19 November 2007

Featured Poet: Jennifer Karmin

Photo credit: street performance of Walking Poem, downtown Chicago, 10/25/06, photo by Daniel Mejia

Jennifer Karmin is a poet, artist, and educator who has experimented with language throughout the U.S. and Japan. She curates the Red Rover Series with fiction writer Amina Cain and is a founding member of the public art group Anti Gravity Surprise. Her multidisciplinary projects have been presented at a number of festivals, artist-run spaces, community centers, and on city streets. Jennifer teaches creative writing to immigrants at Truman College and works as a Poet-in-Residence for the Chicago Public Schools. During 2008, she will be a guest writer in Kenya with the Summer Literary Seminars and in California with the Djerassi Program. Recent publications include WOMB, MoonLit, Bird Dog, Milk Magazine, The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century, and Growing Up Girl: An Anthology of Voices from Marginalized Spaces.

bananas keep us all alive

i have a dog
i have a cow
i don’t eat meat
i have no food in my apartment

is not catholic
i am not catholic
am raised jewish
in a suburb where
almost everyone was catholic
but me

mom was catholic
was put in a convent
when her mom died
she was four
was afraid
did not like nuns
they did not believe
what she said about her father

catholic is christ
is a man
first a man
many people could believe/know
the same thing about god
answer creation
rules of society
why it’s raining

you are hiking
in bryce canyon
no water
no people
no roads
a rattle snake
red dry hot stony
take off your shirt
and wet it in
the little bit of water
left in this stream

kill bison
kill indians
build roads
build railroads
we can move on we can move on
we do not need to know
we do not need to think

yellowstone is roads
is 30 people taking pictures
of a lone moose
that has stumbled towards
the road
we drive through the park
not a forest

i spent $326 on monday
to fix my car
i bought a couch
for $20
i am slightly dyslexic
i hate math but
i think algebra is ok

knowledge of self
of others
to know how i work
to feel like i am doing something
to get by
to travel
to buy groceries
to buy a new pair of socks

you don’t know
i have been lucky

crabs parchment a favor
or gertrude and i go to the beach

crabby crabs
the sea the ocean
found paper

you and me
we got crabs for a favor
i’m the favor
for you and me
to write right (?)

pack me a favor with crabs
crab me a parchment with a favor
your favor has crabs
on my parchment

to favor (she)
to crab (he)
to parchment
you and i and a crab

i favor the crab i favor me

your parchment
(non-gendered pronouns)
to favor
your crab
to write on parchment
to keep in the sand
with the crab

for a favor
for me
buried away

© Copyright 2007 Jennifer Karmin

Editor's Note: Poems were previously published in the chapbook Myth of Me (ragamuffin press), a project funded by the SUNY Buffalo Poetics Program through the Samuel P. Capen Chair (Robert Creeley) and the Melodia E. Jones Chair (Raymond Federman).