Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Announcing Tender Buttons Resource Project


October 30, 2021
Announcing the Tender Buttons Resource Project
The Word Works announces the forthcoming publication in 2022 of Appreciating Tender Buttons: An Invitation to Play Volume I of III with poems by Karren Alenier and 36 other poets.

The purpose of this set of books in response to Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons is to establish a creative resource to make Stein’s Tender Buttons more accessible. Volume I addresses “Objects,” Section I of Tender Buttons.
Tender Buttons, published in 1914, was a one-of-a-kind work by Gertrude Stein. It is a book-length poem divided in three sections—OBJECTS, FOOD, ROOMS—and may be a love poem and the marriage contract between Gertrude Stein and her life-long partner Alice Babette Toklas. If so, the agreement was that, as a clandestine married couple, their offspring would be books conceived by Stein. This is one way of looking at Tender Buttons.
The format of Appreciating Tender Buttons Volume I is that each of the 58 subpoems of “Objects” has a response poem written by Karren Alenier or one of 36 poets who were invited to participate. Leading the invitation to play, Karren Alenier has contributed over 1/3 of the poems in this volume. Two appendices written by Alenier offer ways to enter Stein’s most mysterious poem and to invoke the Steinian muse. This collection is a study in the creative impulse.
Who is in this collection? Poets, teachers, or students of Professor Al Filreis’ popular Modern and Contemporary American Poetry course known as ModPo included in this collection are: Indran Amirthanayagam, Rae Armantrout, Mary Armour, Carrie Bennett, Margo Berdeshevsky, Julien Berman, Andrea Carter Brown, Susana Case, Grace Cavalieri, Nikia Chaney, Roberto Christiano, Henry Crawford, Michael Davis, Denise Duhamel, Amy Feinstein, Barbara Goldberg, Harold M. Greenwald, Don Illich, Jacqueline Johnson, Hiram Larew, JoAnne McFarland, Kevin McLellan, Nils Michals, Brad Richard, Margery M. Ross, Martha Sanchez Lowery, Roger Sedarat, Lisa Sewell, Margo Stever, Miles Waggener, Lillo Way, Nancy White, Carolyne Wright, Bill Yarrow, Burgi Zenhaeusern, and Jason Zuzga.
In early 2022, Alenier will issue a call for poets interested in responding to the subpoems of Tender Buttons, Section II Food. As with Volume I, participants will get a random assignment as the inspiration for their poems and also be asked to write a paragraph about their processes for these poems.
Founded in 1974, The Word Works is a literary nonprofit organization publishing contemporary poetry and producing public programs to support the life and love of poetry. The three volumes of Appreciating Tender Buttons will be part of a new Word Works educational imprint.
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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Madam Mayo Interviews Karren Alenier


The Steiny Road Poet (a.k.a. Karren Alenier) met Madam Mayo (Catherine Mayo)  a few years after she (Karren) returned from the School of Visual Arts workshop in Tangier, Morocco. We had that in common. Madam Mayo went the year after. 

Madam Mayo has many talents, poet, writer, translator, and long time blogger. Madam Mayo recently interviewed Karren about how we hold on, Paul Bowles, The Word Works and lots more.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

A Letter of Praise for a New Book



 I received this letter as an email about how we hold on, my latest collection of poetry. An author could ask for no greater praise.

Dear Karren:

I'm up in Vermont for a few weeks and have been reading your book, which arrived just before I left. I cannot tell you how impressed I am by your inventiveness, the range of your subject matter, your formal "flexibility," and the poems themselves. I read the entire thing in two sittings, which says a lot!

Another project while I'm up here is putting together a new workshop on prose poetry for The Writer's Center. Would you let me include your "Girl Talk" poem on the handout? I won't be teaching this until next spring, and the content is still in flux, but at the moment this poem would seem to fit in perfectly.

I found the love poems--particularly "Composition"--very moving. I know it has been a while since you lost your husband, but these poems really brought back a lot of what we long-married types seem to take for granted. So thank you for that.

with admiration,
Sue Ellen 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Heron Clan VIII Publication


 The Steiny Road Poet is pleased to announce that she was published in the Heron Clan VIII anthology along with Doug Stuber, Adebimpe Oluwafunmilayo Adeyemi and many others. 

"cooking lesson" is Karren Alenier's (a.k.a. Steiny) poem response to Gertrude Stein's "Cooking," a Tender Buttons Objects subpoem. Alenier's poem begin "alas a lass Alice at last."

Alice Toklas was Gertrude Stein's life-long partner and she was a good cook.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

What Does an Author Want in a Book Reivew?


What does one hope for in a book review?


The Steiny Road Poet has been mulling this over after receiving  what she experienced as a better than average review published in Mom Egg Review July 22, 2021. In this review, Sara Epstein, who is a clinical psychologist as well as a poet and songwriter, looks at ten poems from the 60 published in the collection how we hold on. She agilely addresses that none of the poems use punctuation:


“Alenier pulls us along with minimal or no punctuation. We pause in the white spaces, line breaks, and other places where it makes sense to pause. Otherwise, we race with the pace of the speaker’s life.”


What Steiny means about the reviewer’s agility is that the reviewer understands that a line break doesn’t necessarily mean a full stop. Certainly Steiny’s intention in dropping punctuation was to provide fluidity and to keep the action moving.


Another aspect of how we hold on which was satisfyingly appreciated by the reviewer was the collection’s use of poetic form. Epstein commented that the format of the title poem seemed to hold on to the message: “The structure itself is a kind of holding in the way it contains her message in this rhythmic, evenly spaced form (23).” Steiny particularly enjoyed the reviewer’s discussion of her Golden Shovel poem: “‘What Was Hidden’ is yet another masterful example, using form to show what hides in plain sight. A line from Claude McKay’s poem …is broken down so that his words end each line of Alenier’s. Alenier evokes Anne Frank as she looks back on race and white privilege in a scene from childhood.”


Sometimes it’s surprising to see what poems may garner mention. What does that say about that poem? Is it standing out to the reviewer because it doesn’t quite fit into the overall collection? The bottom line is that what any poet whose book is being reviewed hopes for is accuracy. The beauty of online reviews is that an author can request minor corrections if needed.