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