27 October 2010

Featured Poet: Gene Tanta


erring the heart beats against the heart’s place empty
enlaced in its wispy elevation
where two skeletons used to rub elbows eating
vintage etymon either
embers ending in
electric exhalation or the repeat button stuck on

eclipse the Christian name for the end of naming
evergreen et cetera
everything from A to Z enameled
emptied of its enthusiasm
estuaries eager to dry off in the low tide
ebb and ebb a plume of oil in the light dispatch

earthworm eavesdropping on all those who came before
through an eyelet to elsewhere
where enlarging edelweiss from seed
earwig history is endless
full with the eyebrows of dead heroes out of earshot
under an eyelid eyestrain eyewitness

earmarking his sepia memories with an eyelash
an exit we all eke out
while every now and again we edit
earlobe to earlobe
easy does it even in the afterlife
with very little elbowroom for drinking elderberry wine


gaga gaffing again war is a story about Armistice Day
goodbye-kisses do not change the channel gay
grinning war isn’t all good
grief the war over what’ll I ware I’ll ware the gravedigger
rainfall ‘gainst my skin gloss
grenade war stories headed over the hills glowing

I kiss the war grizzle who shall kiss glottis
gin I shall kiss strangers the day the war ends glistening
gut every gesundheit
in its ropy gristle gripping at the daylight
glad to spur us on from the roadside grumbling
graphic in the twilight grain

garbled vernacular with a mouthful of gravel
galumphing gleaming
grinding its teeth into the gnashing plank of an old whisky
gone with a forest gulp
gurgle Dane thoughtful brute getting up on the castle
gab all gone in the root

giddy wind go St. George in the fields dented
glad blown in his semivowel garden
some lay down to gainsay goal-tending a pair of dice
galley slaves guide
gullible go-betweens while the attic sisters rust
give of garlic in sharp warbles

ghostwriter poking in the graveyard with rounded fingers
all gemstones and grasshoppers
grainy but grammatical
griddlecake smells waft up the grapevine in cartoon
guesswork as Goofy
quite ready to govern by gunfire

gutters gasping what’s that in the dark
gangway goons or
the gate clanging on grandpa’s gander
gunman shushing the greyhound
grindstone or gunshot
galloping god no that’s just the fiber talking

Gene Tanta was born in Timisoara, Romania and lived there until 1984, when his family immigrated to the United States. Since then, he has lived in DeKalb, Iowa City, New York, Oaxaca City, Iasi, Milwaukee, and Chicago. He is a poet, visual artist, and translator of contemporary Romanian poetry. His two poetry books are Unusual Woods (BlazeVOX 2010) and Pastoral Emergency, which was selected as a semifinalist in the Cleveland State University First Book Prize in 2010. Tanta earned his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa's Writers' Workshop in 2000 and his PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2009 with literary specialization in twentieth-century American poetry and the European avant-garde. His journal publications include: EPOCH, Ploughshares, Circumference Magazine, Exquisite Corpse, Watchword, Columbia Poetry Review, the Laurel Review and Drunken Boat. Currently, he teaches creative writing online for UC Berkeley Extension.

Poet's Note:
"E" and "G" are from Pastoral Emergency, my second book of poems. It contains 26 poems, one poem for every letter of the English alphabet. Each line of each of the 26 letter sections starts and ends with a word that starts with the section letter: exceptions made for music and idiom. These interventions in the abecedarian tradition stretch out to a sequence of 63 pages. The abecedarian grid or scaffolding or structure of two six-line stanzas per page helped me realize how the book wanted to be written: the form taught me that this book wanted to be written at the level of melody and sound rather than at the level of sense and cohesion. Unlike my first book, Unusual Woods (BlazeVOX, 2010), it came as a huge relief in the revision process of Pastoral Emergency that the logic of the abecedarian form allowed me not to concern myself with how to order the various letter-poems.

© Copyright 2010 Gene Tanta

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