“Anchorage Oil Town Villanelle” published in Cirque

Cirque,  Summer Solstice 2010

Cirque, Summer Solstice 2010. Cover art by Janet Levin

On April 29 this year I headed downstairs to the Starbucks in the UAA Social Sciences Building to grab myself a cup of coffee, & there ran into my friend Marilyn Borell, with whom I went through UAA’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program in the late ’90s. Marilyn told me about something that had somehow had escaped my attention until then: Cirque, a literary journal created and edited by our friend Anchorage poet Mike Burwell, which had already published its first issue on Winter Solstice 2009. Further, Marilyn told me, Cirque was taking submissions for its second issue — with a submission deadline of the very next day. And so I submitted.

The Summer Solstice 2010 issue was published — you guessed it — yesterday, Summer Solstice (June 21).

You can find my poem “Anchorage Oil Town Villanelle” on page 37. I wrote this poem in 1997, eight years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, & submitted it to Cirque a few days after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. But no one knew on April 30 how vast the resulting oil spill would be — less of a spill, really, than a hemorrhage. But it’s not just oil spills that are the problem — it’s the whole schlemiel surrounding oil & the corrupting influence of oil money.  Which Anchorage, & Alaska, is square in the middle of.  Just take a look at Wikipedia’s article on the Alaska political corruption probe — which broke into the news a good nine years after my poem was written.

I’m delighted to be accompanied by works by other poets & writers I know like Marilyn Borell, Anne Coray, Marybeth Holleman, Mark Muro, Jeff Oliver, and Tom Sexton — who taught the first poetry workshop I took at UAA in Spring 1994. I know my friend David Cheezem — another friend from UAA MFA program — primarily as a poet and coowner of Fireside Books in Palmer, but he’s also a fine photographer: see his contribution on page 42.

And then there’s all the great reading, illustrations, and photography from people all over the Pacific Rim who I don’t know.

To turn the pages, click on the arrow bars on either side. To zoom to fullscreen, just click on the page.

Cirque is a regional literary journal of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, artwork, and photography for emerging and established writers living in the North Pacific Rim — Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Yukon Territory, Alberta, British Columbia, and Chukotka.  As such, it is in some ways a successor to Ice-Floe, an international journal of poetry of the circumpolar north co-edited (with Sarah Kirk) by another of my fellow UAA MFA graduates Shannon Gramse. (My poem “Field of Words” was published in Ice-Floe’s Winter Solstice 2002 issue.)  Except, of course, that Cirque includes other genres beside poetry.

It’s a beautiful publication too. It’s available for viewing & reading online, as above, or you can purchase copies through Magcloud.

Stories mentioned in my Cirque bio

My bio in Cirque mentions two stories I wrote.  Here’s where you can read them:

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