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Stephen Haven, APP Director, to Speak and Read at Three Venues in October

Stephen Haven, Director  of the Ashland University MFA Program in Creative Writing and Director of the Ashland Poetry Press, will take part in three October talks and poetry readings, at the following locations: 

October 21, 2010 @ 7 pm
A Reading from Anthology Working Words: Punching the Clock and Kicking Out (Coffee House Press, 2010).  Haven will read with Larry Smith, Ray McNiece, Maggie Anderson, and Jeanne Bryner
Sponsored by Mac’s Backs Books
1820 Coventry Rd
Cleveland Hts, OH

October 24, 2010, 4:30 pm
Hudson Valley Writers’ Center Poetry Reading
300 Riverside Drive, Sleepy Hollow, NY
Haven will read with Afaa Michael Weaver

October 25, 2010, 1:30-3:30
Binghamton University, State University of New York
4400 Vestal Parkway East
Binghamton, NY
LN 1104 (the Grad Student Lounge at the base of the Library Tower) .
A conversation on publishing, craft, and the writing life with STEPHEN HAVEN editor at ASHLAND POETRY PRESS at Ashland University in Ohio.  Haven, author of two collections of poetry, was nominated for the National Book Award for The River Lock: One Boy’s Life along the Mohawk, his memoir about growing up in upstate New York.   An informal Q & A event open to all.


Review of Richard Jackson’s Resonance

Review of Richard Jackson’s Resonance, published by the Ashland Poetry Press in January 2010.  Thank you, Ryan Johnson, for your insights!

Richard Jackson’s Resonance is a book that ignites our intellectual and emotional capacities.  Jackson reaches his hand into the depths of the human being and offers us his findings.  The book is ripe with philosophical inquiries, emotional investigations and self evaluations. 

 A writing professor of mine once asked, “Is it possible to write anything original or new about the moon or the stars?”  Many of us answered that it is very difficult to write about the moon or the stars without being victim to cliché. In Resonance, Jackson is very much concerned about the universe and our place in it.  He goes to great lengths to suggest meanings as to how we connect with this universe. And he skillfully uses the overused Moon and Stars at his advantage: he deconstructs them and repeatedly redefines them in exciting ways.

 In his poem, “Letter While Driving Towards the Apocalypse” he writes:

                                                                                …That was

            not a wrong turn.  I know exactly where I’m going. But

            it’s the end of the world for them.  Above them are

            sharp shooters disguised as stars.  The shelled trees rise

            like spires.  The moon seems trapped between cypress trees.

            These images fall like loaded dice. (92)

Each poem is an existential journey.  The structure of these poems are largely in prose paragraph form.  This is a wise choice because it allows the poems to shoot off into new places at an instant.  He can go off into vast tangents but at the same time stay connected with the underlying theme of the book. 

One could go far enough and say that this book is about Love.  Love of all kinds.  And Love is a complicated thing: it can bring happiness and suffering.  Jackson wrestles with this duality throughout the book. In his poem “Night Sky”:

            Sometimes we have to hold hands with our own nightmares.

            When I tell you that the voice of a nightingale turns dark

            you have to understand what this love is trying to overcome,

            you have to know that if you ever leave, if you ever disappear,

            the sky would rip, and the stars would lose their way.

Further, in “Write Your Name in the Space Provided”:

                                                              …Every love is terrifying.

            It’s always a savage solar storm that creates the Northern Lights.

            But today, today opens like a wound, and you are there.

            And you would be wrong to think that when I reach

            inside you I do not find the petals of your soul.  You would be

            wrong to think I wouldn’t die for you on any given day.

            Resonance creates its own universe and Jackson begs us to use the heart as a telescope in order to see into it.  This book is an emotive force; it is not simply reading a book of poetry, it’s feeling a book of poetry.  Jackson isn’t afraid to reveal the terror of being human, rather, he embraces it.  He embraces it in order to strengthen his love, not only for the universe and his fellow man, but for the written word.

Striking Surface by Jason Schneiderman Reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly

Striking Surface CoverJason Schneiderman, Ashland Univ. (SPD., dist.), $15.95 (64p) ISBN 978-0-912592-70-1 (Publisher’s Weekly)

Schneiderman practices, and sometimes excels at, the kind of art that seems, at first, artless: his sonnets, prose poems, and sparse free verse show a laconic figure whose grave reserve reveals itself in carefully stripped-down language, using only the most common American words. This second collection organizes itself around the poet’s eight-part elegy for his mother, which provides some of its rawest lines: “I shovel dirt on your coffin. This is the living kicking you out. The dead go under the ground, so stay there.” Elsewhere Schneiderman (Sublimation Point) reaches for historical events that also provoke awe, or horror, or mourning: in “The Children’s Crusade II” “The body is a gate,/ a test.” Another poem cuts back and forth between Aeschylean tragedy and the film High Noon to make its points about peace and war. Schneiderman’s connections between world events and his own experience can seem strained, his verse effects less elegant than simple: yet he finds, often enough, a durable wisdom in his reduced means: “Each mouse,” he writes, “is the first mouse,// the same failure/ to live clean-/ ly.” (Sept.)

Summer Reading Feature: Christine Gelineau

The Montserrat Review listed Christine Gelineau’s Ashland Poetry Press title, Appetite for the Divine as a must-read on their Summer Reading List.  Check out the rest of the authors and titles on the list at The Montserrat Review.

Appetite for the Divine is available from the Ashland University Bookstore or