Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Poetry Chain Gang (Volume 3) | Jadon Woodard

The Black Telephone has five fast questions for poet Jadon Woodard.

BT: What poet would you consider to be poetry's superstar?

JADON: Strivers Row, Brook Yung, Seff Alriqi, Aja Monet, Justin Long, Humuni, Jadon Woodard

BT: Can you spit something really quick from off the top of your head? (I promise I won't steal it).


I saw a house
named Nate
in the grocery store yesterday
we hadn't seen each other in a minute
last time we hung was in NO after Katrina had that break down

Nate had aged alot
but still had those three blinking eyes
and still wore a bang over the right one

mouth hung open
I wanted to offer some toothpaste or a breathmint
because the house's breath
smelled like salt water and dead bodies

BT: Poetry is_____ ?

JADON: Therapy, Self Expression

BT: Do you know a poem (not one of yours) by heart?

JADON: I don't, lol

BT: I’m trying to start a chain, a chain of poets, sort of like a chain gang of poets. Can you please suggest a poet I should ask five fast questions to next?

JADON: Matthew "Cuban" Hernandez

James Jadon Woodard is a 20 year old poet/MC/DJ who resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by way of New Jersey, Florida, and California. Jadon is a member of the 2010 Philadelphia National Poetry Slam Team, 2010 New Jersey Youth Poetry Slam Team and the 2010 Spoken Word Almanac Project. He has been featured in commercials ranging from 2010 Sprite NBA Slam Dunk Contest spot to Nickelodeon Black History Month and has been featured in various other media outlets. He is grateful for all of the blessings received, but humbles himself and knows that he has ages of dues to pay.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Poetry Chain Gang (Volume 3) | Ceez Liive

The Black Telephone has five fast questions for poet Ceez Liive.

BT: When Janice Erlbaum suggested I interview you next, she sent me a Youtube clip of you performing a poem on stage. You have great stage presence and are very opinionated. Is there any other stage/platform career you'd consider for instance, politics or comedy or acting?

CEEZ: Well along with poetry, I rap, sing, play basketball and act. I'm very open to learning new things and determined, and fortunate enough, to excel in everything. my mixtape "Because I Can" is gonna be available for download February 18th and I recently acted in my first feature film "Gun Hill Road." It just premiered at Sundance. It'll be on HBO soon.

BT: In an interview I read, you said that an eighth grade teacher, Ms. Lief, showed you "Sonia Sanchez and Tupac" when you thought poetry was all "Robert Frost and Shakespeare." If you were a teacher, what poets would you make sure to introduce to your students?

CEEZ: I actually am a teacher. I teach workshops at a shelter and several middle and high schools. Last year, I started a non profit: Wordplay Poetry and Hip Hop for teens. Every time I teach, I like to introduce students to a very wide selection of poets. The goal is for every student to develop their own voice by giving them a world of poetry to observe and an opportunity to hone their craft, to find their voice.

There are some poems I wish I had written or I feel I could've written. For instance, I wish I had written the poem "Mood Indigo" by William Matthews. Is there are poem you wish you had written or feel you could've written?

CEEZ: Yeaheverything hot, it would be easier to book shows =) I think out of every poem I wish I couldve written, I'm gonna have to go with "Switch" by the 2009 Urban Word Poetry Team. That's my favorite poem. EVER. (After anything by Buddy Wakefield or Andrea Gibson)


I consider myself a logophile (which is a lover of words). Do you have a favorite word at the moment?

CEEZ: I am definitely a logophile! No favorite word. I try not to be bias. LOL.

BT: I'm trying to start a chain, a chain of poets, sort of like a chain gang of poets. Can you please suggest a poet I should ask five fast questions to next?

CEEZ: Jadon Woodard. He was apart of the 2010 Swap Project and he definitely has some stuff online! Peace!

Ceez Liive s a recognized teen spoken word artist/poet. She has been featured at the Nuyorican Poet’s Café, Madison Square Garden, The Chicago Theater, The Saban Theatre and several other venues throughout the United States. Ceez won second place in the 2009 Knicks Poetry Slam and is a member of both the 2009 Urban Word Slam team and the 2010 Philadelphia Team. Her show “Ma Heels” premiered in December of 2009 in Dance Theater Workshop and was featured in the 2010 Hip Hop Theater Festival. She’s made appearances on WQHT Hot 97 and Kiss FM in New York City reciting poetry. The New York Times, The Bronx Times and The Daily News have written articles on her. In January of 2011, Ceez’ first feature film “Gun Hill Road” premiered at The Sundance Film Festival. Her talent to weave words and mesh experiences to educate and entertain makes her an up and coming performer to watch.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Poetry Chain Gang (Volume 3) | Janice Erlbaum

The Black Telephone has five fast questions for poet Janice Erlbaum.

BT: Did you ever buy a poetry book just because of its title?

JANICE: I have not bought poetry books because of their titles, but I will admit to being swayed by very convincing in-person sales pitches/author photos. Most of the poetry I buy is bought because I like the person who wrote it and I want to know more about what goes on in their head. Or because they are very very cute.

BT: After I've read a really good poem, I always find myself in a writing mood. How do you feel after you've read a really good poem?

JANICE: I feel like something just popped. I lift my head up like a prairie dog to see what the new sound was and survey the surroundings from this different place, different mood, different awareness. I also feel, usually, boggle-eyed appreciation, if not downright jealousy.

BT: On the website Contrariwise: Literary Tattoos, tattoos from literature are showcased. Is there a poem or line from a poem that you'd consider getting tattooed on you?

JANICE: I would consider getting a temporary tattoo of Frank O'Hara's "Lana Turner Has Collapsed" on my back, or maybe some Whitman, or some Sappho. Never any Erlbaum, though, because she's a hack.

BT: It's 9 p.m., are you...
a.) just putting the finishing touches on a poem?
b.) just beginning a poem?
c.) reading a poem?
d.) not even thinking about poetry?

JANICE: If it's 9pm, I'm probably on the couch watching a TV show about hoarders, or reading a book. I consider both of these activities to be "researching my next poem."

BT: I'm trying to start a chain, a chain of poets, sort of like a chain gang of poets. Can you please suggest a poet I should ask five fast questions to next?

JANICE: If I could suggest Bobby Miller, I would, but he suggested me! I will suggest a slam poet I recently met, Ceez.

Janice Erlbaum is the author of GIRLBOMB (Villard, '06) and HAVE YOU FOUND HER (Villard, '08). A former member of the Pussy Poets, she's been published in several anthologies including ALOUD: Voices From the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, for which she was the cover girl.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Poetry Chain Gang (Volume 3) | Bobby Miller

The Black Telephone has five fast questions for poet Bobby Miller.

BT: On your Myspace page, you say: “… I have retired to a semi quiet life on Cape Cod where I have gotten more … writing done in the last five years than I did in the thirty I lived in Manhattan.” That said, do you think where you write influences how you write?

BOBBY: I think where you are can inspire what you write but I don't think it is necessary to always write in the same place to get the same results. Though, I did used to write in a secluded spot in New York's Central park every day for several years and produced some of my strongest work there.

BT: You are a photographer as well as a poet. If you had to pick just one talent (photography or writing), which would you pick?

BOBBY: Photography because everyone can look at an image, not everyone will take the time to read words on paper.

BT: I recently came across the website Nerve. On it, there is a section called Advice From Poets from which I stole my next question: if "The Ezra Pound" was a sex position, what would it be?

BOBBY: The Ezra pound would involve several hours of hard fucking with your partner bent over and face down on the floor.

BT: What poet would you consider to be poetry's superstar?

BOBBY: Poetry superstar of all time: Allen Ginsberg. 2nd runner up: Diane DiPrima

BT: I’m trying to start a chain, a chain of poets, sort of like a chain gang of poets. Can you please suggest a poet I should ask five fast questions to next?

BOBBY: Janice Erlbaum

Bobby Miller is a poet,make up artist, actor & photographer. Author of 17 books of poetry & photographs. Has read his work in the US, Canada & Europe. He is an autodidact with a master's degree from the school of hard knocks and lives at the tip of the world in Provincetown, Massachusetts after 30 years in NYC.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Poetry Chain Gang (Volume 3) | Jose Gouveia

The Black Telephone has five fast questions for poet Jose Gouveia.

BT: The word magnolia, I think, is a very poetic word— it could almost be a one word poem. Is there a word you would consider to be very poetic— poetic enough, say, to be a one word poem?

JOSE: I think that sometimes we tend to put too much emphasis on the power of the word as opposed to the power of the word in a particular situation. Sure, magnolia is a poetic-sounding word, even a nature image of beautiful flowers budding, and there are other words with a poetic ring to it such as whiz, or buzz, active verbs that sound like the word itself, or onomatopoeia, which is another poetic-sounding word in and of itself. When I was a teenager, I started drinking whiskey because, initially, I just loved the poetic sound of that word! But I don’t believe that any word can be a one word poem unless circumstances allow: this is what we as artists call attaching our art to the outside world. Look at the word revolution. I think it is a very poetic word, has rhythm, many other words rhyme with it, it has multiple syllables so you can stress each differently to get a different sound out of the word. Rev-ooooooo-luuuuuuu-shun! Revo!-lu-shuuuuuuuuuun! See, many ways to sound poetic in Revolution! But go outside these days and keep screaming revolution and the neighbors will call the police or psyche ward on you. Scream revolution at any open mic and you'll’be the most cliché poet reading that night. Ah, but in 1776 Colonial America, Revolution truly was a one word poem, because we were at war for independence and the word revolution had a special meaning to that particular time period in our history. Just as some poems may have a short shelf life, so do most one word poems.

BT: Did you work on a poem today?

JOSE: That’s a relative question. If you mean did I actually sit at my desk and physically write poetry today, then the answer is no. But I am always working on poems. I have five or six ideas for poems in my head, and I always let them stew in my head for weeks before I finally write them down, sometimes months. I like to think my poems are fermenting up there, getting more toxic. Remember, a poem has to at least sound good to be a good poem, so I have to hear the poem in my head before I write it down. Other times I do compose more on paper, but have to write my poems while saying them out loud. Sometimes I say my poems out loud for weeks before writing them down—in the shower, while driving, etc. So whether I’ve actually sat at my desk to write today or not, in one way or another, the composing of poetry is always going on in my head.

BT: Is there a poet you're really diggin' at the moment?

JOSE: Franz Wright. I’ve recently gotten into his work and it is amazing. He is a poet full of compassion and with a very large heart. I’m also big on the poetry of Martin Espada and Marge Piercy, two of whom I feel are America’s pre-eminent political voices in poetry. For the first time ever I’ve began reading Jim Carrol, and so far I’m enjoying it. But there is also a younger poet out there named John Murillo whose poetry is simply incredible. John can make ya laugh, then cry, then be mad at the same situation all in the same poem. His polemic style works mostly in part to his keen sense of humor and the type of jargon he uses in creating the tone of his poems. All these poets I highly suggest.

BT: A starving artist appears on your doorstep: hungry for inspiration, thirsty for poetry— what do you feed him/her?

JOSE: Honestly? I’d probably feed him a good swift kick in the teeth. Then I’d tell him to give up all his material possessions and go join a band of gypsies, bringing disgrace to your family name and disowned from the family. Now that you don’t know where your next meal or money might come from, go work a dozen nickel-and-dime jobs over two decades and in that time fall in love, marry, have children, become an alcoholic, lose everything— you get the idea. Point is, nothing can feed a hungry artist if he/she is a true artist at heart. Only the experiences life gives you can inspire one to write, or at least to write well. They say write what you know. And pain is always a great motivator. So no, I’m not saying that everyone has to live up to this false romantic notion of life as the struggling artist, but I do believe that pain is the proverbial breakfast of champions for poets. Without something your readers/audience can also relate to, the writing itself will always fall short.

BT: I’m trying to start a chain, a chain of poets, sort of like a chain gang of poets. Can you please suggest a poet I should ask five fast questions to next?

JOSE: Bobby Miller, a great poet out of Provincetown and a great photographer as well. Tell him I sent you. He’s originally from NYC, but has been in Provincetown about 15 years now. He’d be great for something like this!

José Gouveia, a.k.a. Joe Go, Editor of RUBBER SIDE DOWN: the biker poet anthology (2008); author of three chapbooks: WHAT WE DO (1997), GINSBERG IS DEAD (2000) and THE SLAUGHTER OF THE SACRED COW (2008). Author of THE METER MAN poetry column, The Barnstable Patriot; Host of THE POETS CORNER, WOMR-FM Provincetown; Poetry Curator, The Cultural Center of Cape Cod. 1999 Poet Laureate of Cape Cod and Poet-In-Residence Cape Cod Community College; Massachusetts Poet of the Year, 2001; M.F.A. in Poetry from New England College.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Poetry Chain Gang (Volume 2) | Sally Ashton

The Black Telephone has five fast questions for poet Sally Ashton.

BT: When I asked poet Kelsea Habecker what book of poetry she was currently reading, she mentioned your book Some Odd Afternoon. How does it feel to know someone is reading your work, your words?

SALLY: It makes me smile. Then it makes me anxious. Then hopeful. In other words, like watching someone open a present you’ve just given them. Will they like it? What if they don’t? And hoping they don’t feel they have to act like they like it. But really wanting them to LOVE it.

BT: There are some poems I wish I had written or I feel I could've written. For instance, I wish I had written the poem "Mood Indigo" by William Matthews. Is there are poem you wish you had written or feel you could've written?

As I consider this rather profound question, four bookshelves of poetry are leaning in to listen. I guess I’d say that the poems found there are what keep me writing. And thanks for mentioning “Mood Indigo.” Wonderful language.

BT: How do you feel about found poems? Do you consider found poems cheating?

SALLY: I love any poem that comes together in an effective manner, and really, what poem isn’t found? The only way we have language is by borrowing sounds from the people around us, right, and what hasn’t been said before? Of course, the goal is to write something that has never been said in just that way. If you mean by “found” that the poem is chiefly comprised of found material, but the writer doesn’t acknowledge it or suggests otherwise, I would call that cheating, but then it’s the poet not the poem cheating.

BT: Did you read a poem today?

SALLY: Actually I did. I was going to an anniversary party and thought I’d bring a couple of poems along just in case. Just in case because quite often at “event” parties, someone will unexpectedly ask me if I have a poem I can read. Since I’m a bit of a failure at memorization, and the only thing worse than a poet who is always trying to foist a poem on someone is a poet without poetry, I try to be prepared. All that to say, I re-read and printed out Matthew Lipman’s raw but relevant “Marriage Pants.” I was going to soften it with a bit of Hafez, but it turned out the party was more about tequila than poetry.

BT: I’m trying to start a chain, a chain of poets, sort of like a chain gang of poets. Can you please suggest one poet I should ask five fast questions to next?

SALLY: Question #2 brought Indigo to mind. Indigo Moor.*

Sally Ashton is Editor in Chief of the DMQ Review. She is the author of These Metallic Days, and two recent collections: Her Name Is Juanita, Kore Press, and Some Odd Afternoon, BlazeVOX. Poems also appear in An Introduction to the Prose Poem and Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes. She teaches creative writing at San José State University and blogs at What? (

*Since Indigo Moor never got back to me, this concludes volume 2 of the Poetry Chain Gang. Stay tuned for volume 3. Thanks!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Poetry Chain Gang (Volume 2) | Kelsea Habecker

The Black Telephone has five fast questions for poet Kelsea Habecker.

BT: The poem or the title— which came first?

KELSEA: I love titles. I keep running lists of titles that I might want to use someday, for something— a poem or a story or a piece of art. I title emails that I send to friends, I title my to-do lists, I title everything. So, betting that the title generally came before the poem is a safe bet, but not a sure bet. I'm a firm believer in writing poems with a focus on process rather than a focus on product. I don't usually sit down knowing what I want to write about. I don't like to predetermine my poems in that way. So, quite often the title arrives long after I've been working on a poem. It's not an either/or scenario for me but a both/and.

BT: I love writing, but I love baking just as much. To me, there is something poetic about the preparation of food and the heat involved. I say this because I see, on your blog, that you enjoy welding. Is there something you would consider poetic about welding?

KELSEA: I find welding meditative. When I’m welding, wearing the heavy, dark faceplate and mask, the only thing I can see is the tiny puddle of orange, molten metal pooling at the tip of my welding torch. The only thing I can attend to is the exact
now. I can’t see behind to what I’ve done or look ahead to what’s coming, except in the narrowest margins. In welding, as in my writing and in life, I put on my protective mask, stand in utter darkness, pull the trigger, and then find the flame. Also, welding is classified as a hot-work process, a name given to any process that can cause ignition. What is the dream of any poem if not to cause ignition?

I love writing. It's perhaps my strongest instinct— but it's so cerebral. I long for something more visceral. I'm envious of my friends who are painters and sculptors because they get to physically wrestle with their materials— taste them, feel them, smell them. With my materials – words – I just get to think about them. As relief from that, I'm drawn to physical processes – like welding or baking – that allow me to use my whole body. Those, then, become objective correlatives for my writing work.

BT: I consider myself a logophile (which is a lover of words). Do you have a favorite word at the moment?

KELSEA: I'm writing a memoir and a series of prose poems right now about living in an Inupiaq village in the Arctic region of Alaska, so I've got a lot of Inupiaq words in my ether right now. With these words, the draw isn't their meaning. I'm drawn to the sounds of them— very different, sonically, than English words. I feel like a different person when I say them, like I'm putting on a costume. Nibiuktuk, ugruk, and uvlaakunluu are three I like right now. (They mean hope, bearded seal, and good-bye.)

BT: What poetry book are you currently reading?

KELSEA: I'm reading The Poet's Guide to the Birds, edited by Judith Kitchen and Ted Kooser, and Some Odd Afternoon by Sally Ashton.

BT: I'm trying to start a chain, a chain of poets, sort of like a chain gang of poets. Can you please suggest one poet I should ask five fast questions to next?

KELSEA: Sally Ashton*, Betsy Johnson Miller, or Norbert Krapf.

Kelsea Habecker's book of poetry, Hollow Out, was published by New Rivers Press. She received her MFA in poetry from Bennington Writing Seminars and her BA from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. When she's not living elsewhere, she lives in Indianapolis, where she teaches graduate creative writing seminars, undergraduate art courses, and community art workshops.

*Since Kelsea Habecker suggested three poets, I picked one out of the three to interview next.