About Siham Karami

Siham Karami is a the author of the full-length poetry collection To Love the River (Kelsay Books, 2018), and her poetry chapbook manuscript was a finalist in the QuillsPress Chapbook Contest. She also loves photography and a link to samples of her work can be found on the menu. Her publication credits include The Comstock Review, Able Muse, Measure, Think, The Rumpus, Off the Coast, Tupelo Quarterly Review, Mezzo Cammin, Pleiades, Otoliths, The Turnip Truck(s), Third Wednesday, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Orchards Poetry as Featured poet, among others. A four-time Pushcart Prize and twice Best of the Net nominee, she can also be found on twitter @sihamkarami.

My Ghazal Essay Published on The Chained Muse

My history of the ghazal form, “Ghazal Culture: Exalted Nomads and Love’s Elusive Gate,” has been published on The Chained Muse! The history is quite surprising, how a form that developed out of a desert Arab tradition flowered in Bollywood, influenced such diverse cultures as Persia, Afghanistan, and Western Europe, and has been written in myriad languages, even instrumental in the development of a modern, commonly used language. Please check it out!

A Unique Voice: Martin Elster’s “Celestial Euphony”

One of the complaints common among non-English majors is that poetry today is often inaccessible, sacrificing general audiences for academic ones, or that the qualities of rhyme and meter have been sacrificed on the altar of modernism and free verse. Martin Elster, however, simply writes the kind of poetry he writes, both formal and rhyming, because as a musician this is what he intuitively prefers. His is a unique voice, and his new book Celestial Euphony gives us poetry that is not self-consciously “accessible,” but rather engages the reader with a rare sort of clarity and art, bringing us perspectives on nature, science, and human nature that are wrought with the intent of conveying them in the best way possible. So below is the press release from the publisher for his book, which can be purchased here.

We’re pleased to announce the release of Martin Elster’s new poetry collection, Celestial Euphony. Many of you might know him by his pen name, Miles T. Ranter, under which he participates in our weekly poetry contests. In addition to winning many of our contests and earning an honorable mention in many more, Martin has seen his work published in numerous publications and anthologies, and has won or placed in several poetry competitions. Celestial Euphony is available in paperback and Kindle.

“Martin’s fluid movement among various frames of reference— from astrophysics to musicology to botany to etymology—creates a structure of sheer imaginative play, which frames his utterly humane eye. His poetry explores the lyrical, intellectual, affective forces of language, while staying rooted in sensitive subjectivity. Martin is a joyous craftsman!”

Matthew Kirshman, author of The Magic Flower & Other Sonnets

“Stepping into Martin Elster’s work, I’m taken by its rhythms and musicality. These are poems to read aloud, savor their sounds, and enjoy a meandering walk through the world around us.”

Frank Watson, editor of Poetry Nook and author of The Dollhouse Mirror, Seas to Mulberries, and One Hundred Leaves

Through ballades and ballads, acrostics and ghazals, sonnets and Sapphics—both lighthearted and ruminative—the evocative poems in this collection portray the sights and sounds of our natural and manmade environments, the plants and animals everywhere around us and our relationship with them, sometimes pleasant and beautiful, often harmful and ominous.

There are poems about terrestrial musicians and interstellar musicians, the songs of spring peepers and katydids, the plight of spiders and polar bears, humans in love and at war, songbirds vying with urban cacophony, lonely dogs and ghostly dogs, and very serious musings about the huge and mysterious cosmos that we are all a part of and how we click with it.

About the Author

Martin Elster, who never misses a beat, is a percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Aside from playing and composing music, he finds contentment in long walks in the woods or the city and, most of all, writing poetry, often alluding to the creatures and plants he encounters.

His career in music has influenced his fondness for writing metrical verse, which has appeared in 14 by 14, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Better than Starbucks, Cahoodaloodaling, Eye to the Telescope, Lighten Up Online, The Centrifugal Eye, The Chimaera, The Flea, The Speculative Edge, THEMA, and numerous other journals, e-zines, and anthologies.

His honors include Rhymezone’s poetry contest (2016) co-winner, the Thomas Gray Anniversary Poetry Competition (2014) winner, the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s poetry contest (2015) third place, and four Pushcart nominations.

A sample poem is below:

Waiting for Dawn atop Butterfly Mountain

A dilapidated lepidopteran
dying atop The Mountain of Butterflies
holds out her wings to the darkness — wings as thin
as the mist that swirls beneath monsoonal skies —

and pictures the tea farm women, who often glow
like painted sawtooths dotting the plantation;
and, wallowing in the Mahaweli’s flow,
trumpeting in carefree conversation,

elephants plashing, washing away all worry.
Unlike them, she’s alone here on this rock,
a decent rock on which to dream. No hurry
to flee the fleeting memories that flock

like the birds of Sinharaja: the cunning jackal,
the whistling thrush, the fish in every lake
(which lure the hungry to come with boats and tackle
and float on magic molecules that slake

the roots of rice), the din of Devon Falls
reverberating through a green expanse
where a muntjac barks, a magpie calls and calls,
and footsteps crack the chrysalis of her trance —

men climbing toward her haven. Soon the sun
will oust the night. Slowly she beats her wings,
wings like frozen wood as, one by one,
they gain the hilltop, quicker as someone sings

a hymn to dawn, then darts away as a bell
blossoms like an orchid on the height
and, rising with the most resounding knell,
fades like the constellations at first light.

My Short Essay “Faith” published in Tiferet Journal

As a part of their Tiferet Tifs section, Tiferet Journal, one of the prime journals for spiritual writing, has published my brief essay “Faith” as a part of that series. Being published in Tiferet is a longstanding dream of mine, so I’m especially happy about this. A little more about the series as well as how to subscribe, or even get a sample issue of their beautiful journal, here. Or, for more details on subscribing, check out this page.

My Ghazal, “Delivery,” nominated and selected for the Orison Anthology!

My ghazal “Delivery,” originally published on the wonderful SWWIM website, has now been published in the Orison Anthology, which I now hold in my hands!! SWWIM, which is based in Miami and publishes poetry by women, nominated my poem for the Orison Anthology, a prestigious anthology of spiritual writing which also holds an annual contest for poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. It’s a huge and unexpected honor to have my poem included!! A copy of the Anthology can be purchased here, where you will also find (my name among) the names of contributors, including contest winners.

Beautiful Review of To Love the River in Atticus Review!

Ecstatic doesn’t even describe it. My poetry collection, To Love the River, has been reviewed in Atticus Review, and it is indeed a gratifying review for a book into which I put my whole self. All my appreciation to the reviewer, Nicole Caruso Garcia, for taking the time to consider and appreciate my poetry in such a fine venue. Also a fine poet in her own right, it means so much that she considered it worth her time. My thanks to Atticus Review as well for publishing the review; especially as I have a publicity deficit (common among poets, alas). Being online also means the review is accessible to more people. She states:

She skillfully toggles between micro and macro, zooms in on an insect level, then pulls back to let readers see the constellations.

And

Like the core pieces in a museum’s collection, Karami’s ghazals alone make the experience worth the price of admission.

With its lovely inventive title, “Life Only as Water Current,” this review is a thing of beauty for which I am deeply grateful.

Atticus Review is itself a wonderful venue for poetry, fiction, CNF, and mixed media, as well as reviews and interviews. It’s well worth your time to look through the whole site.


And for those who are interested, now is a good time to consider giving the gift of poetry; the review touches on the high points of my book and gives you a fair assessment of what’s inside. I will sign and send a personally signed copy with free shipping for those who contact me in the next two weeks either via email sihamkarami at gmail dot com or follow me on twitter @sihamkarami and I will follow you back where you can send me a direct message regarding purchase of a signed copy of my book. Of course, there’s always Amazon and Kelsay Books’ site as well, but without signature and paying for shipping. All this is also on the “Books” tab above. One feels somehow not-right to promote one’s own book, but such is the fate of the lesser-known poet. A small blip in the sea. For which such reviews are lifeboats.

Wonderful Review of To Love the River in Lily Poetry Review


The gorgeous print literary journal Lily Poetry Review has published a beautifully-written review of To Love the River in its Summer issue. Due to family issues, I haven’t been very active posting things of late, but hope to do more now. The review is written by Editor-in-Chief Eileen Cleary, author of the heartbreaking and powerful book Child Ward of the Commonwealth (Main Street Rag, 2019). She writes “To Karami, poetry is music and as such is composed rather than written.” And “to explore luminous spaces in the hands of this capable and imagistic poet is a true pleasure.” How can I thank you, dear reviewer, for such a thrilling review? And the journal itself is a thing of beauty, full of poems that open up worlds to the imagination. Well worth a subscription.

For Apollo 11 50th Anniversary: “Moon Landing”

In honor of the first landing and walking of a human on the moon on July 16, 1969, with the Apollo 11 space program, here’s my poem “Moon Landing”:

Moon Landing

Past the craters’ cutthroat edges, a calculus
of wings unfurls. Our minds tighten ship
through gutwrench math toward the plain of shadows,

our words mere nuts and bolts. No miracles
until the deed is done. Split-second jams
conveyed in jargon to the gods of Houston,

with us, with us — an aura of omniscience
far from where they smoke and stare at screens.
Roger—can you see us? Roger—tell us

where the metal butterfly’s approach
will touch the myth, the mirror, violate
the mover of the tides we left behind.

In blackdrop space, the blue/white marbled globe
beams a bright pang on this gray-scale world
so desolate no ghosts or fossils haunt

the place we plunge toward. Trajectories
morph, equations go awry. The roughed-up
desert seas, gaps of annihilation

we grip in practiced hands and potent codes.
Against the graves and gravity, we scan
for flatness down breathless degrees, deploy

a subtle physics, gear, grace of God,
touchdown. We’re in black and white. Alive.
The gods unclench their fists and spit their gum—

our footfalls sink into the regolith
that yields our perfect prints in perfect gray.
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Remembering Marie Ponsot 1921-2019

Marie Ponsot, who died on July 5, 2019, at the age of 98, left a legacy of elegantly crafted, deeply meaningful and yet entirely unique poetry in five collections, winning the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Robert Frost Medal, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for Lifetime Achievement, among others. From the Washington Post article regarding her death,

Reflecting on Ms. Ponsot’s work, the poet and critic Susan Stewart once wrote: “What she has written of her relation to the night sky — ‘it becomes the infinite / air of imagination that stirs immense / among losses and leaves me less desolate’ — could be claimed by her readers as a description of her own work

Married to the painter Claude Ponsot, she wrote her first poetry collection dedicated to him, and titled it True Minds, taken from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. They had seven children, and when they divorced in 1970, she published her second book of poetry entitled Admit Impediment, also taken from the same sonnet: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ admit impediments.” This is the sort of imaginative wordplay one can find in her work, not without its subtle humor either.

She retreated from publishing for about 25 years, although she continuously wrote poetry. She said it just “didn’t occur” to her to publish. There’s also an element of deep humility in her life and voice, which also rings confidently and with both gusto and acumen.

This poem I found particularly gorgeous:

This Bridge, Like Poetry, Is Vertigo

       In a time of dearth bring forth number, weight, & measure.–    William Blake

Describing the wind that drives it, cloud
rides between earth and space. Cloud
shields earth from sun-scorch. Cloud
bursts to cure earth’s thirst.      Cloud
–airy, wet, photogenic–
is a bridge or go-between;
it does as it is done by.
It condenses. It evaporates.
It draws seas up, rains down.
I do love the drift of clouds.
Cloud-love is irresistible,
untypical, uninfinite.

Deep above the linear city this morning
the cloud’s soft bulk is almost unmoving.
The winds it rides are thin;
it makes them visible.
As sun hits it or if sun
quits us it’s blown away
or rains itself or snows itself away.

It is indefinite:
This dawns on me: no cloud is measurable.
Make mine cloud.
Make mind cloud.
The clarity of cloud is in its edgelessness,
its each instant of edge involving
in formal invention, always
at liberty, at it, incessantly altering.
A lucky watcher will catch it
as it makes big moves:
up the line of sight it lifts
until it conjugates or
          dissipates,
its unidentical being    intact
though it admits flyers.
It lets in wings. It lets them go.
It lets them.
It embraces mountains & spires built
to be steadfast; as it goes on
it lets go of them.
                It is not willing.
                 It is not unwilling.
Late at night when my outdoors is
indoors, I picture clouds again:
                  Come to mind, cloud.
                  Come to cloud, mind.

(Note the wordplay here, evident throughout her poetry.)

Writing poems by hand and putting down ideas on scraps of paper or napkins between changing diapers and all the labor-intensive work that goes with raising children, she is a very sympathetic character, a teacher, translator, essayist and critic. Her poetry shows formal dexterity, imagination, and a delightful spirit.

Here is a beautiful sample of her more formal poetry and her depth of understanding:

Among Women

What women wander?
Not many. All. A few.
Most would, now & then,
& no wonder.
Some, and I’m one,
Wander sitting still.
My small grandmother
Bought from every peddler
Less for the ribbons and lace
Than for their scent
Of sleep where you will,
Walk out when you want, choose
Your bread and your company.

She warned me, “Have nothing to lose.”

She looked fragile but had
High blood, runner’s ankles,
Could endure, endure.
She loved her rooted garden, her
Grand children, her once
Wild once young man.
Women wander
As best they can.

Photography in 4th & Sycamore

They say “it comes in threes,” which always struck me as slightly humorous. So I laugh, in a good way, when I say that three entirely different publications have published my photography at about the same time, the first two I’ve mentioned in the two previous posts, and the third is a photographic piece in the illustrious Fourth & Sycamore online zine, here. Thrilled to have my work on that wonderful site!!! Also check out the other poetry and art there.