Poet Of The Week

Madeleine Braun

     November 23–29, 2015

Madeleine Braun’s poetry and short fiction have appeared in The Impressment Gang and Crit. She is from Winnipeg, Manitoba and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she interns at Ugly Duckling Presse. As the recipient of an inaugural Brooklyn Poets Fellowship, Braun studied with Sarah Gerard in the Fiction for Poets workshop this fall.

And E.B. White is Here!

A poem is the …
Fuck, that’s not the right last line.

C.K. Williams fucks up his poem

Dear Reader,
It began

We sit together
Distinguished reading series
Hunter College
Walls made of cheap plaster

He answers the question
What’s your routine?
He writes
From morning to noon

When’s morning?
I want to ask him
I sit instead peevishly
Pissed at my lack of pants

After all he doesn’t care
He wears an Arizona desert print T-shirt under
A burnt-orange cardigan

He reads
About his wife in Greece
Ages ago
He smiles

He reads prose on
He smiles

And since it’s the fault of the paper for not being long enough for his scrawling
     words he frowns at the woman who compliments the nature of his too long

He repeats
Once I decided to be a poet I
Decided to write from morning to noon
When’s morning?

Someone asks
When’s noon?
He replies
With those gleaming

He sits back in his chair
Smiles warmly into the room
We can’t be done yet
He sighs
I’m having so much fun

He motions stage left
With his large old hand
Spotted and knuckled
And E.B. White is here!

Tell us about the making of this poem.

I wrote “And E.B. White is Here!” last winter, on the subway, after seeing C.K. Williams read at Hunter College. What happened is that after the reading I couldn’t get the color of C.K. Williams’s cardigan out of my head. I remember pulling out my notebook just to write down: burnt-orange cardigan. I guess there was momentum behind that color because suddenly I found myself at the Myrtle-Broadway stop with a rough poem in my notebook.

When C.K. Williams died I remembered writing this poem. I pulled it out and the memory of the reading came back to me. I thought it would be nice to write this poem about Williams. He was a great poet.

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently applying to dual-genre MFA programs, so I’m editing my poetry and fiction into a soon-to-be fantastic manuscript.

I’m also working on invoking the power of positive thinking to wash away my insecurities.

What’s a good day for you?

A good day is a day in which I manage to wake up with enough time to drink coffee, eat something and read before I need to be out the door.

A good day is a day in which I write for hours in the morning, afternoon or night … I’m not picky.

A good day is a day in which something that seemed obvious—like how to use an umbrella—unveils itself to me as nuanced and graceful.

A good day is a day in which I lose the hours talking with a friend at my kitchen table.

How long have you lived in Brooklyn? What neighborhood do you live
in? What do you like most about it?

I’ve lived in Bed-Stuy since December of 2014. I love my location because it’s so central. I bike everywhere and from my apartment it doesn’t take longer than 45 minutes to get to my favourite spots and if it does take longer it means I’m going somewhere exciting, like Fort Tilden.

I also love my backyard and my bodega.

Share with us a defining Brooklyn experience, good, bad or in between.

Walking from Bed-Stuy to Central Park. Because it was snowing but not too cold and I was listening to lots of Cat Power. I walked over the Pulaski Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge. I saw the Roosevelt Island Tramway way above my head. I got to Central Park and the sun was setting and the sky was purple. I felt exhausted but also light and happy. Strand had an outdoor bookshop and I bought Lunch Poems by Frank O’Hara and actual air by David Berman. I rode the subway back home and read my new books. It was a really nice day.

Favorite Brooklyn poet(s), dead and/or alive?

Today, my favorite Brooklyn poets are: Frank O’Hara and Yuko Otomo.

Favorite Brooklyn bookstore(s)?

Molasses Books.

Favorite places to read and write in Brooklyn (besides home, assuming you like to be there)?

The Subway.

Little Skips.

Molasses Books.

My backyard.

Favorite places to go in Brooklyn not involving reading or writing?

Prospect Park because of the trees and swans.

Fort Greene Park because of the farmers market.

The beach between Pier 5 and Pier 3 because it smells like Nova Scotia.

Red Hook’s Louis Valentino Jr. Park and Pier because of the view.

Last awesome book(s)/poem(s) you read?

MxT by Sina Queyras.

Fill in the blanks in these lines by Whitman:

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

Why Brooklyn?

The literary community.