Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, high school English-teaching Alaskan. She serves as poetry editor of the quarterly journal Alaska Women Speak. Her latest collection of poetry, Curating the House of Nostalgia, will publish in 2020 (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions). Kersten holds an MFA from the University of Alaska.
I’ve been an avid consulter and reader of We’Moon since 2000. In this stack, 19 years of documented happenings, letters written, poems published, Solstice gifts gifted, Costco lists recorded, travel dates noted, daily destinations logged. You know. The stuff of life.
In my moon of all full moons, I love finding a home for my poems in We’Moon. Once, an entire poem of mine was published, titled “From One Good Year to Another.” I wrote it in 2011 and it published in We’Moon 2014: Radical Balance. What made its publication especially special is that the editors placed it as the final poem of the year. That particular New Year’s Eve was blustery. Bruce, Rie and I were hunkered down at home lit by twinkle lights sparkling against rain splattered windows. I received a Facebook message that night from beloved poet, UAA MFA faculty member, teacher, sage, amazing human Eva Saulitis who, from another island in the Pacific (albeit warmer – Hawaii) and taking one last look at her own copy of We’Moon for the year, inquired if I was indeed the poet behind the poem. I was! I am! It was a sweet and memorable exchange of New Year greetings, well wishes and writing encouragement all bundled up into a stormy night of one year’s end and another year’s beginning. But this moment also taught me that when you read a poem that grabs you by the heart, you need to engage in some outreach, either let the poet know or post a good word, a review of the work and share the word with others.
This year, again. I am over the moon that the editors have included an excerpt of my poem “For Gloria” in We’Moon 2020: Wake Up Call. Just six lines are included, but the poem is placed in the opening of the issue, next to Earth Dancer’s “Call It In.” I can’t know what in three months’ time I’ll be hoping to call in for the year to come. Without a doubt, the last two autumns have served up so many painful challenges: dark followed by darker yet, but the darkest has been losing Bruce. I plow through the season with fall-scented candles, lots of Vitamin D and a SAD light to push me through these months ahead. So this news of once-again publication, another round of merry, makes my heart light.
From end of life to hope in life, O’Melveny’s collection (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2019) explores the hardships and loss of one generation to the hopes placed in another. At the core, the speaker dealing with the loss of a long-absent father, the death of a mother, the buoyancy in her relationship with her own husband and daughter.
“Grazia’s Teeth” explores a grandmother’s handling of a child’s baby teeth collected and hammered into the grooved wood of a door, likened to “tiny shells, / pearl mushrooms in gray wood, / or half-moons that rise…” In the end, the speaker reflects how her own daughter “…still has teeth / to lose and lives by magic.”
This cyclical, lyrical read will, at times, leave you breathless. From her poem, “Three breaths”
one breath to take
the measure of things
and one breath to carry
down into the yielding
lungs of the sea – a bell
of breath, a lantern of air.
It leaves me to contemplate not only the magic we encounter when brushing up against the wild of the natural world, but the magic we carry within.
Thank you to Editor Sandy Benitez of Poppy Road Review for running “In the Park” on this fine first of September. It’s the perfect way to initiate a change into autumn, especially after a night of music on the dock at the net mending shelter and a knockout display of aurora borealis.
From Poppy Road Review’s website:
Poppy Road Review is a literary journal featuring free verse poetry, haiku, flash fiction, and occasional interviews with poets. Journey with us on the road to poems that linger and haunt–discover poems of enchantment, fantasy, fairy tale, dreams, dystopian, flora & fauna, magical realism, romance, and anything located deep in-between the cracks.
This is a book that will take up residence on my “keeper” shelf. From cover (bright and wild) to titles (intriguing) to memorable verse, Every Ravening Thing is a read that I’m happy to have taken a chance on. Consider some of this sampling of titles: “Poem for the parched,” “Star Pine” and “Space-time Tsunami.” The poetry is well-crafted and fresh, rife with imagery. The final poem, in perfect placement within the collection, is breathtaking. “To the Grandmothers” includes the epigraph, “Chernobyl, thirty years later” and contemplates the wild space abandoned by disaster and the “Old women with side gardens and jars / of moonshine alone in empty villages…” Each poem included here offers the reader and moment of surprise, if not more. Well worth the read!
What struck me most as I read the submissions for this anthology was the sheer amount of new vocabulary which accompanied that old plain staple of the cafe or the diner, the cup of coffee. Cell phones and their cameras, roasters, vegan cake, baristas, soy lattes, drive-through windows, macchiato, McDonald’s, Apple Pay. Maxwell and Folgers turned into Starbucks ubiquity, coffee-pots that wake before us and offer that first hot hit of the day. As a child moved from the bottle to milky cafe con leech, as a native of a city so imbued by coffee that index and thumb two inches apart signals espresso, it made me wonder about this new age of coffee arabica
227 pages of poetry devoted to coffee? Yes, please!
Thank you to Poetry Editor Ashley Blake for including “Katie’s Cabin” in this handbound publication, Cartography. Inside, a plethora of directional, wayfaring writings. I love their note just inside a page or two:
If we could candy words, we’d eat them to bellyaches every afternoon. We carry journals and collect chapbooks like Smaug ripping through a gold-sequin disco. If we’re lucky enough to leave something behind that enriches the dialogue of writerly types around the world, so much the better. Send us your stuff — we’ll only hoard it for a little while.
Whiskey Island Magazine is a literary magazine published by Cleveland State University. It is a biannual publication. While I’ve never been to Cleveland, or really the surrounding area for that matter, I do love the description of place featured on the magazine’s homepage:
It is currently the site of a salt mine, the largest marina on the great lakes, and the last refuge of the Cleveland-invented, industry revolutionizing Hulett Ore Unloaders: city landmarks on their way toward extinction, see 1 or 2. A rich mythology of bootlegging on the island has been unavoidable, along with eponymous burgers at various area restaurants and an array of empty Canadian beer cans.
Whiskey Island (the land mass) is actually a peninsula and can be found at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. A distillery was built there in 1836, hence its name. The island has suffered multiple incarnations: it has been a dump, a US Coast Guard Station, a ship graveyard, and a predominantly Irish immigrant shanty town.
The journal has proven to be the perfect match for a poem I penned last summer for my traveling friend, Karen, titled “Men Who Serve You Coffee.” Thank you to the editors of Whiskey Island Magazine for giving this one a home.