LIMP WRIST Pushcart Nom: Jessica Hand

Over the next few weeks, I am going to post the poems from Limp Wrist that have been nominated for the Pushcart.

Here is the first I will share:

ODE TO MY PENTECOSTAL RIGHT ARM

The live wire writhed: a Pentecostal copperhead
sinking fangs into my ulnar nerve—dendrites convulsed
in the Spirit and passed out, synapses crashed
like stalactites loosened from God’s cavernous mouth,
and for the first genuine time I spoke in another tongue.
Can I get an amen? Can I get a man who doesn’t mind
my arm throwing spaghetti and calling for revival?
My right arm contracts and gives birth to a new baby Jesus
once each minute, and He’s got a holy set of lungs screaming.
This arm awakens and dances at night when He gathers
his loincloth for a jig. God is boogie-woogie electric,
and my arm knows it, knows there’s a pulsing, painful
purgatory, has met eternity and returned tap-dancing.
O, right arm, won’t you tell me what you know?
My body’s on fire, my body’s one big coal bed
for God’s enormous iron poker, but I can’t see
past all the smoke. My stubborn mouth could never swallow
the embers of God’s language. My pagan feet fire-walk,
my left arm makes the sign of the cross,
and the backs of my knees refuse to believe in anything
so my body becomes a war zone. Somewhere God
discos through the carnage, and all I can do is follow
when my right arm stiffens into a divining rod
and bows down.

~ Jessica Hand

Poetry Night at Grass Roots Institute

Tonight was Poetry Night at the Grass Roots Institute, and my first time hosting a poetry reading. Pictures will be coming within the week. Overall, I think we had a decent attendance and a spectacular reading (if I may say so myself). I read some old stuff, some new stuff…… ventured into a painful area, but the writing helps the pain. I was thrilled to be in company with great poets such as Beth Gylys, Jessica Hand, and Kathy Kincer; please read their bios below.

On a special note– it was an honor to read with my mentor, Bethy Gylys. I keep her book BODIES THAT HUM on my desk and with me when I’m writing. She’s an amazing teacher and poet.

I conducted my first raffle to raise funds for my AIDS Walk team, Team Truvy. I sold tickets for an autographed copy of a book by Kim Addonizio, a book donated and autographed by Laure-Anne Bosselaar, and a year subscription to THE CHATTAHOOCHEE REVIEW. We raised $30– a great start. Before the month is over I will post information how you can participate and win a book autographed by Denise Duhamel, Dorianne Laux, Celicia Woloch, and other great poets.

A big hearty thank you to everyone who attended the reading!

Currently an Associate Professor at Georgia State University, Beth Gylys won the Ohio State University Press Journal Prize for her collection Spot in the Dark (Ohio State UP 2004). Her book Bodies that Hum (1999 Silverfish Review Press) won the Gerald Cable Poetry First Book Award, and her chapbook Balloon Heart won the Quentin R. Howard award (1998 Wind Press). Awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, The University of Cincinnati, and Syracuse University, she has had work published in many journals including Paris Review, Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Boston Review, and The Southern Review.

After falling out of an airplane (long story), Jessica D. Hand realized her passion for poetry would, indeed, define her life because as she plummeted with a failing parachute, she was as concerned with the metaphor of the situation as she was with fixing the chute. Jessica (call her Jess) completed two honors B.A.’s (Psychology and Creative Writing) at Carnegie Mellon University. She loved Pittsburgh, but the cold finally drove her back to her native and sunny Georgia. Soon after her return, she was electrocuted (you might call her accident-prone) in her dominant arm, but she keeps writing poetry, even if she has to write it with her toes (that’s an exaggeration—she is learning to write left-handed). She is now in the MFA poetry program at Georgia State University. She is published in Java Monkey Speaks, volume 2, and she was recently a finalist in the Agnes Scott Poetry Competition. Other publications include Toast and the Minnesota review.

K.B. Kincer is in her third year of the graduate program at Georgia State University in creative writing with a concentration in poetry. Originally from Hicksville, N.Y., she has finally lived in the South longer than she lived in the North, but still can’t stomach grits. Her work has appeared in the GSU Review and her poetry won the Agnes Scott Writer’s Festival Contest in 2006. Besides taking and teaching classes at GSU, she hosts Melodically Challenged, a weekly two hour radio show devoted to traditional poetry that features poets reading work from the late nineteenth century through today. It airs Friday mornings from midnight till two on WRAS, 88.5 FM, Georgia State’s 100,000 watt student-run radio station.

ToasterMag… Volume 2, Issue 6 to Come

The last issue of ToasterMag will be updated in a few weeks. I’m still disappointed that it is coming to an end, but it’s like Jessica Tandy’s character in FRIED GREEN TOMATOES says, “God doesn’t close a door without opening a window.”

If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to read the work of Beth Gylys and Theresa Davis; both are featured in the Freehand Department in Volume 2, Issue 5. Reading their poems is time well spent!

I am excited to announce that the last issue will contain work by Kate Evans, Jessica Hand, Montgomery Maxton, Megan Volpert, and of course, yours truly. The last issue is going to be fierce from the poetry stand point.