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Jennifer Kronovet on "The Future of Writing in English"

I picture Charles K. Bliss, the inventor of a language, listening to Goebbels's speeches over loudspeakers in Dachau and then in Buchenwald. He heard this: how Goebbels drew from beloved poems and phrases inside German to tell lies to make his dream of Germany true. But then I turn the picture in my brain off. No matter how many books I read about the camps, how many photos I see, I know that imagining myself completely inside that particular horror is a lie. MORE

 
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Eloisa Amezcua on The Shallow Ends

Originally, during the summer of 2016, a friend and I had the idea of creating a website where three of our favorite things would collide: poetry, fashion, and visual art. I went ahead and bought the domain name for The Shallow Ends, but as we're both extremely busy (poets with full-time day jobs), we realized that we'd taken on too much. I thought about what I could do with the domain name and the idea of creating a space that publishes one poet, one poem, every week seemed feasible enough to tackle on my own. MORE

 
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Dana Levin on "Fortune Cookie"

I'm about to devote a host of words to this two-year old prismatic scrap—it's Nov. 12, 2016, and death is once again on my mind.

Check the date if you need to, future persons. Present persons, idling ghosts—

Day 4.

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Paisley Rekdal on "When It Is Over it Will Be Over"

My poem "When it is Over, it Will be Over" takes its title from a pen-and-ink drawing by the artist Troy Passey of a line from Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "Endings." I came across Passey's drawing five years ago while in Boise, where the Boise Art Museum had a show up of Passey's art. MORE

 
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Mike Lala on "Lydia"

In early 2013, I was taking a class with Rachel Zucker at NYU in which one of the assignments was to visit the exhibition Matisse: In Search of True Painting at the Metropolitan Museum—a show that included studies and drafts for what we've come to know as some of the artist's definitive paintings alongside those definitive works, often revealing changes in color, pose, small figurative elements, and even macro pictorial-compositional qualities.  MORE

 
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Beth Bachmann on "wild"

"Wild" began with two deer fighting to breed. Sometimes, deer lock antlers during a fight and being stuck truly together, head to head, die of starvation. MORE

 
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Ali Power on A Poem for Record Keepers

I started writing A Poem for Record Keepers in February 2013. I found myself writing these seven line poems. I wish I could say from where they came, but they just happened. I wrote a couple. Then I wrote a couple more imitating myself. I started each line with a capital letter and ended each line with a period (it was liberating!). I was keeping a record. MORE

 
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Joshua Corey on "Trying to Translate Ponge"

My Ponge translation project began as it were inadvertently, on social media, where very occasionally an ephemeral suggestion sticks around long enough to become compost and feed something green. I said on Facebook that someone ought to do a new translation of Francis Ponge's first book, given all the interest lately grouped under such filiations as "the new materialism," "object-oriented ontology," "thing theory," "actor-network theory," "hyperobjets." Why not you?  MORE

 
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Daniel Borzutzky on “Lake Michigan Merges Into The Bay of Valparaiso, Chile”

"We are beings made for death…because the reasons each of us will die are always expressed in the most distant of languages, in an untranslatable language."  These words were stated by Raúl Zurita in a talk he gave as part of a panel presentation with Anna Deeny, Valerie Mejer Caso and myself at the AWP in Boston 2013 (our talks were later published in Mandorla: New Writings of the Americas). MORE

 
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Sarah V. Schweig On "Contingencies"

But I do think "Contingencies" manages to speak from that stunned empty-­place, where fear and tenuousness is so persistent and pervasive it works as anesthetic. This is not a place where poetry easily lives. One feels no pain in this place. One feels nothing at all.  MORE

 
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Darren Jackson on Translating Michaux’s “The Sack Session”

Even though "The Sack Session" is one of a handful of previously translated poems from Life in the Folds, it still presented one of the greatest challenges for me, and remains one of my personal favorites.  MORE

 
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Two Seas: A Short Interview with Chinese Poet and Theater Scenographer Yi Lu

The books in my library—read or yet to be all read—are all great titles. For example, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Dante's Divina Commedia, Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu, Victor Hugo's Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, Jorges Luis Borges, Kahlil Gibran, Günter Grass, V. S. Naipaul, Italo Calvino, Rainer Maria Rilke . . . not to mention the various Chinese ancient and contemporary classics.     MORE

 
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Tommy Pico on an excerpt from "IRL"

It was the summer and I was reading The White Goddess by Robert Graves (mostly to get sleepy) and thinking a lot about my competing desires to go to the beach or the river or a rooftop, vs needing to be alone to write this book.  MORE

 
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Thomas Dooley on "St. Gertrude's"

Trespass is a book of places. Many of the poems begin in simple suburban settings—a city park, a kitchen, outside a church, a cemetery—but then, by virtue of the poem, become theatres to stage the scenes of an extended family drama. MORE

 
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Montana Ray on "(soulville)"

And do you hear my prayer, Lord? It is always to be less exuberant. I have always been too exuberant to artfully fry an egg.    MORE

 
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Sylvia Legris On "A Skull Sectioned, c. 1489"

"A Skull Sectioned," one of a series of poems in The Hideous Hidden written in response to Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings and notebooks, is in the second section of the book, "Midwinter the Cut-time." During the Renaissance, dissections or studies of cadavers were conducted during cold weather—and quickly. Without refrigeration a body decomposed almost faster than it could be cut into. MORE

 
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Chloe Garcia Roberts on Li Shangyin

One of my ongoing projects has been the work of the late-Tang era Chinese poet Li Shangyin, and during this time I came upon a cache of poems by him on the subject of writing, of which the above are two. Like his other poems, these poems depict the twinning of grief and hope, wanting and loss, but more concretely they are about the disillusionment of being a poet MORE

 
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Anselm Berrigan on "...official sustainable wobble provider..."

This one's about fourteen poems from the back. I had to get the press to send me a copy. I only have books, and the notebook the poems were written in. This version is really just a version – the screen can't hack the form. The book can't really hack it either. It's a great form to write into, the-line-at-the-edge-of-the-page-that-goes-all-the-way-around – it leaves you with no end and no beginning, a loop with corners, an illusion of empty space inside, an immediate apparent velocity that doesn't have to be obeyed, and nothing for explanation to leech. MORE

 
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Kathleen Rooney on René Magritte's Selected Writings

When he was young, René Magritte tried his hand at being an author, drafting detective novels as "Renghis", a pseudonym created through the combination of his first and middle names: "René" and "Ghislain". MORE

 
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Dream Delivery Service: An Interview with Mathias Svalina

In 2014 I started a Dream Delivery Service. I take about forty subscribers a month then write & deliver dream poems to them every day. I write the dreams from my imagination. Every day I try to write a unique dream for each subscriber, though I often fall short. For subscribers within a four-mile radius of my home base I deliver the dreams to their doors, biking through the empty city before dawn. MORE

 
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Interview with Peter Conners

I first met Peter Conners at a student poetry reading on the Potsdam College campus back in 1989. Tall and dreadlocked, he had a warm smile and laid-back demeanor, though his eyes sparkled when he spoke about poetry. He was enthusiastic about the work of his peers and even recited a line from a poem I read at a previous event a few months earlier. That was almost thirty years ago, but, minus the dreadlocks, little has changed. Peter Conners remains one of the most generous and energetic advocate of poets and poetry in America.  MORE

 
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Jana Prikryl on "Benvenuto Tisi’s Vestal Virgin Claudia Quinta Pulling a Boat with the Statue of Cybele"

Visiting museums in Rome a few years ago, I was surprised by how much of the post-Renaissance art—because there was just such an amazing quantity of it—was bad. Piles of awful eighteenth-century portraits, lots of minor paintings from major periods. But seeing this kind of work was strangely stimulating (giving glimpses of creative activity you don't see at, say, the Metropolitan Museum), and when I came across Benvenuto Tisi's scene of an obscure classical episode I stopped short and stared at it for a long time and returned to it over several visits. MORE

 
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Megan Levad on "Auto Tune"

When I was in the final stages of editing Why We Live in the Dark Ages, a collection of poems about how we talk about science, history, and culture, Jeffrey Schultz, among other dear friends, had a look at the book. MORE

 
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Lo Kwa Mei-en on "Aubade for Non-Citizens"

This poem used to have an epigraph: "Exploring the solar system as a united humanity will bring us all closer together."

This comes from the mission statement of Mars One, a non-profit foundation that aims to establish the first human colony on Mars by the mid-2020's. When I first became aware of the Mars One marketing campaign, my emotional response included incredulous wonder, to be sure, but also anger and fear. MORE

 
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Nina Puro on "Prescription"

For me, "writing" is mostly scowling at what'll be left on the threshing-room floor: failed attempts to smooth out the insurrection. It's not cathartic or even particularly pleasurable. When it's going well, the scraps are about to coalesce into comprehensible piles. MORE

 
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Douglas Crase on the poems of Donald Britton

The appearance in print of the selected poems of Donald Britton is an affront to cynicism and a triumph over fate. When Donald died, in 1994, it was sadly reasonable to assume that the influence of his poetry would be confined to the few who had preserved a copy of his single book, the slender, deceptively titled Italy, published thirteen years earlier. As the few became fewer it seemed all but certain the audience for his poems would disappear. MORE

 
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Leora Fridman on "Grown to Covet"

In this political climate, I've notice how easy it is to define oneself in opposition to another, and "Grown to Covet," dips into my ambivalence toward the relationship between politics and ego. I want to remain human in my politics, and not get lazy by taking on simple popular rhetoric or preconceived sets of beliefs.  MORE

 
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Ye Chun on Hai Zi's "Sonnet: Night Moon"

This is one of my favorite Hai Zi poems. Its folkloric simplicity, startling imagery, its fine balance between mystery and clarity, emotional openness and restraint are among the qualities that compelled me to translate Hai Zi's work in the first place. MORE

 
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Tess Taylor on "Field Report: April"

Today before sitting down to write about the poems in Work & Days I was out in the garden, by which I mean basically the whole space around our house. We have tomatoes and kale and fennel and favas in garden boxes out front, artichokes on the sidewalk median strip, lemons, potatoes, rhubarb and figs in the back. It is California, says my husband. The landscape should be edible. MORE

 
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Cecily Parks on "The Hospital at the End of the Forest"

A few years ago, my partner and I spent a month volunteering at Hospital San Carlos, a rural hospital in Chiapas, Mexico. A medical student at the time, my partner saw patients both in the hospital and in the indigenous communities in the surrounding jungle that were reachable only by foot. I spent my time helping Lupita, one of the elderly nuns who ran the hospital, write grants for new hospital beds, stethoscopes, ultrasound Dopplers, and other medical equipment. MORE

 
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EIGHT NEW-GENERATION AFRICAN POETS

The African Poetry Book Fund is a project  that seeks to undermine the easy ways of reducing Africa to notions that do not recognize the complexity and variety of experiences and practices that constitute poetry written by Africans. In many ways, it would be tempting to try to offer some definitive statement about what African poetry is, but this would be a silly thing to attempt, and, at the end of the day, such exercises belong to our colleagues in academia and not to us in our capacity as editors.  MORE

 
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Kenji C. Liu on “So that you are always sir, dear sir”

The 2014 mass kidnapping and murder of 43 teachers' college students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico brought renewed international attention to the ongoing precariousness of life under the country's dirty war, its "narco-politics." Sadly, many of us in the United States usually know very little about what's happening in other countries, even though our tax dollars are often directly connected. Money, the quiet fascia of state violences. How easy it can be to be gently seduced by USAmerican comfort and privilege. MORE

 
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Kyle Dargan on "Fool's Therapy"

As I mention in the author's note for Honest Engine, I wrote this book while wading through a torrent of bereavement that started with my grandmother's passing and ending with my college roommate being negligently run over by vehicles involved in a police chase. MORE

 
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Niina Pollari on "Do You Feel Tenderness"

When I was a young kid, I had to take a school physical. My mother came in with me, and the errand was supposed to be quick, but I refused to undress. The doctor and my mother didn't force me to do anything,  MORE

 
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Barbara Claire Freeman on "Every Day But Tuesday"

The title comes from teaching a poetry workshop at UC Berkeley during the Occupy movement. The class met late on Tuesday afternoons and its beginning coincided with the arrival of media helicopters circling and re-circling overhead, hosing the campus in spotlights to be televised on the nightly news.  MORE

 
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Claire Donato on "The Second Body"


1. I don't normally close read my skin.

2. My first impulse is to close read the poem. MORE

 
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Ginger Ko on "The afternoon, and other places too"

This poem was written with some anger, during a time when all my poems were rebuttals to anticipated put-downs and critiques, especially the ones scaffolded by racism and misogyny. I was getting frustrated with my writing and my voice, feeling suffocated by an ingested, self-reproducing colonization in my bloodstream.  MORE

 
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Meghan Privitello on "The Problem is How"

There are poems that answer questions, and there are poems that take you further into the question without any hope for an exit, an exhale, a reckoning. This is a poem without hope of finding its way out. MORE

 
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Khaty Xiong on "Pork Rinds, Watered Rice"

Born and raised in the Central Valley of California, I spent many sweltering summers picking vegetables with my parents; for years it had been one of the main sources of income for our family. We'd go to other people's farms (mostly relatives) and pick green beans or Thai chilies, hauling buckets and boxes from dawn to dusk MORE

 
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Laura Sims on "Staying Alive"

I'm always drawn to contemplating extreme states—of being and mind—and the post-apocalyptic world offers instant access to extremity. For those of us on Earth who don't already know poverty, hunger and habitual discomfort, an apocalypse could mean a complete overthrow of the comfortable life we know now, one that reduces us to our most basic skills and instincts. MORE

 
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Patrick Rosal on "Ars Poetica: After a Dog"

"Ars Poetica: After a Dog" is a parable about sound. I imagine there are many readers who miss the primary prosodic constraint of this poem—the strict decasyllabic line. Let me come back to this. MORE

 
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Amanda Nadelberg on "The Victory Portfolios"

I am forever mishearing and misreading surroundings, it's how I edit (others and myself), it's how I practice living and tell jokes and in this small suite I let the method be clearer, I showed my work. Humor is that tracking. Palimpsests are proof of that work. MORE

 
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Jay Deshpande on “To Body What’s Around Me”

"To Body What's Around Me" is a love poem with a problem: it does not clarify who the You of its address is. At moments it feels like a beloved other: "These are the days in which you come to me…" But at other moments that You is not quite human, not quite beloved. MORE

 
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Jynne Dilling Martin on "Out of Whose Womb Came the Ice?"

During my stay in Antarctica, I met a woman who'd spent several years teaching Yup'ik children in Alaska. Joolee told me how baffling the Common Core curriculum had been for the elementary school kids: they had no reference point for a cow, a lawn mower, a grandfather clock. MORE

 
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On George Oppen's "Of Being Numerous"

I was 23 and self-effacing, my hair in a tight bun, when I read these lines, out of George Oppen's Of Being Numerous. I read them on my hour or so ride on the Q train, when I went to teach Brighton Beach community college students who had failed their basic reading and writing exam. That season, in which one of my students left obscene phrases on torn pieces of paper on my desk, I tried to teach poetry to him and the others and sometimes succeeded. MORE

 
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Abdul Ali on "Holy"

This poem began as an ars poetica. A glorified play on words. I wanted to riff about words and how they haunt us in our sleep. Or, better yet, when a poem writes you. What is the responsibility of the both-eyes-wide-open poet? How do we access freedom in language in discussing topics many audiences would rather not hear about, such as racialized violence? MORE

 
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Monica Fambrough on "Request"


When I wrote this poem, I lived in a narrow house perched at the top of a hill in the Leschi neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. I was a newlywed, and it was an extraordinarily hopeful place to live.  MORE

 
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A Selection of Marcel Broodthaers's Poetry

The artist and poet Marcel Broodthaers (1924-1976) is the subject of a major retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, February 11 – May 15, 2016, the artist's first museum retrospective in New York. Coinciding with this retrospective Siglio press has recently published a stunning volume containing two of Broodthaers's books of poetry translated from the French by Elizabeth Zuba and Maria Gilissen Broodthaers.  MORE

 
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Kimberly Grey on "Wound! Out from Behind Two Crouching Masses of the World the Word Leapt"

"The things you think of to link are not in your own control. It's just who you are, bumping into the world. But how you link them is what shows the nature of your mind. Individuality resides in the way links are made." Anne Carson said this. I'm interested in the relationship between language and the mind. And so the mind's relationship to meaning. MORE

 
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Andrew Davis on Osip Mandelstam's Voronezh Notebooks

This section is the turning point of Osip Mandelstam's long poem Voronezh Notebooks, the Continental Divide from which the waters of the poem descend, imperceptibly at first, but ineluctably, in opposed directions. On the one side a reflexive, desperate assertion of his old prerogatives as a poet, now impossible; on the other a sort of acceptance, and an eerie contemplation of the future. MORE

 
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Derrick Austin on “Blaxploitation”

"Blaxploitation" begins with an episode of Taxicab Confessions. Visiting home from college, I caught this particular episode one sleepless night: two black gay men talking about fraught and humiliating sexual encounters they'd had with white men.  MORE

 
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Fiona Sze-Lorrain on "Towering"

I have always been intrigued by ancient Greek cosmological views, in particular the apeiron.  In a cosmic infinity, what exists at random and what survives by error?  Is the idea of a cosmic infinity still relevant to a human sense of self—can it help us to confront our present-day violence? MORE

 
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Michael Robins on "Pseudonymously Yours"

In April 2010, I write and exchange a daily poem with Adam Clay. Often the poems are quick and sent before the day's responsibilities; other days are fits and starts, culminating in an email sent minutes before midnight. Weeks are no luxury, nor the shaping of multiple drafts. April spills forward and poetry becomes a serious addiction. MORE

 
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Ben Fama on "Conscripts of Modernity"

Poetry is a losing context.

The shooting at my college was in 2007. I tried to write about it for years after in a subjective, direct way, and failed. In 2011 my workplace held a workshop—Active Shooting Training. Making notes, reminding myself how to survive, on a campus in a lecture room at a much different place and time, hearing the sort of matter of fact instruction that confronted a new gruesome reality was the only slant, cold, way I could approach the topic, so I just transcribed it. That language indicates more about the experience than any more direct attempts I had been making. MORE

 
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Alissa Quart on "Palm Springs At the End of the Mind"

It was the time of the fiercest battles in Iraq, the early days of the forever war. All around us, there was a new language— "homeland," "Operation Iraqi Freedom," an argot of fear pouring out of television anchors and sometimes even our public intellectuals, turned overnight into macho men on death drive.  MORE

 
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Margaret Ross on "A Timeshare"

When I think of the soul, I think of furniture. The two occupy a similar place in life, so domestic as to be mostly ignored and thereby capable of seeming totally surprising and alien when looked at closely. MORE

 
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Lia Purpura on "Belief"

The poems in my new collection It Shouldn't Have Been Beautifulshare a common way of entering the world: most were struck into being by a charged phrase or moment, a zap of understanding—and the desire to leave the "I" behind as much as possible and to be on stage only very briefly. MORE

 
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Sandra Simonds on "I Grade Online Humanities Tests"

This poem is about a bourgeois woman caught between two men: one, the uneducated mechanic she is having an affair with and the other, the educated father of her children. This poem is about a woman who wants to find a man who would make her feel anonymous, outside of her personal history, outside of her education, outside of her marriage and profession. MORE

 
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Kit Schluter on Jaime Saenz's The Cold

The following poems are the first two sections from Bolivian poet Jaime Saenz's 9-part 1967 long poem, El frío, as translated from the Spanish by Kit Schluter under the title of The Cold, and recently published by Poor Claudia. The subsequent prose excerpt is the final two paragraphs of Schluter's afterword to the translation, written in direct and intimate address of Saenz himself, over thresholds of distance, language, and mortality. MORE

 
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Hilary Vaughn Dobel on translating Carlos Pintado's "Mudras"

I am a poet; I am a translator. It is something else entirely to be both of those things at once, which is why I initially (and forcefully) resisted translating poetry. When I look at my English-language version of "Mudras" from Carlos Pintado's wonderful book, Nine Coins, it's hard to see past the music of the original and the imperfections of my own. MORE

 
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Anne Boyer on "Science Fiction”

There is so much missing here. First, it might be important to tell you that this poem was once a novel. The novel is now missing, of course, and the missing novel begins with this missing quote by Hannah Arendt: "the freedom to call something into being, which did not exist before, which was not given, not even as an object of cognition or imagination, and which, therefore, strictly speaking, could not be known." MORE

 
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EIGHT NEW-GENERATION AFRICAN POETS

The plan is simple, as publishing plans go. Publish seven to ten chapbooks by African poets each year. Promote said chapbooks. In ten years there will be seventy to one hundred chapbooks by African poets that might not have existed before. Oh, and make sure the work is first-rate, representative, and new. This plan only works if there are seven to ten really gifted African poets who have not yet had a major publication. MORE

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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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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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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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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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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

 
 

Upcoming Events

 

EMILY DICKINSON TRIBUTE TRACY K. SMITH with Dr. David DeVorkin

Monday, Dec 12, 7:30pm

Washington D.C.

In our annual celebration of Emily Dickinson's birthday, award-winning poet Tracy K. Smith reads Dickinson's work and discusses the great significance of her legacy. MORE
 

2016 NATIONAL SERIES: POETRY AND THE NATURAL WORLD with Natalie Diaz, Ross Gay, & Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Thursday, Dec 15, 7:00pm

New York, NY

The Poetry Society of America's current national series, Poetry and the Natural World, will travel to five cities and focus on poems and poets from any era that are in conversation with, or are inspired by, nature. In this second installment, we'll hear from Natalie Diaz, Ross Gay, & Aimee Nezhukumatathil. MORE
 

The PSA Readings at McNally Jacskon: Joshua Bennett and Jennifer Kronovet

Tuesday, Jan 10, 7:00pm

New York, NY

Dr. Joshua Bennett is the author of The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016). He holds a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and an M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar. Winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series, Bennett has received fellowships from the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Cave Canem, the Josephine de Karman Fellowship Trust, and the Ford Foundation. His writing has been published or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Callaloo, The Kenyon Review, Poetry and elsewhere. He is currently a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. MORE