#GhostMotel Authors: ​Glen Armstrong, Julia Bouwsma, Robert Carr, Natalie Crick, N. Cuzzi, Matt Dennison, Kelly Jean Egan, Mag Gabbert, Gretchen Gales, Meg Griffitts, Gina Keicher, Jennifer Lorden, Jeffrey H. Maclachlan, Kevin Kvist Peters, Heather Sweeney, Billie R. Tadros, Donna Vorreyer, & Sophie Weiner with Introduction by Jamison Crabtree.


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"...underneath all the spectacle, a ghost is an association with something that lost.

And this is where it’s left us (where it’s brought us?): poetry is the language of ghosts.

This language of ghosts is not pragmatic. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a poetic technical manual or instructions on how to poetically bake a cake (though there are exceptions like Alice B. Toklas’ cookbook).

Poems don’t have a fixed meaning; they’re meant to be felt. Language is the medium of associations and the listener is no less important than the speaker. We navigate our way through it together, arms ahead of us, stumbling. But we do it together.

In Jennifer Lorden’s poem Dormitory and Matt Dennison’s poem Deliquent, I hear very different echoes of Ono no Komachi’s tankas from a millennium before. In Lorden’s poem, a year vanishes into a moment. And, as a speaker tries to escape into that moment, the poem turns: the world continually threatens to intrude. In Dennison’s, the speaker lights a hill on fire, which lights his house on fire, and tries to convince us it has nothing to do with their mother’s recent death. In both, I can’t help but think of Aratani and Hirshfield’s translations with their sharp turns, strong voices, and softly-quick speed. Night deepens / with the sound / of a calling deer, / and I hear / my own one-sided love.

For better or for worse, the words that salt your tongue were inherited from the dead. The poems you love take part in a conversation that began before you and will (hopefully) move beyond you.

And, as uncomfortable as it is to say, a ghost is also the desire to hold on to the ideas of whatever it is we feel we’ve lost."

-from Jamison Crabtree's introduction to #GhostMotel


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