Category Archives: Poetry

Almost Everyone Was Mistaken: On Secrets, Light, and the Lyric Imagination

By Kristina Marie Darling

In his essay collection Ozone Journal, Peter Balakian defines “shadow” as a “force that follows something with fidelity” only to “cast a dark light” on that person, object, view, or perspective. For Balakian, this fraught proximity — a closeness that blocks the line of vision — is one of the most essential characteristics of a work of art. After all, it is what we sense, but do not yet see, that beckons us farther into a half-lit room. The careful architecture of a poem — a space that is gradually illuminated for the reader — depends upon all that is hidden as a necessary condition, much more so than the visible beauty or significance of a particular image. Continue reading

An Offering to Mind and Body: A Review of Lois P. Jones’s Night Ladder

By Kate Kingston

Federico García Lorca may be standing over her shoulder, but he is not the only creative force on which Lois P. Jones draws in her new prize-winning collection, Night Ladder. Other influences include Picasso, Borges, Rumi, Sappho, Rilke, and Leonardo da Vinci, as well as other historical figures from Moses to Anne Frank. These figures contribute epigraphs to the poems, or appear through ekphrasis, making up the ladder of the book’s title. But Jones’s voice is singular, engaging both the intellect and passion while appealing strongly to the ear, to the sense of music related to duende, which Lorca defines in part as “a momentary burst of inspiration, the blush of all that is truly alive […]. It manifests itself among musicians and poets of the spoken word […] for it needs the trembling of the moment and then a long silence.” Continue reading

Name Dropping: An Interview with Chris Campanioni

By Kristina Marie Darling

Chris Campanioni’s new book is Death of Art (C&R Press). His recent work appears in Ambit, Gorse, Hotel, Whitehot, and RHINO. He is a Provost Fellow and MAGNET Mentor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he is conducting his doctoral studies in English. He edits PANK, At Large, and Tupelo Quarterly and teaches literature and creative writing at Pace University and Baruch College. Continue reading

Romeo and Juliet of Hell’s Kitchen: On Tina Cane’s Once More with Feeling

By Matthew Lippman

When you read Tina Cane’s Once More with Feeling you will scratch your head and say, “What the fuck?” You might not actually say, “What the fuck?” But I did. The question gave rise to another one: “What took so long for someone to publish this book?” But don’t waste too much time on questions; return to the poems and read them again — once more, with feeling. One way to read this book is to listen to Lou Reed’s 1989 classic record New York. The book is a Romeo and Juliet of Hell’s Kitchen. That is to say, it is New York — a New York that rolls around in the late 1970s then falls straight away into the 1980s. If you were coming of age in New York at that time, be it in Queens, Manhattan, or Canarsie, you will get this book. It’s part of your DNA, already in you, even though you had no idea it was there. It’s some back page of your personality, which you might have filed away, might have forgotten about, but once you step inside Cane’s vision, boom, there you are, hopping into the L train at 14th Street and headed into Williamsburg. It’s 10th Avenue, stinking and brutal, up in your eyeballs. You know it. You will know it. Delicious, like a mile-high pastrami sandwich from The 2nd Avenue Deli, or the rear corner of Gus “N” Bernie’s Candy store, with all those fantastic comic books. Continue reading

The Heart Grows Stranger: Sorrow & the Unspeakable in Three Recent Prose Texts

By Kristina Marie Darling

In Black Sun, Julia Kristeva observes that mourning is, in essence, a loss of language. Words abandon their meaning; sentences no longer fit together the way they should. Yet it is language that allows us to derive significance from an experience, integrating it into our understanding of the world around us. The sorrow of a lost object, then, is a double loss: the thing itself has vanished and so too has its place in the lovely arc of story. Once we have fallen out of language, the absence itself becomes unspeakable, and likewise, the stories that makes us ourselves. Continue reading

Not Forgotten: On the Sonoran Poet Abigael Bohórquez (1936-1995)

By Anthony Seidman

Last year, the Mexican poet Mijail Lamas organized a reading for my third collection of poetry, A Sleepless Man Sits Up in Bed (Eyewear).  The event took place in the Bhutanese-style library at the University of Texas in El Paso, where I had completed a bilingual MFA in 1997. After the reading, I found myself in Mijail’s small apartment, surrounded by piles of books.  I had been pestering him about obscure poets from the northern desert or borderlands of Mexico. Mijail pulled a thick tome from the top of a book tower. With the air of someone who prefers to stay silent until the moment is right, he opened Poesía reunida e inédita, a collection by Abigael Bohórquez (1936-1995), who, despite the many years he had spent in the nation’s capital, was decidedly a poet from the north. He was Sonoran in tone, his voice resonated with the languid strains of marginalization. He was also openly gay. Mijail intoned the music of Bohórquez with a dark bottle of Victoria beer in his left hand, and his right waving back and forth like a conductor’s sans baton. Continue reading