New poem in Rust + Moth: “Ми тут (We are here)”

One of my poems, “Ми тут (We are here)” written in response to the war in Ukraine, has been published on Rust + Moth.
I am grateful to the editors for choosing it for the Summer 2022 issue, and I am happy to be able to share it with you.
Screenshot of the published poem”Ми тут” in Rust + Moth.

You can find all the poems in the Summer issue here.

Print copies will be available soon. I’ll update this page with a link.

Chicago blur: 1995 to 2020

I’m excited to share that my poem “Chicago blur: 1995 to 2020” was published this month in the poetry journal Spillway 29, guest edited by Patricia Smith, who recently won the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize; and Lynne Thompson, Poet Laureate of the City of Los Angeles.

As writers and artists, we are constantly being influenced by those who came before us and those who are working alongside us. In the early days of the pandemic, in April 2020, Creative Distancing, in partnership with the Philbrook Museum of Art, published a series of creative project tutorials on YouTube, offering artistic prompts from a number of creators. One of these featured a poet, author, and educator whose work I love, Quraysh Ali Lansana, talking about a form he created, the blur poem.

If you’ve never encountered the form, you can also read Quraysh Ali Lansana’s blur poems “Tulsa blur: 1921 to 2012” and “basement blur: wisconsin“.

I was inspired to write my own blur poem and worked on it during those early months of the pandemic. I’m delighted for it to be included among so many wonderful poems in Spillway 29. The annual poetry journal is not online but is available for purchase through Small Press Distribution.

Valya holding a copy of the poetry journal Spillway 29.

Deepwater Horizon

Description from NASA (source): "NASA's Terra Satellites Sees Spill on May 24 Sunlight illuminated the lingering oil slick off the Mississippi Delta on May 24, 2010. The Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image the same day.

Ten years ago today, the semi-submersible offshore drilling rig the Deepwater Horizon sank, following an explosion that left the oil well gushing and caused the largest marine oil spill in history. 

This poem was inspired by that tragedy. It first appeared in Mythic Delirium in 2014:

Deepwater

April 22, 2010

Oil gushes like a wound, carrying with it the death of more creatures
than my Gulf has accepted for millennia, but this is massacre not sacrifice
offered up to unnamed gods of chaos who live in primordial seas.

As the oil consumes scales, wings, skins, and blood, it sinks like a horrible prayer.
I rise to the surface and step with feet the color of moss onto beaches covered with corpses.
Where my tears fall, spring up the tiniest flowers made from the bones of murdered fish.
When the winds blow through their delicate petals, they chime with the sound of tiny hurricanes.

I cradle dead dolphins and scream. Beneath black waters, white threads of light swirl
as they ascend, growing brighter until they explode into pure fury
formed into a flying beast of teeth, shell shards, and coral. The old god lands beside me.
Our footsteps thunder like war drums as we hunt to drain the waters of those responsible
and seal their shriveled souls into shells cast down to the bottom for fodder.

I have slept with monsters older than ice; those who swim through rock and fire,
creatures of mouth and ash. They will welcome my offering
and maybe get a taste for the world above. Perhaps they will rise to swallow cities
before returning to their volcanic dreams.

* * *

Related, my friend Eric Cox of the band The Belle Weather wrote the song “Dive” in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They just released a new video and new recording of “Dive” for the 10th anniversary of the tragic event. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful. <3

“I woke up the following morning and watched the underwater camera detail the billowing plume of oil gushing from the well. I also came across a photograph of an incredible Louisiana Brown Pelican standing tall in the surf, drenched in oil. She peered back into the lens of the camera as if to say, “You have to do better than this for us.” I wrote ‘Dive’ as a love song from that pelican to an ocean who is no longer the lover she used to be.”

-Eric Cox// The Belle Weather