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My Poetry Picks for 2013 December 18, 2013: These five books got under my skin. They are not books you read once with admiration but that later end up in your basement. They are also not new books in the conventional sense, except for Kate Greenstreet’s Young Tambling, which is about an old ballad and so plays off a song sung long before this year. The rest of these books came [...] by

The Prose Poem as Mysterious Man with an Accent April 26, 2013: Like many immigrants, the prose poem arrived in the U.S. too late in its development to ever pass as wholesomely American. Something in its tone, in the weight of its silences, will always give it away as having come here from somewhere else. It will never entirely lose its accent. In anthologies and magazines, it makes other poems feel [...] by

On Proximity to Violence April 19, 2013: The day after the explosions at the Boston Marathon, I thought of Wislawa Szymborska’s poem, “Any Case.” When I first read the poem a number of years ago, it struck me as the sort of haunting poem I only came across in the work of poets from other countries. Buildings got bombed in the U.S., people had unchecked access to assault [...] by

Announcing the BTBA Poetry Finalists! April 10, 2013: John Felstiner said translation is like a window. It lets some fresh air in and allows some stale air to drift out. Here are six books of poetry from around the world that offer some of the freshest air possible into American poetry. The Best Translated Book Awards was started by Chad Post, editor of Open Letter and founder of the blog [...] by

On the Amazon, Renegade Activity, and the Futile April 5, 2013: I recently saw an Al Jazeera documentary about Ana Rafaela D’Amico, a 27-year-old Brazilian woman who directs an NGO trying to save one of the smallest but most threatened national parks in the Amazon. In the documentary, D’Amico trudges deep into the rainforest to hammer in signs and hand out letters stating the fines for illegal [...] by

Fantasy Encounters April 1, 2013: At the Dodge Poetry Festival this past fall, I had a fantasy about Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. In the fantasy, she was not only magically transported to Newark, New Jersey from the 17th century Mexican convent where she self-taught herself the art of poetry but she also spoke English. She could understand every word Jane Hirshfield and [...] by