This is the first in our series of contemporary authors which features a contemporary author that I know personally. He is not only one of my favorite living poets, he is also one of my favorite human beings walking the Earth. I see him every few years at poetry readings (or, most recently, a wedding of a fellow poet) and I always come away with some poetic part of my brain recharged a bit.
When I was in my late teens, I became as involved in the Southern California poetry scene as I possibly could. I went to every poetry reading I could and cultivated friendships with as many poets as I could. I, of course, was in the Orange County branch of the Southern California poetry scene simply by virtue of the geographic location of my house. Brendan Constantine belonged to the Los Angeles poetry scene. There was some bleed over in those two scenes due to proximity and there would be "crossing the county lines" readings, but for the most part, the two scenes had a very different energy. In my estimation, the Los Angeles scene was more inventive. That is to say that their scene seemed to me vibrant, tight, and creative. I was always excited to go to LA poetry readings.
So, Brendan is a poet from the City of Angels. He teaches poetry in many diverse venues. He is one of the west coast's better (and better known) poets. In 2002, he was nominated as California's Poet Laureate.
If you ever get the chance to see him read or take a class that he is involved with, jump at it. If you're anywhere near Southern California, you will have ample opportunity to do so. He is an active and involved member of the literary community. Not only is he wildly talented, but he is devoted to the form. He is also a ferociously lively person. Poetry spits out of his eyes like sparks.
Also, you can purchase his most recent (I think) volume of poetry from Amazon in print or Kindle editions. Amazon describes his collection Letters to Guns:
Letters To Guns represents a collection of poems that examine the para-physical natures of love and history, at times re-imagining both. As the poems progress, eight letters arrive written by non-human addressees (a nightgown, a grove of trees, a wooden spoon, others) at random points over the last 2,200 years. They are messages from home and pleas for understanding, warnings and promises of change. These in turn ignite other poems and themes which anticipate the next arrival. Taken together, the letters form an armature, a living skeleton fleshed by real and metaphenomenal experience. Throughout, a variety of styles appear and no single approach to poetry pervades. Singly, these poems should challenge and entertain. As a group they must transform and evolve our experience of sitting down with a book of poems.You can also learn more and get other works by him from his website:
Be more awesome. Engage with and expose yourself to some of the better contemporary poetry.
Here's a link to a reading by Constantine and an interview section interspersed. I should probably mention, as I know we have a variety of readers, you may want to herd the children into the nursery or library or conservatory before you listen to it as it contains some words (oddly, mostly uttered by the host of the show) that children tend to pick up and wait to repeat until the middle of Sunday School. But it is an excellent reading and interview. Don't miss out on the wonderful reading and, I would add, be sure to catch his fantastic answer to the question of why poetry is important: