Sunday, October 23, 2011

Indigo Ink Press Launch Party for Paper Covers Rock, Oct. 21

Here's the video I made for the launch party. I read two poems from Paper Covers Rock: "Poland" & "Forty." My first self-made video that I also uploaded on You Tube today.

Friday, September 30, 2011

My Latest Chapbook of Poetry

September 30: Official Launching of My Chapbook: Paper Covers Rock

Indigo Ink


Dave Bonta's Videocast

Reviews of Paper Covers Rock 

“A dazzle and a delight, Chella Courington’s poetry will carry you through the brave discoveries of adolescent sex, then turn around and chill you with what she knows of being a grown woman, then turn again and fill you with compassion for human distress. Travel with her on these journeys and you’ll be going with beauty all the way.”
Alicia Ostriker, author of The Book of Seventy

“Crisp narrative lines filled with energy, indignation, and fierce beauty. The images can take your breath away, and the title poem is one I’ll never forget.”
Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire & editor of Brevity

“In Paper Covers Rock, Courington narrates familiar poetic scenarios— adolescent girls exploring their sexuality; a poet/teacher observing her students in a prison—but always with bright, surprising details: one girl doesn’t just kiss the other, she ‘uncloses my eyes with her tongue,’ and a confident, authoritative tone that brings readers back ‘to the point of mooring.’ In this collection, loss is described with ‘words / like sour tree roots’ and trouble becomes so appealing, one can’t help but wonder ‘if Satan’s the hero’ in her story.”
Sara Tracey, author of Flood Year

“Chella Courington’s voice of quiet reflection leads us through sensual memories of youth, struggles for affirmation and the middle-aged acknowledgment of frailty. These poems together form a tight weave of body-knowledge, experienced through time and the pull of first relationships.”
Jen Pearson, reviewer, PoetryLog  (

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tom Waits on Being Called a Poet

Inebreational Travelogue: Tom Waits on Being Called a Poet

Nancy Smith wrote a review at The Rumpus that celebrates Tom Waits and the book Tom Waits on Tom Waits. In said book Waits weighs in on the many things he’s been called over the years, namely “poet.”
It’s almost impossible to write an apt description of Waits, but every journalist in this collection makes a worthy attempt. Some of my favorites: “A mumbling sot on stage.” “A collector and researcher of bawdy stories.” “A half-buzzed derelict with the voice of a bulldozer.” “A gruff-voiced romanticizer of the seamy side of urban life.” “A practitioner of the fine art of conversation” “A Depression-Era hobo ridin’ the rails toward some unforsaken land.” “The teacher we wished we had.” “The greatest entertainer on Planet Earth.”
However he is described, Waits’s magnetic stage presence draws people to him. His live shows take on a theatrical quality, complete with spoken-word ramblings, chain-smoking, dramatic movements, and a lot of jokes. Waits is often referred to as a poet, a term he was quick to toss off in the early days.
“Poetry is a very dangerous word,” says Waits, “It’s very misused. Most people when they hear the word ‘poetry’ think of being chained to a desk, memorizing ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn.’ When somebody says that they’re going to read me a poem, I can think of any number of things that I’d rather be doing. I don’t like the stigma that comes with being called a poet—so I call what I’m doing an improvisational adventure, or an inebriational travelogue, and all of a sudden it takes on a whole new form and meaning. If I’m tied down and have to call myself something, I prefer ‘storyteller.’”
Then, a bit on his process:
For a long time, Waits admits, he was in danger of being overtaken by the low life he wrote about. He drank too much. He made bad friends. “I wanted to experience what it was like to be on the road the way I imagined it would be for the old-timers that I loved, so I would stay in these down joints because I was absorbing all the atmosphere in those places; the ghosts in the room. You want to be where the stories grow, and you think if you live in those places they’ll come up through the sidewalks and out of the cracks in the wall—and they do. But you have to be very clear about who you are and who it is you’re projecting, and there was a time when I was very unclear about who I was and I became a caricature of myself.”
Over time, Waits’s persona becomes both clearer and even more difficult to define. It’s a strange contradiction. Each of his albums are so profoundly different, it’s as if we learn about a new side of Waits with every album. Some of the most interesting interviews include insight into his creative process:
“The creative process is imagination, memories, nightmares, and dismantling certain aspects of this world and putting them back together in the dark. Songs aren’t necessarily verbatim chronicles or necessarily journal entries, they’re like smoke, it’s like it’s made out of smoke.”
from The Poetry Foundation
original interview in The Rumpus 9/26/11

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Poems are a form of texting"

Dear Readers,

About two weeks ago, the Poet Laureate of Great Britain, Carol Ann Duffy, said: ""The poem is a form of texting ... it's the original text. It's a perfecting of a feeling in language – it's a way of saying more with less, just as texting is. We've got to realise that the Facebook generation is the future – and, oddly enough, poetry is the perfect form for them. It's a kind of time capsule – it allows feelings and ideas to travel big distances in a very condensed form." 

  I thought about Duffy's assertion and then began wondering how we writers & writing teachers can turn texting into poetry exercises and assignments. I would appreciate any ideas you may have. The full article can be accessed at <>.   

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Paper Covers Rock

Dear Readers,

Gravity and Light, my blog of poetry & meanderings, is back. During my hiatus I published a book of prose poetry, Girls & Women, with Burning River; put together another book of poetry, Paper Covers Rock, coming out with Indigo Ink in thirteen days (September 30); and wrote a prose poetry novella, Talking Did Not Come Easily to Diana, being issued as an ebook by Musa Publishing November 11. Indigo Ink has produced a lovely video of the poem concluding Paper Covers Rock, [A GROUP OF JELLYFISH IS CALLED A ‘‘SMACK.’’ A GROUP OF LAPWINGS IS CALLED A ‘‘DECEIT.’’]. You can watch it by clicking on today's title. On that site is also a poem previewed here almost two years ago, "Lynette's War." Because writing is a communal experience once the author releases her/his writing, I am interested in how you respond to my work. Please feel encouraged to leave comments.

Your Author,
Chella Courington

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Nursing You by Erica Jong

in memory of my mom: Tommie Dorris Williams Courington

Nursing You by Erica Jong

On the first night

of the full moon,

the primeval sack of ocean


& I gave birth to you

little woman,

little carrot top,

little turned-up nose,

pushing you out of myself

as my mother


me out of herself,

as her mother did,

& her mother's mother before her,

all of us born

of woman.

I am the second daughter

of a second daughter

of a second daughter,

but you shall be the first.

You shall see the phrase

"second sex"

only in puzzlement,

wondering how anyone,

except a madman,

could call you "second"

when you are so splendidly


conferring even on your mother

firstness, vastness, fullness

as the moon at its fullest

lights up the sky.

Now the moon is full again

& you are four weeks old.

Little lion, lioness,

yowling for my breasts,

rowling at the moon,

how I love your lustiness,

your red face demanding,

your hungry mouth howling,

your screams, your cries

which all spell life

in large letters

the color of blood.

You are born a woman

for the sheer glory of it,

little redhead, beautiful screamer.

You are no second sex,

but the first of the first;

& when the moon's phases

fill out the cycle

of your life,

you will crow

for the joy

of being a woman,

telling the pallid moon

to go drown herself

in the blue ocean,

& glorying, glorying, glorying

in the rosy wonder

of your sunshining wondrous


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ghetto: Two Living Children by Anna Swir

Ghetto: Two Living Children
Anna Swir
Screaming ceased long ago on that street. Only the wind sometimes plays with a torn-out window in which the remnants of a windowpane still glitter, and carries over cobblestones feathers from ripped-open eiderdowns.
At times the same wind brings a sudden shout of many people from far away. Then it happens that from a cross street two living children walk out unexpectedly. Holding each other's hands they escape silently through the middle of a deserted street.
Up to the spot where, hidden behind a street corner wrapped in mist, a German soldier at a machine gun watches day and night on the border of the ghetto.

--tr. Czeslaw Milosz, Talking to My Body (Copper Canyon)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Redder Than Diane's Lipstick

The paper blot melted on my tongue in a piazza near Lake Cuomo. The man at the next table tapped his glass of Pernod and water at my ear. Did he know? Did he see the guerilla girls catching their blood in glass vials and spraying the canvas pink? Did he taste Pernod in a paint bucket? Diane MacPhear said her father was reincarnated in the old flesh, cracked and blue from blood thinners, skeletal fingers, and bulbous nose. He stood two days in Ethiopian tea, Diane said, with a reduction of rubber bark. On the third day his flesh turned pink and he flew to Our Lady. We flew behind him. Rains washed away baby powder, roughened our skin. My arms chaffed with the currents. But I knew all the Pernod in Italy would not keep us up. It wasn't a matter of drugs. It was a matter of time before my skin would slide from the bone like the skin of the girl with the fat face in fourth grade. Epithalamium tissue moved in waves from the forehead over the eyelids and down the cheeks until it hung like a colostomy bag under the chin. Her Cherokee bones glistening.

First Published: Gargoyle (Summer 2010). Eds. Richard Peabody & Lucinda Ebersole.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Toucans & Reindeer

The day after Thanksgiving, her mother mounted the singing reindeer with flashing antlers above the toilet, and Diana filled her ears with Angel Soft. She cringed at the trappings—tinsel strand by strand on a tree turning brown, stuffed turkey, musical chairs with cousins she saw once a year. But the holiday changed when the cousin with luscious lips like Danny Zuko handed her dried cannabis wrapped in paper. At fifteen she had no idea what lay ahead—hours waiting for vowels and consonants to catch an upward drift and tumble down before she took another drag, holding it so long she could hear toucans screech from the den below. Their big green beaks tipped in red. Her science teacher said they were tissue thin on the outside. Yet inside, honeycombs of bone. Ridges and hollows of white calcium twirling into a playground of hexagons for no one except Diana and the boy on Christmas Eve.

First published in riverbabble 17 (Summer Bloomsday 2010), Ed. Leila Rae