The People Who Write Questionnaire: Carla Drysdale

Carla Drysdale, award-winning poet and author of Inheritance - peoplewhowrite

Award-winning poet Carla Drysdale is the author of Inheritance

If your life (so far) were a book, what would the title be?
Now that’s a hard one. Let’s see: The Writing Cure, The Unimportance of Being Earnest, Stayin’ Alive

What is the greatest story ever told?
The one that saves you and helps you see things as they really are.

Who is the greatest literary character ever created?
The Little Mermaid

Which living or dead writer would you most like to share a meal with?
Very hard to narrow down, but definitely Alice Munro or Margaret Atwood.

What is your favorite word right now?

What word has always looked or sounded strange to you?

How many words have you written today?
Between my morning pages, journal, emails, poetry and the novel, probably a couple thousand. If I’m lucky, a phrase or two will make it into print.

Where have you had your most exhilarating writing experience?
Sitting at my desk with pen and notebook in the corn crib studio at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

What is the thing about writing that you most deplore?

What is the thing about writing that you most love?
The possibility of transformation by putting the right words in the right order.

What stereotype about writers have you found to be true?
Self-absorbed and self-critical

What’s the biggest misconception about writers/writing?
That answering a question like this would be easy for writers. Writers, like all humans, are caught in a tangle of misconceptions about their fellow humans on a minute to minute basis, which makes great material for writers. A moment of clarity is worth everything.

What’s the one thing no one would ever guess about you from reading your writing?
That I love listening to deep house and electro music while cleaning the kitchen after my family’s evening meal.

Inheritance, poems by Carla Drysdale (Finishing Line Press) - peoplewhowriteCarla Drysdale’s first full-length collection of poems, Little Venus, was published in 2010 by Tightrope Books in Toronto. Her first chapbook of poems, Inheritance, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in October 2015. Her poems have appeared in PRISM, The Same, LIT, the Literary Review of Canada, Canadian Literature, The Fiddlehead, Global City ReviewLiterary Mama and in the anthology, Entering the Real World: VCCA Poets on Mt. San Angelo. In May, 2014 she was awarded PRISM’s annual Earle Birney poetry prize for her poem, “Inheritance.” She received an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. Born in London, Ontario, she lives with her husband and two sons in Ornex, France.

Academy of American Poets Awards Over $150,000 in 2014 Prizes

Robert Hass has won the Academy of American Poets 2014 Wallace Stevens Award - peoplewhowrite

Robert Hass

The Academy of American Poets has honored former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith, and more with lucrative prizes and fellowships. Here’s the list:

The Wallace Stevens Award ($100,000)
Robert Hass, for outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry

The Academy of American Poets Fellowship ($25,000)
Tracy K. Smith, for “distinguished poetic achievement”

The Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize ($25,000)
Unpeopled Eden by Rigoberto González

The James Laughlin Award ($5,000)
A Several World by Brian Blanchfield

Harold Morton Landon Translation Award ($1,000)
Selected Translations by W. S. Merwin

The Raiziss/De Palchi Book Prize ($10,000)
The Bedroom by Luigi Bonaffini (a translation of Attilio Bertolucci’s La Camera Da Letto)

The Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award ($1,000)
“They Sail Across the Mirrored Sea” by Wendy Chen

The Walt Whitman Award ($5,000)
The Same-Different by Hannah Sanghee Park

Poem of the Day: "To His Coy Mistress" by Andrew Marvell

Poet Andrew Marvell - peoplewhowrite

Andrew Marvell

In honor of National Poetry Month, the PWW poem of the day, reposted from

To His Coy Mistress
by Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv’d virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am’rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp’d power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Poem of the Day: "Resurrection" by Mary Ann Bernard

In honor of National Poetry Month, the PWW poem of the day, reposted from

by Mary Ann Bernard

Long, long, long ago;
Way before this winter’’s snow
First fell upon these weathered fields;
I used to sit and watch and feel
And dream of how the spring would be,
When through the winter’’s stormy sea
She’’d raise her green and growing head,
Her warmth would resurrect the dead.

Long before this winter’’s snow
I dreamt of this day’’s sunny glow
And thought somehow my pain would pass
With winter’’s pain, and peace like grass
Would simply grow. (But) The pain’’s not gone.
It’s still as cold and hard and long
As lonely pain has ever been,
It cuts so deep and fear within.

Long before this winter’’s snow
I ran from pain, looked high and low
For some fast way to get around
Its hurt and cold. I’’d have found,
If I had looked at what was there,
That things don’t follow fast or fair.
That life goes on, and times do change,
And grass does grow despite life’’s pains.

Long before this winter’’s snow
I thought that this day’’s sunny glow,
The smiling children and growing things
And flowers bright were brought by spring.
Now, I know the sun does shine,
That children smile, and from the dark, cold, grime
A flower comes. It groans, yet sings,
And through its pain, its peace begins.

Poem of the Day: "Continuing" by Deanna Nikaido

Deanna Nikaido - people who write

Deanna Nikaido

In honor of National Poetry Month, the PWW poem of the day, reposted from


by Deanna Nikaido

How far does the sound
of one birds open ended warble reach
if nothing is solid
and the air is filled with continuing?

If every cell is a tilted domino
leaning into the next
then I am the last word of your conversation
and the beginning of your next.

If memory were long enough to fill this presence
If the same invisible verb
that whispers bloom to the rose
And dawn to my eyes were a noun I could touch

If this ink in my pen
is the breath of a child
in his mother’s love
then language is feeling
and words are hollow cups
poured and pouring.

And this bottomless fear
the one that fits inside every separation
cannot cap this sky
still I count stars
like breadcrumbs across every darkness
feeling the pressure of grace
outgrowing limitation
my future already turning inside the heart
of one who holds me close
the one whose name secretly frames forever
the one who balances the clock I break
between sunrise and sunset.

Every thread of distinction
between you and I
is a safety net.

Undissolved sugar
at the bottom of a drink
we stir
and stir
continuing like breath through sleep
in a country the body has no geography for.

This glass moment
slipping from outline
this full fragrant prayer
exhaled in one nights glory
is a beheaded love
carried everywhere the wind blows . . .

How can we breathe this miracle
and remain ordinary
hold ourselves
in a state of unscented captivity
drown in the shallow end
of questions we can’t seem to touch
the bottom of.

Poem of the Day: "Heritage" by Countee Cullen

Countee Cullen - peoplewhowrite
In honor of National Poetry Month, the PWW poem of the day, reposted from
by Countee Cullen
What is Africa to me:
Copper sun or scarlet sea,
Jungle star or jungle track,
Strong bronzed men, or regal black
Women from whose loins I sprang
When the birds of Eden sang?
One three centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,
What is Africa to me?
So I lie, who all day long
Want no sound except the song
Sung by wild barbaric birds
Goading massive jungle herds,
Juggernauts of flesh that pass
Trampling tall defiant grass
Where young forest lovers lie,
Plighting troth beneath the sky.
So I lie, who always hear,
Though I cram against my ear
Both my thumbs, and keep them there,
Great drums throbbing through the air.
So I lie, whose fount of pride,
Dear distress, and joy allied,
Is my somber flesh and skin,
With the dark blood dammed within
Like great pulsing tides of wine
That, I fear, must burst the fine
Channels of the chafing net
Where they surge and foam and fret.
Africa? A book one thumbs
Listlessly, till slumber comes.
Unremembered are her bats
Circling through the night, her cats
Crouching in the river reeds,
Stalking gentle flesh that feeds
By the river brink; no more
Does the bugle-throated roar
Cry that monarch claws have leapt
From the scabbards where they slept.
Silver snakes that once a year
Doff the lovely coats you wear,
Seek no covert in your fear
Lest a mortal eye should see
What’s your nakedness to me?
Here no leprous flowers rear
Fierce corollas in the air;
Here no bodies sleek and wet,
Dripping mingled rain and sweat,
Tread the savage measures of
Jungle boys and girls in love.
What is last year’s snow to me,
Last year’s anything? The tree
Budding yearly must forget
How its past arose or set—
Bough and blossom, flower, fruit,
Even what shy bird with mute
Wonder at her travail there,
Meekly labored in its hair.
One three centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,
What is Africa to me?
So I lie, who find no peace
Night or day, no slight release
From the unremittent beat
Made by cruel padded feet
Walking through my body’s street.
Up and down they go, and back,
Treading out a jungle track.
So I lie, who never quite
Safely sleep from rain at night—
I can never rest at all
When the rain begins to fall;
Like a soul gone mad with pain
I must match its weird refrain;
Ever must I twist and squirm,
Writhing like a baited worm,
While its primal measures drip
Through my body, crying, “Strip!
Doff this new exuberance.
Come and dance the Lover’s Dance!”
In an old remembered way
Rain works on me night and day.
Quaint, outlandish heathen gods
Black men fashion out of rods,
Clay, and brittle bits of stone,
In a likeness like their own,
My conversion came high-priced;
I belong to Jesus Christ,
Preacher of Humility;
Heathen gods are naught to me.
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
So I make an idle boast;
Jesus of the twice-turned cheek,
Lamb of God, although I speak
With my mouth thus, in my heart
Do I play a double part.
Ever at Thy glowing altar
Must my heart grow sick and falter,
Wishing He I served were black,
Thinking then it would not lack
Precedent of pain to guide it,
Let who would or might deride it;
Surely then this flesh would know
Yours had borne a kindred woe.
Lord, I fashion dark gods, too,
Daring even to give You
Dark despairing features where,
Crowned with dark rebellious hair,
Patience wavers just so much as
Mortal grief compels, while touches
Quick and hot, of anger, rise
To smitten cheek and weary eyes.
Lord, forgive me if my need
Sometimes shapes a human creed.
All day long and all night through,
One thing only must I do:
Quench my pride and cool my blood,
Lest I perish in the flood,
Lest a hidden ember set
Timber that I thought was wet
Burning like the dryest flax,
Melting like the merest wax,
Lest the grave restore its dead.
Not yet has my heart or head
In the least way realized
They and I are civilized.

“Tell All the Truth”

Poem of the Day: Emily Dickinson’s poem “Tell all the Truth“.

Tell all the Truth

by Emily Dickinson

Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth’s superb surprise;

As lightning to the children eased
With explanation kind,
The truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind.

In Celebration of National Poetry Month: An Ode to the Library

National Poetry Month - peoplewhowriteApril is National Poetry Month. Founded by the American Academy of Poets in 1996, the monthlong celebration presents multiple suggestions and opportunities for experiencing poetry including attending a reading, sharing your favorite poem on “Poem in Your Pocket” Day, and reading your own poetry at an open mic. In celebration, I’ve written a poem in honor of the library, one of my favorite places to write. Please share your favorite poems and poets in the comments section.

A Library is
By Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

A library is
A choir
Of voices hallowed and profane
Whispering cheers and subversions
Preserving stories like griots
Like songs
Making sure you remember
So we never forget
Put your ear to the shelves
Not a spineless one

A library is
A federal reserve
Bullion bars of research and data
The keeper of theories proven and debunked
Hoarding relics and memories
Of the way we thought and think
The way we were
On rolling carts in musty stacks
On oak tag cards and rubber stamps
Broadband connections churning centuries of words and ideas

A library is
A shelter
The fallout from earnest and wicked shrugs about what to do with our homeless and mentally ill
See the line that stretches in the morning
Before the doors open
Men and women ragged from roaming the streets of their minds
Waiting for a warm, quiet place to be crazy
Where others go to be sane
From the craziness at home
And for the wi-fi

A library is
A junction
Where race, class, and generations converge at the intersection of homework, research, and resume triage
A free after school program
A NICU for concepts and dreams that need more time to develop
A daycare for the over-qualified
A place to go and feel productive
While you wait for the call
Because you will get the call

A library is
A luxury
Of a nation so rich
Not only the rich are entitled to a library
A necessity
Of a society committed to a future that builds on the wisdom of the past
A safe house for learning
A beacon
On a neighborhood block