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Wanda Phipps reads at KGB

On October 15, 2019, there was a reading at KGB Bar for LiVE MAG!, the EV publication Jeff Wright edits presenting art and writing in downtown Manhattan as they happen. What excited me about this particular reading was the lineup of poets, Lee Ann Brown, Mark Statman visiting from Mexico, and Wanda Phipps, who I’d been wanting to record so this was a dear opportunity to do it. What makes Wanda so great to listen to is not just the quality of her work, but the amount of time, like a well-rehearsed singer or actor does, she puts into presenting it. Enjoy.

When I listen to Wanda read “Shrinking Giant”, I remember that the poet, and the woman too, and we all must stand tall, legs spread Atlas-like and Amazonian. Just the physical exertion of rising, this poet tells us, presents a better broader perspective understanding what is there, the poetry that’s all around. A few of the poems Wanda reads follow below.

Saints & Sinners

heels touch the ground
first transferring weight
through to the toes
from the bend in
the knees—from swinging
hips—from twin shoulders
balancing on the neck
and the head like
a cup full of:
Sidney Poitier and
Shirley Muldowney
pigeons on the windowsill
Bohemian Rhapsody on the tube
Federal Hall down the hill
A Course in Miracles
on the cell—backpack full of
poetry, novels, essays, stories
music fills the ears
eyes forever
looking backward
struggling to stay present
when memory outweighs
the future—all that matters is
looking for a sure footing
feeling the way
over the rocky surface

seconds 14

the wind was
wailing and
moaning this
thought it was
a woman
then a cat
but no
the wind
was moaning
through the stairwell
from the roof
or cracks
in the windows
crying to get in
or out—wild cry
in the city
crying wild
wilderness reclaiming
its space

Brooklyn Museum Poem


Spending time alone with Basquiat’s paintings & notebooks—someone’s forgot the key to unlock the shop—lunch break browsing Basquiat again—notebook pages framed & mounted—low light halls—he said he crossed out words so that we’ll want to read them more—obscuration breeds desire—each notebook page a composition—where the letters fall—where the empty space spreads—words as objects—bodies of visitors nearly colliding over & over creating patterns in a space filled with its own patterns—my feet hurt—sit outside in the sun on the first real spring-like day under the names of Confucius, Moses, Laotse, David, Jeremiah, Isaiah & St. Peter

Funky Sonnet #2

but then how is it not a ladylike
gesture to straddle a friendly poet
in my jean skirt on a weeknight
or was it a lazy afternoon well
whenever it was it was dear and
much like a lady as in a woman
as in honest desire or a bit
of holy communion or holy communing
do you never wear socks
i’m not looking out the window
i’m looking ecstatic or some
understandable facsimile
freewheeling in my own psychic space
i’m often fond of freefalling ladyfingers

Funky Sonnet #3

in my movie i’d shoot a woman
walking through her day
careful attention to dress hems
and footsteps–fingertips–
backs–umbrellas moving
beneath i’d hear a voice describing
random scenes from dreams and
fragments of conversations
also much street sound and
occasionally the breath
slo-mo frames of the fluctuating
expressions of her face

a nun for poetry

so here i am
a woman surrounded
by words on paper
& words invisible
waiting to be written
a nun for poetry
craving the
asymmetrical saintliness
of a ragged line
in a well bound book

Field of Wanting is published by BlazeVox Books. You can check it out here:


It is also available on Amazon:


You can also check out Wanda’s projects and writing here:


@ KGB, photo by Virlana Tkacz

photo by Ken Kerbs

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