Joe Weil: Toward a more Combative and Passionate Reading of Poems

Toward a more Combative and Passionate Reading of Poems

I am going to use combative here in the sense of Jacob wrestling with the angel. All night, he stands locked in with the angel until the dawn approaches. The angel must depart. Jacob refuses to let the angel go until he has received the full blessing of heaven. The blessing is given, the angel breaks Jacob’s hip before departing as a sort of “sign” of both blessing and combat, and afterwards, nothing is the same. This is true combat, true grappling. I tell you the point of any deep reading is contained both in the idea of not letting go until you have received the blessing, and also, in being marked with the signs of combat—wounded and scarred in the best sense of those words. This is beyond effort. Jacob was naked. He brought no weapons or defensive armor to the match. If he was oiled up, it was only with his own sweat. What do I mean beyond effort? Effort implies forcing yourself, going through the motions, acting as if this was a drag. No man, in a life and death struggle with an angel would consider his combat drudgery: “Oh my Gawd, I have to read this stupid shit, and its wing night at the Happy Pig! Poor me.!” I hate students like this. Fuck understanding them or thinking I was young once too. The young student who thinks this way is already dead—dead to literature, dead to wonder, and alive only to doing the absolute minimum in order to get the A. He knows only what he already understands, already has mastered, whatever his prejudices have tricked him into believing is knowledge. Fuck him with a spoon. I hope he chokes on a fucking mushroom!
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Poetry: Joel Bettridge

The Electron Microscope (a half sonnet)

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Poetry: Tiffany Higgins

Joan of the Arc of Oaks

From Ecolandia

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Lisa Wells interviews Mary Hickman

HickmanMary Hickman is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she received an Iowa Arts Fellowship. Her poems have been published in Boston Review, Colorado Review, jubilat, PEN American Poetry Series, and elsewhere. Her first book, This Is the Homeland, will be published by Ahsahta Press in May 2015.

Wells bio pic for omniverseLisa Wells is from Portland, Oregon. She’s the author of a book of essays, Yeah. No. Totally. (2011) and a chapbook, BEAST (2012). Her work appears in The Believer, Best New Poets, Denver Quarterly, Third Coast, The Iowa Review and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Iowa City.

A new poem by Mary Hickman follows the interview.

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Bay Area Lit Scene: Studio One Reading Series February, 2015


What: Studio One Reading
Where: Studio One Art Center, 365 45th Street, Oakland, CA
When: Doors-7:00, Reading-7:30
Who: Aaron Kunin and Andrew Maxwell
Contact: Casey McAlduff at

Review by Kevin Kvist Peters, Feature Writer

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