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Poetry Books of the Month 2019 - The Complete List

Hello friends and colleagues!

A few weeks ago, I attended the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference in Portland, Oregon. Although it was an exhausting few days, I returned home with a full heart and deeply inspired to get to work on my own craft and writing projects. I went to numerous readings, panels, and keynotes delivered by an incredible array of writers and poets including Martin Espada, Ilya Kaminsky, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Tess Gallagher, Marilyn Chin, Maxine Hong Kingston, Dorianne Laux, Ada Limon, Morgan Parker, Evie Shockley, Dawn Lundy Martin, and many others!

At the AWP book fair, I picked up so many books, I’ve got the rest of the year covered for our Poetry Book of the Month series. I look forward to exploring the work of these amazing writers in the coming months!


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April 2019 Poetry Book of the Month

The April 2019 Poetry Book of the Month is Starshine & Clay by Kamilah Aisha Moon.  

About Starshine & Clay

A Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection.


“The Emperor’s Deer” from Starshine & Clay was selected by U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith to be featured on The Slowdown podcast.

Starshine & Clay

Kamilah Aisha Moon

“Breath caught in her throat,” Kamilah Aisha Moon writes of a mother waiting for a son to come home, “when your trachea snapped” (“To Jesse Washington”). Starshine & Clay is a history of injustice and oppression in America grounded in the lives, loves, and despair of individual men and women whose spirits fight on earth and dream of the heavens: “I think of / Joy, Théma, Kerry, Anthony, Phebus. Sandra & those / lynched by cops, satellite spirits who didn’t reach this orbit alive” (“Still Life as Rocket: 42”).

Starshine & Clay, which derives its title from Lucille Clifton’s collection Book of Light, weaves together iconic images of the U.S. such as the statue of Jefferson Davis, Confederate flag in hand, that withstood Hurricane Katrina (“Jefferson won’t be moved—/a bold, living relic of stone”) with the lives of those too often left unnoticed: “Oh broken bewildered girl I wasn’t born to be, break / yesterday under heel” (“Eternal Stand,” “These Are the Breaks”). Yet amid the tragic events on which Moon’s poems look, these lines offer, if not solace, then a reason for hope: “only spirit lasts out here, yet nineteen shacks / stubborn against the horizon. Some of us need / to build anyway—not just visit but live out closest / to the ominous, beautiful truth of it all” (“Day At the Dunes”).

Moon’s astonishing follow-up to award-nominated She Has a Name brings us solemn villanelle and freewheeling rhyme, sculpted minimalism and sprawling lines. It takes such range to see and hear America today, and Moon is a poet whose voice we need, whose tenderness and determination can help us look beyond as “We are left to imagine the day / it won’t require imagination / to care about all of the others.” (“Imagine.”)

“LOVE” from Starshine & Clay:

Once you’ve decided (it is a decision)
your skull won’t bleach
in the sun like a lost animal, what else
is there to do in any desert but study at the feet
of succulents drawing relief out of no where,
bristle with lessons? To walk & walk far past
whatever singed—the trudge
of faith every body afire knows until some
inexplicable, glorious flower or face
sirens the water & honey rooted in your cells, rolls
all of the little stones away & roars
without words, rise

You can read more about Kamilah Aisha Moon and her work here:

Join us to share your thoughts and participate in our discussions on social media (no need to be a member of Facebook to participate!). 

Right Livelihood Professional Training

For me, the Right Livelihood Professional Training was the perfect combination of expertly guided self-inquiry and practical tools for creating a life and livelihood based on my values and my vision for a more just and kind world. Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Laura Packer are stellar mentors who are both highly accomplished in their fields; the wisdom and strategies they so generously shared during the training continue to inspire me.

I wholeheartedly recommend this training!

New Online Course & Other Happenings @ A Brave Space February 2019

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I'm thrilled to announce my latest course offering is now live. Offered through the Transformative Language Arts Network, this self-paced online class is called Narratives of Self & Society: Writing Life Stories for Change. I'm grateful to the TLA Network for the invitation to create this and to host it!

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Throughout the 10-unit class, I guide your exploration of autoethnography— a self-reflective/reflexive approach to studying personal life experiences as a means to illuminate social realities, reveal structural inequalities, and bring cultural nuances to the forefront of our work. Notable for the healing and transformative qualities of the process, autoethnography offers a way to explore the complex constellation of privileges and disadvantages unique to each of us.

Each unit includes guided instruction through a podcast lecture, selected readings about autoethnography as well as examples of these types of texts, and videos related to that unit's theme. You will have the opportunity to focus in on a particular writing project which you will develop throughout the 10 units, beginning with brainstorming ideas for your project and culminating in a fully-developed autoethnography. Through intriguing self-reflective activities and inspiring creative prompts, you will generate a robust new body of writing and ideas for future life-story projects.

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This is a self-paced class which means you move through each unit on your own timeframe. I recommend taking your time exploring the various resources and working with the writing and creative prompts, giving yourself the spaciousness and ease to dive deep and generate compelling narratives that will touch the hearts and minds of your readers. 

Wishing you all the best,

Liz Burke-Cravens, EdD

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