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By Joanna Fuhrman and Toni Simon:


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Selections from “Friend of the Dead” originally appeared in Paperbag, selections from “How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You” originally appeared in Talisman, and selections from “The Ruler of Rusted Knees” originally appeared in Posit. These selections appear here today with permission from the poet.

Artists’ Statement: In our mixed-media literary project, Egyptian gods, stripped of their context and role, wander various New York City neighborhoods trying to figure out where they belong, how to make sense of what they have lost, and how to get along with one another.

In the first step of our project, Toni Simon constructs three-dimensional, small-scale figurines out of paper, modeled on Egyptian gods. She then paints them with abstract, graphic details. We then take the little gods out into different neighborhoods and take hundreds of photographs of them. We select eight to ten images, which become the basis for a series of poems written by Joanna Fuhrman.

So far, we have created picture/poem serial combinations in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Chinatown, the Reversible Destiny Studio, Red Hook and Gowanus. Parts of the project have appeared online in Paperbag, Talisman, and Posit, and in print in the 100th issue of Hanging Loose.

Joanna Fuhrman is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Pageant (Alice James Books 2009). Her fifth book, The Year of Yellow Butterflies, is forthcoming from Hanging Loose Press in 2015. Recent poems appear in The Believer, Court Green, The Brooklyn Rail, and Puerto del Sol. In 2011, Least Weasel published a beautifully printed chapbook, The Emotive Function. She teaches poetry writing at Rutgers, SLC Writer’s Village and in private workshops. Her essays on teaching appear regularly in Teachers & Writers Magazine.

Toni Simon is a multimedia artist living in Brooklyn. Her illustrated book of prose poetry, Earth After Earth, was published by Lunar Chandelier Press in 2012. Over 80 of her illustrations appear in Contradicta: Aphorisms (Green Integer, 2010) by Nick Piombino. She has exhibited her drawings at the Drawing Center and at the AIR Gallery in NYC.

Editor’s Note: What’s not to love? Two stellar artists in collaboration, pairing visual art and poetry. Egyptian gods wandering the streets of New York, searching for life’s meaning. Unique, hand-crafted images. And the words. Yes. The words. After all, this is the Saturday Poetry Series, and as unique as this concept is, it would not be here if it weren’t for the words. “Be honest / like language // is dishonest.” “I am not afraid of you / if you’re not afraid of me.” “One can see through / more than glass.” “You can stand by the window all day, / but you won’t become a window.” “In the beginning, we didn’t need to be friends with all / the parts of ourselves.” These reflections, offered in the guise of meditations of fallen gods, are truly a reflection of ourselves.

Want to read more by Joanna Fuhrman and Toni Simon?
Joanna Fuhrman Official Website
Toni Simon Official Blog


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  By Ace Boggess

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(Today’s poem originally appeared in Rattle and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Ace Boggess is the author of two books of poetry: The Prisoners (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2014) and The Beautiful Girl Whose Wish Was Not Fulfilled (Highwire Press, 2003). He earned his B.A. from Marshall University and his J.D. from the West Virginia University College of Law. His writing has appeared in Harvard Review, Mid-American Review, Atlanta Review, RATTLE, River Styx, Southern Humanities Review and many other journals. He currently resides in Charleston, West Virginia.

Editor’s Note: Today’s post contemplates the notion of ownership, stretching the reaches of that idea to love, to possession, to art and life. I know what it is to live a life in which “All I own fits in a box & a bag,” in which “For want of a dollar I’d insert one poem / into a vending machine for peanuts,” but “the mechanism / washes it back as counterfeit.” Press against this capitalist world, this material existence—where we are weened on ideas of ownership and worship of the Almighty Dollar—and you will discover that what really matters cannot be measured by these false gods. Take a moment to wonder—with me, with today’s poet— “How would it be to possess an interest in the sun” or “a lien on [your] lover’s breast,” and remember that “There’s so much nothing in the world: a man can’t even own that / without acquiring something in the loss.”

Want to read more by and about Ace Boggess?
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Blood Orange Review
The Aurora Review
Red Booth Review
Coe Review

What Would Stephanie Say?

"Microcosm 12" by Stephanie Goehring
“Microcosm 12” by Stephanie Goehring

Editor’s Note: The What Would I Say app is turning all of us into weird, self-involved robot poets. Stephanie Goehring shares some thoughts on this social media phenomenon and an in-progress poem composed entirely of her own What Would I Say results:

What Would Stephanie Say?

Probably That I’m a Narcissist (But That’s OK)

By Stephanie Goehring

A friend of mine, a fiction writer, keeps joking on Facebook about how obsessed poets are with the What Would I Say app. And it’s true: Just about all of the What Would I Say posts in my news feed have come from writers, and the poets are the ones who seem to be totally losing their minds over it.

When I first used this website, my thought process went something like this: Oh, this is hilarious. This is really interesting. This is beautiful. This is nonsense. But then I started thinking about how many people were posting results from the website that only seemed to fall into the latter category. So why were they flooding all of their friends’ news feeds with this garbage? And of course the answer is because they think their bot-self statuses are hilarious or interesting or beautiful. Even when the reality is that the particular post is bullshit. But we post it because it’s our own bullshit. In fact, it’s bullshit made of our own bullshit. It’s something we posted on Facebook (so, really, what’s the value of the initial language the bot is working with?) and then we repost it, garbled, as if that means anything.

But it does mean something. It says something about our collective narcissism. It says something about how we are constantly recording our own lives rather than and in addition to living them, how we all repeatedly throw ourselves against the wall of the Internet so that we can hear the echo. And that’s disgusting, but it’s also amazing. Because we aren’t the only ones who hear the echo.

And for poets in particular, I think that’s part of what makes What Would I Say so enticing: It’s replicating the experience of writing a poem. Language comes from you (meaning from everywhere else, too), is ordered (or disordered) and then thrown against the wall of the world so that it can become a sound that made another sound.

I wanted to do something with that: take the Facebook Stephanie that the Internet threw against the wall of itself and try to get that Facebook Stephanie to make a sound of her own—one that might matter to someone else. And I wanted to avoid using this bot-generated language to write a poem about poetry itself because that would just be an example of this kind of narcissism: A poem that gazes at its own navel to me seems far worse than a person who does (even if that person does so while taking a selfie and then posts it on Facebook).


In the parking lot when photographing your own intense feelings
only you should be disgusting like the march of the national anthem.
I don’t have a state dance. We need more than my empty living.
I had a lengthy conversation with the whole world
in a sequined dress and eating cold south winds gusting to go.
I like to recognize me, squeeze the tornado threat,
watch crowds of my blood, the dancing girl who tells me
I hear someone who intimidates people like a swimsuit model.
I’ve decided to be able to be italicized.
We need to reach me. You can do it
if you are the time, all of the supermoon.
Oh I still feel like four hours ago
except that I keep rereading my phone.
I’ve decided to be the word.
Fun fact for sale:
You can make a disciple. They lay eggs
in the box, looking for creative writing like you.
I hear you, and mentally, so hot tub connected.
I’m saying a word is cheap and get the stomach flu.
You can love YouTube.
Did you know it’s a fucking universe?
A blind contour drawing of drunk girls
losing someone else’s virginity?
When I rotate my arm, everything will take forever.
I will trigger scattered thunderstorms,
break his neck in his elementary school,
eat the playground and then venture out.
Even music wouldn’t do this listening to the rest of its life.
So am I. So if you
get punched in the universe,
try to write a cute photograph
thinking about the seasons as if we need you.

*The language in this poem is bot-generated in its entirety, with only capitalization and punctuation changed.


Stephanie Goehring is co-author, with Jeff Griffin, of the chapbook I Miss You Very Much (Slim Princess Holdings, 2011/13) and author of the chapbook This Room Has a Ghost (dancing girl press, 2010). She is also a visual artist. Find her online here.