john guzlowski

john guzlowski
Danville, Virginia, USA
June 22
I was born in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II, and came with my Polish Catholic parents Jan and Tekla and my sister Donna to the United States as Displaced Persons in 1951. My parents had been slave laborers in Nazi Germany. Growing up in the immigrant and DP neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, I met Jewish hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead horses, and women who walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians. I write about these people.


MARCH 16, 2012 9:50PM

Little Office of the Immaculate Conception by Martha Silano

Rate: 3 Flag

Polish American poet MarthaSilano’s newest book The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception (Saturnalia Books) has been chosen a Noted Book for2011 by Poets.Org.


Here’swhat the blurb at Poets.Org says about the collection:

Silano'sthird book contains poems that explore motherhood, casting new light on thequotidian, while at the same time, broadcasting messages about our commonhumanity to the cosmos.

Whilea sense of "the alien" is pervasive in this collection, and being alienated(from one's body, from one's friends, from one's needs) is the frustration fromwhich Silano's manic energy stems, the use of sonic riffs and raucous humorenliven this work of the domestic and the divine—Silano's frenzied diction isjust as much rooted in play and pleasure as it is in exhaustion or pain. Thissense of celebration, paired with a sense of wonder at one's surroundingsprovides a comforting antidote to alienation. In the poem, "Because IKnew," Silano writes
                                                becauseI knew

that rather than interview a bolas spider, you'd
dial me up on the last pay phone, the one
   out back

of Tacoma Screw. Because I knew it was
like a cashmere-wool blend sock and the pair
   of leopard-

print panties it's electrically sticking to, I
   was wishing
for no red lights because you're Fantasia
   Fun Park,

the Red Dragon Casino, Rock and Roll's Greatest
Thepoem moves from this localized scene and opens up to the realm of space. Itends,
BecauseI knew you'd understand this—you, me, 
   our sibling

earthlings, our sibling citizens of this swirly world,
which only grows bluer the farther away from it
   we get.


I haven't read this collection of poems yet, but I read and enjoyed her earlier one Blue Positive (Steel Toe Books).  Her poems about pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood never stop engaging the reader.


Here's one of my favorite poems from the book:

Getting Kicked by a Fetus

Like right before you reach your floor, just
before the door of an elevator opens.
Like the almost imperceptible
springs you waded through
in Iroquois Lake.

Sometimes high and jabby near the ribs;
sometimes low and fizzy like a pie
releasing steam, like beans
on the stovetop — slow

like the shimmer of incoming tide — hot, soft sand
meeting waves, slosh bringing sand crabs
that wriggle invisibly in.

And sometimes a school of herring
pushing through surf,
or a single herring

caught from a pier like a sliver of moon rising in the west;
sometimes a tadpole stuck in a pond growing smaller
and smaller, a puddle of mud, squirmy like worms —
now your left, now your right. Sometimes

neon flickering, like that Texaco sign near Riddle, Oregon —
from a distance it read TACO, but up close
the faintest glow, an occasional E or X,
like an ember re-igniting.

Like seeing your heartbeat through the thinnest part
of your foot, sunken well between ankle and heel,
reminder of a world beneath your skin, world
of which you know little,

and the pond growing smaller and smaller, soon the rolling waves
like the ones you dove into at Bradley Beach, at Barneget,
growing less frequent, your giant ocean
drying up, your little swimmer
sinking, giving way
to the waves
of his birth.

Martha Silano‘s The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception was chosen by Campbell McGrath as the winner of the 2010 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. Martha teaches composition and creative writing at Bellevue College. 

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I've never heard of her, but her work sounds like something I'd like. The "kicking" poem gives such true versions of those events. I just love the 2nd and 3rd to last stanzas--the T ACO one and the well in the foot one, and what lies beneath--"world of which you know little."
you know, I think there aren't enough poets these days with a sense of humor. this writer seems to have one, and that alone is reason to delve into her work.

thanks for this review.
good daughter, martha's book blue positive it terrific--lots of poems about pregnancy like i've never seen before.
Thank you! Learning of a poet new to me is a great gift!