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The Editors on Radar

Radar was born over a bottle of Prosecco and an order of General Tso's tofu in Princeton, New Jersey in the summer of 2013. At the dining room table, we began to map the project by instinct, acting on our own wish lists as readers of journals and on our shared vision as editors and poets. (We are fortunate that Rachel is a freelance web designer and could take on the technical aspects of the work.)  We started from scratch, without referencing other journals or websites. MORE

 
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Luke Bloomfield on "White Sky"

I got obsessed with China. I used to live in Beijing, population 21 million. When I arrived I didn't speak Chinese, didn't understand it, and the city was alarmingly, indigestibly verbal. If not for a small group of expats who welcomed me into their world and gave me some sense of regularity I wouldn't have lasted long. MORE

 
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Rodney Koeneke on "I Should Feel Happy"

I work at a big state university: cement parking structures, orange construction mesh, scuffed stairwells that lead to halls where the clocks tell different times. Near campus there's a bubble tea place run by a friendly Asian couple. One day someone taped a piece of college-ruled paper to the wall with the question, "How Do You Feel?" written in ballpoint pen across the top. MORE

 
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J. Hope Stein on Poetry Crush

I tend to read poetry in 10-25 page increments in one sitting.  It's how I best digest the work of a poet. Similarly, in my own writing, I tend to think in 10-20 page increments. So, the length of a chapbook is my most natural unit of giving and receiving poetry. MORE

 
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Mike Young on Magic Helicopter Press

Though I was never into comic books as a kid, I was into handmade zines and other staplebound ephemera. I actually think an ancestor of my interest in chapbooks was my teenage interest in the booklets that came with my music and PC game CDs. The good ones made the effort to pack in lyrics (CDs) or weird backstories (games), and the best ones recognized the opportunity for interesting design choices in the booklet itself.  MORE

 
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Stephanie Anderson on Projective Industries

The first chapbook I can remember seeing was Genya Turovskaya's Calendar (Ugly Duckling Presse), in 2003, at City Lights. I was alone upstairs, and I think I sat down on the floor and read it there in the bookstore.  I thought it was the most beautiful book I'd ever seen. But after that, my history with chapbooks begins in a desire for publication. In 2006, having seen very few examples of chapbooks, I submitted to and won the New Michigan Press/DIAGRAM chapbook contest.  MORE

 
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Sara Nicholson on "The Art of Symmetry"

When I think of this poem, I think of Math.  I mean "Math uab Mathonwy," the fourth branch of the collection of Middle Welsh prose stories known as the Mabinogion. I wrote this poem after reading it. MORE

 
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Krystal Languell on Belladonna*

As a graduate student at NMSU and an intern at Noemi Press in 2009, I first learned about chapbooks through Noemi's publishing catalogue. On the floor of the Puerto del Sol office I stapled Sarah Veglahn's Closed Histories and Rebecca Bednarz's Camera Obscura. I discovered Belladonna* when Carmen Giménez Smith (publisher of Noemi and my MFA thesis advisor) assigned Lila Zemborain's full-length book Mauve Sea-Orchids, and Belladonna* sent me some chaplets as a bonus. Also around this time I found out (through 2009's AWP?) about Ugly Duckling Presse, and got Dodie Bellamy's Barf ManifestoMORE

 
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Adam Robinson on Publishing Genius

When I was in high school I was very interested in Christian heavy metal. There was a band called Rez, or "The Resurrection Band," very hippy, whose frontman published book of poems. I sent off for a copy—through the mail, I think, this was certainly pre-Internet— and when it came I was surprised to see it was made of paper, folded in half, with a thick cover and bound with twine. I thought, Hey, I could do that.  MORE

 
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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

 
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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

 
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Cynthia Lowen on "Hibakusha"

This poem is one of three in The Cloud That Contained the Lightning that share the title "Hibakusha," which is a Japanese word translating to explosion-affected people. It is used in Japan to refer to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. MORE

 
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John Deming on Coldfront

Coldfront actually started as a poem-a-day blog with some friends when we were working on MFA's at the New School. In January 2006, Melinda Wilson, Graeme Bezanson and I talked about making it into a sort of news magazine for poetry, or a poetry magazine that didn't actually publish poems…I came from a newspaper background, and we thought it would be productive to try to "cover" poetry in a way that it was not being covered. MORE

 
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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

 
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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

 
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Naomi Washer on Ghost Proposal

Ghost Proposal was conceived of in May 2012 by myself and poet Zachary Green. I'd been his editor for another journal, which sparked a longer correspondence between us. We shared our own work and discussed our ideas of contemporary writing and publishing (you can read more about GP's beginnings here). We finally met and began the conversation about creating a journal just days before we both made geographic changes in our lives. MORE

 
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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

 
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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

 
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Sara Mumolo on "The Called Back Wreck of Things"

I wrote the first draft of this poem in a third floor studio apartment in Mexico City. An aging architect owned the building, and his office stood adjacent to the three-story home, an office comprised of glass. His own Philip Johnson's glass house. MORE

 
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Two books, two gallery shows, and a talk about Jess

The artist Jess (1923-2004), born Burgess Collins in Long Beach, California, abandoned his surname and his training as a scientist in 1949 and enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts. He met Robert Duncan in 1950 and began a relationship with the poet that lasted thirty-eight years until Duncan's death in 1988. Together, the two of them became key generators of the Bay Area art and poetry scenes of the 50's, 60s, and 70s.  MORE

 
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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

 
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Natalie Shapero on "Flags and Axes"

My friend was at work when a visitor to the building began to cough up blood. Medical help came quickly with no heroic measures needed, but the whole situation prompted a what if conversation among my friend's colleagues about deficiencies in their office emergency kit, which failed to contain a particular kind of transparent mask. MORE

 
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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

 
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Jessica Baran on "On Dissonance"

"On Dissonance" is a sequence of prose poems from the second section of my second book, Equivalents, the title of which I borrowed from a series of photographs by Alfred Stieglitz. His Equivalents—all several hundred of them shot between 1922 and 1935—are wallet-sized, black-and-white silver gelatin prints of the sky that are now considered the first abstract photography. MORE

 
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On Gerard Manley Hopkins' “Spelt From Sibyl’s Leaves”

In our particular, peculiar time, is the end of the world evernot in the surround?  We hear increasingly of the fierce consequences our environmental damage has done to the planet, the storms, wars, starvations and financial challenges that seem unlikely to abate.  MORE

 
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DJ Dolack on "NYC Postcards (In Dollhouse Leather Jackets)"

At readings, I usually introduce this poem as 'my love letter to New York City.' And while there's certainly a vein of sarcasm that runs through that comment, there is also a real earnestness that drives the poem. I think both represent the broad catalogue of emotions one can tangle with during a simple stroll in New York City on any given afternoon. MORE

 
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Sally Delehant on "It's Always Something"

My mother died on Easter morning of 2007 when I was 22-years-old. Just weeks prior to this event, I'd been accepted to Saint Mary's MFA program in poetry. I spent the summer in Omaha, Nebraska cleaning out our family's house, which felt like closing a wound that kept reopening. Many nights I'd end up sitting on a closet floor reading her books, trying on her jewelry, or just living in the smell her clothes. Ultimately, I ended up donating almost everything.  MORE

 
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Cole Heinowitz on the poetry of Mario Santiago Papasquiaro

Mario Santiago Papasquiaro is the pseudonym of José Alfredo Zendejas Pineda, the poet immortalized as Ulises Lima in Roberto Bolaño's novel The Savage Detectives. Born in Mexico City in 1953, Santiago came of age during a period of acute political repression, artistic censorship, and violations of academic autonomy that culminated in the 1968 Tlatelolco Massacre, in which hundreds of student protesters and bystanders were killed and injured, and over a thousand were arrested.  MORE

 
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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

 
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Jackie Clark on "I Live Here Now"

All of the poems in the I Live Here Now section of Aphoria (which first appeared as a chapbook from Lame House Press) are untitled and appear with only a symbol of (  ) at the beginning of each poem. They appear this way because they are all a part of a quasi-linear thought process, or thought movement, with a focused concern on physical and emotional orientation, the way the body and mind moves through the world and how it relates (or doesn't) to its surrounding. MORE

 
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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

 
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The Editors on Fou

MFA programs are, by nature, fertile grounds for ideas and behavior of a dubious and self-satisfying nature—thus slithered Fou out of the fetid swamp of workshops and after-class drinks some stiff night 2008. Although there was and is no shortage of journals online and in print bedazzling the poetry demimonde with their own peculiar shades of sparkle, we, like so many dyspeptic dictators and mental ward inhabitants before us, believed it should be our particular voice ringing out loud from the rostrum, its speaker all bedecked in ridiculous martial costume, making unwholesome gesticulations with its extremities and wearing a smeared rictus of delight on its face. MORE

 
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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

 
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Katie Peterson on "Spring"

The same poem can serve several purposes. At my most single-minded, I began to understand this, against my will, in the years after my mother left the earth on May 22nd, 2008. For a time (and I'm not sure whether this time has actually ended, or will ever end) everything that felt like poetry also naturally resembled mourning. But poetry attaches itself to the present moment, and the present moment quickly became full of other sensations.  MORE

 
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Brian Teare on Albion Books

To talk about my interest in chapbooks, I have to talk about my love of printing done on the letterpress, because I have always associated the two. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Alabama, there was a lot of fine letterpress work being done, though I didn't know until later it was because the library housed a rigorous and well-respected book arts program. MORE

 
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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

 
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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

 
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Kiki Petrosino on "This Woman's Face is Your Future"

This poem began with its title, which emerged for me in the last few moments of a dream. The whole sentence surfaced at once, like a seashell revealed at low tide. My dream, as I remember, was an anxious one. I had to assemble an object composed of tiny, elaborate parts—screws and gaskets, a loose pile of flat washers that, maliciously, began to disappear when I grasped them.  MORE

 
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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

 
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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

 
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On Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

There is a fly buzzing around my head right now. The sound it's making is all I can focus on while I write this. I look at the page; I hear the fly. I hear the fly; I look at the page. It's not how I intended to write, with a tiny winged beast dive-bombing my brain, but it makes me think about sound. The obsession of poets; the sounds we grind into our papers. The crazy fly of sound in the ear, the addicting earworm of a poem, has always been a weird and intense obsession for me. MORE

 
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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

 
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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

 

THE VOICE OF WOMEN IN AMERICAN POETRY with Toi Derricotte, Marilyn Chin, and Percival Everett

Thursday, Apr 24, 7:00pm

Los Angeles, CA

The PSA's 2014 National Series pays tribute to the immense achievement of a wide range of poets, from Phillis Wheatley to Adrienne Rich, Ai, June Jordan, and Wanda Coleman. MORE
 

Poetry in Motion Springfest at Grand Central 11am-6pm

Sat-Sun, Apr 26-27

New York, NY

Please join MTA Arts for Transit & Urban Design and the Poetry Society of America for a two-day poetry festival Poetry in Motion Springfest on April 26 and 27.  Held in Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall from 11am to 6pm, the celebration will feature poetry activities for people of all ages, including call-and-response recitations, a booth where the public can receive personalized poems, a writing station for young people(space is limited; RSVP required; www.nycharities.org), art projections by Gabriel Barcia-Colombo, interactive poetry installations and more. New York State Poet Laureate Marie Howe, Brooklyn Poet Laureate Tina Chang, Bob Holman, and others will participate.   MORE
 

JIMMY'S BLUES: THE POETRY OF JAMES BALDWIN

Saturday, Apr 26, 5:30pm

New York, NY

As part of NYLA's week-long festival The Year of James Baldwin, this poetry event will feature conversations about and readings from Badlwin's only book of poems, Jimmy's Blues and Other Poems (Beacon), with renowned poets Nikky Finney, Edward Hirsch, Yusef Komunyakaa, Ed Pavlic, Nathalie Handal, and Meghan O'Rourke. MORE
 
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