Monday, January 9, 2017

Monday Muse: New Rhode Island Poet Laureate

. . . I write to explore, to understand, and, ultimately, to share.
Writing in any form awakens us to the world. . . .
~ Tina Cane*

Tina Cane began her five-year term as Rhode Island's sixth Poet Laureate on November 4, 2016. Cane replaces Rick Benjamin, who relinquished the job at the start of 2016 to move to California, where he teaches at the University of California at Santa Barbara. (Benjamin began his term on January 9, 2013. See Benjamin's article, "On Butternut Squash and Rhode Island's Next Poet Laureate" in the November 17, 2016, Providence Journal.)

Information about the legislatively established position can be found in my Monday Muse post about Lisa Starr (2007-2012).

In her state role, in addition to advocating for poetry and the literary arts generally, Cane aims to demonstrate how "[i]n schools and communities across the state, poetry can be a significant force for public good and personal growth. During my tenure, I hope every Rhode Islander gets a chance to develop a love of literature, to explore self-expression and to understand that poetry, because it is such a flexible form, truly belongs to everyone."** Two specific goals are to establish poetry workshop scholarships for veterans and mentoring programs for young boys and men.

Among Cane's early 2017 events is the February 5 Langston Hughes Memorial Reading at RIDS Museum. A monthly column in the Providence Journal also is anticipated.

* * * * *

New York City-born Tina Cane is the author of Once More With Feeling (Veliz Books, January 2017), her debut poetry collection, and Dear Elena: Letters for Elena Ferrante, a letterpress-printed, signed and numbered, limited-edition book (Skillman Avenue Press/DWRI, 2016); and the book-length poem "The Fifth Thought", which was named the 2008 Other Painters Press chapbook winner.

Founder and director and visiting poet of the educational program Writers-in-the-Schools, Rhode Island, Cane also teaches creative writing. In addition to providing instruction in both public and private schools in Rhode Island and New York City, Cane, who holds a master's degree in French literature, is a teacher for Frequency Providence, a writing community. She serves on the board of directors of the literary journal Drunken Boat.

Marked by lyricism, inventiveness, wit, and rich imagery, as well as a lack of punctuation, Cane's poems take as their subjects the poet's childhood in New York City, family, choices and decision-making, personal growth or change, sex and relationships, nature, and people and places. Readers will find in her poems allusions to writers, poets, musicians, actors, and other contemporary and historical persons.

Here's one of Cane's wonderful poems, "The Rose in Neruda":

I have
but one dress

like the rose
in Neruda does

my flesh too
dips toward love

Cane's poems, as well as her French translations, have been published in numerous periodicals, among them, Barrow Street, The Birmingham ReviewCargo Literary Magazine, The Common, Hanging Loose, The Literary ReviewLa Petite Zine, Salt Hill JournalSpinning Jenny, Tupelo Quarterly, and Two Serious Ladies. Cane's work, which has received finalist status in, among others, the Dorset, Sunken Garden, and Snowbound poetry contests and semifinalist status in the Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry (2015), also can be found on the Websites for the Academy of American Poets and The Good Men Project. It is anthologized in Girls: An Anthology (Global City Press, 1998).

In 2016, Cane was awarded a State Council on the Arts Fellowship Merit Award in Poetry.


* Quoted from "Interview with Tina Cane: A Poetry Workshop for Veterans" at Frequency Writers (See link below.)

** Quoted from Press Release from Office of the Governor (See link above.)

Office of the Governor, "Raimondo Appoints Tina Cane as Rhode Island Poet Laureate", Press Release, November 4, 2016

Caitlin Howle, "Meet RI's New Poet Laureate, Tina Cane", Providence Monthly, December 15, 2016 (Howle's piece also appeared in The Bay magazine and East Side Monthly.)

Sabrina Polin, "New Poet Laureate to 'Take Care' of Rhode Island", Mercury | Polin Press, November 29, 2016

Nancy Burns-Fusaro, "Rumford's Tina Cane Is Rhode Island's New State Poet", The Westerly Sun, November 17, 2016

Andy Smith, "Rhode Island Chooses 'People's Poet' as New Poet Laureate", Providence Journal, November 4, 2016

Margo Sullivan, "Rumford Woman Named State's New Poet Laureate", Patch, November 4, 2016

Tina Cane Poems Online: "Butterfly Catcher", "Reality Series", and "Some Kinds of Fire", All at Academy of American Poets; "The Rose in Neruda" at Barrow Street; "A Minor History of Jeronimo Segura" at Cargo; "A Minor History of Bad Decisions", "A Minor History of Night", "A Minor History of Brooklyn", "A Minor History of Richard Sanders", "Daily Beast", "Letter for Elena Ferrante: Boyfriends", and "A Minor History of Fighting", All at The Good Men Project; "Nocturne: Proof" and "Nocturne: Once More With Feeling", Both at Two Serious Ladies; "Wish List" and iPad Air Poem", Both at Two Serious Ladies; "Sirens", "A Minor History of Food", "In This Order", "(Souvenir) First Kiss", "Anchors", "(Souvenir) Fossil", "A Walk to the Jetty", and "Lust" ("Archipelago" Series), All at Tupelo Quarterly; "Wish List" and "Letter for Elena Ferrante: Confession", Both at Providence Journal; "Letter for Elena Ferrante: Between Stations" at The Literary Review; "Butterfly Catcher" at Ars Poetica Blog

Cane's 2016 poetry feature at The Common, a collaboration with Rhode Island artist Esther Solondz, includes the epistolary poems "Letter for Elena Ferrante: Cosa Nostra", "Letter for Elena Ferrante: Flirt", "Letter for Elena Ferrante: Falcons", and "Letter for Elena Ferrante: Frenemy". (For more about the collaboration, see "The Synchronicity of Collaboration" at Our RISD", December 14, 2016.)

"An Interview with Tina Cane: A Poetry Workshop for Veterans", Frequency Writers, February 18, 2016

"Feature: Five Qs with Tina Cane", Writing like an Asian Blog, January 23, 2015

Casey Nilsson, "Free Poetry for Veterans", Rhode Island Monthly Blog, March 15, 2016 (This article details Cane's work with the nonprofit Frequency Writers, sponsor of a literary workshop for veterans.)

Tina Cane on FaceBook and SheWrites

Writers-in-the-Schools, RI on FaceBook 

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