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Poetry Breakfast

Serving a little poetic nourishment every morning. Start your day with our new expanded menu. Poems, of course, are our specialty. But we will also be serving a fuller menu that includes poetry book reviews to feed poets' and poetry lovers' souls.

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News & Announcements

Adding Something Heartier to the Menu

Amidst the angry political debates and petty trolling social media feeds, I set out to make Poetry Breakfast remind us of our common humanity.  Touchy topics were avoided.  Social statements rejected.  The goal was to connect us through the emotional and life experiences we all share.

This approach has been a respite to many.  I’ve heard often from our readers that they look forward to the morning poems as a break from the turmoil and bitterness we are bombarded with daily.

But this past week, I realized, we are in a way putting our heads in the sand instead of standing up during such a crucial moment in history.  For the first time I broke my rule of not publishing my work in Poetry Breakfast.  I have never wanted to promote my poetry here.  However, my conscience forced me to publish “Because of the Clinic, I am Alive to Tell You This,” a poem about my personal experience with abortion.  It appeared in Poetry Breakfast the same day that the marches for women’s reproductive rights took place throughout the United States.

As a result of that, I’ve come to realize that Poetry Breakfast needs to have the courage to speak up on issues personal, political, and social.  We cannot afford to avoid these realities anymore.  We have a responsibility to face today’s challenges.  Yes, we.  Not just myself as the editor, but we, the Poetry Breakfast community, both poets and readers.

With that in mind, our menu is expanding to welcome poetry on important issues.  What will not change is the gentleness and compassion that is the soul of Poetry Breakfast.  We will tackle social and political issue with strength from the heart, not from the ideological fist.  Take a look back at one of the few social issue poems that did make the menu, “Gray River” by Patricia Biela. 

This is not a complete change of the menu.  Just an addition.  Most days you will find the poems you have come to expect, but now, on some mornings, you will wake to a social issue worded with compassion and sincerity.  The heart of Poetry Breakfast will always remain the same.

Ann Kestner, Editor

 

Because of the Clinic I am Alive to Tell You This

Because of the Clinic, I Am Alive to Tell You This

I have come here almost alone, with only my self
and my dying baby. It is too early to be this sick.
No woman could survive a pregnancy like this.
There is no crowded waiting room here,
and yet the room is so full of energy and emotion
that the air seems compressed and hard to breathe.

A woman is crying, sitting at the edge of her chair,
her head bowed. In front of her a man speaks
in a language I once tried to learn but never did.
He towers over her like a fierce giant
waving his arms, his legs spread like a boxer.
One does not need to understand the words.
If she keeps the baby, he will kill her.

They call me back, gently, to a calm and quiet room.
I sit beside a woman draped in scarves with a religion
I have heard of but do not know much about.
While I wait for the ibuprofen to take effect
we talk like old friends, like we are sitting in the living room
sipping tea in the afternoon. She has five babies.
She has nothing left for another one. She has no more
to give, or really, nothing more to be taken.
If her husband finds out, he will kill her.

There is a little stir from the nurses over how
weak and swollen and sick I am. They determine
I am well enough for the procedure. I am
comforted and cared and loved through
this lesser of two tragedies.

This is not what I feared it would be.
I am not judged. I am not injured by this act. I have
arrived here already wounded and in need of this care.
There is a saving grace here. There is an undisguised truth here.

Here with one woman who would be killed for keeping the child,
one that would be killed for not having anything left for another child,
and I who would be killed by a pregnancy no child could survive.
Here is not a choice we have made.
Here is where our lives are saved.
This is life.

 

Poem by Ann Kestner, Editor of Poetry Breakfast.

While Poetry Breakfast usually stays out of political issues and controversy, I could not keep quiet today.  I am not able to get to the marches, so I am marching my words here. I will also be taking the poem out to read at an open mic tonight.  Our voices, those who have had abortions, need to be heard.  The world needs to know we are not killers.  We are good women.  The poem is autobiographical.  I’ve not written anything more than what truly happened that day.  Many debate and make this political, but this poem is the true story of three woman at an abortion clinic one morning more than 15 years ago.

#StopTheBan – Ann Kestner

 

Poem has previously appeared in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change.

A Happy Return – Notes from the Editor

After taking a year long hiatus, it feels great to be back.  There’s a joy in knowing new people are discovering and loving the poems featured in Poetry Breakfast.  Giving poets a wider audience for their work is, of course, a major part of my mission as editor.

But, it’s also heartwarming seeing submissions from poets who have been sharing their work with Poetry Breakfast since it first began in 2012.  The familiar names are like friends arriving in my inbox.  And oh, how painful it is when I have to send a rejection to one of them.  Not for the quality of work.  Our regulars here are good.  Subject matter is usually the reason.  Sometimes I just get too many submissions on one topic or the other and can only accept a few.  But I think maybe I’m starting to ramble.  Let’s just leave it at, I do feel like a friend just sent me a letter when I get a submission from a poet previously published here at Poetry Breakfast.

Don’t worry.  I’m good at separating my joy and judgement.  Recognizing a name doesn’t influence my decision to accept a poem or not.  It just makes me happy to get the submission.  And makes me feel even worse if I have to send a rejection.  It really does make my stomach turn when I have to send out those rejections.

Steering away from the depressing though of rejections, there’s another thing that’s been a delight to see now that Poetry Breakfast is serving up poetry again.  I’ve received a lot of comments and messages from readers about how happy they are to be getting new poems.  Some readers started receiving our morning poems via email in 2012 and they’re excited to have the poetry flow into their inboxes in 2019!

I can’t take credit for the folks who have loved the poems all these years nor for the new followers we’ve gained in these first few days of Poetry Breakfast reopening.  It really is the poems that keep people reading.  The poets deserve the credit for that.  All I can say is that I’m thankful to all the poets who submit their work and to all the readers who trust me to find the best jewels of language I can for them.

It’s great to have Poetry Breakfast back, great to have so many poets and readers back, and wonderful to see our Poetry Breakfast community growing.

 

Wishing the best to all of you,

Ann Kestner, Editor

Poetry Breakfast Reopens

Yes!  The kitchen is open again.  We are now accepting poetry submissions.

See our Submission Guidelines for all the details.

Soon, we will be dishing out your morning poems Monday thru Friday.

We have a new item on our weekend menu:  Poetry Book Reviews.

Beginning May 1st, 2019, we’ll still be serving up a fresh new poem Monday thru Friday.  But on the weekends we’ll be dishing out reviews and recommendations for poetry books.

Submission are currently being accepted.

We will start serving up poems and book reviews May 1st, 2019.

Poetry Breakfast’s Nominations for the 2017 Best of the Net

After carefully reviewing all the delicious poems we’ve served up this past year, our decisions are in.

We’re happy to present Poetry Breakfast’s nominations for the 2017 Best of the Net.

this is how you remember high school By Archita Mittra

“Yume Wo Katare” (Tell your dream) By Marjorie Thomsen

Clean Your Room (a conversation with Mental Illness) By Lisa Zaran

Fractured Peonies By Belinda Subraman

I Fumbled in the Darkness for My Wings  By Carolyn Adams

Seashell By Kristen Zory King

Congratulations and the best of luck with your nominations!

Asbury Underground Event – Poetry, Music, and Art

At Poetry Breakfast, things have gotten pretty exciting in our neck of the woods.  In addition to the dozens of poetry readings and open mics held each month here in the Asbury/Ocean/Monmouth County area – we also have one huge celebration of poetry, music and art happening on October 15th and 16, 2016.

In a joint effort between Asbury Underground and The Ministry of Artistic Intent (and a little office support from Poetry Breakfast), there will be one very exciting night of poetry in Asbury Park, NJ.  Thirteen featured poets will be reading followed by an open mic.

This is part of the Asbury Underground which also features performances from over 100 musicians and 50 visual artists.  All events are FREE and open to the public.

For details about the Underground Poetry visit their Facebook Event Page.

For details about the Underground Music and Art visit www.asburyunderground.com

 

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