Here is another preview of a breakout session from our upcoming conference in NYC. This one is brought to us by Brad Davis, the poetry editor for The Mockingbird, and the author of Opening King David and Still Working It Out.
At its best, a print journal like The Mockingbird is to human experience as a tidal pool is to the ocean. True, some things cannot fit in a tidal pool that fit easily in a journal, like schooling bunker or mating nurse sharks. And unlike a print journal, an actual tidal pool undergoes a thorough flushing twice a day. But so much of the analogy is appealing. In this breakout session, Brad will read and discuss a selection of poems—April is, after all, National Poetry Month—from the journal’s first eight issues, focusing on those moments in the poems that won us over to them. This breakout (Friday, April 28 at 3:30PM) should appeal to poetry lovers and haters and prove beneficial to writers, too.
From the Mockingbird poet’s newest collection of poems, Still Working It Out, a selection of which is featured in the Third Issue of our magazine, this one was previously published in The Paris Review.
It frightens me to think, she said, interrupting
my holiday banter. Imagining the phrase
as antecedent to a rare gift of honest exchange
between grownup siblings, I dashed
into the split-second of dead air, anticipating silently
her elaboration–what a mess we’ve made of things
for our kids; how many parents of starving
children must hate us for our amazing prosperity
But I had misread
her punctuation, took the period as a pause, and all
at once found myself, like that coyote
we used to pull for on Saturday mornings, utterly
without purchase, eyeballing an abyss.
Which is when, glancing back across the divide
of the double sink at her busy hands, I saw her
as though she were curled in a ball on the lip
of a cliff, knees tight to her chest, face buried
in the cotton folds of a holly-green dress.
It’s okay, I wanted to tell her. It scares me, too.
But I was already plummeting, tumbling in free-fall
to a sunbaked canyon floor, the crazy cur
in her endless cartoon of an unreliable universe
Another heartfelt thank-you to everyone who helped put on this year’s Mockingbird Conference in NYC, especially our friends at Calvary St. George’s Church. It’s a good thing most of the presentations below have to do with grace, as the very thought of trying to top it is incredibly scary…! Speaking of freebies, though, we are once again making the recordings available at no charge; we only ask that those who were not able to attend this year *consider* making a donation to help cover the cost of the event. Download links are followed by an in-line player for each recording….
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Some of us have believed since we awoke into sentience. Others of us started out with our confidence invested elsewhere and only later were (or have yet to be) won over to the faith. Maybe because I am of the latter group, I think that, in a volleyball game, the johnny-come-latelies would crush the goody two-shoes. In any case, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, or poetry (“the supreme fiction” – Wallace Stevens), writers write from their vision, their worldview. And when a writer’s worldview undergoes a revolution or conversion, it shows in the writing. This session on the poetry of Mary…
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Mockingbird’s 5th annual New York City Conference is a week away and we are honored to present, during Session C of Friday’s breakout sessions, the poet Brad Davis, who will be reading from his new collection of poems, Self Portrait w/ Disposable Camera (as well as his inspired Opening King David collection, which we’ve highlighted on here before). An accomplished poet, Davis’ poems in this new collection have been published in such journals as the Paris Review, Image, Poetry, and the Michigan Quarterly Review. Davis has an indelible fixation on the confessional moments of Coram Deo, the presence of God…
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Those who make idols will be like them.
As for idols, they are impotent. Not
one can see or speak or feel
a neighbor’s ache – her dog dead
and child missing below the levee. I read
the headlines and feel more
than all the idols that ever were.
Even the idol that is our idea
of God is impotent – B is not A –
yet God does what he pleases,
the earth what is true to its nature.
We build cities and pay scant attention
to either, then cry foul when the dam breaks.
Idols cannot save, nor theologies.
Only God, and that is no great comfort.
*From Opening King David (Wipf & Stock, 2011; Antrim House, 2005-08). First published in The Other Journal.
All you culture-vultures out there, one of our favorite contemporary poets, Brad Davis, has a new collection out this month. Davis is that rare artist who can deal with religious themes without concealing his humanity or feeling the need to protect his Lord. If you’ve enjoyed the Scott Cairns poems we’ve posted, you’ll love Brad’s. Indeed, the integration on display here is something to behold; no crevice of human feeling or experience goes unexplored – and while the language is beautiful, it’s also unassuming and funny (and, thankfully, never pious), which is hard to do, especially when you’re addressing themes…
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