Well, spring has sprung. April has come. And along with being the time where things turn green and blossoms sprout from the ground, April is National Poetry Month. To celebrate, the dictionary project is hosting its second annual na·po·mo! All month, we will be featuring poems contributed by visiting poets in response to dictionary project words. Stay tuned!
so·lo (ˈsōlō), n. [ pl. SOLOS (-lōz); rarely SOLI (-lē)], [It. < L. solus, alone], 1. a musical piece or passage to be played or sung by one person, with or without accompaniment. 2. an airplane flight made by a pilot alone, without any passengers or instructor. 3. any performance by one person alone. 4. any card game in which there are no partners. adj. 1. arranged for or performed by a single voice or instrument. 2. performing a solo. 3. made or done by one person v.i. in aviation, to make a solo flight, especially one’s first.
It’s the last day of April and the last day of National Poetry Month! So today, we have our last word and last post for our first annual na·po·mo. The word is so·lo and the poet is TC Tolbert. Thanks so much for joining us.
TC Tolbert is a genderqueer, feminist poet and teacher committed to social justice. Co-editor of the forthcoming Anthology of Trans and Genderqueer Poetry (Nightboat Books), TC is the author of two chapbooks, territories of folding (Kore Press) and spirare (Belladonna). His first book, Gephyromania, is forthcoming from Ahsahta Press. He is the Assistant Director of Casa Libre en la Solana, Adjunct faculty at University of Arizona and Pima Community College, and founder of Made for Flight. www.tctolbert.com
prac·ti·cal (ˈpraktikəl), adj. [obs. Fr. practique, pratique < LL. practicus (see PRACTICE) ; + —al], 1. of, exhibited in, or obtained through practice or action: as, practical knowledge: opposed ot theoretical, speculative, ideal. 2. that can be used; workable; useful: as, practical proposals. 3. designed for use; utilitarian: as, a practical dress. 4. concerned with the application of knowledge to useful ends, as distinguished from speculation, etc.: as, practical science, a practical mind. 5. given to or experienced from actual practice: as, a practical farmer. 6. of, concerned with, or dealing efficiently with everyday activities, work, etc. 7. that is so in practice, whether or not in theory, intention, law, etc.; virtual. 8. matter-of-fact.
National Poetry Month is drawing to a close, but we still have a few poems from dictionary project contributors. Enjoy today’s feature, a poem by Kristi Maxwell:
Kristi Maxwell thinks and writes in Tucson, where she also teaches creative writing, literature, and composition around town and serves on the board of POG, a non-profit literary arts organization. Her books include Re– (Ahsahta Press, 2011), Hush Sessions (Saturnalia Books, 2009), and Realm Sixty-four (Ahsahta, 2008).
drows·i·ly (drou’z’l-i) adv. in a drowsy manner, sleepily
Samuel Ace joins us with his rendition of drows·i·ly for na·po·mo at the dictionary project. Enjoy the dreamscape, the space in between.
Samuel Ace is the author of three collections of poetry: Normal Sex (Firebrand Books), Home in three days. Don’t wash., a hybrid project of poetry, video and photography (Hard Press), and most recently Stealth, co-authored with Maureen Seaton (Chax Press). He is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts grant, two-time finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in Poetry, winner of the Astraea Lesbian Writer’s Fund Prize in Poetry, The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction and the Firecracker Alternative Book Award in Poetry. His work has been widely anthologized and has appeared in or is forthcoming from, Ploughshares, Eoagh, Spiral Orb, Nimrod, The Prose Poem: an International Journal, Kenyon Review, van Gogh’s Ear, 3:am, and others. He lives in Tucson, AZ and Truth or Consequences, NM.
In their jammies (clockwise from top left): Trudy, Pete, and Don from Mad Men; Lana Turner; The Von Trapp Family; and Models from 1957 (photo by Nina Leen)
con·stel·la·tion (känstəˈlāSHən), n. [ME. & OFr. constellacion; LL. constellatio < constellatus, set with stars < L. com-, with + pp. of stellare, to shine < stella, a star; see STELLAR] 1. a number of fixed stars arbitrarily considered as a group, usually named after some mythological being that they supposedly resemble in outline: see charts on following pages. 2. the part of the heavens occupied by such a group. 3. any brilliant cluster or gathering: as, a constellation of beautiful women. 4. in astrology, a) the grouping of the planets at any particular time, especially at a person’s birth. b) one’s disposition or fate as supposedly influenced by such a grouping. 5. in psychology, a group of related thoughts regarded as clustered about one central idea.
Editor’s note: For the first time in the dictionary project history, when closing my eyes and flipping through the dictionary, I landed on an image instead of a word. An image of the constellations in the sky. Closest to Libra, in case you are curious. The word for this post is con·stel·la·tion as a result.
For the third word of na·po·mo at the dictionary project, Lauren Eggert-Crowe joins us, contemplating the cosmos.
Lauren Eggert-Crowe was born and raised in rural Pensylvania. After a four year stint in the magical fairyland of Santa Cruz, where she lived so close to the ocean she could hear sea lions from her bedroom window, she relocated to Los Angeles to work as a freelance writer. She has written for The Rumpus, L.A. Review of Books, The Murky Fringe, and Blue Jean Gourmet. Her poetry has been published in several journals, including Puerto Del Sol, So To Speak, DIAGRAM, Terrain.org, Water-Stone Review, Eleven Eleven, and We Are So Happy To Know Something. Her first chapbook, The Exhibit, is forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press in January 2013. She is also the author of the literary feminist ‘zine, Galatea’s Pants. She holds an English degree from the Robert E. Cook Honors College at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Arizona.
April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, the dictionary project is hosting its first na·po·mo! Each Tuesday and Friday during the month of April, we will feature poems inspired by dictionary project words authored by visiting poets. Stay tuned!
And to whet your appetite, I leave you with “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich:
First having read the book of myths,
and loaded the camera,
and checked the edge of the knife-blade,
I put on
the body-armor of black rubber
the absurd flippers
the grave and awkward mask.
I am having to do this
not like Cousteau with his
aboard the sun-flooded schooner
but here alone.
There is a ladder.
The ladder is always there
close to the side of the schooner.
We know what it is for,
we who have used it.
it is a piece of maritime floss
some sundry equipment.
I go down.
Rung after rung and still
the oxygen immerses me
the blue light
the clear atoms
of our human air.
I go down.
My flippers cripple me,
I crawl like an insect down the ladder
and there is no one
to tell me when the ocean
First the air is blue and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out and yet
my mask is powerful
it pumps my blood with power
the sea is another story
the sea is not a question of power
I have to learn alone
to turn my body without force
in the deep element.
And now: it is easy to forget
what I came for
among so many who have always
swaying their crenellated fans
between the reefs
you breathe differently down here.
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.
I stroke the beam of my lamp
slowly along the flank
of something more permanent
than fish or weed
the thing I came for:
the wreck and not the story of the wreck
the thing itself and not the myth
the drowned face always staring
toward the sun
the evidence of damage
worn by salt and sway into this threadbare beauty
the ribs of the disaster
curving their assertion
among the tentative haunters.
This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he
whose drowned face sleeps with open eyes
whose breasts still bear the stress
whose silver, copper, vermeil cargo lies
obscurely inside barrels
half-wedged and left to rot
we are the half-destroyed instruments
that once held to a course
the water-eaten log
the fouled compass
We are, I am, you are
by cowardice or courage
the one who find our way
back to this scene
carrying a knife, a camera
a book of myths
our names do not appear.