post of April 1, when I announced my participation in a poetry book give-away to celebrate National Poetry Month, I mentioned that one title I'd be giving away is Best New Poets 2009: 50 Poems from Emerging Writers, edited by Kim Addonizio.
Today, I'm giving you a sneak peek into that anthology with these two selections from among the poets represented: "Death of the Hired Hand, Hiawatha, Kansas"by Kate Sweeney, and "Openings" by Amanda Chiado.
* * * * *"Death of the Hired Hand, Hiawatha, Kansas" by Kate Sweeney
I loved his hands pulling that rattlesnake from the baler,
how the thing twitched slightly, as if shuddering in its sleep.
He fetched the shovel to grind off its head, that sick miracle
of jaw still opening and closing on the rusty spade.
I brought the body to grandmother who husked it and shaved off
the tender white kernels of tissue, curing enough meat
to feed one man. Its dried rattle is still a warning,
urging my memory to stay in the barn so I would not be the one
to find him writhing at the gate, gasping in a bloody-backed t-shirt,
while the bull in crimson-tipped horns looked on indifferently.
Kate Sweeney, M.F.A., won the 2009 YellowJacket Press Chapbook Contest for her Better Accidents.
* * * * *
"Openings" by Amanda Chiado
Don't think about the ship inside the bottle. It really makes tenderness difficult. I would if I had a mouth. I would if I was not a buried roll of quarters. I wish I could forget my hoax of parts, gem of mouth. So they said ruby. One called me Ruby. I should have saved the black pearl from the fire that I started. I should have saved the photos of the bread rising, my lineage of paper dolls. I flip pages to find burnt words that are shaped like me—curved on the outside, but sharp in the middle.
Amanda Chiado is a California Poet in the Schools. Her poem is from a working manuscript, Monsters, Heroes and Bimbos.
* * * * *
The collection contains the work of young poets with promising futures as writers. Its aim, as stated in the Introduction, is to "provide special encouragement and recognition to new poets, the many writing programs they attend, and the magazines that publish their work." The lists of writing programs and participating literary magazines are a valuable addition.
The book is printed in quality offset lithography, with care for how the poems look on the page. (If you're an annotator, you'll have plenty of space to mark up or comment on what you like in the poems.) It has heft in the hand, too, without being a weighty tome literally or metaphorically. Most important, it represents belief in the power of the written word. It gives us universal themes and new ways to "see" how we live and love and die.
I'll probably be purchasing another copy for myself soon.