This episode is particularly special as present in Drexel’s Korman Studio is a very special friend of PBQ, Elizabeth Scanlon.
Elizabeth Scanlon is the Editor of The American Poetry Review. She is the author of Lonesome Gnosis (Horsethief Books, 2017), The Brain Is Not the United States/The Brain Is the Ocean (The Head & The Hand Press, 2016) and Odd Regard (ixnay press, 2013). She is a Pushcart Prize winner and her poems have appeared in many magazines including Boston Review, Ploughshares, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, and others. She lives in Philadelphia.
After short introductions, and some technical difficulties in which our Abu Dhabi team is lost to the internet for just a brief moment, the gang jumps right into the work of Elizabeth Cantwell and her works “Housewarming” “Emergency Queen” “The People Who Live in Boats”.
Elizabeth Cantwell is a poet and high school teacher living in Claremont, CA. Her first book, Nights I Let the Tiger Get You, was a finalist for the 2012 Hudson Prize; she is also the author of a chapbook, Premonitions. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of journals, including The Cincinnati Review, DIAGRAM, The Missouri Review, and Hobart.
Her first piece “Housewarming” had the editors reflecting on the pieces excellent use of reassuring imagery and line spacing. Kathleen and Marion also reflected on oxygen bars, and are quite sure that they visited an oxygen bar on some jaunt in the U.S., but aren’t sure if it was here or here. After some short discussion and a vote, the gaggle of editors move on to the second poem “Emergency Queen,” which is rife with ,”delicious words” according to Kathleen. After exploring the intricacies of the piece the gang moves on to the final piece of the batch “The People Who Live in Boats”. Structured into a giant prose block, this piece doesn’t even slightly resemble the form of the poems which preceded it. With this piece, Elizabeth takes us to what can be referred to as image school. The editors practically have a gleeful field day, it’s so much fun deconstructing all of the intricacies of this final piece.Do you think facticity should be a word?How about Fittsisms? What do you think? Do all of these pieces make the cut? Or will time devour them as it does everything else? Listen and let it be revealed
HOUSEWARMING The garden the previous tenants left is abandoned save for a handful of peppers hanging on tenacious thumbing their flesh at the heat I roll our trash cans next to them I am replete with June High noon I am convinced there is something medically wrong with me My voice has been hoarse for a month My digestion off I wake up in the early hours of the morning with my heart beating like a hundred clocks The sun is a heavy hot smock curling over my shoulders There is a pocket inside each of us that pushed sharply enough could pop could ask us to take the knife out of the kitchen and plunge it into the dirt until it hits bone When I am alone I can hear it It wants me to feel that sick sad yes Severed roots hissing through the mess in my palms Let us now undress the world Let us peel off its crust its mantle its outer core Let us find the poor sore soul at its center Covered over in grief and triggered and worn to its own tiny world bone Let us reach in and draw it out through the blood and muscle and pulsing skin Transplant it somewhere inside ourselves Holding on Lying down in the middle of it all Tall tall bodies exposed to space Only then will this place feel like home
THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN BOATS
It is easy to become one of the people who live in boats. You can actually make the decision yourself—all you need is a boat and a body of water, unless you want to be one of the people who live in boats in their driveways, which is certainly the less attractive option. There are many rules having to do with living in boats. The people who live in boats must not know how to swim; otherwise, there is a danger that one evening, looking down deeply into the black mirror shimmering against the side of their permanent residence, they might realize it looks like the dream they have been trying to get inside of for years, they might imagine it the slowly opening bloom they have held their breath waiting to smell. The people who live in boats must have to winnow their possessions. The people who live in boats perhaps did not have that many possessions to begin with—knowing that they were the sort of people who would end up living on boats, they steered clear of the bookcases, the porcelain figurines, the baseballs in their clear glass cases. The people who live in boats must love whiskey, hate taxidermy, feel largely indifferent towards types of lighting fixtures. The people who live in boats must have ears that look blue in the moonlight, and if you embrace one of them, your shirt must come away feeling damp. The people who live in boats are all around us. If you were to live in a boat, you would wake up one morning and realize that the skin on your face was slowly turning a slick, cool gray. No one would be able to tell from behind. But in profile, it would be quite obvious: the translucency, the minnowing, the eye with the inner lid. There is a river in New Zealand that was just granted the same legal rights as a human being; the tribe that fought for its human recognition believes strongly that it is one of their ancestors. We can trace our geneology to the origins of the universe, says the lead negotiator for the tribe. And therefore rather than us being masters of the natural world, we are part of it. The people who live in boats must become familiar with the blurry boundary between kin and predator. The people who live in boats must travel far but stay in the same sphere. The people who live in boats must curl up every night in their gently rocking beds and, growing silently bigger in sleep, dream the globe alive.