Poetry Fall 2020 Forum Magazine

Featured Poets D.A. Powell and Maw Shein Win


D.A., known to friends, students, and colleagues  as Doug, gave a Zoom reading for City College  students this Fall 2020 along with Maw Shein Win.  He reminded the audience that “poetry isn’t a job,  it isn’t capitalism” and read poems that ranged from  comic descriptions of working in a movie theater as  a college student to grave meditations on living with  AIDS in poems such as “Chronic” which speaks to  these times of pandemic and climate catastrophe: 

choose your own adventure: drug failure or organ failure 

cataclysmic climate change 

or something akin to what’s killing the bees —  colony collapse 

more like us than we’d allow, this wondrous swatch of rough 

Doug made his start in poetry in California community  colleges. He attended Yuba College and Santa Rosa  College before moving on to Sonoma State University,  where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1991, and  his master’s degree in 1993. He received his MFA degree from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in 1996. He  is now a professor at the University of San Francisco. Powell is the author of the trilogy of books Tea (Wesleyan University Press, 1998), Lunch (Wesleyan  University Press, 2000), and Cocktails (Graywolf Press,  2004), which was nominated for the National Book  Critics Circle Award.

Eight Lines on the Moon and One on Earth 

starting from a line by Li Po 

Though the poor moon can’t drink 

she can grant wishes and name 

babies and reveal a future spouse


among the flowers. A single jug of wine 

is enough for me to encourage her to come 

down, converse, dance a little in the pines. 

As long as I can stay awake I’ll 

lift my cup to her nimbus face. Say 

sit with me, sing with me, delay.

The Story of My Other Life is Shorter but Sweet

A billion is 

a thousand cubed 

east and west, lions, 

swallows, peach, dust


leave home, crow dreams 

on a ladder 

to the clouds, far 

shore, white cranes, waves


Maw Shein Win is a Bay Area writer, editor, and  educator. She was an artist in resident at the  Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, a 2019  Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley, and the first Poet  Laureate of El Cerrito. Her first full length poetry  collection Invisible Gifts: Poems was published in  2018. Her collaborative book with paintings by artist  Mark Dutcher, Ruins of a Glittering Palace, was  published by SPA/Commonwealth Projects. Her  poetry chapbook Score and Bone is on Nomadic  Press. Her full-length collection Invisible Gifts: Poems was published by Manic D Press in 2018. Her second  full-length collection, Storage Unit for the Spirit House is available from Omnidawn Publishing. In this  collection, Maw uses physical objects to explore  the spiritual, taking us through different worlds:  California, Burma, and beyond. 

In Fall 2020, Maw Shein Win joined us for CCSF’s  Creative Writers’ Reading Series and shared poems  from Storage Unit for the Spirit House with our  community. She and D.A. Powell also took part in  a wonderful Q&A segment after the reading where  we learned about her writing habits, the inspirations  for her newest book, and her artistic practices  beyond poetry.


first version: 

she lies still 

the tomb is being filled 

with a clear liquid 

the liquid has a texture 

not unlike gelatin 

a poison or preservative 

for the body that has not yet expired 

second version: 

her body rejects the liquid 

they keep pouring it in 

she keeps throwing it up

an attempt to live 

as the hands move towards her she is drawn deeper 

into the tomb 

third version: 

a triangle of light 

appears on stuccoed wall 

she asks: what does this mean ? 

the figure 

informs her that she 

is the queen of New York 

& her body is to be filled with pith 

final version: 

she puts on the silver 

dress & silver shoes 

kohl-rimmed eyes

she is on the dance 

floor of a nightclub 

the orb throws circles 

of light on extended arms


a flying fish 

in smoky air 

one woman 

in cerulean dress balances on tower silk scarf over head a burden to breathe below forest 

on fire 

fallow deer 

wild boar 

sloth bear 

fleeing flame 

tower leans 

to east 


moving earth 

she coughs 

drop of blood 

burnt sienna 

a tower shakes