It's New

Features

Betsy Fagin on "new old forest: infrastructure"

I'm fascinated by the idea of "new old" and the consumerist mentality that underpins it, the belief that everything is disposable and replaceable, that anything old can be recreated. What about old growth forests? How shall we remake those? It will certainly require a great deal of planning, and that must begin with infrastructure. MORE

 
line

Monica McClure on an excerpt from "Tender Data"

When I first started thinking of what to write about this poem, attempting to formulate cogent thoughts—usually while jogging in the June heat—that would theorize and illuminate this poem of memory clots and digressions and non-sequiturs that, as the title poem of the book, promises to hold the major themes together, I became really stressed out. Like really stressed. MORE

 
line

Jasper Bernes on an excerpt from We Are Nothing and So Can You

I wrote this section in my final year of work on We Are Nothing and So Can You, around the time of the first wave of riots in Ferguson (August 2014). I was hugely inspired by the determination and consistency of the people out in the streets there. Whereas other popular eruptions in response to anti-black police murder would often dissipate after a few days, the people in Ferguson kept coming out, night after night, for weeks.  MORE

 
line

Natalie Eilbert on “Imprecation”

The word was first introduced to me in a workshop by the brilliant poet, Dawn Marie Knopf, and it means a spoken curse. It was irresistible as a conceit, but I didn't touch it for years. Imprecation. I grew up sealed shut, ashamed of my body, ashamed to speak. From imprecari, to invoke, call down upon.  MORE

 
line

Bridgette Bates on an excerpt from What Is Not Missing Is Light

In the past, we traveled to unknown cities, loaded our cameras with a roll of film, smiled and said "cheese," hoping a set of 24 photographs would expose a beautiful  journey. Time and time again, I returned home from such trips eager to see what images I had captured, and upon developing my photos was surprised to find I had taken significantly more pictures of unknown pieces of art from inside a museum than of the usual landmarks and landscapes. MORE

 
line

ire'ne lara silva on "shame: a ghazal in pieces"

I love the elegance and music of ghazals and wanted the inventiveness of language that a ghazal's rhyme scheme demands. But not only do I suffer from the need to rebel against rules—even the ones I set for myself—I also found that the lilting rhythm of the ghazal was at loggerheads with my sense of indignation. Finally, I let the ferocity I felt explode the ghazal structure while retaining the ghazal-inspired language. MORE

 
line

Morgan Parker on "Apology with Pearls On"

This poem started when a friend challenged me to write something "elegant." On G-chat, I followed his suggestion with a "lol." Elegance is something my poems never aspire to. I write about disappointing one night stands, peeing on street corners at night, getting too drunk to hide how I feel. As a woman, I almost cringe at the idea of being elegant, weary from men on the street telling me to smile and averse to anything that insists I "behave" or be "lady-like."  MORE

 
line

Randall Potts on "Fable"

I wrote "Fable" before Trickster had a title, even before the title poem was written. "Fable" was a crucial poem for me because it was a literal drama of double binds between art and nature that was resolved paradoxically. MORE

 
line

Questions of Faith: J.D. McClatchy

I grew up in a Catholic family. My parents were nominally devout but not overly pious. We went to church and observed the rules—and in the 1950's, you could trip over them, there were so many. More to the point, I went to Catholic schools—really, all the way through college. First the nuns, and later the Jesuits, gave me a good education that didn't view everything through a narrow religious lens.  MORE

 
line

Julie Carr on an excerpt from "Rag"

The central concern of Rag is violence against women and girls as it surfaces in film, fairy tale, daily life, the news. Against that, I wanted to record intimacies of all kinds, but especially between children and parents and between friends, as a response, maybe an answer, to such threat MORE

 
line

Selections from the Murty Classical Library of India

The Murty Classical Library of India aims to make available the great literary works of India from the past two millennia. The series provides modern translations of classical works, many for the first time, across an array of Indian languages, including Bangla, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Pali, Panjabi, Persian, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. MORE

 
line

Shane McCrae on "Community"

The best way I can think of to write about writing, my writing, is to write about "Community," since I had a lot of trouble writing it / since it took me a lot longer to write than most of my poems / since I had never before, and have never since, written another poem in quite the same way.  MORE

 
line

Janaka Stucky on "Recreating a Miraculous Object"

The poem—more dirge or chant—I composed less to conjure an encounter than to become rich with the echoes of its absence. What we do when we are helpless against our losing. The utter dread of loss. Our anxiety to circumvent grief simultaneously propelling us toward its void, as though we are concentrically orbiting that inevitable point of departure—so dense nothing we do can escape its pull. MORE

 
line

Craig Santos Perez on "from sounding lines [chamorro standard time: UTC +10:00]"

In my new book, I explore the theme of migration in a multitude of ways, including its relation to colonial land takings, military enlistment, education, debt, tourism, memory, citizenship, food, and extinction. The poem above, however, looks at migration in relation to time zones and telephone calls. MORE

 
line

Michael Morse on “(What the Admiral Saw from the Air)”

The poems in Void and Compensation feel like rehearsals for and engagements with both loss and connection…I guess the two go hand-in-hand.  The lyric, then, can serve to distill experience…it offers a chance to find compensation in singing, in finding a presence within our circumstances and our thinking and our feeling. MORE

 
line

Ansel Elkins on "The Girl with Antlers"

Blue Yodel is populated by the strange, the outcast, the bizarre, the different, the so-called "freaks" who live on the social outskirts. The Girl with Antlers is seen as an abomination of nature simply because she defies easy categorization. People fear the unknown and are often made uncomfortable when confronting someone who upsets their fixed definitions of personhood and notions of being in the world.  MORE

 
line

Eugenia Leigh on "Psalm 107"

Once after a poetry reading, someone from the audience asked whether I am a person of faith. "Judging by your poems," he said, "you either hate God or you love God." MORE

 
line

Joshua Clover on "Haecceity"

The poem is a derivation of Diane Di Prima's "Revolutionary Letter #19" ("if what you want is jobs / for everyone, you are still the enemy,/ you have not thought thru, clearly / what that means…"). It's the last poem written for the book. Red Epic tracks the world following on the global collapse of 2007, trying to grasp it both systemically and at the level of local textures of life. MORE

 
line

Mary Jo Bang on “Compulsion in Theory and Practice: Principles and Controversies”

At this moment when neuroscience is able to map so much of the brain's activity, what's interesting is that in spite of all that mapping, and countless theories spanning centuries, the construct of the self, both one's self-perception and how one behaves in any given situation, seems to defy understanding. Perhaps because it's not possible to tease apart all of the elements that contribute to it: genetics, education, history, nutrition, viruses, bacteria, the air one breathes, the enormity of culture—all of which morphs continuously over a lifetime. MORE

 
line

Eric Amling on "Ill Estates"

This poem like many poems was born from the zygotes of other poems. In Torrington, CT I had a room at the Yankee Peddler Inn. The room was ugly but the housekeeping made an effort to fold your toilet paper into a V every afternoon. Something about the tub made me uneasy. The whole place made me uneasy. The Inn was built in 1891, the original owner died in a room on the third floor. There were ghost rumors and I think the decor tried to play that up. I thought I'd get some writing done away from New York and I did.  MORE

 
line

Yolanda Wisher on “American Valentine”

I was once a little black girl writing poems, and one of the standard gifts for birthdays and holidays, from those relatives who wanted to encourage me in my literary pursuits, was a book of verse – Shakespeare sonnets or the more cherished Phillis Wheatley collection. At the time, hers was the name they knew. The first black published poet. She became my measure. MORE

 
line

Caki Wilkinson on “Third Standoff”

"Third Standoff," which appears near the end of The Wynona Stone Poems, is the last of the "Standoffs" between various people in Wynona's life. First, she tries and fails to confront her boss, Lois; later a horde of Wynona's former lovers takes on her latest squeeze, the Channel 5 weatherman. But "Third Standoff" is unique in that it addresses Wynona directly. MORE

 
line

An Interview with Alex Dimitrov

There are times when people ask me too many questions about the self in relation to my poems. That's the part I'm least interested in. The self. I'm only interested in the self as a gateway to other things…like pleasure, religion, death, culture, personal and collective histories, celebrity, and so on. Obviously we can't experience the world without a body so yes, the self has to be addressed.  MORE

 
line

Translators Jeff Clark and Robert Bononno on Stéphane Mallarmé's A Roll of the Dice

Un Coup de Dés [A Roll of the Dice] has never before been designed and typeset properly. The closest version is the Michel Pierson & Ptyx limited French edition of 2002; this edition, however, slavishly attempts to match the last round of proofs for the never-materialized Vollard edition of 1897, which Mallarmé was correcting at the time of his death. In our edition I've done my best, in the design and setting of the original French version of the poem, to match the typography of those proofs but also improve their typographic infelicities; the result is basically what Mallarmé had approved and was actually seeing and working on, but with tightened and corrected typography. MORE

 
line

The Editors on Scout

In September of 2013, I posted the following on my Facebook page: Uh-oh. I'm feeling like I may start a poetry review website in 2014. Talk me down? What led up to that feeling was that I'd abandoned writing reviews for a number of reasons: lack of time, of course, but also the sense that most poetry reviews I read fell into a formula that didn't comfortably allow me to engage the way I wanted to. But that left me reading books and not engaging with them, I thought, nearly deeply enough. MORE

 
line

Carl Annarummo on Greying Ghost

I can't quite remember when I first discovered chapbooks. I do remember going to the Grolier Bookshop in Cambridge when I was in college and picking up books by Burning Deck and Ugly Duckling and a handful of others. I think I spent something like $25 for all that poetry which for a broke student was amazing. And they were so beautiful looking! MORE

 
line

Rich Smith on "OkCupid"

I had many reservations about joining OKCupid. Half of my brain thought: 1.) I'd say I'm arguably attractive, and therefore a little arrogant. Surely I'm above this meat gallery of human loneliness. 2.) When my friends find out that I'm on the site, won't they come up to me and say, "So, how does it feel to be both a customer and a piece of merchandise in the Goodwill of romantic love?" MORE

 
line

David Tomas Martinez on "Shed"

Like many of my poems, which are based in my own personal history, this poem relies heavily on my experience, though I filter it through a language of poetry. "Shed" is based particularly on two consecutive romantic relationships that were very difficult, both which I have conflated into a four-year period that I associate with an emotionally destructive time. MORE

 
line

Lightsey Darst on "Paradise"

It's a strange thing to look back at DANCE. I have to do this reconstruction, this remembering—which I, personally, have always found difficult. I am not good at remembering why I did what I did or how it felt to me. How could I be? I'm a different person. MORE

 
line

Sally Wen Mao on "The White-haired Girl"

The inspiration for this poem, "The White-haired Girl", grew out of my fascination with tales about wayward women. The poem is named after a Chinese opera and film based on real-life stories from the 1920s and 1930s—it's about a girl, Xi'er,who was forced into marriage with her father's vindictive landlord and flees her captor by escaping into the mountain. MORE

 
line

Randall Horton on "When Winter is a Transitional State"

I wanted to explore what an unconventional love looks like. To most of the outside world, this kind of love would seem abnormal. I worked within the freedom and constraint of the couplet form, going for the duality of thought within the speaker's mind. MORE

 
line

Cathy Linh Che on "Pomegranate"

I'd been thinking about mythology and archetypes. I'd been thinking about that Persephone's being carried off by Hades felt analogous to my experiences of being sexually violated as a child. The experience of being taken again and again into an Underworld MORE

 
line

Malachi Black on "A Memo to the Self-Possessed"

It began in failure.  Perhaps most poems do, but this was an especially staunch case:  the lines went nowhere.

I suppose I needed to figure out just what they meant, or where they "went," but I was in no great position to know then.  It had been an especially fraught winter.  My mother, whose home was half a continent away, was sick and was suffering and had already suffered.  My family was in disarray, and the relationship I had been kindling for two years had sagged to ash without an ember. MORE

 
line

Danez Smith on "poem where I be & you just might"

Once upon an April, I forced myself to sit down and write the too late love poems for a few boys who came into my life brief, but grand seasons. I was thinking about the many loves that were never lovers—how intimacy and romance can occupy a room without taking hold of the body. MORE

 
line

Samuel Beckett's "Cascando"

The 'occasion' prompting the poem was Beckett meeting, and thinking he had fallen in love with, an American friend of Mary Manning Howe, Betty Stockton Farley, who did not reciprocate his feelings, although soon 'wordshed' seems to have taken over from those feelings. Beckett later remembered his feelings as a marker ('the Farley episode', when he was struggling unsuccessfully with another poem), but it was the poem that mattered. MORE

 
line

Tarfia Faizullah on "Aubade Ending with the Death of a Mosquito"

This poem is a contrapuntal, which means it can be read three different ways. Musically speaking, a contrapuntal imposes two or more distinct melodies upon each other simultaneously, and in doing so, creates a brand new harmonic relationship. MORE

 
line

Danniel Schoonebeek on "Nectarines

"Nectarines" really started when Melissa asked me if I'd write a poem for a track off Siamese Dream. She used to host this reading series called Polestar in the basement of Cake Shop, and the idea was you take a record like Doolittle or Super Fly and you assign each poet a track. Give them a little head start, maybe a month to write a poem that approaches their song in some way, and when everyone meets in the basement they read their poems in the same order as the track listing. MORE

 
line

Sandra Lim on “Human Interest Story”

The first line of this poem, "Snow would have been breaking the drifts that day, on a mild mood," persisted in my mind long before I set down this poem to paper. It makes sense to me now that a poem that thinks about the tensions between the world outside us and the strange ones inside us would begin in an image of gesture and atmosphere. MORE

 
line

Kristi Maxwell on "Plaisir Minus +/-"

When I was writing "Plaisir Minus +/-," I was thinking about meaning as a process of addition and subtraction—the isolation of a word that leads to a new fusion in a line or sentence or stanza. The way words are companions to each other. The way the word is companion to the mind. The way context infuses. Language as simultaneously remedy and refusal. MORE

 
line

Mathias Svalina on WASTOID

I thought love had failed me. Probably I had failed love. I was, as they say, going through a hard time. In attempt to restore myself, recreate myself, I looked to the poetry of the Elizabethans. I reread my Sidney & Spenser, my Donne & Marvell. Because isn't art supposed to assuage the crushing pain of existence? to save us? It did not help. MORE

 
line

On Shakespeare’s “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”

Long ago as a high school sophomore, I had yet to experience "first love," or anything resembling it, so when I read the sonnet Shall I compare thee to a summer's day, it wasn't so much the romantic tone that entranced me. There was no particular girl or boy that I thought of as I read it in class. It wasn't the deft imagery either, gorgeous to be sure, but the poem's assertion of immortality in its last two lines. That was what got me. MORE

 
line

Lisa Lubasch on "The Situation/Evidence"

Being in an aftermath is difficult. One wants to argue with it. One wants to make it into an order. Being inside it is also difficult. One might be able to organize it but is there another way? One wants to bring something up. One wants to change it. One wants to exist. One wants to do one thing. To "rise above it." But there is no way to "rise above it." You are "in," not "above," and through this "within" you can determine, can "figure out" your way. MORE

 
line

Maggie Nelson on Eileen Myles

Earlier today I taught a class at CalArts about the great artist and writer David Wojnarowicz, who died of AIDS in 1992. In Cynthia Carr's biography of David, she quotes a student at Illinois State University—located in "Normal," no less—who saw him talk there in 1990, right when David was becoming a poster child, or rather a whipping post, for the culture wars of the 90s. The student said, "After you hear a voice like that, it changes you." Indeed. After you hear certain voices, the direction of your life is changed, and there's no going back. That was what hearing the voice of Eileen Myles was like for me, in the year of Wojnarowicz's death, 1992 MORE

 
line

Sarah Rose Nordgren on "1917"

If I had a rock band, I might call it Haunted by Mothers or, maybe more aptly, Haunted by Babies. My poems can't seem to be rid of either one, even though I'm neither. MORE

 
line

Thomas Hummel on "And, not content with circumscription, spreads."

I imposed all that came after onto this.

The narrative accompaniment originally written to appear here bore no actual relationship to the poem's inception. The futility, the wherelessness, the overarching visuospatial dysgnosia of the poem, in conjunction with the task of tethering its construction to a particular temporal episode, convinced me that it had been written in the aftermath (or in the midst) of a series of traumas from which it took me nearly four years to emerge. MORE

 
line

Anne Shaw on "Shatter and Thrust as a Series of Silver Gelatin Prints"

One of the interesting things about the poem--to me, anyway--is that it was semi-planned. Although I worked through many drafts, from the start I had a sense of what its structure would be and what I wanted it to contain. To be specific, I knew that I wanted to write a long poem in couplets that was organized around if/then statements. MORE

 
line

On Christopher Marlowe's “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love”

You love John Keats. I do too. He revolutionized the art, died young, left a lot of masterful poetry unwritten, was good-looking and tubercular: Keats!

But Christopher Marlowe left a lot of poetry unwritten too. MORE

 
line

James Laughlin, Publisher & Poet

Born handsome, brilliant, and rich, all his life James Laughlin courted the art of self-effacement. But even as he practiced disappearance, a behind-the-scenes master rather than a public  figure, he, more than any other person of the twentieth century, directed the course of American writing and crested the waves of American passions and preoccupations. His life is mirrored in his friendships and in the careers of the many writers he championed. MORE

 
line

Thomas Meyer on "Airs Waters Places"

Several years ago I read Thomas MacEvilley's Structure of Ancient Thought. A book a friend gave me for Christmas. Not sure but think MacEvilley mentions there Hippocrates's "On Airs, Waters and Places." The title struck my ear, but got compressed.  "Airs Waters Places." Eventually I did a "tracing" of it, a translation, sort of, all its simple, lovely pieces pared down, arranged with an occasional aside. MORE

 
line

Paige Taggart on an excerpt from "Sorry As The Flame For No Other Fire"

The poems are largely about love, and destroying the past experiences of love in order to arrive at a clean slate and a new hope to embrace love. It's baby clean love, it's baby no, I've never loved/been loved this way before. "The crescendo of love being arrival," we arrive at a clearer point of existence on the spectrum of our lives in order to love anew. MORE

 
line

Anthony McCann on "Mouth Guitar"

As some may recall, February 2013 was marked in Los Angeles by the "manhunt" for an ex-LAPD officer named Christopher Dorner. Dorner, unable to find justice for what he saw as his unfair dismissal from the force for filing an allegedly false report accusing another officer of brutality, had taken up arms against his erstwhile comrades and their kin. MORE

 
line

Erika Meitner on “Porto, Portare, Portavi, Portatus”

How do we approach the seemingly unspeakable through language? As a writer, there are things that are easier for me to write about, and feelings or experiences that are so difficult to articulate that they become long stretches of silence. MORE

 
line

Jenny Sadre-Orafai on “We Can Be Anything We Couldn’t Be

I didn't think prank at first. I didn't really think anything beyond the image—a baby grand piano resting on a sandbar in Biscayne Bay. Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Harrington said it wasn't a prank. He said it was "more of a movement." I thought then, on January 25, 2011, youth. I thought of being fearless and reckless and so full of ideas MORE

 
line

Four poems by Kajal Ahmad, translated from the Kurdish

Translating these poems is an act of archaeology. I work with co-translators, unearthing with raw strikes of the shovel until I can see the lines of the poem and switch to gentle brushes. When I first saw the shape of this poem, the shape of its idea, my mind began to echo with its nothingness. MORE

 
line

Wendy S. Walters on "The Oakland County Child Killer, 1977"

Troy, Michigan is a collection of sonnets inspired by the city map of my hometown—I wanted to represent the rectangle shapes repeated throughout of the city plan.  I chose the sonnet form because younger writers often use it when they attempt to become a poet.  Even though I no longer qualify as a younger poet, this book was also about bringing to life a version of myself from the past to try to make sense of the landscape that had shaped my understanding of both safety and danger. MORE

 
line

Claudia Keelan On “Continuous Acts”

"Continuous Acts" comes near the end of O, Heart a verse-drama rooted in the utterance of an omniscient or all knowing narrator, never named, who speaks on behalf of the woman, the main character in the book. All of the poems posit and argue the main questions in the piece, i.e. what comprises what we call the human heart, how can we know our "heart's truths," and how the answers to those questions by women and men provide differences in kind historically to the question of sincerity. The main "drama" is the dialogue—between what we call the humanities and what we call science, and the inconclusive answers provided from both disciplines.   MORE

 
line

Sommer Browning on "Federal Holiday"

I started writing this poem on a Columbus Day. At the time, I was working for the federal government as a contractor. I had the day off because Columbus Day is a federal holiday and our building was closed, but I didn't get paid because the contractor did not recognize that holiday. It's a screwed up situation.  MORE

 
line

Brian Blanchfield on "The City State"

"The City State" is something of an homage to Guy Davenport. In "The Trees at Lystra," the opening story in his collection, Eclogues, Davenport recasts from a Greek adolescent's perspective the New Testament story in the Book of Acts in which Paul and his companion come portentously to the lively village to inveigh against polytheism and are mistaken ironically for Zeus and Hermes. MORE

 
line

Jennifer Michael Hecht on "The Spider"

The poem is what I call a "transliteration" —a meaningful sound-alike—of William Blake's classic poem, "The Tyger." I was in the middle of writing Who Said, my third book of poems, which is full of poems in direct conversation with an iconic poem. Many of them are also transliterations, or are other kinds of odd translations. MORE

 
line

Erica Wright on Guernica

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Two friends walk into a bar named Guernica. It's true—founders Michael Archer and Joel Whitney once organized readings at their favorite watering hole, but soon outgrew this format. Along with Joshua Jones and Elizabeth Onusko, they decided to turn their increasingly popular events into a journal, so that the conversations emerging could be preserved. The bar name stuck since it spoke to their mission, exploring the intersection of art and politics. Guernica Magazine celebrates its ten-year anniversary this year. MORE

 
line

Stefania Heim on "A Third Party Who Says Me"

I don't think that I will ever get over the feeling of looking out the window of a flying airplane. It isn't so much that it's shocking—which of course it is, if you think about it. It's that it's so interesting. Part ant colony, part lit-up window of a stranger's house, the earth, arrayed and displayed 30,000 feet below, scintillates. It rivets. My experience of crossing over our planet's populated landmasses is a meditation on how people cluster and spread. It is a treatise on what we mean to each other.  MORE

 
line

On “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats

Poetry speaks to those of us who hear it across vast distances of time, culture, and personal identity. If I didn't believe this, there would be little for me that explains how a poem by an 18th century Englishman would so profoundly impact a 20th century Jamaican-American woman. I'm speaking, of course, of the well-known poem, "Ode to a Nightingale," by John Keats and, the unknown story of my 18-year old self's discovery of the same as a first-year college student in Miami in 1990—almost two centuries after Keats' had written the poem, in the spring of 1819, when he may already have sensed that he was dying. MORE

 
line

In remembrance of June 4, 1989, and the events of Tiananmen Square, poems by Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xia (b. 1961) is a Chinese poet and artist, born and raised in Beijing. She worked as an editor and then a civil servant for the Beijing tax bureau until she quit the job in 1992. Liu Xia started writing poetry in 1982 and has continued to this day.

As wife of the imprisoned Noble Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo (b. 1955), some of Liu Xia's work needs to be read from the context of the political situation in China and her personal experiences. She met Liu Xiaobo in the 1980s at a literary gathering and married him when he was imprisoned in 1996 (so that she could visit him in prison legally as she explained). Liu Xiaobo was first put in jail from June 1989 to January 1991 due to his involvement with the June 4th student movement. He was detained without trial from May 1995 to February 1996, then sentenced to three-year imprisonment from October 1996 to October 1999, and finally given an eleven-year term in December 2008. Liu Xia herself has been under house arrest since 2010. MORE

 
line

Joy Katz on “Excuse Me, Where is Varick Street?”

I began to draft this poem when I lived in New York, after one of many times someone stopped me and asked for directions.

The draft began as a conversation between me and an "offstage" character. Almost a monologue, but not quite. What drove me to the page is that I felt helplessly pleasant when asked for assistance. The sensation was awful on some level. I look like a nice, unthreatening person. And I am. Yet something about that is slightly intolerable. I kept writing to try to understand why. It has to do with power—power is at play in this poem. I am far from being a power-hungry person, but where is the line between helpfulness and manipulation? That question seemed the burning center of the writing. MORE

 
line

A Painter Among Poets: Trevor Winkfield

Trevor Winkfield is a painter, writer, and translator. Winkfield was born in Leeds, England, in 1944, and has lived in New York since 1969. He exhibits his paintings at Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York. He is the editor and translator of Raymond Roussel's How I Wrote Certain of My Books and Other Writings (Exact Change, revised edition 2005) and has worked collaboratively on books with the poets John Ashbery, Kenward Elmslie, Barbara Guest,  Harry Mathews, Ron Padgett, and John Yau, among others.

His art writings—including essays on John Graham, Jasper Johns, Gerald Murphy, Florine Stettheimer, and Vermeer—were recently published as Georges Braque and Others: The Selected Art Writings of Trevor Winkfield, 1990–2009 (The Song Cave, 2014). MORE

 
line

Elaine Bleakney on “For Another Writing Back”

I wrote most of For Another Writing Back during the first year of my son's life. Motherhood created an urgent narrative situation in me: I had to write about my life. I wrote fast—it felt fast—and under the ardent sign of motherhood I chased subjects I'd glossed or abstracted or left out of previous poems MORE

 
line

Louise Labé: A conversation with translator Richard Sieburth and editor Jeffrey Yang

Each edition of Richard Sieburth's astonishing translations of French and German literature has resituated and recreated the original work into a lasting book of English prose and verse—Friedrich Hölderlin's late Hymns and Fragments, Gérard de Nerval's Selected Writings and his novel The Salt Smugglers (a publication that even echoes the typographical layout of its original left-wing feuilleton newspaper publication), Nostradamus's Prophecies, the Délieof Maurice Scève, among many others. In the same spirit of reinvention, Sieburth's new edition of French Renaissance poet Louise Labé was just published by NYRB/Poets. Jeffrey Yang, who was the in-house editor for the book, as well as for Sieburth's edited volume of Ezra Pound's New Selected Poems and Translations, talks with the master translator about Louise Labé. MORE

 
line

Joshua Marie Wilkinson on “Fortnight’s Insignia”

My dad is not a poetry reader. He reads nonfiction mostly. He's a Timothy Egan and Malcolm Gladwell fan, to name two. But when he came for a visit to Tucson this month, right after my new book, The Courier's Archive & Hymnal, had come out, he read it one morning before I awoke.  MORE

 
line

On "Wild Nights"

I don't know how old I was when I first saw a poem of Emily Dickinson's; I was in a classroom.  I learned that her punctuation had been altered and then restored.  I also learned that she wore white and was in love with god. MORE

 
line

Rachel Zucker on [taking away taking away everything]

I wrote "[taking away taking everything away]" in response to an assignment I gave my graduate students at NYU. I was teaching a course I called "Terms of Engagement." In this workshop the students wrote new poems every week in response to various modes of engagement including: ekphrastic, kinetic, narrative, collaborative, textual, hypnopoetic, historical, social, political. The first mode we considered was ekphrastic. For this assignment I asked students to write poems in response to "Matisse: In Search of True Painting," an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The College Group at the Met (with whom I'd worked before, on another poetry project) had agreed to host a public reading of the poems that my students would write in response to this show.  MORE

 
line

Gary Miranda on Translating Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies

A translation, whatever else it might be, is an attempt to recreate an experience. The tricky question is, whose experience? The German of Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies would have sounded very different to one of his contemporaries than it does to a modern German's ear, just as we recognize, say, Keats's language as being from an earlier period. Do you try to make Rilke sound slightly archaic to reproduce the experience that a modern German might have of the original, or do you try to find an equivalent for the experience that a German-speaking contemporary of Rilke might have had?  MORE

 
line

Vijay Seshadri on "The Descent of Man"

I wrote "The Descent of Man" after a long layoff from writing—or, to be more accurate, from trying to write, which is largely what I do. Poems written after a long layoff in my case usually turn out baroque, or more baroque than ones that are the result of working habitually MORE

 
line

Julia Cohen on "Call Me a Grown-Up but My Five Eyes Blink at Once"

My childhood was built atop an apple orchard. Or rather, my childhood home was constructed on what used to be a former orchard. A single crab apple tree in our backyard remains. My friend Katie and I (both of us six years old) were digging in the backyard when we discovered a buried trash heap that must have been quite old.  MORE

 
line

Catherine Barnett on Emily Dickinson

Sundays this New York City cafe fills up and empties according to the bells that ring from the neighboring church; weekdays according to the cops' schedule. I come here almost every day to work alone in the company of others. These hours get me through the week; they're essential to the sense of discovery and possibility for which I long. But why choose to sit at the table with only books? I often have Beckett with me; sometimes Stevens; always Dickinson, whose familiar face I was surprised to see gazing back at me last July from the shelves of a lovely tiny bookstore in the 20th arrondissement in Paris. MORE

 
line

Wendy Xu on "Several Altitudes of Not Talking"

This poem contains one of my favorite ways to think and talk about poetry: "a game called all of this is hypothetical."

It also happens to be the very first poem in my first book You Are Not Dead—first firsts seem particularly pleasurable. In the summer of 2011, when I wrote this poem, I had moved across the country to Western Massachusetts for poetry school. Living in the midst of relentless new was both overwhelming and productiveI'd never before so consciously watched other people, inhabiting all manner of physical space, for seemingly no reason at all.  MORE

 
line

Jillian Weise on "Semi Semi Dash"

Usually it goes like this: Able-bodied poet evokes disabled veteran, or friend in some accident/illness, or figurative language thereof. We recognize these poems and we feel bad. We have been reading these poems since the Bible. It has gotten a little ridiculous, lately, with poems that use amputation as metaphor for Fragmentation or the Dead Father or Pick-Your-Sadness. MORE

 
line

On Anne Bradstreet

I have always been attracted to double-mindedness, to art that appears to think, rather than to assert.  As a reader, I am suspended in ambivalence, in feeling strongly in multiple, conflicting directions.  For the poets I admire, death is hideous and transcendent.  God is enormous, terrifying, beautiful, and non-existent at once. This is to say that my favorite poems—and, I'd argue, most great poems—suggest minds at work on unsolvable problems. MORE

 
line

Mary Ann Caws on Pierre Reverdy

Pierre Reverdy is among the greatest of modern French poets, and certainly among the most elusive. His work is at once impersonal and intimate, crystalline and opaque, simple to the point of austerity. The landscape of his poetry is both instantly recognizable and, devoid of local specificity, imbued with an otherworldly strangeness. He is "a secret poet for secret readers," as Octavio Paz once described him, insisting on the necessity of parsing the silence, the empty spaces between what seems visible in the lines of his poems. Each feels like a fragment of a universe, and yet whole. MORE

 
line

Yona Harvey on "Schottelkotte"

"They used to call him 'Blood and Guts Al,'" my father says about the newscaster who haunted my Cincinnati childhood, Al Schottelkotte.  We're in my parents' living room, the day after my poetry reading at the University of Cincinnati.  My father tells me this bit of information, though, after my first book, Hemming the Water, has been published, after my mother asks why I wrote this poem.  "Artistic" and "domestic" lives mingle.  In truth, there's no separation; only one brain, one life, and that's how I've learned to write my poems. MORE

 
line

Garrett Caples on Philip Lamantia

When we were working on the just-published Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia (University of California, 2013), Andrew Joron and I visited Michael McClure to talk about their friendship at the turn of the '60s.  And we were both forcibly struck by McClure's remark, apropos the readers at the famous Six Gallery reading in 1955, "We all looked to Philip," pointing out that, going into the event—aside from Kenneth Rexroth, the evening's emcee—Lamantia was by far the most famous and experienced poet, the only one with a book (Erotic Poems [Bern Porter, 1946]), not to mention extensive magazine and journal publication, from View in the early '40s to the New Directions annual in the early '50s.  MORE

 
line

On the Vulgate Bible

I sang in Latin almost every Sunday for two years before I knew what any of the words meant.

Ecclesiastical Latin (then Classical, then Medieval) taught me compression in a way that was at first mysterious. I believe I loved the words more before I knew what they meant, when I was a chorister with vague sentiments and excellent pronunciation. Then, after Latin became my primary course of study in college, I came to love the liturgy as one comes again to love in a long marriage, after you know what all the words mean. MORE

 
line

On John Donne

When a friend asked me the other day, Who was the poet you first fell in love with? I had to pause a moment. Poetry meant very little to me when I was young. I loved getting lost in novels; I learned how to think by reading and acting in plays.  And thinking, especially when tethered to feeling, was fun. But poems weren't yet alive for me; I didn't know what to do with them. Until, that is, I encountered the poems of John Donne. MORE

 
line

On Basho

Sometimes the world feels weighty to us, like Atlas' burden, sometimes almost lark-light, unbearably sweet; Basho, the peripatetic 17th century Japanese poet, had a knack for distilling, in terse language, our seemingly contradictory sense of the world as onus and the world as gift. MORE

 
line

On Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass

I could drop my finger anywhere in Leaves of Grass—preferably the 1860 edition, less formless than the giddy first, far less bloated or smoothed over than the mighty last—and find a concrete reminder, when I need one, which I often do, of why I've bent my life around poetry, a practice which, in an off minute, when life is grinding down upon me with too many of its ugly knuckles, can seem needlessly indulgent, if not ridiculous. MORE

 
line

Adrian Matejka On “The Shadow Knows”

Jack Johnson, the first African American heavyweight champion, was one of the greatest mythmakers of the early 20th century. His skill in the ring and personality out of it were so outsized that almost anything he claimed seemed possible. When he said he hoboed from Galveston to New York City alone at age 12, everyone believed him. When he said he fought a 25-foot shark with nothing but his fists, no one questioned it. MORE

 
 

Upcoming Events

 

Library of Congress National Book Festival featuring the Poetry & Prose Pavillion

Saturday, Sep 5, 10:00am

Washington DC

This year's free festival features more than 150 authors, poets, and illustrators. Including Kevin Young, Marilyn Chin, Claudia Rankine, and Ishmael Reed.   MORE
 

POETRY FOR EVERY SEASON: OCTAVIO PAZ POETRY WALK

Saturday, Sep 19, 2:00pm

Bronx, NY

The New York Botanical Garden's blockbuster exhibition Frida Kahlo's Garden is the first to examine Frida Kahlo's keen appreciation for the beauty and variety of the natural world, as evidenced by her home and garden as well as the complex use of plant imagery in her artwork. Featuring a rare display of more than a dozen original Kahlo paintings and works on paper, this limited six-month engagement also reimagines the iconic artist's famed garden and studio at the Casa Azul, her lifelong home in Mexico City. MORE
 

BROOKLYN BOOK FESTIVAL

Sunday, Sep 20, 10:00am

Brooklyn, NY

The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City, presenting an array of literary stars and emerging authors who represent the exciting world of literature today. One of America's premier book festivals, this hip, smart, diverse gathering attracts thousands of book lovers of all ages. Poets participating this year include Elizabeth Alexander, Tina Chang, Nick Flynn, Marie Howe, Saeed Jones, Ada Limón, Cate Marvin, Eileen Myles, Gregory Pardlo, Tracy K. Smith, and Jean Valentine. MORE