I've been thinking about possibilities on the physical page. In the early days of the pandemic, I found myself thinking of my arts practice, and my rituals within it, as similar to mantras. I needed routine. I found a kind of peace within the repetition of my usual tasks. As a result, I began to imagine text operating in the background. In early efforts, that background text has been a literal mantra. In this poem the background text, the mantra, reads DEEP CLEANSING BREATH IN and DEEP CLEANSING BREATH OUT on alternating lines. For this reason, I've been calling these poems mantras.
Mantra No. 2 (Lungs on Fire/Cities on Fire)
Michael Kleber-Diggs (KLEE-burr digs) is a poet, essayist, and literary critic. His debut poetry collection, Worldly Things, won the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize (Milkweed Editions, 2021). His essay, “On the Complex Flavors of Black Joy,” is included in the anthology There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis, edited by Tracy K. Smith and John Freeman. Among other places, Michael’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Great River Review, Water~Stone Review, Poem-a-Day, Poetry Daily, Poetry Northwest, Potomac Review, Hunger Mountain, Memorious, and a few anthologies. Michael is a past Fellow with the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, a past-winner of the Loft Mentor Series in Poetry, and the former Poet Laureate of Anoka County libraries. Since 2016, Michael has been an instructor with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. He also teaches Creative Writing in Augsburg University’s low-res MFA program and at Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists.
Michael's Book Recommendations
Day of the Child by Arra Lynn Ross
Dead Reckoning by Jude Nutter
Nebraska by Kwame Dawes
Sho by Douglas Kearney
We're the Flownover. We Come from Flyoverland by Matt Mauch