Watershed Review

Est. 2012

Month: April, 2014

Writer’s Voice Spotlight: Joanne Harris Allred

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Chico State Writer’s Voice is proud to present poet, Joanne Harris Allred, on Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 7:30 PM in Colusa 100B. Allred is the author of three poetry collections, Whetstone, winner of the Flume Press Chapbook award, Particulate (Bear Star Press), and The Evolutionary Purpose of Heartbreak (Turning Point Books). Allred spent many years teaching in the English department at CSU, Chico, and currently lives just outside of Chico with her husband, dogs, and a few chickens.

Allred’s work delves deeply into the human condition and explores the interconnectivity between the self and nature. Her words are a quiet meditation on living, loving, and losing. She often takes something ordinary and reveals its extraordinary essence by using metaphoric language to zero in on a specific experience or emotion. The speaker of her poems is often an observational one that acts as a guide into this meditation and connection to nature. Her poem “Plum in Early Spring,” from Whetstone, for instance, does this:

For three rainy weeks my plum tree

keeps a thousand small fists.

Then one warm day it explodes.

The sweet tethered cloud blazes

angel white, innocent of consequence,

not caring for how long the rain

has gone or if frost lurks

a few days away. The blooms don’t inquire

have the hives dried, will bees be out

in time to nuzzle their open hearts.

 

Unconcerned with plans for harvest

they ignore my pleas to be patient, to reflect

before taking an irrevocable step.

Trees simply answer the season’s necessity,

unable to deny the spirit

moving through by drawing silly

distinctions between the self and soul.

This poem begins with the simple image of a plum tree, but as the poem progresses a parallel between what is happening to this tree and what sometimes happens with humans emerges–a sudden burst of inspiration and an urge to follow one’s desires, to be wild in spirit without stopping too long to think about it, to “simply answer to the season’s necessity.” This poem also unveils the yearning and sometimes impatience humans have to control the natural world, which cannot be contained. Even though this poem starts off simply, it makes leaps to ultimately arrive at something much larger.

Please join us for a lovely evening with Joanne Harris Allred, Thursday, April 10th at 7:30 pm in Colousa 100B. Thanks to contributions made by the Department of English and the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Writer’s Voice readings are free and open to the public.

By Kris Wheat

Book in Common Reading: Brian Turner

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The Book in Common Committee presents a reading of poetry and memoir by Brian Turner, Tuesday, April 1, 7:30 p.m., PAC 134.

Brian Turner is the author of My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir (W.W. Norton & Co., September 2014; Jonathan Cape/Random House UK, August 2014). His two collections of poetry: Here, Bullet (Alice James Books, 2005; Bloodaxe Books, 2007) and Phantom Noise (Alice James Books, 2010; Bloodaxe Books in October of 2010) have also been published in Swedish by Oppenheim forlag. His poems have been published and translated in Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, and Swedish.

Turner earned an MFA from the University of Oregon before serving for seven years in the US Army. He was an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Prior to that, he deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina with the 10th Mountain Division (1999-2000).

His poetry and essays have been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Poetry Daily, The Georgia Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and other journals. Turner was featured in the documentary film Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, which was nominated for an Academy Award. He received a USA Hillcrest Fellowship in Literature, an NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry, the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship, a US-Japan Friendship Commission Fellowship, the Poets’ Prize, and a Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. His most recent book of poetry, Phantom Noise, was short-listed for the T.S. Eliot Prize in England. His work has appeared on National Public Radio, the BBC, Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Here and Now, and on Weekend America, among others. He is the Director of the new Low Residency MFA program at Sierra Nevada College and he lives in Florida with his wife, the poet Ilyse Kusnetz.