Andrena Zawinski, born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, lives on the city island of Alameda, CA and teaches writing in Oakland, CA She has authored several collections of poetry including Something About (2009, Blue Light Press, San Francisco) Traveling in Reflected Light (1995, Pig Iron Press, Youngstown as a Kenneth Patchen Prize, Greatest Hits 1991-2001 (2002, Pudding House), Taking the Road Where It Leads (2008, Poets Corner Press ).Something About has won the 2010 Josephine Miles PEN Oakland award winner for literary excellence.
Her individual poems have appeared in Quarterly West, Gulf Coast, Slipstream, Rattle, Many Mountains Moving, Pacific Review, The Progressive Magazine with several Pushcart Prize nominations. Zawinski has been Features Editor at PoetryMagazine.com since 2000. She is also the founder and organizer of a Women’s Poetry Potluck and Salon in the San FranciscoBay Area.
For those of you who have my
latest collection, SOMETHING ABOUT,
here is a review for you weigh your own takes against.
I like that the reviewer paid attention to Jane Hyland's cover art and its
connection to the poems. For those of you who do not yet
have the book, I hope this will make you want to get a copy.
it's from Pedestal online. Have a look:
Excerpt from The Pedestal
Magazine review, 2010:..
.Zawinski loves words, loves their complexity...encouraging
her readers to turn them over and over like stones until they
have mapped and memorized their power and the pictures
they can evoke...Something About is a solid collection that
does not shy away from length and weight, or from the idea
that more is, in fact, more... Reviewer JoSelle Vanderhooft
Zawinski Poetry Sampler
From TRAVELING IN REFLECTED LIGHT
Chiaroscuro for Reflected Light
--inspired by Louis MacNeice's “Snow”
Sometimes the way the light moves in and spins
the chime of porcelain gulls to streak across
the drawn and muted shade, I'm taken back
beneath a tinsel rain on waves that ebb out
to the sea. Sometimes the way the light slips
through a crack inside the frame before a freeze,
all arms and legs, I forage angels in the snow
and laugh out loud at winter running wild again.
Sometimes when light ruffles edges of paper slips,
notices of half-done things, it travels dream in all
things touched and yet to be. Sometimes so dazzling
brilliant resplendent, the mere delight in light will
swell the room, and I can see there is more than this
squint of glass between the sun and the shade.
From TAKING THE ROAD WHERE IT LEADS
Taking the Road Where It Leads
The city is banging around again inside my head,
skyline a glare of lights in a blare of amped-up speakers.
And the news is so noisy--there is a war going on
somewhere, over there, this time in Fallujah,
bodies hung like charred rag dolls above the Euphrates.
And that is why I am speeding onto the freeway ramp,
and turning all my thoughts to you:
Let’s take the road where it leads
out to the blonde grasses and wind bent cyprus,
gulls a blur in blossoms of gossamer clouds,
egrets padding along ice flowers at water’s edge,
lighthouse steady in its quiet coastal warning,
everything bowing down to an order of things.
Let’s make promises, as if we can keep them,
string them like beads into a necklace windswept
by sunset, as shadows grow long and light cuts short.
Let’s reach up, see if we can touch that sky so close,
or spark a wildfire on a lightning burst,
or on a wind shift kick up a storm,
or like some comet, let’s really light up this sky.
From ZAWINSKI’S GREATEST HITS 1991-2001
You Get the Picture, America
I have a sorrow not wholly mine but another’s.
--Hayden Carruth, “On a Certain Engagement South of Seoul.”
In this movie, you’ll revel in the opening effect--
the good soldier genuflects at the Wall,
his reflection cast brighter than he is
before it, focus blurred in a glint off
medals of merit of honor of valor washed
in upon the narcotic Memorial Day sun.
The camera’s long shot will pull you in
on a close-up, as he runs fingers along
the trail light of inscripted names.
In a black and white still, he will read one
as if touching blind in brail.
There will be this slight diversion in the roll
of muffled drums and bleat of mournful horns,
other monuments sprawling off in the backdrop.
You’ll watch him stroke in stroboscope the name
with charcoal onto onionskin. He’ll lay
down at the base a wreath of sweet gardenia
tinted orange from where hollow-eyed
a pinned bronzed eagle stares.
In this part you will get to think, to invent
heroes big-as-life on the screen’s theater of war.
But just then in comes an ill-played comic relief,
a post-revolutionary hipster hawking from his
banner buttons to the tourist trade that read,
I’m not Fonda Jane. The audience will nervously
chuckle, but this won’t do just about when
you’re supposed to be getting serious.
Enter the special effects. You’ll need 3-D glasses
for flashbacks. The good soldier will take an
about-face into a trench showered by mortar fire,
dreaming a firecracker sky,
peachy curtains flirting the frame.
This is the point where you will expect the plot to unfurl,
but this screenplay is designed with Cannes in mind,
so the good soldier delivers only a fractured line:
Did anyone ever ask me, America?
Here you will be directed to think. You will think
you’ll catch on as the montage reels by for
the unknown soldiers:
One wheels marbled lobbies, legal briefs flagging
his cut off knees. One free-bastes cities
with a thumb stump hand taken by a bad grenade.
Some bagman, the can-you-spare-a-dime-man,
catwalks New York alleys, boxes in the
up and coming doorways. Grabbing his dick
hard on a Telegraph corner in Berkeley,
another swears in living color the name
“America” as pussy, whore, cunt beneath
the tie-dyed sunset. Christ-plain and simple
one more forges survival crossbows and missals
of catechismal poetry from Oregon wilderness
trails. One more takes the Pulitzer, then
blows his brains out across the stage.
Here comes the sun in a hazy freeze-frame,
holding back its light, everything inside out.
You’ll watch surf side in Malibu, as high tide smacks
up against Ha Noi, Da Nang, My Lai, onto the sea wall
liberty fashioned without foundation.
You will be returned to the black and white,
to the good soldier. He will neither rally nor protest.
You will think you are really getting it. You will
predict the others will burn, in a theater absurd
on the stage their collective draft cards. You will
eat your popcorn with a fervor, draw in
the last sips of your Coke through a noisy straw,
ready for an upright conflict and a slowly satisfying
denouement, when suddenly,
you will be fed this French existential finale,
left there a little dumbfounded, bushwhacked by
all the warriors lined up at the wall,
only some of them graffiti in
the art of memoria, only some of them
raised in credits at the end.
From SOMETHING ABOUT: Selected Ars Poetica & Ekphrasis
A Winged Sonnet
Something about these little song sparrows,
their avian tongues and throaty chortles,
the buzzy twittering floundering air
just outside the steamy bedroom window.
Something about the rain, the way it clucks
its testy tongue against the glass a blur
with the setting sun’s seductive passion.
Something about these sprightly singers.
Something about the way they tuck themselves
inside their wing bars devoted to feathers.
Something about the heart here pinned inside,
the tick of it, sky so blue, nimbus moon.
Something about this perch beside the pane
to watch day nestle in a moody moonlight.
New!!Available from the author:
All of Ms. Zawinski's books are also vailable through Amazon and Barnes and Noble online.
“Traveling these emotional and actual landscapes, inthe poet’s presence and with her guidance, we’re destinedto places of beauty, textual importance and riches, in thebest possible company.”--Grace Cavalieri Producer/host: The Poet and the Poem
Library Of Congress
“The palimpsest theme and quality of these poems is beautiful.The poet is a conduit. She enters time - the child she once was,the father, the mother, the house in her heart, the trees andfields and cities we are now, the workers...even in grief andhorror there is tenderness...and all the way she keeps definingwhat poetry is. Her poems are like tender kisses at our necks.--Sharon Doubiago: author of Love on the Streets, Selected& New Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press)
“Zawinski’s strong descriptive powers evoke places withenergy and precision. These are serious, richly metaphoricalpoems. Take them where they lead you!”-- Maggie Anderson: author of Windfall, New & SelectedPoems (Pitt Poetry Series)