Sunday, April 20, 2014

Day 20: Jane Hammons

California writer and teacher Jane Hammons discusses Kim Addonizio's "Dead Girls" on Day 20 of 30 Days of The 5-2.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day 19: Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine

Former English department chair Bill Crider considers "The Adjunct Professor's Lament" by Charles Rammelkamp on Day 19 of 30 Days of The 5-2.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 18: Michael A. Arnzen

5-2 alum and master of creative horror Arnzen contributed an original poem, "Avenger", for Day 18 of 30 Days of The 5-2.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Day 17: Poetry in Performance

A sixth-grade field trip to a high school performance of Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", complete with sound effects, showed me words could jump off the page. In moving from The Lineup print chapbook series to a website, I took advantage of the Web's sound and video capacity to present poetry in ways I couldn't in print. Most weeks, I create videos incorporating poets' or performers' voices, but The 5-2 is also open to videos by the poets themselves.

For Day 17 of 30 Days of The 5-2, check out The 5-2's best contributed videos, by Jackie Sheeler and Lola Koundakjian.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Day 16: Women of Mystery

Writer and retired Suffolk County, L.I. police officer Kathleen A. Ryan discusses "Why?" by Stevie Cenko on Day 16 of 30 Days of The 5-2.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Day 15: Nobody Move!

Albany, NY investigator John DuMond features "In Memoriam: Ex-KGB Agent Complains..." on Day 15 of 30 Days of The 5-2.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day 14: Charles Rammelkamp on "Stealing Poetry"

Toward the end of Elisa Albo's charming classroom poem, "Stealing Poetry", in which students speculate on the motives of the person who stole the teacher's book. we get the sly observation that the thief may be attracted to "an apt turn of phrase, an ambiguous line break."

For the poem starts precisely with an ambiguous line break:

The teacher walks into class empty

The next line begins "handed". Somebody "has stolen her/poetry textbook" (another ambiguous line break, adding a frisson of suspense),  but the line stands by itself as a unit of meaning.  The teacher comes into class empty. It feels like it could be a spiritual or an existential condition.

Elisa Albo
Why is the teacher empty? Is this the old joke about the teacher being clueless without the answer book in hand? One senses she feels violated, as we all do when somebody steals something that belongs to us. Even if the book were simply lost or misplaced, it's still a loss.

But the theft quickly becomes a joke. The security guard wonders why anybody would steal poetry. And then the situation becomes "a teachable moment," as they say. We get a variety of guesses and speculation that reflect the perspectives of those who make them—a reed-thin student who waits tables at a nude bar, the housewife whose husband has left her, the former gang member, the lady who shops at Bloomingdale's, a religious student.

And by the end of the poem the teacher begins to feel whole again, to have recovered her equilibrium. The classmates have come together. They "open their books/and share their poems with her."

Unspoken but hovering over the whole poem is the question, what is the value of poetry? This poem is an answer. —Charles Rammelkamp

Linda Lerner


to be mugged walking down a street
crowded with people going to & from church
out for brunch or to do some shopping
enjoy this Sunday's relief from the heat
for it to occur so fast the word can't
grab hold of anything as the car speeds off
to feel that my mind has been broken into
and no witnesses to corroborate what
must be happening to others

a mugging that strikes suddenly
like being hit on the head, knocked down
without falling, hip hopping over my thoughts
forcing me to run out of a store the gym anyplace
run as fast as I can to shake it, as
I once ran from two guys sitting on a stoop I saw
give each other the eye before trying to jump me,
ran like the day I came back jet-lagged
from England and didn't see the man in the elevator
follow me down the hall to my apartment
till I felt something sharp sticking in my back
and ran out screaming...

no, nothing was taken
I lie—running from what keeps
slipping out of the word surrounded by people
too deaf to see what they can't hear anymore

Linda reads "Fear as Loud as a Mugging":

Linda confesses: "This poem was inspired by hearing music so loud it crossed the line into jarring sound; to think or be heard I felt as if I was fighting off an assailant who was robbing me. It's happened at the gym, in certain stores, and recently in a bar before a poetry reading. A woman told me that after a while she got used to it. Others seemed oblivious to it. Not so for me."

Photo by Andrew Gettler
LINDA LERNER's Takes Guts & Years Sometimes was published by NYQ books, 2011. She previously published thirteen collections of poetry. Forthcoming: a chapbook of poems inspired by nursery rhymes illustrated by Donna Kerness (Lummox Press). Yes, the Ducks Were Real will by published by NYQ books in 2015.