This is Kate Angus's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Kate Angus's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Kate Angus
New York
Recent Activity
It has been such a pleasure to guest-blog here at BAP and I’m a little sad to be hanging up my spurs when I hit “publish” on this entry. This last post is a bit more scattered than my previous ones--it’s a round up of poetry-related (or kissing cousins to poetry) projects I wanted to share with you. First, I want to mention that our reading period is open at Augury Books. Do you have a poetry manuscript, a short story collection, or a nonfiction book (full-length or a collection of shorter pieces) that is looking for a home? Send it to us please--we’re really excited to read new work. Secondly (I’m going to keep everything connected to organizations that I represent here in this one paragraph), The Mayapple Center for Arts and Humanities, a nonprofit center located in Stamford, Connecticut, is offering two half-scholarships this summer for Vijay Seshadri’s (this year’s winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for his book 3 Sections) workshop. The class is called Transitions and Transfigurations and runs from August 18th through August 22nd on Mayapple’s campus. If you want to study with an amazing teacher somewhere beautiful this summer, you should send an email inquiry to michelle.slater@mayapplecenter.org with your CV and writing sample by June 30th. Are you familiar with cellpoems? It’s a poetry journal that sends out one weekly text message containing a beautiful short poem. It’s free to subscribe and they publish a great mix of emerging poets, as well as established names like Charles Simic and Sherman Alexie. This poem by Heather Cousins has run through my head since I first read it almost four years ago. You may also like Motionpoems, a nonprofit production company that makes short film adaptions of contemporary poems. I can’t get over how gorgeous their movie-poems are--watching each one is like being able to step into a snippet of someone else’s dream. Girls in Trouble is another project that I love, although related to poetry more tangentially than directly; it’s an art-rock band helmed by poet Alicia Jo Rabins. Girls in Trouble’s music tells the stories of women in the Torah through songs that fuse American folk, indie rock, strings (violin and cello!), and gorgeous verse. Also, this is my new favorite tumblr--it isn’t poetry-specific, but poets (and everyone) should contribute. Cristina Henriquez’s newest novel, The Book of Unknown Americans, tells the story of immigrants whose voices aren’t often heard. She created a tumblr to accompany it that asks people to share their own and their families’ experiences moving to the United States. I’ve loved reading the stories that are posted and I hope some of you will want to add yours. Finally, I want to leave you with a poem: A Book of Music Coming at an end, the lovers Are exhausted like two swimmers. Where Did it end? There is no telling. No love is Like an ocean with the dizzy procession of the waves’ boundaries From which two can emerge exhausted,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Lately I’ve been thinking about the multiple ways writers use the second person; how, depending on the situation, the “you” functions as an address to a specific other, to the unknown reader or readers, or to the self when the long litany of I I I grows too tiring or when what’s being written about is too fraught. I’ve always loved writing in the second person and was horrified years ago when reading a sociology book about sociopaths (sociology and true crime books: my guilty reading pleasure, no longer a secret now that I’ve outed myself here) and learned that they speak in the second person more often than most other people--particularly when asked to express emotions. One of my best friends was reading the same book at the time and we both briefly worried we might secretly be sociopaths--in Diana’s case because sociopaths also apparently love spicy foods and she loads her pizza slices with chili flakes as thick as snow in a Siberian winter; in my case because I was writing a lot of poems where I swapped in “you” when I really meant “I.” Of course the reasons are different: sociopaths say “you” so they have a coat hook to hang emotions they don’t feel onto, whereas my longstanding joke title for my future memoir has been I Had Too Goddamn Many Feelings--I used “you” in the poems I was writing back then because I needed the illusion of distance from my subject matter. To leave talking about myself aside for a minute, my co-editor at Augury Books, Kimberly Steele, wrote a great piece a few years back about John Ashbery and Richard Siken’s use of the second person in their poems. Sadly I can’t link to the essay, but I can quote her when she says, of Siken, “The details are too singular to implicate the reader, but the absence of a first person calls attention to the ‘you.’ The speaker stands out as the subject just as transparently as if he had employed the first person.” One of my favorite of Siken’s poems, “A Primer for the Small Weird Loves” (Crush), is a perfect example of this--the “you” so clearly an “I” who needs to speak through displacement into the observational eye detailing the scene. And yet I would also add that, despite the specificity of the details, the emotional trajectory the poem follows is common enough that many readers can and will put themselves inside this “you”--not only as we see with Penny Lane’s analysis of the poem on The Rumpus in the link I included, but also because a lengthy Google search for “A Primer...” brought me to a number of tumblr pages where fans had transcribed the poem but misquoted the last line, adding a “never” before “leave you alone.” Not only does this addition entirely change the line’s meaning, but I think it also reveals how fully the transcribers conflate the “you” of the poem with themselves; because they feel themselves... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
When Odysseus sets sail for the Trojan War, he places his infant son under his friend Mentor’s protection. During Odysseus’s long absence, Mentor guides Telemachus into adulthood--sometime through his own sage advice and companionship; at other times, because Athena, the goddess of wisdom, takes his form to offer divine counsel. Now, because of these stories, Mentor’s name is the word we use to describe those wise and trusted advisors who teach and encourage us along the way. As with Telemachus and Mentor, the original mentorship pairing, this relationship is important for almost everyone as we try to navigate our way through the world. In practical terms though, I think in writing it’s particularly important. This is a lonely business--just you and the words in your head--and so full of rejection that having someone more experienced encourage you is often what allows us to keep trying; a mentor’s approval can give you permission to believe in yourself. When the “We enjoyed your work, but...” slips pile up or when you look at your poems and image seems stale and every phrase hackneyed, mentors remind you that your words have value. And, of course, sometimes they also point you towards journals to submit to or job openings or new books to read that you might love. I have been very lucky with mentorship, both with the mentors I’ve had and the students I’ve been closest to once I became a teacher. In high school, I was a Creative Writing major at Interlochen Arts Academy, a boarding school for the arts in Northern Michigan, where I was taught by Jack Driscoll and Michael Delp, writers whose workshops focused on craft, offering incisive and thoughtful encouragement rather than false kindnesses. Because the faculty treated our work seriously and brought in guests readers like Mary Ruefle and Stephen Dunn, I grew up thinking literature was a thing I could participate in making--that I could write books and edit and publish them--rather than something inaccessible created by mysterious people far away. I was also lucky in a way I didn’t realize until I also became a teacher trying to balance being present for my former students with the demands of my own life: my mentors stayed invested in my well-being long after I graduated--exchanging letters, meeting for coffee (or, when I was older, vodka martinis), and, later, bringing me back to Interlochen for a semester to guest teach. This, more than anything, is what I’m most grateful for: that Jack and Delp gave me the chance to pass on some of the same care and attention they’d once given me to students who I adored. I found a similar attention to mentoring in my graduate program at The New School, where Meghan O’Rourke, Matthew Zapruder and our gracious host here, David Lehman, all not only helped me make breakthroughs in my poetry inside the classroom walls, but also ushered me into the literary community beyond MFA-world as an active participant--encouraging me to submit my work, presenting... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
That's a great prompt! I'm going to steal that one too.
Toggle Commented Jun 10, 2014 on Secrets [by Kate Angus] at The Best American Poetry
Image
In my workshop, I often use a prompt where I pass out blank index cards and ask my students to--as quickly as possible--write down one of their secrets. The secret can be mundane (I talk in my sleep or I broke a vase and blamed the cat) or intimately shocking (I cheated on my boyfriend with his cousin; I steal money from the cash register at work); it doesn’t matter. It just has to be something that most other people in their lives wouldn’t know. I also suggest they try to disguise their handwriting so that all the secrets look as if they could belong to anyone. After I collect the cards, I shuffle and redistribute them so that every student holds someone else’s secret. It’s always possible--chance being a trickster spirit--that a student’s own secret returns, trailing him or her like a cat stalking the hapless rabbit, texts from a lover who can’t fully believe things are over, the eternal recurrence of the blood stain on Lady Macbeth’s hand. So this doesn’t derail things, I tell them if you draw your own secret, pretend it’s not yours; follow the next step the same way you would if the secret you have belonged to a classmate. The only rule for the second part of the prompt is that no one is allowed to speculate about origins--who in the room the secret they’re writing about first belonged to. Other than that, they can write whatever they want: a persona poem confessing the secret as their own, a narrative poem describing the situation, a pantoum incorporating the secret as one line in its intricately woven pattern, anything. Now I’ll confess one of my secrets: I stole the prompt. One of my students was given this exercise in a different class and then mentioned it in passing in my workshop--I’ve used it every semester since. To Christina Castro (the messenger) and Major Jackson (il primo fabbro), a tip of my hat and a resounding thank you. This assignment is usually a class favorite--perhaps because of its mixture of narcissism and mystery, the way the students’ balance of interest keeps shifting back and forth between who has my secret and how are they writing it and whose secret do I have. I think it also plays into a particularly modern love for simultaneous self-disclosure and concealment--the same impulse that leads to Internet chatrooms where our avatars type out desires and regrets we might never dare admit to our loved ones or therapists; phone apps like Secret that allow you to contribute anonymous confessions to a newsfeed your contact list can idly scroll through as they ride the bus or wait in line to buy groceries; and Postsecret, a website and book series compiled from confessions scrawled on postcards and mailed to the site’s founder who posts a new selection of secrets each Sunday. I’m fascinated by these Internet confessionals where people articulate their deepest most vulnerable truths and yet still remain strangers, both known... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Translation Lately I have been thinking about translation and how it exists under everything. Everything we write, everything we speak is a kind of translation--an attempt to bring forth into words what we think and see and feel; to accurately transcribe our ideas and emotions. This, of course, is impossible: there are no perfect transcriptions--we cannot render the ineffable into, well, the effable without picking up a few flaws along the way. This is also not a new thought. Gustave Flaubert famously called language “a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity” and J. Alfred Prufrock’s frustrated cry of “It is impossible to say just what I mean!” echoes on and on into the dark. The language poets took this idea and expanded it by having language, the mode of expression, determine meaning rather than the other way around. So, if everything is a translation already (from the interior to the exterior; the thought to the expression), how can we even begin to approach attempting a further translation, the traditional kind where we shift a poem from one language to another? If there isn’t a word which is the exact equivalent of the blue edge of morning or that conveys the pleasure of lying awake and breathing in the warm scent of your lover’s sleeping skin, how can we find a word in English that matches--in sound, meaning, appearance and connotation--a word in Russian or French? It seems daunting. But perhaps rather than daunting, this is exhilarating. If we open up the idea of translation to include “interpretation” and not only allow for, but embrace the multiplicity of possible metamorphoses the original work can undergo as the mode of expression changes, the impossible becomes a dazzling game. The field of experimental translation is vibrant and diverse and I’m not nearly well-versed enough in it to present a catalog of all the concepts it contains or the people doing interesting original work there; instead, I want to mention a few of my favorites. Telephone, founded by Sharmila Cohen and Paul Legault in 2010, was originally created as a literary journal, but has expanded to also publish books as an imprint of Nightboat Books (a translation of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and an upcoming reprint and translation/expansion of B.P. Nichols’ Translating Apollinaire tentatively entitled Translating Translating Apollinaire). For each issue of the journal, the editors choose 5-6 poems from a poet writing in another language and solicit roughly 10-12 translators from a range of experience (professional translators of that language, writers with no previous translation experience at all, and others who fall somewhere in between), telling them they are free to do absolutely anything they want in their translation--that there are no rules; the resulting translations are presented side by side as comparative texts, allowing the reader to see multiple versions of the same poem. Past issues of Telephone have focused on the German poet Uljana... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Kate Angus is now following The Typepad Team
Jun 6, 2014