used for fastening things together, consisting of a naillike cylinder of metal grooved in an advancing spiral, and usually having a slotted head: it penetrates only by being turned: male (or external) screw.  2.  anything like such a device.  3.  a hollow cylinder equipped with a spiral groove on its inner sufrace into which the male screw fits: female (or internal) screw.  4.  the act of turning or twisting; turn of a screw.  5.  a screw propeller.  6.  [Chiefly British], a) a stingy person; miser. b) a crafty bargainer.  7.  [Chiefly British], a bit of tobacco, etc. (in a twisted paper).  8.  [Chiefly British] a worn-out horse.  9.  {Slang], a prison guard.  10.  [British Slang], salary.  v.t.  1. to twist; turn; tighten.  2.  to fasten, make secure, tighten, press, insert, etc. with or as with a screw or screws.  3.  to contort; squeeze; twist out of natural shape: as, screw one’s face up.  4.  to force to do something; compel, as if by using screws.  5.  to extort or practice extortion on: as he screwed me out of money.  v.i.  1. to come apart or go together by being turned or twisted in the manner of a screw: as, the lid screws on. 2. to be fitted for being put together or taken apart by a screw or screws.  3.  to twist; turn; wind; have a motion like that of a screw.  4.  to practice extortion.




Desire Must Be Taken Literally


What exists?




Even in darkness.


If not:


the idea of darkness.


Marked, therefore,

already, by


the idea of light.


What is there but that

to grow slowly


toward, or away?


What but that


to propel


that most

uncertain element,


the soul,


slowly toward

the idea of itself?


To hover, as above,

or outside of itself.


A question.


Toward which

the mind also turns


in a deliberate spiral—.


The mind, the simple



according to which


we conjoin,


and therefore



between that most


uncertain element,


from which we came,

and the world, which is


most certain, some




What, then, the soul,

but the simple


opening, carved

by the mind—


as it constructs,


like a joist or a beam,


upon which the idea



a further idea?
As it insists, if only

by virtue of its


continuous effort

to do so,


the possibility that


the mind will

also hold?


That it will still

be possible,




if only

very briefly—


to suture to the

uncertain idea


a single real thing?




Skibsrud portrait, fall 2013, 1Johanna Skibsrud is the author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize winning novel, The Sentimentalists, a book of short fiction, This Will Be Difficult to Explain, and Other Stories, and two collections of poetry, Late Nights With Wild Cowboys and I Do Not Think That I Could Love a Human Being. A second novel, Quartet for the End of Time will be released in fall, 2014. She lives in Tucson.







Shades drawn—darkness crept scantly
scantily through slats—a cover of destiny
destination to which each day pours itself
out. Outside lined slats, thump of bass
an apartment adjacent in rhythm, enjoys
Saturday evening victuals, imbibes in whether
Sunday will ever step from shadow to show
itself, a difficult concept to grasp in utter
dark, that even through stars appear away
through several named spheres exiting the planet
seem on the verge of consummation, of consumption
in blackness which harnesses a vast swath
of earth, here, now, as somewhere else
someone else is sunning themselves by a rill
twisting grass blades, a tune upon lips
accompaniment to slow burble sluicing
submerged rock on its way to a place
any party herewith has been except tangentially
or rather mentally, in eye of idea
where a picture once seen must be
like this place where the rill—after turning
into other names, empties itself, finally
in an ever ebbing body that removes
all notion of meaning in here, now
until again a cycle is run and rain
falls on windows, behind shades
draws a party at an apartment indoors
bass fading into a dull thrum
in a different time when someone is idle
rill tricks, trickle thought into a coalescence
of sunburst over horizon, another contemplation commences.

2013-04-23 23.54.53Matthew Schmidt is an MFA candidate at the University of Arizona. His work has appeared in Asinine Poetry, Down in the Dirt, Eye On Life and The Missing Slate.

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Photo by Francesca Woodman

Photo by Francesca Woodman



Well, here we are at the conclusion of a wonderful na·po·mo at the dictionary project! I’m grateful that poetry gets its own month and also grateful that we can continue to read and support poets, to write and share our own poetry all year. I want to thank all of our wonderful poets for the work they have written and shared with us and special thanks goes to our last poet, Danielle Vogel. 

And in the first time in the history of this literary community, a word was bibliomanced for the second time. I guess this is appropriate because it is a word we probably all need to be reminded of from time to time. The word is surrender. Those of you who have been regular followers of the dictionary project will remember that I first wrote about surrender in the fall in relationship to an Amy Goodman reading I attended. I am delighted to share with you Danielle’s gorgeous and evocative take on the word. Thanks go to Danielle for providing the image as well.

And thanks to you, today and always, for reading and being part of this process.


sur·ren·der (səˈrendər)v.t. [OFr. surrendre: sur-, upon, up + rendre, to render], 1.  to give up possession of or power over; yild to another on demand or compulsion.  2.  to give up claim to; give over or yield, especially voluntarily, as in favor of another.  3.  to give up or abandon; as, we surrendered all hope.  4.  to yield or resign (oneself) to an emotion, influence, etc.  5.  [Obs.], to give back or in return.  v.i.  to give oneself up to yield.  n.  [Anglo-Fr.  < OFr.  surrendre (see the v.); inf. used as n.],  1.  the act of surrendering, yielding, or giving up.  2.  in insurance, the voluntary abandonment of a policty by an insured person in return for a cash payment (surrender value), thus freeing the company of liability.
SYN.–surrender commonly implies the giving up of something completely after striving to keep it (to surrender a fort, one’s freedom, etc.); relinquish is the general word implying an abandoning, giving up, or letting go of something held (to relinquish one’s grasp, a claim, etc.); to yield is to concede or give way under pressure (to yield one’s consent); to submit is to give in to authority or superior force (to submit to a conqueror); resign implies a voluntary, formal relinquishment and, used reflexively, connotes submission or passive acceptance (to resign an office, to resign oneself to failure).




dv1 dv2 dv2again dv4



Vogel, Dictionary Project author photoDanielle Vogel’s textile scroll-works and ceramic book artifacts, which explore the ceremonial gestation of a manuscript as it is written, have been exhibited in galleries across the country. Her most recent collection, Narrative & Nest, is a cross-disciplinary study relating the construction of nests to the writing of books — both as complex sites of composition, habitation, instinct, and narrative. She is the author of Narrative & Nest (Abecedarian Gallery, 2012) and lit (Dancing Girl Press, 2008). She received her MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Denver. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, where she is writing toward the completion of her book Clasp, excerpted here. Her author photo was bibliomanced by Maurice Blanchot’s The Writing of the Disaster and reads: “a turning point which puts us face to face with the demand of the turning point.” Danielle wrote, ‘I often carry books alongside the books I am writing. I dip into them for messages the way one might visit the Tarot. One such book is Maurice Blanchot’s The Writing of the Disaster. While writing the middle section of Clasp, I asked Blanchot’s book to interrupt my writing practice with a message and this is what I received.”



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"What Are You Looking At?", Banksy

“What Are You Looking At?”, Banksy


Today is the last day of April and the last day of na·po·mo 2013. We have a double-decker day with one poem now and one poem later in the day. Our first poem today is by Logan Dirtyverbs. Enjoy!


sur·veil·lance,  n.  [Fr.  <  surveiller, to watch over; sur- ( < L. super), over + veiller  < L. vigilare, to watch],  1.  watch or observation kept over a person, especially one under suspicion or a prisoner.  2. supervision or inspection.



a legible surveillance disclaimer
a distinct whine in blue sky
where drones roam freely
soon drones will keep quiet
a more convenient freedom
the windchime sounds unstable
the bee conducts search flower-by-flower
a swarm of self-directing drones
an obtuse infestation of bugs
a budding nest of security cameras
the trains of thought in choreography
a gold rush of data mining geology
a twenty twenty all aerial eyesight
an officious and casual voyeurism
a vain culture easiest to surveil
a watched society most secure
social media a great diy fbi fyi
a clear evolutionary craving
knowing what others are doing
security for whom & by whom
certain cannot be used
prison regulates unemployment
war a fantastic job creator
self-surveillance smaller govt
the alibi sousveillance hobby
policing the self in private
a homegrown wet orwellian orgasm
or what do you have to hide anyway
you don’t know what you have to hide
until it has been finally found



Photo by Trish Santangelo

Photo by Trish Santangelo

logan dirtyverbs is a bilingual poet, performer and dj based in tucson, az. to see more of his work, check out: dirtyverbs.com and @dirtyverbs on twitter.

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photo courtesy of retronaut.com


photo courtesy of retronaut.com


photo courtesy of retronaut.com

all photos in this post courtesy of retronaut.com



We have two days left of April and three poets’ work still to share with you for na•po•mo 2013.

Enjoy Shelly Taylor’s take on yore.


yore  (yôr),  n.  [ME., fr. yore, adv., long ago, fr. OE, gedra, fr. gear year]: time long past < in days of ~  



Na•Po•Mo The Dictionary Project:  Yore

Shelly Taylor / Apr 25, 2013




Stop the death music:  city a body

leashed a fastened quagmire:  city sky lean

back:  a wreck eschewed our righteous

inhabitants, one carousel livened your last

disposal:  wait—women weaving raffia

—their city hands tied furiously an earthen tree.

Go around the brawling in the street:

our fortunes buried post-Sherman

set the South aflame—his gods reflecting

opaque the horizon:  general gaze of

yore, its forgotten fauna:  glint in the light of fog:

never manage it:  your restless eye:  what happened then?

Shoulders back to please the ladies:  break the same

as rise:  our rooster forgetting its agrarian foothold

fenceline morning:  brown from your mama—

this black horse you will her forget about. 

Scales & carapaces:  each city

namesake, go one & believe me:  or: 

fight man’s possession:  antennae of light

—they who were happiest at one time: 

make them endure it.     






shellypicfornapomoBorn in rural southern Georgia, Shelly Taylor resides in Tucson. She is the author of Black-Eyed Heifer (Tarpaulin Sky Press: 2010) & four chapbooks: Peaches the yes-girl (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs: 2008), Land Wide to Get a Hold Lost In (Dancing Girl Press: 2009), Dirt City Lions (Horse Less Press: 2012), & the forthcoming, The Doldrums (Goodmorning Menagerie: 2013).


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Movin’ along By Yoshiki Arakawa and Michael Way, London Research Institute

Eye of the Storm  By Dean J. Procter (The University of Sydney), Bianca Dobson (The Australian National University), David Tscharke (The Australian National University), and Timothy P. Newsome (The University of Sydney)

Highway to infection  By Yoshiki Arakawa and Michael Way, London Research Institute

(click on photos for original post and photo credits)


Our next poem for na·po·mo comes from Valyntina Grenier. Please enjoy her poem below!

vi·rus,  n.  [L., a slimy liquid, poison; cf. FITCHEW],  1.  venom, as of a snake.  2.  a) any of the group of ultramicroscopic or submicroscopic infective agents that cause various diseases, as smallpox: viruses are capable of multiplyingin connection with living cells and are variously regarded as living organisms and as complex proteins.  b)  specifically, a filtrable virus. c) the exudation from the vesicles of cowpox, used as a vaccine for smallpox.  3.  anything that corrupts or poisons the mind or character; evil or harmful influence.

To Explicate a Virus


In quiet
To persist

To dissipate life

With bias or bribes as your shield
I’ll grip
Your arm
I pull

To destring your power
I won’t let you fly through me
By my will decimate here
To cite the second amendment
To ignore the commerce of arms

To act as a stone

Annihilate arrowheads
On impact
You are a bomb
Your shrapnel propels
As arrows do

To detonate as bombs

I reach for a slave
To soothe our low-down hearts
Write a gentle embrace
To calm our frightened minds
I search virus

To find a cure

For the body sure
For plagues of belief
Only words
Shatter the star of illusion
Lay to rest all the Santas and gods

To look after the living

(whom viruses thrive on)
Follow a river of antelope
Herding through a river
Sift through a stream of diatribes
To interpret a virus as benign

To fall in with lies

I despair
To articulate something of import
We all harbor arrows
We fall
Shrapnel blasts on





IMG_0225Valyntina Grenier is a writing and visual artist.  Please visit her website  valyntinagrenier.com.


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© ladiscarica, NO, (NEON. La materia luminosa dell’arte, MACRO)

© ladiscarica, NO, (NEON. La materia luminosa dell’arte, MACRO)


For our third post of na·po·mo, we have a poem from George Life. Enjoy!


scold* v. find fault with angrily —n. one who scolds.


Picture 3

















george-lifeGeorge Life lives in Tucson where, among other things, he is working on a complete translation of the late poems of Du Fu. More at periplumvia.blogspot.com.




*Word was bibliomanced from a 2000 Webster’s New Pocket Dictionary.

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re·cep·tion  (ri-ˈsep-shən)  n.  [ME. reception; OFr.; L. receptio  <  pp. of receptere; see RECEIVE],  1.  a receiving or being received.  2.  the manner of this: as, a very hearty reception  3.  a social function, often formal, for the receiving of guests.  4.  the act of mentally accepting or approving.  5.  in radio & television, the manner of receiving, with reference to the relative quality of reproduction: as, the storm caused poor reception.

Our second poet for na·po·mo is Christina Vega-Westhoff. Enjoy her poem below.





For we are questioning how they breathe life

into the fragrant cities.

Did dust cover your nose and blind you?

Did the patterned walls beseech you?

How education advanced, or was said

to. Take care that what is painted on your

inside is not five. You came too soon to asking.


But what is given to be received.

We of the screaming action clan. Act even still.

To subvert delay reception. The moon began to speak

now silently. The boat if you stepped into it did

not sink. Was said to resemble oat.


In this painting it is the handing back of fate.

Once the gods discovered the vow broken

all sides lay still waiting. Those that didn’t

still found themselves in question.


The little young woman—how desiring she is to

take. To say the gift is precious—not to

be thought of, glossy. Too used then

to taking another and then this too.


If the police could have been an elsehood.

Stealing for selfhood.

The spider in the mouth of your swallowing.

So many times as though erased.

Calm now.


Claro, who would have been received as

departing. Led back into the cell. Before


Held heavy then passive.

What was the mouth spoken of.

The daughter’s friend humping the carpet in

the basement. Truth or dare the dream

died. Across of this take flight.

How if it became too much for any one person,

having given, disappointed, and betrayed. Crossing

the country to find oneself forgotten.




IMG_3077 copyChristina Vega-Westhoff is a poet, translator, and aerialist living in Tucson. Her poetry appears or will appear in Fieralingue, Spiral Orb, The Lumberyard Magazine, 1913: A Journal of Forms, and Witness: A JLP Anthology.  Translations of Melanie Taylor Herrera’s work appear or are forthcoming in Ezra, Metamorphoses, and PRISM International.

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Today is our first poem of na·po·mo 2013 at the dictionary project! We are delighted to have Margaree Little as our first poet this month. Please enjoy her take on oblate.


ob·late    (ä-ˈblāt, ˈä-ˌ),  adj.  [ML.  oblatus,  offered, thrust forward (in L., pp. of offerre; see OFFER),  1.  dedicated to a religious or monastic life.  2.   [Mod. L. oblatus; ob- (see OB-)  +  –latus as in prolatus (see PROLATE): from being thrust forward at the equator], in geometry, flattened at the poles: as, an oblate spheroid.  n.  a person dedicated to religious or monastic life.






As though by going back to it now it would become clear—or more than that, say what you mean, come right, a resolution of the leaves piling up in the yard, then turning to mulch, behind the house the blackberry bushes taking over the length of the garden.  In the summer the bushes thick with berries: she’d go out with a plastic tub to fill, bring it in, and I would think that letting things go like this, if that was what it should be called, was just another way of living, as a monk who also lives alone has chosen a way of living, and so it was okay, how she’d sleep in the afternoon, how when I’d first come in she’d call hello from upstairs, her voice confused at first, tentative, like a child who has learned not to speak out of place.  That fall, or rather, that month between summer and fall when I stayed with her, each day was similar to the next, running in the mornings up the road past the green field, the cemetery, the street where an old girlfriend had lived, fog on the field each morning lifting by ten.  The house an old house, dark in the living room until evening, though then that room would be flooded with light: a novel, my friend told me once, is about something ongoing.  A story is about when something shifts.  And a poem, I realized later I’d forgotten to ask, is a poem what is called dissembling?  The thick, sweet blackberries in my hands when I picked them, arms and fingers turning dark from the juice.  Her small body in the bed upstairs, not asking for anything.




headshotMargaree Little’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, New England Review, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA at Warren Wilson College and lives in Tucson.

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