Winter: Editor’s Letter

Dear reader,

Contributors of our sixth official edition of Orange Quarterly represent some of the best in contemporary poetry, literature, and art. In our winter issue fresh from Green House Press, we feature seventeen poems by four poets (David Hornibrook, Katie Willingham, Beau Boudreaux, and F. Daniel Rzicznek), fiction by Jeannine Burgdorf, and artwork by Jim Zola and Fabrice Poussin. Also included are interviews with OQ 7’s contributors, plus embedded audio of poets and writers reading their work.

Green House Press is an independent literary arts publisher based in Cadillac, Michigan. Sharing contemporary poetry, literature, essays, and visual art as well as letters, features, and interviews with artists, Green House aims to build cultural enthusiasm around literacy and the arts, promote the appreciation and accessibility of poetry, and publish energizing work by diverse creators worldwide.

Thank you to all the writers and artists who submitted! We look forward to reviewing the work of international creators for the next round. Submissions are always open, and we plan to release OQ 7, our spring 2018 issue, during National Poetry Month in April. In the meantime, please enjoy and share this free collection of new poetry, fiction, art, interviews, and more, and celebrate the exciting #OQwinter issue launch with all of us at Green House Press!

Wholeheartedly,
Allison Leigh

from Leafmold

A blade of grass tickling an ankle. Not an ant, not a fly, not a mosquito, not a bee. Branches so thin they don’t cast shadows so the leaves appear to float, organized like a school of fish on the sunlit cedar. The feeling you cannot feel again but can only remember: God was in the church basement and your mind was a brushfire buffeted by his lungs. A fleeing like a stalk of something greener than green climbing the spine. Get the dishes done. Pack your bags. The weather is not your friend yet the weather is a shield and the weather is an arrow painted with your impatience. The arrow of your impatience is a thing for the flies to contemplate, a facedown mirror in the moss, a bucket of steaming towels, throbbing bass so loud on the third of July you can hear it four miles away. Who minds whose mind? Boom boom boom. boom. An aversion to aversions. A gaze of mud to collate sundown’s terms: followers carry zithers into the sky. Mallards were once seen here but no more—the braid of bird to land comes apart via avian botulism, absence of bats, noise of the world. Funny that these entities rebraid this place into a form to fit the self. The last egg cracked is a thing of fundament, an absolute too gold to not ignore.

*

F. Daniel Rzicznek is the author of three poetry collections, Settlers (forthcoming from Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press), Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press), and Neck of the World (Utah State University Press), as well as four chapbooks, most recently Live Feeds (Epiphany Editions). He is co-editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press). His recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in West Branch, Willow Springs, Colorado Review, 32 Poems, TYPO, Terrain, The Collagist, and elsewhere. Rzicznek teaches writing at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

On Poetry: An Interview with David Hornibrook

Tangible Wonder Display Case,” “Night Manual,” “Pop Blasted,” “A Stand of Pine,” “North,” “Refraction,” and “Submarine” are poems by David Hornibrook published in the winter 2018 issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 6), released February 17, 2018.

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What inspired you to write this these poems?

Poems come from so many different places!

“Pop Blasted!” is made up of recycled portions of an article by Randy Kennedy (originally published in the NYT), about pop culture and the space race. I wrote “Tangible Wonder Display Case” while looking at some collages by the artist and musician Robert Pollard. I finished in one sitting and had so much fun doing it. “Night Manual” started out while I was in a map library and noticed that the patterns on the marble floor were reminiscent of waves. I had a dollar in my pocket. I’m sure there was more I’m not remembering. Sand dunes form over time when a little bit of sand catches in some grass or a stone and begins to accumulate. Language does this too. Fortunately poems don’t take as long as dunes.

Why do you make art, and why write poetry in particular?

I don’t really know what else to do with myself! For me, poetry is THE way to process a truly bewildering, wonderous, and frightening world.

What do you like about reading or performing your work for an audience?

I absolutely love doing readings. There’s something really special about being able to partake in the energy of a group of peoplemaybe even direct that energy. Communication is everything and I think reading/performing is best when it’s an exchangethe poet is engaging the audience but also listening to the audience and responding. I also like the attention.

In what ways do you think art and poetry are vital to society today?

Every society needs prophets, mirrors, oracles, and listeners. Artists are any and all of these things. There’s so much damage going on all the time, especially now that we’re aware of what’s happening 24 hours a day via the internet and the constant news cycle. We lose our ability to focus and truly care about anything when we’re pressured to care about everything at once. Poems help us slow down, consider things, take on new perspectives. Lots of people have said this in better ways.

Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?

This is always the toughest questionit changes all the time. Music has been an incredible influence on my writing. I love Alice Coltrane, Robert Pollard/Guided by Voices, Neil Young. Poets that I come back to again and again include Ann Lauterbach, Laura Kasischke, Dorianne Laux, Bridget Pegeen Kelly, W.S. Merwin. I would probably give you a different list tomorrow.

Who were some of your biggest influences coming into your own as an artist?

The first poet I read was W.H. Auden. I came across his selected poems in a used bookstore and was immediately drawn to it. “September 1, 1939” is one of the first poems I loved. It was quite some time before I discovered any contemporary poets and when I did they were no longer very contemporary! Music had probably the strongest influence on my early exploration with poetry. I was listening to bands like The Promise Ring, Jets to Brazilstuff with lots of wordplay and coincidentally, quite a few references to american poetry. It was years before I realized how strongly influenced I was.

What are working on next, and what excites you most about the future?

Well, I have this manuscript I feel very good about called Night Manual. It’s travelling around a little, trying to find a good home. Most recently, I’ve been working on a project about what it might be like to live underwater crossed with a roadtrip across Michigan interspersed with psalms . . . is one way to describe it, I think? I’m in the thick of it, whatever it is.

*

David Hornibrook‘s work has appeared in Thrush Poetry Journal, PANK, SiDEKiCK LiT, Rogue Agent, Five Quarterly, The Baltimore Review, The Columbia Review, Flyway, and elsewhere. He is a Pushcart Prize recipient and holds an MFA from the Helen Zell Writer’s Program at the University of Michigan.

On “Forethought” and “Hypersurface”: An Interview with Katie Willingham

Forethought,” and “Hypersurface” are poems by Katie Willingham published in the winter 2018 issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 6), released February 17, 2018.

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What inspired you to write each of these poems?

Both of these poems are about how time expands and contracts around particular emotions. Things we take for granted—stars, teeth—become powerful in the moment they refuse to hold their expected course, shifting out of control.

It wasn’t until Allison asked to publish these together, though, that I noticed these poems also have a similar turn of phrase. From “Forethought”: “I made a hole in the feeling and pushed / the fact through it” and from “Hypersurface”: “The feeling that has no end, / push a finger into it and feel the give.” At first, I thought it was embarrassing, suggesting I have only so many tricks up my sleeve, but I’m calling it out for you because I think it reveals how poetry can turn to the same imagery and activate it differently. This isn’t a shortcoming. Rather, it’s a tool, and a potent one.

It also shows I wasn’t finished processing the question this phrase articulates for me—if emotions are incredibly real but also intangible, what happens when I give them a physicality? And what might that physicality be like?

Why do you make art, and why write poetry in particular?

I’ve been talking a lot about feelings, but I fundamentally believe poetry offers a method of thinking. This isn’t to say that thinking might not be deeply emotional, but that making language of it and arranging that language fires all these mental processes for me. It gets me places intellectually I couldn’t go otherwise. The relationship between writing and thinking is incredibly fraught for many people, but my experience has been if the writing is fraught, the thinking is fraught. They’re forever intertwined. This is definitely not true to everyone’s experience, but maybe that’s why they make other kinds of art.

This reminds me—I like to ask writers if they could excel at another art what would it be? (I’m doing my own interview now, oops!) I always say dance. My body bewilders me. But of course I already have a movement practice—a particular way of walking, of pouring water from a kettle, etc.

TL;DR: A visual artist friend likes to say, “everyone can draw,” and I might add dance and write as well, but poetry has always felt like it eases my particular path.

What do you enjoy about reading or performing your work for an audience?

Sharing space, pushing energy around the room . . . Oh! And reading something I forgot was funny and hearing laughter!

In what ways do you think art and poetry are vital to society today?

If art functions how I described above—that it helps us think what we are unable to think by other means—then it has radical power to help imagine a better world and call it into being. This is not to suggest we are always realizing this potential, but it’s there.

Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?

In New York, I can be blessedly inundated if I want to be. Just last week I saw a free puppetry performance, including the funny and brilliant “Daydream Tutorial” by Maiko Kikucki and the following night I saw a musician friend break a guitar pick playing beautiful songs as Bring Prudence at The Way Station.

Poems by my dear friend Adeeba Talukder have been inspiring me for some time and I can’t wait for you to also be able to enjoy her book, winner of the 2017 Kundiman Prize and forthcoming early next year.

And finally, instant gratification: check out this incredible project curated by Jane Wong!

Who was your biggest influence coming into your own as an artist?

I’m going to use this space to make a long overdue shout-out to my parents, who fed those parts of me when they were young and hungry and impressionable.

What are you working on next, and what excites you most about the future?

I’m writing about the future and excited to write more about the future in the future (?!)

I adore my first book, Unlikely Designs. I poured everything I knew into it, but I’m writing different work now and I’m eager to see where it leads.

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Katie Willingham is the author of Unlikely Designs (University of Chicago Press, 2017). She received her MFA from the Helen Zell Writers Program where she also taught creative and academic writing. Her poems have found space or are forthcoming in numerous venues including Bennington Review, Kenyon Review, Poem-A-Day, The Journal, Rhino, Massachusetts Review, and Colorado Review. She has recently become the Poetry Editor of Michigan Quarterly Review and can be found most of the time in person in Brooklyn, NY and online always at http://katiewillingham.com.

On “Leafmold”: An Interview with F. Daniel Rzicznek

Six pieces from “Leafmold” are poems by F. Daniel Rzicznek published in the winter 2018 issue of Orange Quarterly (OQ 6), released February 17, 2018.

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What inspired you to write this series of poems?

These pieces come from “Leafmold,” a poem in 365 parts inspired by the two-way solubility of mind into world and world into mind. At the time I began “Leafmold,” I had come to feel caged by my own style and process. My poems rushed to closure, struck polite and pedestrian postures, and came out feeling like parodies of their own intentions. I wanted to try something bigger, woollier, more open-ended, and, above all, inclusive. I knew I had more to say and that my poems at the time did not provide a viable space for that speech. “Leafmold” allowed me to reimagine my relationship with the page. I remember hearing rain rolling off of tree branches after a storm had passed and being struck by the efficiency of that. That was the beginning impulse and image of “Leafmold.” I have tried to extend the poem outward from that point, and in as many directions as possible.

Why do you make art, and why write poetry in particular?

Difficult to say. I started as a failed musician and then a failed painter—I say failed because I lost interest and abandoned both—but poetry came naturally to me, almost immediately. I was very lucky to have several good teachers recognize and encourage my talent. My grades sucked in college, except for my English and creative writing courses. I took that as a very clear message from the universe. Writing is a compulsion for me at this point; reading, too. I also listen to music for 4-5 hours a day, sometimes more. Art keeps me out of trouble. As for writing poetry in particular, I think I enjoy the malleability and fluidity of language combined with the invitation to song and incantation that is central to genre. I like how words sound and what they do to my mind, the images they create, the emotions they evoke, the challenges and limitations they explore/express, the messes they make. Also, there’s a certain satisfaction to writing a poem that you feel surprised by and happy to have written. I can only think of a handful (seriously, only 3 or 4) of poems I’ve written that performed this, but it’s a feeling I still chase. It keeps me coming back to my notebooks with new ideas.

What do you like about reading or performing your work for an audience?

To be candid, I’ve lately felt a little disenchanted with reading for audiences. I didn’t know it until recently, but the poet Frank Stanford refused to give readings of his own work. I’m not aware of his rationale for this stance, but for me, I’m no longer sure of how well the poem comes across read aloud. Part of it is that my intention while composing is always for the work to be read quietly to one’s self. Why drag it out of its natural environment? What’s more, for me to stand in front of an audience and read the work out loud signifies a sense of ownership that has made me uncomfortable the more I dwell on it: listen to me read my poems. They’re not my poems—they’re the reader’s! The very act of reading in public props the door open for the ego to enter, and this can be bad for the work. I haven’t read my work in public for about a year and a half. It’s been a nice break, but I will be interested to try it again sooner than later, and to see if my feelings have changed.

In what ways do you think art and poetry are vital to society today?

Poetry, specifically, is vital for me. Music, too. I won’t speak for anyone else. But I do believe Art is vital for everyone. Whether “low” or “high,” or “mainstream” or “indie,” or “cheap” or “fine,” all humans require exposure to aesthetic pleasure to be fully human. Whether they get it from the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop or a rerun of South Park doesn’t really matter. Our brains are wired for it. It’s one of our unique qualities as a species, and sets us apart from our animal kin. Yet, we are easily made afraid or threatened by art. It’s there to challenge our worst beliefs and most absurd faiths. It asks us to embrace multiplicity of meaning, and, especially in the case of poetry, to listen openly and innocently. This is an uncomfortable position to be in, so we shy away. Push and pull. Balance within this tension is vital to culture and society. I don’t think that balance is ever really achievable, but it remains something to work toward.

Who are some of your favorite poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, or other artists?

I could fill pages in response to this question. My favorites are always changing. I’m a crazy music nerd, and my tastes are as wide as I can stretch them. Miles Davis and Frank Zappa would both be at the top of my list, mainly because of their consistently interesting and risk-staking outputs. Neither of them made music with pleasing the critics in mind. Someone like John Zorn would fit in as well, despite his dizzying catalog. Then you have Jerry Garcia, who was able to put his foot on a crack where four or five musical traditions all intersected: blues, folk, country, jazz, rock and roll, etc. For poets, I think James Wright and Larry Levis are my favorites. Like Miles and Zappa, these two also kept rethinking style, approach, and process, but their voices and touch are always evident in the work. Sylvia Plath has also been a very important poet for me. Jim Harrison is probably my favorite writer across all genres (he did it all), but not necessarily “the best,” if that makes sense.

Who was your biggest influence coming into your own as an artist?

I would share this between Larissa Szporluk and Amy Newman, both incredible poets under whom I had the good fortune to study with during the completion of my MFA. Larissa urged me to push my imaginative capabilities to a higher level while Amy challenged me to also weigh logic (lyrical logic!) in regard to those imaginative forays. Finding the balance between their voices led me to many years of steady writing. Also, they both, through example, taught me how to teach poetry: with patience, compassion, generosity, and incisiveness. They set the bar quite high, so I hope I’m living up to those expectations for the poets I have the privilege to instruct.

What are you working on next, and what excites you most about the future?

You could say I’m currently in between projects. Writing a little bit, but mostly polishing poems written in the last few years with an aim toward two manuscripts. I also started a long poem last spring that is tentatively called “Headwater” but it’s very loose and wandering at the moment. Not sure where it will end up. I come back to it every few weeks to add a line. “Leafmold” arrived in many fevered rushes of writing. “Headwater” is sort of a sibling, but moving at a much slower and more deliberate pace than “Leafmold.” We’ll see what comes of it.

What most excites me about the future is the direction of contemporary American poetry. Lots of exciting poets writing right now, and I’m excited to keep reading.

*

F. Daniel Rzicznek is the author of three poetry collections, Settlers (forthcoming from Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press), Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press), and Neck of the World (Utah State University Press), as well as four chapbooks, most recently Live Feeds (Epiphany Editions). He is co-editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press). His recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in West Branch, Willow Springs, Colorado Review, 32 Poems, TYPO, Terrain, The Collagist, and elsewhere. Rzicznek teaches writing at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Recurrent Dream

No wife, toddler, beagle
in familiar Milwaukee

a cold spring, my ragged apartment on Murray
still paid for, still the stained beige carpet

a highlit view of the city—
dire need to make it to class

in order to graduate—
plunge my old silver motorcycle unhelmeted

through flakes of snow, a Celtic mist
down Oakland to school

nowhere to park
doors illuminated but shut—

there’s also practice, for baseball
lucky to make the lineup

for once have this chance, take a cut
that I’ve been working on, waiting to hit

on deck, my mouth salty with sweat
no crowd in the seats, no pitcher on the mound.

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Beau Boudreaux’s second book-length collection of poems, Rapunzel’s Braid, was published in 2016 by Five Oaks Press. His first book of poems, Running Red, Running Redder was published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2012. He has published his poetry in journals including Antioch Review and Cream City Review, and in anthologies including The Southern Poetry Anthology. Beau Boudreaux currently teaches at Tulane University and lives in New Orleans.

Domesticity

Sag in the driver’s seat, sigh
idling for the green streetcar while

tourists unload in July heat
look both ways crossing the neutral ground

over tracks to reach safely across
the avenue—I barely accelerate

air conditioner cool on low
they’re building a new house

on my block, progress in the morning
before afternoon thunderstorms roll in—

plan creole tomatoes, sweet corn, watermelon
perhaps boiled gulf shrimp on a bed of lettuce,

more dire tasks, strange leak
from the bathroom ceiling

during heavy showers, toddler’s loose
front tooth, rattle in the dryer—

my wife returns soon from work
like aloe on my sun-burned skin

her blonde hair freshly clipped
at the shoulder, smart black dress

she slips into comfortable clothes
white tee shirt, jeans, espadrilles

I turn on the local jazz station.
put her Chardonnay on ice.

*

Beau Boudreaux’s second book-length collection of poems, Rapunzel’s Braid, was published in 2016 by Five Oaks Press. His first book of poems, Running Red, Running Redder was published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2012. He has published his poetry in journals including Antioch Review and Cream City Review, and in anthologies including The Southern Poetry Anthology. Beau Boudreaux currently teaches at Tulane University and lives in New Orleans.

Hypersurface

I count things endlessly: needles, eyes,
the ridges on my knuckles. How the body 
being material worketh upon the immaterial soul, writes
Burton. I forget how not to be tempted by the cracks 
in the floor, the drips of the tap when I 
turn off the shower.
                                                     Of the stars, 
each night I am grateful to have forgotten
where I began. The feeling that has no end,
push a finger into it and feel the give. The symptoms
are infinite, Burton continues. Pick any direction,
but don’t look behind you. To say the truth is to say 
all the grains of sand are precious to me, and though
the melancholics eat and eat, they are lean, the gut 
razed like a reaped field.

*

Katie Willingham is the author of Unlikely Designs (University of Chicago Press, 2017). She received her MFA from the Helen Zell Writers Program where she also taught creative and academic writing. Her poems have found space or are forthcoming in numerous venues includingBennington Review, Kenyon Review, Poem-A-Day, The Journal, Rhino, Massachusetts Review, and Colorado Review. She has recently become the Poetry Editor of Michigan Quarterly Review and can befoundmost of the time in person in Brooklyn, NY and online always at http://katiewillingham.com.

Forethought

Many circumstances are enough to hold you in place. This observation 
            a nerve-ending delivered: first 
            it snowed then the ice covered over it, a sheen
            I hesitated to crack. 

They say the present intervenes. 
            My last remaining wisdom tooth is rupturing— a potential 
            I knew I carried but did nothing to tend to it. Here,

before the mirror in the bedroom with my phone as a flashlight,
              I took a picture for you 
              but did not send it. I made 
              a hole in the feeling and pushed 
              the fact through it, lonely forethought:

the tender dealings between us.
             Tongue against the edge 
             there; I couldn’t keep it away.

*

Katie Willingham is the author of Unlikely Designs (University of Chicago Press, 2017). She received her MFA from the Helen Zell Writers Program where she also taught creative and academic writing. Her poems have found space or are forthcoming in numerous venues includingBennington Review, Kenyon Review, Poem-A-Day, The Journal, Rhino, Massachusetts Review, and Colorado Review. She has recently become the Poetry Editor of Michigan Quarterly Review and can befoundmost of the time in person in Brooklyn, NY and online always at http://katiewillingham.com

.

Refraction

My grandfather rides a train 
     to Chicago

through long silos of night passing 
      endless fields 

Midwestern stars the porch lights 

of lone farm houses 
        blaze in the distance
   


 
       I do nothing but swim 
              for hours      grow 
  
       larger      longer under 
                    the moonlight I stretch 
        
       tall      turn impossible in all 
                  that emptiness
 

 
    
he married 
      my grandmother a year later 

everywhere they 
      traveled he clicked 
 
his camera 
      even now in the distance 
     
birds fly from 
      the photographs

*

David Hornibrook‘s work has appeared in Thrush Poetry Journal, PANK, SiDEKiCK LiT, Rogue Agent, Five Quarterly, The Baltimore Review, The Columbia Review, Flyway, and elsewhere. He is a Pushcart Prize recipient and holds an MFA from the Helen Zell Writer’s Program at the University of Michigan.

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