3rd Wednesday’s poem of the week is a fun list poem with an engaging title. It’s by Maryland poet, Kurt Olsson, and comes from our spring issue, which is available free online.
Sparrows and Dust, Poems by Zilka Joseph – The Ridgeway Press
Is this the bird way? Where is home? What is the fate of wanderers? Have we all been “elsewhere”? Will truths be revealed to us in the end? In this finely tuned chapbook, the poet uses free verse and form to sing her stories, her history, her geography, her experience as an immigrant who finds rest after loss and upheaval with imagination and passion. With deft use of imagery, language and the senses, she travels and shape-shifts. She weaves in science, mysticism, imagination and myth. We fly from India to Michigan and back, from this world to other in-between states where memory, death, loss, the present, the search for home and the self all sing through several voices, and become a miniature symphony. As Attar tells us through his bird characters in his allegorical rendering of Sufism— “the way is long” so we must persevere to find the truth. We are but “water mixed with dust”. The bird-soul can only rest briefly, then it must move on.
Zilka Joseph is an educator, editor and a widely published poet. Her chapbooks, Lands I Live In and What Dread, were nominated for a PEN America and a Pushcart award respectively. Her book Sharp Blue Search of Flame (WSUP) and was a finalist for the Foreword INDIES Book Award. http://www.zilkajoseph.com
The poems in Zilka Joseph’s Sparrows and Dust are separate skies—each a wrought song woven with a world of birds: mynah, grackle, swan, sparrow, hoopoe, heron, kingfisher, and dozens of others. From Mumbai and Kolkata in her native India to the yard outside her house in Michigan, this bird-crossed world is made smaller and more beautiful, as Joseph watches the skies and the breadth of her blue heart for the migration of the spirits of her parents and other ancestors. “Leave me a feather to dream on, a map to follow…” one poem sings. As I read and listened to these soaring, gorgeous poems, I felt the dust shake loose; I found myself more open, more buoyant, and more alive.”
—Robert Fanning, author of Severance, Our Sudden Museum, American Prophet and The Seed Thieves
Song and flight, which all poets aspire to achieve, are evident here, there, and everywhere, in this collection of Zilka Joseph’s poems. Her language sings. Between bird-beat and heart-beat, it’s an instrument exquisitely attuned to her love of depths and flitting surfaces. In poem after poem, we return with Zilka to who we are—a gift, a mystery, a wound seeking salve, light-bearers, dipping and swerving through passages of open air, sky and soul, in and out of memory and loss, anxiety and joy, arrival and parting, to settle and nest in the now.
—Ralph Nazareth is the author of Ferrying Secrets; Between Us the Long Road; & Dropping Death. He is the Managing Editor of Yuganta Press and the President of GraceWorks, Inc., an international nonprofit.
When I look up from these poems, I agree with Zilka Joseph that “I have been somewhere else,” perhaps in the mind of a bird. In these remarkable pieces, she explores the dust baths of sparrows–indeed, the behavior of many “life-birds”– as symbols for existence and wonder. Her words wing through family ancestry, migration, and the journey to a place called Michigan where the metaphors shift—hawks overhead, loss and death, but the dust still may, and finally does, shimmer. These are poems of memory and insight the color of saris and feathers, of meaning that rises from origins and resilience and high-flying beauty.
—Anne-Marie Oomen is author of Uncoded Woman, a tale in poems, and Love, Sex and 4-H, winner of the Next Generation Award for Memoir, among others. She teaches at Solstice MFA at Pine Manor College.
Zilka Josheph Poems published in Third Wednesday:
The Geese Who Came to Nest—Winter 2021
Once Upon a Snow Bunting
Purchase Sparrows and Dust from Small Press Distribution.
3rd Wednesday’s annual George Dila Flash Fiction Contest is open for entries:
From the sping issue of 3rd Wednesday, this poem was an honorable mention in our annual poetry contest.
Infinity Standing Up by Drew Pisarra
A DELIGHTFUL COLLECTION OF LOVE SONNETS
“A stunning collection of unique and eclectic observations of modern love which I’m sure Shakespeare himself would be pleased to see is ‘holding a mirror up to life.’ If Wes Anderson and Miranda July had a Queer love-child, they’d write like this.”
– Anna Girvan, Creative Fellow with the Royal Shakespeare Company
“Rhyming and skipping his way through jaggedly sexualized and playful, formal sonnets with serendipity and style (“Devour me! Think me not some crazy nut.”), Drew Pisarra has written a rousing and unusual collection of poems that respond with see-saw emotion to a lover who comes and goes, with difficulty and love. Puns abound; titles tease. These sonnets will knock you out, and you’ll return to them again.”
– Diane Mehta, How to Write Poetry (2005)
“These poems navigate the rapids of desire in a form that was made for twists and turns of feeling, from the derangement of lust to rueful self-reflection. Drew Pisarra honors the Shakespearean sonnet’s tradition of wit and economy, while simultaneously delivering the pleasurable shock of 21st-century idiom.”
– Joan Larkin, Cold River (Lambda Literary Award)
About Drew Pisarra: The author once toured his monologues around the country and even had a ventriloquist act but has since retired from the world of dummies. His short story collection Publick Spanking was published by Future Tense some time ago. More recently as part of the installation art duo Saint Flashlight (with Molly Gross), he’s been finding inventive ways to get poetry into public spaces.
About Capturing Fire Press: This independent publishing house was founded by Regie Cabico and seeks to promote politically charged performance and experimental poetry of the highest quality by diverse queer poets from around the globe.
3rd Wednesday’s poem of the week is a prize winning poem from our annual poetry contest. It appears in the spring issue of the magazine, now available in print at Amazon or as a free download from our website.
Here’s everything you want in poetry. Understandable language—check. Interesting, inventive use of words—check. Topics that reference matters of common interest—check. Insights way beyond the usual—check. Don’t skim this collection. You’d miss way too much that makes our lives meaningful. Enter and walk “unafraid in this new topography.”
—Sharon Scholl, Professor emerita of humanities. Author of Music and Culture, Death and the Humanities, and three chapbooks of poetry
WHEN YOU GET HERE is a celebration of the small, precise details that accumulate, like snowflakes, into a life. It’s a map, guiding us though a landscape of grief, wonder and sensuality, touching all the delicate connections in between. We peek in cupboards, wrestle with lovers, walk on thin ice, followed by a wolf. Every poem reminds the reader to breathe, sense, and feel what it is to be alive.
—Joyce Sweeney, author of Impermanence and Wake up, Finishing Line Press
Here Shutta Crum’s love of language takes us on a fascinating journey, gives us Driving Directions, promises the road knows the way. She opens Father’s Cupboard, lets us see what held his world. She studies A Philosophy of Luminescence in a confining marriage and offers new light. In You Can Have It Back she wants to return the rib taken from Adam and given to woman, for it no longer holds her aright after the death of a poet friend. In What I Bequeath, Shutta says one day her bones will speak a language we will understand. We are fortunate—in this beautiful collection, she speaks clearly to us and we understand.
—Chris Lord, author of Field Guide to Luck and What We Leave, founder of Word’n Woman Press
Shutta Crum’s poems are in Typehouse, Stoneboat, Southern Poetry Review, Beyond Words and 3rd Wednesday. Forthcoming: Main Street Rag. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Typehouse. When You Get Here (2020) won a gold Royal Palm Literary Award. For more info or to book as a speaker: www.shutta.com
Kelsay Books / Indybound / Amazon
A poem in Formal Verse: “Reading the Obituaries“
Nancy Jo Allen proudly announces the release (March 20, 2021) of her first collection of poetry through her publisher Kelsay Books and Amazon. The book is entitled Wrinkles in Time and in Love, and includes the poem “Art” first published in Third Wednesday’s Vol.XI, No. 4 edition.
“Allen’s poems take us on a journey through the difficulties of relationship and identity: daughter, wife, mother, ex-wife, friend, and wife again. At each stage, we’re asked to reconsider our preconceptions and ideals in favor of the lived experience of those realities—a thoughtful and polished collection.”
—Marta Ferguson, former poetry editor for The Missouri Review, and author of Mustang Sally Pays Her Debt to Wilson Pickett
“Nancy Jo Allen’s poems are deeply felt and well crafted. She has an excellent ear and eye.”
—Bruce Taylor is the former Poet Laureate of Eau Claire and host of Off the Page a reading series at the Local Store Gallery.
“Like the haiku, Allen’s poetry captures small moments of life with images from nature. And like a haiku, the collection is perfect in word, rhythm, and line. Through her poems, we travel through the landscape of memory and vicariously touch grief and let it go. We recognize defeat and replace it with contentment. We love again.”
—Lori Younker, author of Mongolian Interior: An Expatriate Experience and Sioux Beside Me, former Columbia Chapter Missouri Writers Guild president, and author and founder of World So Bright.org, a collection of cultural essays.
Nancy Jo Allen was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and now lives in Columbia, Missouri, with her husband Terry and their pup Jayden.
Her poem, Art, is from the Autumn 2018 issue of 3rd Wednesday.