Book Prize RHINOs

RHINO Poetry is so proud of our contributors who have won book prizes since their poetry first appeared in RHINO.

John Mann‘s collection of poems, Able, Baker, Charlie, won the 2011 National Poetry Review Book Prize and is scheduled for publication in August, 2012. Two of the poems, “Caritas Defined, Mr. Mann Readies His Clothes” and “Mr. Mann Goes for Shiatsu, Has a Whopper Instead” appeared in RHINO 2003.

Rae Gouirand‘s first book of poetry won the 2011 Bellday Prize for Poetry!  Her poem “Zero at Sea” appeared in RHINO 2009.

Matthew Olzmann‘s first book of poetry, Mezzanines, won the 2011 Kundiman Prize and will be published by Alice James Books in April 2013. His poem “After I Introduce My Brother To Person X, I am Asked if I was Adopted” appeared in RHINO 2011.

M. Ayodele Heath‘s collection Otherness has been nominated for the 2012 Georgia Book of the Year (Poetry). His poem “The Stuttering House Negro Diviner Speaks:  Heath Plantation, 1863” appeared in RHINO 2011.

Matthew Dickman‘s first book, All-American Poem, was winner of the 2008 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize in Poetry, published by American Poetry Review and distributed by Copper Canyon Press. He was also the winner of the 2009 Kate Tufts Discovery Award for that book, and the inaugural May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. His poem “Drummer Boy vs. Thunder Clap” appeared in RHINO 2003.

And our book prize-winning poets whose poems have recently appeared in RHINO:

Carl Adamshick (RHINO 2009) was selected by the poet Marvin Bell as the recipient of the 2010 Walt Whitman Award for his collection Curses and Wishes, published in 2011 by Louisiana State University Press.

Dilruba Ahmed (RHINO 2011) is the author of Dhaka Dust (Graywolf, July 2011), winner of the 2010 Bakeless Literary Prize for poetry, selected by Arthur Sze and awarded by the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

Elisabeth Murwaski (RHINO 2011)’s collection Zorba’s Daughter was selected for the 2010 May Swenson Award by the distinguished poet Grace Schulman.

RHINO Reads! Open Mic & Featured Readers Ladan Osman & Jan Bottiglieri

Open Mike        6:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Featured Poets        6:45 pm – 7:30 pm

Brothers K

500 Main St.

Evanston, IL


Ladan Osman is originally from Somalia. A 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee, she received her MFA as a Michener Fellow from the University of Texas at Austin. Her work has appeared/is forthcoming in “American Life in Poetry,” Black Renaissance Noire, The Feminist Wire, Kweli, MELUS, Narrative,
Poet Lore,
and Prairie Schooner.

Jan Bottiglieri is a freelance writer with an MFA in poetry from Pacific University. Jan has been published in numerous journals including Court Green, After Hours, Margie and Rattle, and she has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is managing editor of RHINO.

This project has been partially supported by grants from Poets & Writers, Inc.
and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

RHINO @ Ragdale Day – June 3

Rhino Poetry is participating in Ragdale Day – A Community Celebration of the Arts

Sunday, June 3, 2012 Noon – 4pm
Free Admission

RHINO Editors will be on hand to read their poetry and poetry written during the era of Ragdale’s early years. The readings are at 12:30-1:30 and 3-4.
Virginia Bell
Jan Bottiglieri
Helen Degen Cohen
Carol Eding
Ralph Hamilton
Jacob Saenz
Angela Narciso Torres
Valerie Wallace
Marcia Zuckerman

Join the artists of Ragdale for a festive, campus-wide event featuring open studios, performances, family activities and tours. See the inner workings of Ragdale’s artist retreat, experience the poetry, dance, music and art created there, and visit the newly restored Ragdale House, the historic Arts and Crafts summer home of architect Howard Van Doren Shaw. All ages welcome.

Ragdale, 1230 N. Green Bay Road, Lake Forest, Illinois
Off-site Parking available at former municipal building lot, 110 East Laurel.
Shuttle provided.

Otherwise Occupied: Poetry Between Dying and Dying

The following essay by Steven Schroeder was written for the RHINO Poetry Forum he led March 25, 2012. This version is based on a presentation prepared for a conference on “religion and fear” at Augustana College.

In his critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Marx characterized religion as “the general theory of this world,” inverted, as he understood it, because the state in which we live is upside down. A general theory of a world is itself a product of that world, but it is also a vision of the whole of the world articulated by one acting in it as a theorist, inside standing as though out. In a time and place marked by a pervasive sense of impending danger identified with death and politics, Donne embraced poetry as a sacramental act affirming the real presence of love. At a time when those feelings are again most familiar, that is where I begin – with Donne as exemplar, essaying what can be done in poetry in medias res to nurture a res publica that is not twisted by fear toward violence.

Donne’s poetry is found in his sermons and prayers as well as his poems. He dances about architecture a month before his death in a sermon for Charles I that was published posthumously as “Death’s Duel.” He takes as his text a single clause from a single sentence in Psalm 68 – and it is telling. He works from Latin and English translations, with reference to the Hebrew text. And he makes the most of the play of translations, the play of words in which we live and in which we locate meaning. His text comes from verse 20 (verse 21 in the Hebrew text): “and unto God the Lord belong the issues of death (i.e. from death).”

The first part of the verse, he says, is the body of the building – in the English translation he uses, “He that is our God is the God of salvation.” Citing the translation ad salutes, he notes that “salvations” should be plural and rightly notes that the Hebrew text confirms this. The form is plural – (the) god to us is god of deliverances. This is the house we live in – god to us, god of deliverances. One cannot make too much of words in a poet reading a poet, and that is what we are reading in Donne reading this psalm. We live in a presence, god to us; and it is tempting to leap forward to Hegel saying without the world god would not be god. We are defined by how we stand vis-a-vis god, and, to the extent that god is included in the we, god is defined by how god stands vis-a-vis us. More to the point, every one in the we is defined by every other, the we by every one.

The second part, the text for Donne’s sermon, is the foundation of the house we live in, both the frame and the framing. The “issue of death,” the exitus mortis, is at the same time an introitus in vitam, an entrance into life. There is, then, an identity between escaping death and coming to live, and, more broadly, between death and life, which, together, define a boundary which we cross repeatedly both ways, coming and going. Donne plays through three readings of exitus mortis – as liberatio à morte, deliverance from death; as liberatio in morte, deliverance in death; and as liberatio per mortem, deliverance by death. These three readings correspond to three readings of how god stands vis-a-vis us: as a god of power (the Father), as a god of mercy (the Son), and as a god of comfort (the Holy Ghost).

Dancing about architecture, Donne describes the house we live in; but he expands this to the city that is our home, a city which he understands as pilgrimage: it is always necessarily on the way from death to death, and god to us is that which holds us up (“delivers” us). From the building to the city, Donne speaks of deaths, not death: we live from death to death in life – like dancing.

Donne dwells in loving detail on vermiculation, an undulating dance of death that moves the way the worms that devour our corpses move and is the body of love. “From my rotting corpse,” Edvard Munch wrote, “flowers grow. And that is eternity.”

It is no surprise that the metaphysics of an Anglican priest would be worked out in his encounter with scripture, in the reading of scripture that takes place in the sermon (though it can also take place in a poem, and the two genres are not radically distinct in a writer like Donne). It is important to bear in mind that this is a text with which we live (certainly a text with which poet-priests like Donne and Herbert lived). That is interesting in terms of the later observation of Benjamin Jowett, as conversant with Plato as with the Bible, that we read the Bible the way we read any other book. And how is that? With our lives, for our lives – reading as writing for our lives, always asking of ourselves as an other “What’s it to you?”

Nor is it a surprise that a poet would work this out in metaphor. We are the body. The body is present in this ritual reading (most decidedly in reading lives that takes place in the mass). This ritual is a presencing, living from dying to dying. Our “critical day,” the day of our dying, is “the whole course of our life.” When Augustine reads this text, he understands the god to us that is a god of deliverances as a god who must deliver us. There is no moment in which we are not face to face with god, and there is no moment in which god does not stand to us as deliverer.

And that is where Donne places love, in a variation on apokatastasis that is “Julian” and that anticipates both the Cambridge Platonists and Leibniz (explicitly connected via Anne Conway), who understood better than most philosophers who have followed them that Aristotle never stopped being Plato’s student and that Plato never escaped the influence of Socrates, who enacted an understanding of virtue embodied in one’s being to an other who is always wholly other. To the extent that metaphysics is theology (one of the terms Aristotle applied to the writing to which others gave the other name), its play is in the field of every other wholly other, which, as Aquinas might put it, is what all mean when we say “god.”

Donne’s poetry – in sermons and prayers as well as poems – is an experiment centered in love on the arc between dying and dying – where Doris Humphrey located dance. Poetry is language that calls attention to its own form (Roman Jakobson) – and form is always a matter of relation. All poetry is performance, whether on the stage or on the page; and the performance is the making of a place, perhaps best understood as space transformed by dwelling on it in the presence of an other always wholly other. The place Donne makes is love, which casts out fear – and he does it self-consciously (as he understands it) in the presence of God – a presence explored at length by Leibniz in correspondence and in the dialogue he constructed in response to Locke’s Essay On Human Understanding. Not surprisingly, Donne’s metaphysics draws on Christian sources – particularly Paul – and sources appropriated by Christianity – particularly Plato and the Psalms – understood in the setting of the life of the Church. The life of the Church is understood as an act of prayer (echoing the Psalms) that is primarily thanksgiving – eucharistic, deepened by the fact that it is incarnational (a Julian spirituality, as Urban Holmes suggested, drawing on John) and ecclesiastical in the sense of making space place in worship (drawing especially on Paul, especially on the hymn about kenosis that he borrowed or made in Philippians). Donne’s poetry exemplifies this by creating bounded spaces in which (to the extent that they are perfect) freedom is infinite: it is possible, possible, it must be possible.

Perfect love casts out fear, a claim rooted in the counsel of perfection spoken in the voice of god: be perfect as I the Lord your God am perfect. Donne’s poetry embraces the question of how god is perfect in a characteristically Anglican way that takes up the idea of theosis in tandem with the incarnational, Julian, language cited earlier. As god takes on human form, humanity is lifted up into god. As god is fully human, human form comes to be divine – and that locates perfection in embodiment, again anticipating Leibniz.

Donne does not proceed by means of argument, but by poetry, broken lines talking back with a sacramental turn. To the extent that he succeeds, the divine is fully present in the broken body of the poem; and that points to the ubiquity of god that underlies apokatastasis in Origen as in the Cambridge Platonists. It points to the “preestablished harmony” for which Leibniz is most often known and even more often misunderstood, and it points to the connection between justification and sanctification in some contemporary readings of Lutheran theology. What all mean by god is what we encounter in the wholly other – every other.

By way of example, broken lines talking back to Donne’s holy sonnets:


after Donne’s “At the round earth’s imagined corners…

Square the circle of the earth, make an end
of it, here, near as it has ever been,
as it ever shall be, as it was when,
as it is – sound reveille and souls beyond

counting will dance broken bodies some
flood washed away whole, bodies that will drown
in another, the one you think last – flood
of war of death of age of fire of blood

despair law chance. A chance their eyes will fall
on one god or another before they sample
death. But let them be. Mourn a space
for them to be where there was

none – in medias res, in common good
where knowing how to turn’s as good as blood.


after Donne’s “Death be not proud…

As determined as falling to sleep as
rising to dream as coming to be as
coming to rest as waves on water –

imagine what you will, it dies
the way the power of a wave
rising is nothing if not water. Picture

the pleasure of rest rising to dream. Still,
imagine how much greater what rises
from dying dying as death dies
where dying has dominion as

it does, as it always does.
To sleep to dream to rise to fall
to come to be to come to rest, one
wave after another dying to be an ocean.


after Donne’s “What if this present were the world’s last night…

Every last night’s the present of some world
filled with rough beasts slouching to one
Bethlehem or another to be born,
and every last love a sign.

Every world’s last night is a memory
the moment the sun rises, idolatry
a matter of what you do now

it’s at your back – turn
and back into morning gathering
gold to hold the memory, to catch

reflected light to keep what is not there
in mind, or put a foot down glad the sun
no more knows what it’s doing than you –
yet there it is, forgiven, and you see the light.


after Donne’s “Batter my heart…

That something common as a battered heart
be thought divine is nothing if not a
sign of how far the need for god can go.
To fall so I can rise, to rise so I
can stand, to stand so I can bend, to bend
so I can break, to break so I can be
made new like a city under siege by
an army it would embrace but can’t – not
yet – unsure liberation’s the reason
for this war, no idea why this enemy
appears divine, why a city would think
a god, why think a wall against a siege
imagined, would mean freedom – no earthly
idea but reason broken, remnant of desire.

Donne’s poetry is an experiment with presence – a presencing. “Presence” as verb is a dance of death that is at the same time a dance of life – from death to death in life, dying. Like Leibniz, he is convinced that the world is full – and so a central philosophical/scientific problem is that of motion in a plenum. This points not only to Leibniz but also to Camus’ Sisyphus, James’s stream of consciousness, Bergson’s durée, and (as has already been suggested) Humphrey’s arc.

Death is a verb in Donne as surely as is presence, and this transforms stasis. It becomes a moment in motion, a limit through which the dance passes – the perching of a bird in flight (James), the vision of the whole at the top of the mountain for Sisyphus (Camus), the location of dance, not in the tension of the arc, but in the moment of release (Humphrey).

Freud’s dynamic tension between eros and thanatos looks more like philia and kenosis in Donne, and the shape of the city is a matter of making way: “the onlyes power is no power,” as Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker put it.

Poetry has some experience of that kind of power. One of my students, undone in the reading of a Donne sonnet as so many of us are, said “I’m not sure this poem was meant to be read out loud” – to which all of us in the circle of that conversation, students of Donne every one of us, agreed. And yet we never doubted it was meant to be heard.

That we are aural beings means that one of the ways we perceive is via sound. So the world is, to us, a matter of sound from the beginning. We don’t take a silent world and fill it with sound. We take worlds full of sound and, by making silence in it, make music. We encounter language first as music (Ihde), and we never abandon that entirely. Poetry is on the edge of this experience. The pressure of poetry against the world pressing on it is through music toward silence in a plenum of sound. There, on that edge, Donne found himself letting go lifted by love. Finding nothing there to say, he said it, and that is poetry as we need it now.


Henri Bergson. Creative Evolution. Translated by Arthur Mitchell. Barnes & Noble, 2005.

John Cage, “Lecture On Nothing,” in Silence. Wesleyan University Press, 1973.

Cambridge Platonist Spirituality. Edited and Introduced by Charles Taliaferro and Alison J. Teply. Paulist Press, 2004.

Albert Camus. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. Translated by Justin O’Brien. Vintage Books, 1991.

Anne Conway. Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy. Edited by Allison P. Coudert and Taylor Corse. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Gilles Deleuze. Bergsonism. Translated by Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam.

John Donne. The Major Works. Oxford University Press, 2008.

Russell Hoban. Riddley Walker. Washington Square Press, 1980.

Urban Holmes. A History of Christian Spirituality. Seabury Press, 1980.

Doris Humphrey. The Art of Making Dances. New York: Rinehart, 1959.

Don Ihde. Listening and Voice: A Phenomenology of Sound. Ohio University Press, 1976.

Roman Jakobson. “Concluding Stattement: Linguistics and Poetics,” in Style in Language. Edited by Thomas A. Sebeok. MIT Press, 1975.

William James. “The Stream of Consciosuness,” [accessed 12 April 2012].

Julian of Norwich. Showings. Translated by Edmund Colledge, O.S.A. And James Walsh, S.J. Paulist Press, 1978.

Gottfried Leibniz. New Essays on Human Understanding. Edited by Peter Remnant and Jonathan Bennett. Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Karl Marx. A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. [accessed 12 April 2012].

Edvard Munch. The Private Journals of Edward Munch: We Are Flames Which Pour Out of the Earth. Edited and Translated by J. Gill Holland. University of Wisconsim Press, 2005.

Schroeder, Steven, “Anne Conway’s Place: A Map of Leibniz,” The Pluralist, Volume 2, Number 3, Fall 2007

“I acted out little skits” – Nancy Robinson on her process for creating the Rhino 2012 artwork

Nancy Robinson, painter of “psychological portraits,” created the whimsical cover art and which also pops out of the pages of RHINO 2012. She graciously agreed to share her thoughts on this delightful pairing.

“Several years ago, I bought a Pinocchio puppet at a garage sale. I couldn’t resist taking him home with me. Pinocchio is my kinda guy: cute, Italian, diminutive, romantic, bad taste in clothing… and a consummate storyteller. Ever since then, Pinocchio has appeared in many of my paintings; I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of that 4” wooden puppet.

“When Rhino asked me to do a Pinocchio painting for the cover of Rhino 2012, I immediately emailed back “Yes!”. Within days I was crawling around the floor of my studio, playing with my Pinocchio puppet and a couple of plastic toy rhinos. I acted out little skits, made funny noises, and sketched what I saw. The results are pictured in Rhino 2012. I hope people have as much fun viewing my Rhino 2012 art as I had creating it.”

Nancy’s artist statement describes her general process for creating art, and you can find her full bio here.

Thank you, Nancy!

Poetry Forum: Led by Andrea Witzke Slot – Saturday Poetry Workshop 5-26-12


Evanston Public Library

Church & Orrington

1:30-4:30 — Room 108

Past leaders and readers and all poets welcome. Drop in, have poems critiqued, and participate in an ongoing discussion of poetry and poetics. Sessions are free* and no registration is required.

Andrea Witzke Slot is the author of To find a new beauty (Gold Wake Press, 2012), which made the bestselling (“Hot New Release”) lists on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Her work has appeared in such places as Borderlands: Texas Poetry ReviewTranslation ReviewWritten River: A Journal of Eco-PoeticsAlba: A Journal of Short PoetryThe Pacific ReviewSouthern Women’s ReviewTranslation Review, and Chiron Review. She teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is an associate editor at Rhino Poetry as well as the book review editor at Fifth Wednesday Journal. She lives just outside of Chicago with her husband, the youngest of her five children/stepchildren, and her crazy West Highland Terrier, Macbeth.
TOPIC:  Organizing and Editing a Collection: This workshop will address the various aspects of getting a collection of poems into shape so that it works as a cohesive (and publishable) whole. We will address editorial decisions concerning thematic structure, what to leave in, what to leave out, and the art of revision. We will also explore various strategies for approaching publishers and the different routes to getting a collection published. Feel free to bring in your collection-in-progress or a selection of your best poems, as well as published books for display or sharing.
Bring 17 or more copies (2 page limit) of a poem you want critiqued.*$5 – $10 donation appreciated.
This project has been partially supported by grants from Poets & Writers and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.