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—for Javier Zamora, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, and Christopher Soto While teaching a course on Wallace Stevens at the University of Chicago, poet Mark Strand told me and a group of students to not write war poems because they would age badly. He shared anecdotes about poet-friends who during the 60’s and 70’s wrote war poems, […]

5 Books to Flip Through This 4/20

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Today is April 20th, the unofficial holiday of cannabis enthusiasts. Celebrate the giggles and munchies while flipping through some of these poetry books while you toke.   1. Fantasy — Ben Fama   I think I would like to lie among southern magnolias in snowfall dark skies above into which I will never enter I’m watching Maya Deren […]

Reading List: April 2015

From Poetry Magazine

The Reading List is a feature of Poetry magazine’s Editors’ Blog. This month contributors to the April 2015 issue share some books that held their interest. Fatimah Asghar I recently just read Ilya Kaminsky’s book Dancing in Odessa and was completely blown away by it. I heard him read at AWP last year and was […]

Poetry is Not the Final Girl: V Manuscript

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On a facebook thread not too long ago I told V Manuscript that I would like for him to come to the Bay Area and deliver a large volume of his own blood directly into an open wound located somewhere upon my body. Which ok, sounds really dodgy, but it’s really not, especially if, like […]

T H E  D I S T A N C E S  and /  or   C I T I E S (7)

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Collaboration is an ideal hands-on way for two or more poets and/or artists to get to know each other’s imaginations from the most intimate level on up. My earliest experience with writing poems with others came my first year in Poetics, hanging out with fellow students MC Litton and Melissa Weinstein. We began a weekly […]

Notes Toward a New Language: On Nourishment

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“To feed” is the most basic verb, the most fundamental, the most rooted. It expresses the primordial activity, the primary, basic function, the act “I” engage in even before I am born or begin breathing. Because of it I belong to the earth, forever. Like the smallest animal crawling in the dirt, like the smallest […]

4 Reasons to Attend <em>The Animated Reader</em>’s Launch at McNally Jackson Tonight

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McNally Jackson is hosting the launch of The Animated Reader tonight, and you should come out. Contributors Mónica de la Torre, Cory Tamler, Wayne Koestenbaum and Yan Jun will be reading, and Brian Droitcour, who edited this ambitious collection, will be moderating. At first glance, The Animated Reader calls to mind Marina Tsvetaeyva’s famous “All […]

I Don’t Know How To Live

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In This Connection of Everyone With Lungs, Juliana Spahr’s “Poem Written from November 30, 2002 to March 27, 2003” opens with a litany of thoughts upon waking in the morning to the sound of parrots overhead. However, the awakening is not so calm as it is not just awakening to the parrots, but awakening to […]

T H E  D I S T A N C E S  and /  or   C I T I E S  (6)

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I arrived in San Francisco for graduate school during the rise and fall of the late 90s dot-com dustup. It wasn’t any big thing to me. I made my way living off student loans. I saw, and still believe in, the idea of going to graduate school on loans as a sort of tradeoff to […]

Shoot, If That Ain’t Too Pretty

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CUNY Chapbook Festival March 31-April 2, 2015 I always try to spend at least a bit of time at the CUNY Chapbook Festival, an annual few-day event staged at the Graduate Center’s main building on Fifth Avenue. It’s snowballed over the last 5-6 years into a real draw, featuring bookmaking workshops, lectures, press spotlights, publisher […]

Poetry is Not the Final Girl: Katy Mongeau

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I have never met Katy Mongeau in real life, so I’m not entirely sure she has a soul. But that’s ok, because Katy is simultaneously a banshee, a witch, a wraith, a slave—and definitely that lady in that one horror story where she takes a wide velvet ribbon off her neck and her head falls […]


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Since 2005 I’ve been keeping a list of books read by year. Since 2010 I’ve been intermittently writing mini-reviews of those books, what I sometimes call “associative reviews.” I’m no good at the expository (like my friend Patrick James Dunagan, who is clearly a review writing whirling dervish), I’m a terrible essay writer, but that’s […]

The Generativity of Shulamith Firestone’s <em>Airless Spaces</em>

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Overness. Or also throwns. Throne. to sit down in. What is also a mercy, but relentless. Thrown away from her for the sake of. These distances. What happens inside and out of Shulamith Firestone’s Airless Spaces shielding and creating in a reckoning that calls but does not allow in. Perhaps a consideration. For years, I […]

THIS IS MESSY, WE’RE NOT SORRY: Elegant Mire with Carrie Lorig, v. 2

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Carrie :  i’m in the TA office right now because air conditioning and because no one comes here in the summer Cassandra:  good plan i am at home at my desk Carrie:  I just got to the page where Claire Lispector says in Stream of Life she’s at home alone too. “On this Sunday of […]

In What World Is Pleasure Itself Not Political?

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I avoided writing to you because I was in one of those moments of anxiety where I don’t allow the joy of my life to outweigh my fear of what you might think of me.  But last night–the night of my birthday–I stayed up late enough to see the sun rise and remembered that same […]

Notes for National Corpse Month, Part Four

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During the plague, my tour-book described, this cemetery (the only one within the city walls) was so full of bodies that when they dug, they couldn’t find enough soil to bury new corpses. The ground swelled with every interment. —Greta Wrolstad, Triptych (Edinburgh) Every corpse is a sphinx of immortality. —Hans Christian Andersen, The Galoshes […]

Siren Song, or, The Open Veins of Latin America

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When I opened my eyes Ursa Major was rearing up, or standing on her head upon the brightening horizon, just beyond my windowpane, just a few steps beyond my right eye. & late in the wee hours the stars, all of them, spilled over me with a sound like a cascade of pearls upon on […]

T H E  D I S T A N C E S  and /  or   C I T I E S (5)

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            I pose you your question: shall you uncover honey / where maggots are?             I hunt among stones – Charles Olson, “The Kingfishers” This is a family of harbour cats lounging about atop the sea wall at the bottom of the stairs leading up to Sant Bartomeu i Santa Tecla cathedral. It’s built upon a promontory […]

Notes Toward a New Language: The Body

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Whether we are dealing with speaking loudly or softly or of whispering or shutting one’s mouth, we are always dealing with language and even the silence that comes from not speaking is still the silence of language.–Fernand Deligny. When I was eleven and decided not to eat I was engaging in an act of rebellion: […]

Post-Poetry, Part 1: CryptoPo

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In this and the rest of my Harriets I want to talk about the conditions for what I’ll loosely call Post-Poetry: Crypto, AnonyPo, Outlander-, and Lulz. More than anything, these are strategies for simply being a poet outside the MFA (now PhD) market and hierarchy; ways of engaging outside the poetry communities based mostly in […]