Weekly Reads: Nathan Kemp

This week's recommended reading comes to us from poet extraordinaire and past CSU Poetry Center volunteer, Nathan Kemp:

Lidia Yuknavitch, Dora: A Headcase by Lidia Yuknavitch (Hawthorne Books, 2012)

Lidia Yuknavitch retells Sigmund Freud’s famous case study—Dora: Fragments of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria—in a modern setting. Yuknavitch’s Dora lives in Seattle and like Ida Bauer—who Freud labeled Dora—rebels against the psycho-sexual narrative Freud tries to impose upon her. Thanks to Caroline Crew for the initial recommendation!



Caroline Cabrera, The Bicycle Year (H_NGM_N, 2015)

Caroline Cabrera’s second poetry collection begins, “You keep trying to get all your ducks in a row,” but it is defined by its resistance to do so. Cabrera rambles into a kind of thought process that preserves through its attention to our most instinctual behaviors. This is a great summer book because of its common truths:

The first time I smelled lilacs

I couldn’t believe them

like the time a teen girl

sat across from me

in a coffee shop

and asked what it feels like

to fall in love

5 Questions with Alison Luterman (interviewed by Madeline Farr)

1. How has your writing style and/or perspective on writing changed since the publication of The Largest Possible Life?

The Largest Possible Life was born out of crisis—getting divorced in my mid-thirties, having my whole world fall apart and my heart broken, and then miraculously finding my way to jobs where I got to work with other broken people. In my case, this took the form of jobs as an H.I.V. test counselor at S.F. General Hospital, and Glide Memorial Church and Urban Health Study. I feel like I was studying catastrophe and addiction and resilience and death and rebirth during that time, an intensive course, me and other people. The Largest Possible Life is a document of that, and I feel very tenderly toward it. The poems I’m working on now are probably more formally sophisticated, and I’m not in that kind of raw broken-open place currently. I'm more aware of my tendency to over-write. I’m more critical of my work now, and I’m more interested in developing technique and polish than I was before.

2. What are you working on right now?

I just finished writing a musical called The Chain, and I am working on poems for a fourth book of poetry. In my personal life I have been exploring the sacred feminine, and I’m wanting to center this next book around that theme, but we’ll see. Books have a way of taking on a life of their own!

3. What poet (contemporary or of the past) should we all be reading?

We should all be reading one poet who calls to us because they echo our own inner landscape, and one poet who is completely different from us, whose work challenges and stretches and baffles us. That said, I find myself drawn back again and again to Tess Gallagher’s poetry—she combines a native mysticism and a relationship with myth and landscape with long complex narrative poems that are emotionally and aesthetically pleasing, with magical little lyrics. I think she’s the complete package, and not enough attention has been paid to her work.

4. What is your advice for young writers?

Develop an exercise routine—yoga, running, swimming, dancing—and do something physical every day, for your mental health as well as your physical health. It’s not cute to be a drug addict. Quit smoking, it’s disgusting. Drink a lot of water. Floss. Try to figure out a way to handle the making a living problem—at least find a way to to get decent health insurance. It’s okay to have to work a day job. And patience—this is a long-haul deal.

5. Where/when do you like to write, or do your best writing?

I’m not picky about location—I’ve written good things on airplanes and in cafes or in my study—wherever. The main thing is having a little cushion of downtime so that the deeper feelings and images can emerge. I like to warm up by reading poetry for half an hour or so beforehand—that helps enormously. Morning or night doesn’t matter to me. Also: it’s okay not to be writing for a while. Sometimes it’s just time to be living and quietly gestating.

Weekly Reads: Siwar Masannat

This summer our Managing Editor Amber Allen has put together a series of weekly recommended reading lists. Contributors include CSU staff, students, authors, and friends. First up is Siwar Masannat, whose book 50 Water Dreams won the CSU Poetry Center's 2014 First Book Competition.

Siwar recommends:


Textu by Fady Joudah 
Copper Canyon Press, 2014

Sand Opera by Philip Metres
Alice James Books, 2015 

Western Practice by Stephen Motika
Alice James Books, 2012

& Chapbooks:

This is the One that Snowfalls You, That You Snowfall Out Of by Daniel D’Angelo
Outta Ink Press, 2015

The White Dog Year by Caitlin Scarano
dancing girl press & studio, 2015 

and nevermind the storm by Soham Patel
Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2012

Spring 2015 Catalog Just Released!

Click on the books below or visit Small Press Distribution's website to purchase a copy of the following titles:

Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles, by Lee Upton

Festival, by Broc Rossell

50 Water Dreams, by Siwar Masannat

I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky, translated by Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev

CSU Poetry Center at AWP:

Hello dear readers, we hope to see you in Minneapolis next week!

Stop by our book table (#447) from Thursday through Saturday to buy books, chat with our staff, and check out this year’s brand new poetry catalog featuring titles by Siwar Masannat, Broc Rossell, and Lee Upton.

Also, please join us Friday evening for our collaborate reading and book release extravaganza with Rescue Press, called Welcome to the Future. The reading will take place from 8:00-9:30 at the Instinct Art Gallery and will feature new work from the following writers:

Bridgette Bates
Lauren Haldeman
Siwar Masannat
Blueberry Morningsnow
Marc Rahe
Broc Rossell
Andy Stallings
Christian TeBordo
Lee Upton

Eileen Myles: First Book Poetry Competition Judge

The Cleveland State University Poetry Center is thrilled that our forever-hero Eileen Myles will judge this year's First Book Poetry Competition. Eileen Myles is a New York-based poet who has published 18 collections of poetry, fiction, & nonfiction, most recently Snowflake/different streets (Wave Books, 2012) and Inferno (a poet’s novel) from OR books (2010). In 2014 she received a grant for her poetry from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. I Must Be Living Twice (new & selected poems) & a reissue of Chelsea Girls (fiction) will be out in fall, 2015 from Ecco/Harper Collins.

Here are a few of our favorite of Myles’ poems: 

 "Peanut Butter"

 "15 Minutes"

"Today" and "To My Flowers"

"Our Happiness"

And a slew of amazing interviews:

With Morgan Parker at The Literary Review

With Kaveh Akbar at divedapper

With Whiskey Blue at Full Stop

With Stacy Szymaszek at Rattapallax

And even more of the wonder:

Eileen Myles' Website

Fuck Yeah Eileen Myles Tumblr

For more information on the Cleveland State University Poetry Center's First Book Competition see our guidelines.

Last Year's Book Contest Results:

Cleveland State University Poetry Center
2014 First Book and Open Book Competition Results

We're happy to re-post the results of last year's CSU Poetry Center Book Competitions. All three books will be published this spring!

Winner of the 2014 First Book Competition (selected by Ilya Kaminsky): Siwar Masannat: 50 Water Dreams

Siwar Masannat is an Arab writer from Amman, Jordan. She holds an M.F.A. in poetry from George Mason University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Siwar co-founded Gazing Grain Press, a chapbook publisher open to feminists of every gender and sexuality. Her poems and articles have appeared in Denver Quarterly, VOLT, Gargoyle, and 7iber.me, among others.


Winner of the 2014 Open Book Competition
(selected by Erin Belieu): Lee Upton: Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles

Lee Upton is the author of The Tao of Humiliation: Stories, the essay collection Swallowing the Sea: On Writing & Ambition Boredom Purity & Secrecy; the novella The Guide to the Flying Island; and a fifth collection of poetry, Undid in the Land of Undone. She is a professor of English and the writer-in-residence at Lafayette College.  

Editor’s Choice (selected by CSU PC Director, Caryl Pagel):
Broc Rossell: Festival

Broc Rossell is from California and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he teaches creative writing, literature, and courses in culture and theory for the English and Humanities departments at Simon Fraser University. 



We would also like to recognize and congratulate the following finalists:

First Book Runners-Up:

Justin Boening: Where Are We Riding To, Master
Stella Corso: Eat Island
Carolina Ebeid: You Ask Me To Talk About The Interior
Caroline Knapp: Auricle
Diana Khoi Nguyen: Ghost Of
Stephen Priest: Why We Don’t Say What We Want
Martin Rock: Residuum
Jay Thompson: Full Gone
Colin Winnette: The Animals

First Book Finalists:

Jose Alvergue: precis
Jeff Baker: Whoop & Shush
Melissa Barrett: Cold Holy Voice
Thea Brown: Think of the Danger
Dana Curtis: Wave Particle Duality
Adam Davis: Index of Haunted Houses
Erik Ekstrand: Laodicea
Dennis Etzel Jr.: My Secret Wars of 1984
Kristin George Bagdanov: Being a Body
Evan Harrison: Bad Faith
Katie Hartsock: Wild Papyri
Christopher Kang: Autodiary
Eunsong Kim: Performance for Debt
Matthew Minicucci: Aristeia
Ayaz Pirani: Girl Without Limbs
Matt Reeck: Wunderkammer!
Nicholas Regiacorte: Machigonne
Anji Reyner: The Sunshine Grudge
Lisa Wells: The Resurrections

Open Book Finalists:

Aaron Apps: Queer Fat
Carrie Bennett: The Land is a Painted Thing
Denise Bergman: Three Hands None
Laurie Blauner: A Theory for What Just Happened
James Capozzi: Layman’s Atlas
Daniel Coudriet: The Lost Parade
Adam Crittenden: Field Spectrum
Shira Dentz: how do I net thee
Noah Falck: Exclusions
Carmen Gillespie: The Blue Black Wet of Wood
Andrew Grace: Of Dust
Brandi Homan: Strange Fish, Something Fierce
Matthew Lippman: The Book of Love
Matt Mauch: Bird Brain
Orlando Ricardo Menes: Heresies
Miguel Murphy: A Morbid Education
Mario Padilla: Postcards on the Invented Road
Jean-Paul Pecqueur: Real Cyclone
Robert Perchman: Crashing The Hopeful Monster Ball
Michael Robins: Match
Lynn Shaffer: Appearing Act
Kent Shaw: Gigantic
Purvi Shah: Miracle Marks
Gale Thompson: Expeditions to the Polar Seas
Jon Thompson: All Bright and Foreseen
Cheryl Clark Vermeulen: You Can Take It Out
Julie Marie Wade: Must Be Present to Win

New Year, New Website!!

Dear Readers, 

Welcome to our new website! Here’s a bit about us: the CSU Poetry Center was established in 1962 and has since proudly published nearly 200 rangy, joyful, profound, astonishing, complicated, surprising, and aesthetically diverse collections of contemporary poetry and prose. We publish 3-5 collections a year with national distribution and reach. CSU Poetry Center books have won a whole bunch of competitive prizes and awards and our authors are some of the most thrilling writers you’ll find. The Poetry Center mainly acquires manuscripts through our annual contests (one is dedicated to publishing first books, the other to supporting an established poet’s career), and this year we will add a third contest to the list—our Essay Collection Competition—which welcomes submissions of full-length essay collections as a way of promoting prose genres that, like poetry, embrace messy structures, troublesome subject matter, and surprising language.

In addition to publishing, the Poetry Center actively promotes poetry through an annual reading series, collaborative art events, participation in national poetry and publication conferences, and as an educational resource for the undergraduate, M.A., and M.F.A. students at Cleveland State University by involving students in the editorial and production aspects of literary publishing. 

Our new website features lots of great stuff, including these pages:

ABOUT: learn more about the history of the Poetry Center and our lovely staff of students.

BOOKS: a section which features the entire CSU Poetry Center catalog with author news and information, book details, and the option to purchase our titles directly through from the website.

COMPETITIONS: here you can find out more about our current book competitions, reading period, judges, eligibility, and submission guidelines. You can also send us your manuscript via the links to Submittable.

NEWS: a platform which will regularly feature interviews & reviews, local Cleveland art events, information on author reading tours, sales and promotions, and whatever it is that’s on our mind at the moment.

READING SERIES: join us this spring for four stellar readings by seven astounding poets, many of whom are past winners of our book prizes.

RESOURCES: go here for more information on shipping, permissions, and our favorite local arts organizations. 

Thanks you for your patience as we continue to tweak and update these pages over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

Caryl Pagel
Director, Cleveland State University Poetry Center