Link Round-Up 5

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It’s been a heavy week, full of loss and pain. Thankfully, we have beautiful artists out there, doing important work to pull us through and give us new language to cope. This week’s round-up is for those mourning after the homophobic attack on Pulse club during their Latin Dance night in Orlando.

“Surviving on Small Joys” by Hanif Abdurraqib – Back at it again with a beautiful, urgent essay on surviving under oppression, Hanif talks about the value of momentary distraction, silly panda videos, and sharing space with others, even when the grief is too large to talk about.

Two Micros by Safia Elhillo –Micros, at their best, function as a poetic snapshot. In these two pieces, Safia offers us snapshots of grieving, and what it means to mourn in safe spaces and in hostile ones. If this is not enough eloquence on loss, check out her full feature set, “Alien Suite”, from CUPSI 2016 finals stage.

“Labor Day” by Sam Sax –Published in Guernica, Sam’s usual flowing style is turned to history, tracing the path of Labor Day, ending in one of the most gorgeous lines: “ any word / traced to its origin is a small boy begging for water.” Congrats to Sam on his forthcoming book bury it, due out next fall through Wesleyan University Press! You can check out his Button chapbook here.

“Restored Mural For Orlando” by Roy Guzman “…how for me a church is a roof that’s always collapsing.” An MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota, Roy grew up in Florida. This sweeping poem documents how the massacre, Orlando as a city, queerness, and what it is to be a POC intersected for him in this moment. It is a poem to hold grief, rage, and also the things that give us the power to keep living.

30 Over 30: Poet’s Edition by Jocelyn Mosman – If you’ve been to a poetry slam, you’ve probably heard the MC tell the audience about a man who founded poetry slam named Marc Smith and the audience response of “SO WHAT?” But who is this Marc Smith? Who were the folks originally competing in slam alongside him? Who are the current leaders and long-standing slammers around now? This list will tell you, with videos of each poet included.

Summer Classes at the Loft Literary Center – Summer session at Minneapolis’ finest writing center begins next week. Classes include The Art of Imitation, The Craft of Poetry, and more. Not a local? Fear not!! There are online opportunities as well.

Thanks for stopping by to spend a little time with us, and thank you to the brilliant folks out there trying to make sense, if not of violence, of what it takes to survive it. Take care of yourselves, drink water, and come back next week for more poetry updates.

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Anna Binkovitz is a poet and Button staffer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She loves pizza, red wine, and honest writing with a lyrical twist.

Father’s Day Poems

“I have been teaching her love all of her life, and all that I ask is that you continue the lesson.”

Jesse Parent’s “To the Boys Who May One Day Date My Daughter” is one of the most-viewed poems on our channel, with over 3,000,000 views to date. Check out a few other great poems by or for dads below to celebrate Father’s Day!

G. Yamazawa – “The Bridge”
“My father is a chef. He’ll add extra syllables to his sentences like seasoning, something that tastes better in his mouth.”

William Evans – “Sickle”
“I stopped punishing my daughter for saying no in hopes that she never feels there’s a time she can’t say it.”

Phil Kaye – “Surplus”
“My grandfather was not a strong man, but he knew what it meant to build.”

Tui Scanlan – “Legacy”
“Anger will make you strong, but love will make you powerful.”

Victoria Morgan – “How to Succeed in Heartbreak” (250K Views!)

“Do not be okay, because heartbreak is not about being okay. It’s about remembering you were okay before.”

Congratulations to Victoria Morgan on topping 250,000 views! You can check out more excellent poems on love in our Love Poems Playlist.

And while you’re here, make sure to check out our books and merch as well, including our awesome t-shirts (which are on a start-of-summer sale!) and new books by Jacqui Germain and Hanif Abdurraqib!

Sarah Ogutu – “After the Storm” (CUPSI 2016)

Performing at the 2016 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational

“Depression was the storm, but my name
was the home my family gave me to survive it.”
Don’t miss this powerful poem from Sarah Ogutu, performing for the University of Minnesota during prelims at the 2016 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational.
While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including Button t-shirts (on sale for the start of summer!) in both female and unisex cuts, and books by many of your favorite Button artists.

Jay Deshpande, Love the Stranger – Book Review by Emily O’Neill

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Jay Deshpande, Love the Stranger Review

by Emily O’Neill

I saw Jay Deshpande in the Times Square Olive Garden the Saturday after I turned 26. The Pope was in New York too, or else had been earlier in the week. I spent the whole bus ride down listening to the same playlist entitled “ASTORIA” and reading an endless Rolling Stone article about this new, cool Pope and his impending album release. I spent four hours on the same article because I kept losing my place because I had a dangerously high fever and should not have agreed to travel. Food poisoning. The worst of my life. Worse even than the time I ate an oyster at a restaurant opening and ended up on my knees for two straight days. No, two days would have been lucky this time. This birthday death plague lasted a full seven and nearly killed me.

Smack in the middle of it, all the sweating and crying and fever dreams, is the third floor of the Times Square Olive Garden swollen with people waiting for tables where they’ll eat endless pasta boiled in unsalted water and hovering in the scrum is Jay, who I’d only just met a few weeks earlier. Who smiled at me as if he recognized me too, who was too gentle to interrupt me charging back downstairs to my date after throwing up the three spoonfuls of soup I’d attempted (yes, I was on a date and my deathbed at the same time) and so the only exchange we had was an unspoken “it can’t possibly be you, can it?”
Jay’s book, Love The Stranger, reminds me very much of this moment of recognition. His poems invite me many uncanny places, locations and moments I feel able to stand inside of, his words locating me using the most intangible familiarities. Who is it who said that poetry is to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange? I say it to my students all the time but can’t remember where I got it from. Jay’s writing does exactly that. There are as many bedrooms in this book as castles, but both seem equally possible to inhabit. You feel where he catches his breath in a line and find yourself mirroring the action– “There is nothing quite so alien as being/correct” (from “Strength”) and “how the summer clenched/resolutely not in love with anything” (from “Klaxon”)–not breathing either until he gives you permission to. His words take your body away, then return it to you changed.
“We come here/to press our backs up against the invisible” he writes in “Commemoration” and I remember nearly fainting in the Olive Garden elevator from my own impossible heat. Jay’s poems are ruthless and quiet at once: “we thought/we came for purpose until purpose//came for us.” There are so many bodies, so many moments of dangerous intimacy suddenly absent from the life of the speaker, so much jazz to distract and restructure a person by the the time they’ve made it out the other side of this book. He reminds us “we are holding the lion before we want/to hold the lion” and it is terrifyingly specific, the way all fever dreams are, the way poems must be: asking me to believe my eyes even when I’m certain they’re playing tricks.

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Emily O’Neill is a writer, artist, and proud Jersey girl. Her recent poems and stories can be found in Cutbank, The Journal, Minnesota Review, Redivider, and Washington Square, among others. Her debut collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books’ Pamet River Prize. She is the author of two chapbooks: Celeris (Fog Machine, 2016) and You Can’t Pick Your Genre (Jellyfish Highway, 2016). She teaches writing at the Boston Center for Adult Education and edits poetry for Wyvern Lit.

Shay Alexi Stewart – “Song of the Prettybird” (CUPSI 2016)

Performing at the 2016 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational

“My left side is my best side. I have a best side.
I have a better half. I am a half.”
Don’t miss this excellent poem from Shay Alexi Stewart, performing for Ball State University as part of the “Best of the Rest” showcase at the 2016 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational finals.
While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including Button t-shirts (on sale for the start of summer!) in both female and unisex cuts, and books by many of your favorite Button artists.

Safia Elhillo – “Alien Suite” (CUPSI 2016)

Performing at the 2016 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational
“Did our mothers invent loneliness, or did it make them our mothers?”
Don’t miss this unbelievable new poem from Safia Elhillo. The performance is a seamless medley of 14 of Safia’s poems, and comprised her feature set at the 2016 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational finals. This is the longest video we’ve ever featured on Button, and it’s well worth a full watchthrough.
While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and merch, including Button t-shirts (on sale for the start of summer!) in both female and unisex cuts, and books by many of your favorite Button artists.

Best of Button Week 68

“We don’t even call you Dad anymore, just Him.”
Don’t miss this week’s Best of Button playlist, featuring the top-viewed recent videos on the Button YouTube Channel. Today’s additions: Patrick Roche & Aziza Barnes. Congratulations poets!
While you’re here on our site, make sure to check out our books and merchandise in the Button Store, including books by Aziza, Danez Smith, Neil Hilborn and our JUST-RELEASED book from Jacqui Germain!

Hanif Abdurraqib – “With Each Passing Year”

“With each passing year, the list of animals I could outrun becomes smaller and smaller.”

Check out this amazing new poem from forthcoming Button author Hanif Abdurraqib, performing during the Button Poetry/YesYes Books showcase at AWP 2015.

While you’re here, head over to the Button store to check out our books and t-shirts, including Hanif’s brilliant new book.