Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Inflectionism begins

Inflectionism, a collective of three Portland poets (A. Molotkov, Shawn Austin, and myself) with a new outlook, perspective, and goal for contemporary poetry, is beginning to take roots. After a brainstorm and website development meeting that weaned well into the AM, a structure and aims were born. It's a very exciting concept whose implementation will be rewarding...Here's what we have so far:

Inflectionism is a poetic movement that grew out of discussions among three Portland poets who were seeking a more organic poetry that respected both poet and reader, both words and interpretation . We don’t seek to control the definition of Inflectionism but to encourage other poets to make up their own definitions. Our definitions are merely roots.

White Space

The concept of white space involves far more than the physical strategy- striking a healthy balance between black and white, text and vacancy. Words themselves require room to breathe. Images should remain wet cement. Concepts and emotions reside in the gray area of interpretation, the interplay of meaning and translation. In other words, the substance of poetry develops from achieving a delicate balance of text and not text, of stating what you mean without stating your intent, of white space not just around but also within the words you use.

Inflectionism does not support ambiguity for its own sake, much like art for art’s sake. At heart, poetry is an intimate conversation between the writer and reader. Beyond that, it accepts the reader’s part in the process and encourages connections deeper than mere recognition, understanding, and response. Too much poetry, perhaps most, seems composed with the audience’s reaction in mind. Keep the audience in mind, surely, but why dictate its response? If every reader has the same experience of a poem, the poet has failed at one of the most fundamental tasks of writing- to encourage dialogue, not demand attention via diatribe.

Inflecting suggests grasping what has come before and redefining it, refocusing it, placing it upon a different point in the arc thereby changing its trajectory. No poetic movement has wrongly defined the art of writing; they all provide philosophical stances and unique foundations upon which to build a real relationship with a reader. Inflectionism solicits readers to actively participate in a poem, to recreate each poem with every reading, and to recognize white space exists to nourish the poem with their experiences and their voices. And we seek writers and artists who yearn to communicate, not impart; to celebrate interpretations; to speak and to listen.

—- John Sibley Williams

The Experience

Inflectionism is an artistic movement that envisions art as being a social interaction. Just as social interactions seek a balance, art too should seek a communicative balance with the viewer. And it is this observer, which is the core human element essential to the creative process. What draws people together are shared experiences. Therefore inflectionists see art as a shared experience and relationship. A cross-cultural bridge, between peoples, between times, and worlds.

Consequently, inflectionists draw importance on proportionately utilizing a nonlinear approach. This is in an effort not only for art to bridge a gap, but also to keep the bridge alive and moving as all experiences and relationships do. A poem should be just like that bridge. Just like a simple park; where you might say, “I have been here many times before, but never with this weather.” Inflectionists seek to free up the hidden potential behind words, allowing their relationships to wander and be dynamic; like a bird hoping on branches causing movement to be experienced in many other areas of the tree.

Inflectionism does not seek artistic self overindulgence, it also recognizes the core concentration and authencity of an experience, but does utilize elements of a poet’s subconscious. The subconscious is seen as a conduit point. An intuitive point in the work where the author trusts his own perspective to spark a thought, create a stimuli, and present a space to mull over an experience. The approach seeks to maintain an “Inflectionist Balance”, a boiling point of integrity, a genuineness of personality, a dynamic point at which truth can resonate off of the paper.

Seemingly, the responsibility of a good poem should invite the unique perceptions and participation of a reader. It should create an environment filled with choice; an environment, for the reader to step into and participate by drawing on their own consciousness to fill in the gaps. The observer can move throughout the rooms of a poem, explore, and discover areas at their own leisure.
—-Shawn Austin

A Dialog

Instead of defining itself from scratch, inflectionism seeks to define itself as an extension of the pre-existing art. Inflectionist poetry is just one branch of the creative approach that is referred to as Inflectionism.

The literary tradition is as ancient as our capacity for verbal communication. Through ages, most of the core human concerns have remained the same, although our ability to analyze and discuss them has evolved. Poetry has remained essentially the same in that it elicits our reaction by appealing to those concerns indirectly. Yet, it has become more complex as our self-awareness grows, as new works create a precedent for approaching the same universe of discourse from slightly different angles. Inflectionist poetry builds on the most compelling precedents to create precedents of its own.

Although art does not follow a pre-set formula and each artist’s methods of expression are by necessity unique, there are certain tendencies that one identifies and adheres to if one approaches one’s creative output analytically and with a sense of responsibility to a greater whole. Inflectionist poets are in general defined by the following tendencies:

Poetry does not teach or explain. It asks questions and lets the reader answer them.
Poetry leaves space for the reader to come to their own conclusions.
Poetry seeks to represent the type of human interaction that causes a positive spark, an epiphany, a sense of growth
Poetry does not rely on any special knowledge on the reader’s part, be it political, geographical, historical, etc.

A perfect poem is like a room into which the reader is invited with a soft word. This room contains wonders the reader can explore on their own. The poem does not seek to become its own tour guide by over-explaining its meaning and beauty. The poem respects its topic and treats its reader with empathy, attempting to enrich the reader’s experience. A perfect poem works as well today as it would in the future or the past.

Inflectionist poetry is both new and familiar. It examines core human realities and gently pushes the reader to engage in a mutually defining interaction with the world.

—A. Molotkov

Gloom Cupboard out now!

Issue 121 of Gloom Cupboard is now up at Check it out! It includes one of my poems...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Now Culture

Now Culture has just accepted my long poem "Answering Where?" for publication! I am excited about the venue, as Now Culture, though small, is uniquely strong and published incredibly dynamic work. Below is a description of the process I used in the creation of this poem, to be included in the magazine...

To me, there is a difference between fact and truth in poetry, as there is in all creative forms. Most importantly in a narrative framework, actual facts can get in the way of, even become obstacles against, the honesty of a situation. It is the truth behind something that people relate to, not the thing itself. Therefore, I usually take a personal truth or nagging question and try to create a personal (conceptual or visceral or both) experience that others can grasp intuitively. If a location or specific occurrence is involved, the reader need not have lived it to understand the truth behind it. In fact, I need not have directly lived it. I tend to start with an honest, emotional experience and create facts to support it, hoping the poem resonates universally.

“Answering Where?” is a perfect example. While I was living in Vienna, a friend who recently returned from Morocco related a specific scene to me:

Imagine evening is breaking into night, with neither sun nor moon claiming dominance, just colors, and you are mid-city Casablanca, alone and lost amid unknown languages and an unstudied culture, just wandering, and you turn a dusty corner to find what seems like a mile of refuse aflame. The smoke pours up into the sky, masking the claustrophobic buildings. People walk around it as if were a puddle or a dead dog, or they stoke it with the day’s household garbage, and kids swarm it like a playground, tossing things into it. The city has no garbage collection, so the people simply pile it in the street and periodically set it ablaze. It was rather beautiful.

Her description haunted me. I could not shake it. So I put myself there and began writing the scene in colors and sounds and silences that may or may not accurately reflect the facts, but hopefully reflect the situation’s honesty. From my own journeys abroad, I stole the fear of the unknown, the loneliness and yet the wonder of languagelessness, that sense of otherness and the people I have encountered that embody it, and the moon, which seems to be what all travelers look to for solidarity, for a stable foothold connecting them to home. From my friend, I stole the narration. And from Hafiz, I stole the mood that seemed most appropriate, that resonated with me— that beauty inherent in the other version of our world.

This Week's Poem


Slipped beneath my wiper
an invitation to festivities
held in the empty factory
I just left
where once mirrors were assembled.

-previously published by Four and Twenty

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Another acceptance today!

Naugatuck River Review just contacted me regarding my poem "At Thirteen", which will be in their Summer 2010 print edition! What a weekend for poetry, on and offline. Just returned from Mt Hood, where Staci and I (and our furry boy Dillinger) spent her birthday, to find two acceptances from such great journals...

Cross to City- Gloom Cupboard

Just received confirmation that my poem "Cross to City" will be published soon at Gloom Cupboard! This poem was written in Brighton, MA, while at a writers conference I noticed the adjacent city building (I believe a courthouse)still had the steeple from when it was church, not all that long ago. I began wondering about the differences and similarities between the two types of parishners that would frequent either establishment, perhaps both...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ellipsis 2010 out now!

The 2010 issue of Ellipsis just hit the shelves! It's a beautifully-designed print edition, and I'm honored my poem "Psalm One" is included. For guidelines and magazine info, see Now I need to find a home for "Psalm Two"!

Hawai'i Review- Winter 2009 out now!

Hawai'i Review's Winter 2009 issue is now out! You can purchase copies or learn about the magazine at My poem "This Other Island" is in this issue. It was composed in Santorini, as the island's landscape hinted in many respects at Iceland's volanic atmosphere. Funny, there are some places that remain with you, and wherever you travel little remembrances, almost like mirrors, peek out from behind each tree, each hill, each memory...

This Week's Poem


Drunk on assembling the scattered shards
green beer and blue wine

and transparent water my fingers
work to have something to fill.

-published by Bijou Poetry Review

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sleet Magazine

Friends, I am excited this beautiful Saturday morning as Sleet Magazine has accepted my short poem "Cross, how comfortable you are" for publication in mid-July. I'll post the direct link to the poem once it is available!

Monday, June 14, 2010

This Week's Poem

Et Cetera

Within this Alpine valley
endless fields of wild flowers,
wild flowers without names,
and within the field I,
within me a heart
level with the bedrock
encountering the roots of color-
ful flowers,
within my heart hands
hollowing out valleys
and constructing mountains
and plucking from them both
flowers without names.

-previously published by The Evansville Review

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Furnace Review

The Furnace Review has just accepted my poem Manners of Distortion for publication in their Summer 2010 issue. I'll post when it becomes available online!

work with Three Muses Press begins

My internship with Three Muses Press began today with an exciting new challenge. To market a new novel, Morgan's Pasture by Wallance J. Swenson. I truly look forward to working on my first small press marketing campaign, as it may end up being the element of publishing I choose to focus on. The more I consider the need for small presses and their underrepresentation in public spheres and reading habits, the more I want to help change that in whatever small way possible. But it's time to crack open the novel.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Blue Moon Literary and Art Review

Great news! Blue Moon Literary and Art Review has accepted two of my poems for future issues. "Two Rivers", written about the Danube and Seine rivers for Paul Celan, will be in Blue Moon's Fall/Winter 2010 print issue and "Equinox", an imagistic love poem, will be in their Spring 2011 print issue.

For more information on or submission guidelines to Blue Moon, an interesting publication I recently discovered, please visit

Monday, June 7, 2010

This Week's Poem

For Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca

I found death happily
spinning old cloth
in my father’s basement.

I sat beside him
to embroider the plain vestments
but each stitch
blackened to ash
between my fingers.

His fat, nimble hands
just kept churning
fabric yards over the cold tiles,
though I asked him
to slow.

I was alone in the house.
I had a key.
My father had left
the procession.

When the sun finally broke in,
it strengthened my thread
and in the light the garment
was black too, ashen,
my thread yellow.
Death just kept sewing
and in the silence
I began working hard
to catch up.

-previously published in Barnwood International, Language and Culture, and Poetic Diversity

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spectrum Volume LIII out now!

Spectrum Volume LIII is out now! Founded in 1957, Spectrum is an annual print journal of art, literature, and poetry published by the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

My poem "I Say I Sing" is in this issue.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Photos from Write to Publish Conference 2010

Ooligan Press staffers...
Chuck Palahniuk and Ursula K. Le Guin meet...
Ooligan Press goodies...