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With three words

in each line

3 swells in

every set curl

crack spit. You

exit the cave

of a wave.

 
 
 
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Long Poems

 

 
 
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Turn & Return

“Reader,/ We had a lovely language,/ We would not listen.// I don't believe in your god” (James Wright, a big, early influence). Poetry is something to believe in, the memory of a language within, of a dream. Graduate school vastly expands my narrow notion of what a poem can be, turns me on to Gertrude Stein, Lyn Hejinian, and mainly Jack Spicer. The anxiety, no, the tyranny of influence, I'm still trying to extricate myself from the spurt of Spicer's shadow. First my poems are forms of self-expression, first-person narratives with Nature imagery and some kind of epiphany. Then I try to push my ego aside so something else can come thru (poet as medium, vessel, channel; writing as meditative, spiritual practice). Sometimes something else does come thru, another self, not the isolated, alienated, separate self that Sakyamuni calls an illusion, the cause of all our suffering, but a more genuine, authentic self fully aware of being part of the structure of existence, its beginningless, endless metamorphosis. Because Spicer says poems should echo and re-echo against each other, they cannot live alone any more than we can, I stop writing single stand-alone poems (what he calls one night stands, what I call bachelors) and start writing serial poetry, poem-cycles and long poems in which each page tries to function as both an individual piece and part of the whole. I continue writing bachelors on occasion.

It takes courage to will to see oneself with clarity. I turn to language to carve out a coherent self. Instead of “carve out” I could say discover or invent. When I say “I” turn, who am I referring to? Only language can tell me.

I too am made of words. Born in 1972 in Eureka, California (Humboldt County) 3 years later I’m moved, by my parents and older brother, to Glendale, California (L.A. County). My parents separate when I’m 7. I remember frequent smog alerts, taking the bus thru downtown L.A. to Manhattan Beach to surf, all the different kinds of people, different kinds of waves, a world begins to open and reveal itself.

In 1995 I graduate from Chico State, BA in English, minor in Creative Writing. In 1999 I graduate from Mills College in Oakland, MFA in Poetry.

After graduate school I move back to Eureka where an old local guy, a writer, calls me a salmon (returning to my birth-stream to lay my poem-eggs and die). I've been doing courier work for the past 12 years, I never seem to tire of driving around Humboldt County, its lovely rawness. My main hobbies are surfing and soccer. Poetry has given me a great deal, a method, a way of reflectively being in the world. I'd like to hold up my end of the deal and give something back, this site is my share.

Plaudits:
Creative Writing Award from Chico State /
Winner of the Mary Merritt Henry Prize in Graduate Poetry from Mills College

Publications:
Watershed, a literary journal from Chico State /
Synthesis, a Chico community newspaper /
College of the Redwoods literary journal /
The Stone, a literary magazine in Eureka /
Poem Installations at The Ink People and Piante, art galleries in Eureka /
Online at Moria and La Fovea

Any comments or inquiries are welcome.

Contact: egurney10@gmail.com