James Arthur & Maya Janson

Thursday, April 4, 2013, at 7:00 pm, poets James Arthur and Maya Janson will help us celebrate National Poetry Month in this, the sixth season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)

James Arthur

James Arthur

James Arthur was born in Connecticut and grew up in Canada. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Poetry, Ploughshares, and The American Poetry Review. He has received the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry, a residency at the Amy Clampitt House, and a Discovery/The Nation Prize. Charms Against Lightning, his debut poetry collection, is available from Copper Canyon Press as a Lannan Literary Selection.

James is currently a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.

Maya Smith Janson

Maya Janson

Maya Janson‘s first poetry collection Murmur & Crush was published by Hedgerow Books in 2012. Her poetry has appeared widely in journals including Massachusetts Review, Harvard Review, and Orion, and has been included in Best American Poetry. She is a recipient of an artist’s fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is employed as a community health nurse and a lecturer in poetry at Smith College.


THE LAND OF NOD / James Arthur

Growing up, I barely knew the Bible, but read
and reread the part when Cain drifted east
or was drawn that way, into a place of desolation,
the land of Nod, there to begin, with a wife

of unknown origin, another race of men,
under the mark of God. As a boy, I thought Nod
would be a place where the blue scillas
would bloom grey, a country of the rack and screw,

the serrated sword, where the very serving cups
were bone. As a grown man, I’ve heard that Nod
never was a nation—of Cain’s offspring, or anyone—
but a mistranslation of “wander,” so Cain

could go wherever, and be in Nod. Far more
than in God, I believe in Cain, who destroyed
his own brother, and therefore in any city
could have his wish, and be alone.



to the feeling I’ve been here before.
Twenty years old, smoking a joint
on the Bridge of Flowers after a night’s
exclamatory rain. Yelp of cut grass
and Carl Jung’s theory about tigers.
The river flowing beneath the bridge
and the person you are flowing
beneath the surface of yourself
like a river locked in ice but unlocking.
In the ordinary sequence, first it’s spring
and the birds are unleashed with their bells.
Then the garden goes berserk.
The heart is a fist-size cup, a watering can
tilting towards asters.
No matter what you can’t
extinguish the want. Hush now.
The wind is trying to say something.
It’s all become golden and musical.
Like a great polished trumpet,
like a softly blown French horn.
We like to say in the beginning.
Meaning the garden, ourselves in it.
Then comes the travail.
You had no idea how much suffering.
Another beloved, another death
of a beloved in a wooden bed.
Then you’re opening doors,
casement windows, anything with a hinge,
saying now I lay me down.
Now I lay me down in a valley,
in a village of thatched roofs,
sidelong in a nest composed of twigs,
stork gone.