Category Archives: Poetry

Fearless Poems about Sex and Power in Enter Here by Alexis Rhone Fancher

By Eileen Murphy

Wild nights ! Wild nights !
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Our luxury !
-Emily Dickinson

Here’s the perfect book for a wind-tossed stormy night: Enter Here, a collection of sophisticated poems with erotic overtones by Los Angeles poet Alexis Rhone Fancher. I open my copy as Hurricane Irma starts to smash through my area of Polk County, Florida. Soon it’s 3 a.m., and hurricane-force winds start to howl while rains roar down. The electricity goes out and stays out. Reading by candlelight, I am glued to the pages of Enter Here. Continue reading

Leave Rupi Alone

By Zoë Hu

To talk about Rupi Kaur is to talk about numbers. Known for her unorthodox rise through social media, Kaur combines the intimacies of personal confession with the scrolling feeds of spectacle, yet her dominance on the literary scene is of the decidedly quantitative kind. There is the much-cited 1.7 million followers on Instagram. Add a million to that and you get, roughly, the total copies Kaur has sold of her debut, Milk and Honey. The collection has been translated into 25 languages, which is coincidentally Kaur’s age; whatever threat the “instapoet” poses to the literary establishment, it’s a threat with room to grow. Continue reading

Radiant Regeneration: Vanessa Angélica Villarreal’s Beast Meridian

By Cassandra Cleghorn

My first encounter with Vanessa Angélica Villarreal’s stunning new book from Noemi Press, Beast Meridian, was framed by the natural and geopolitical disasters of late summer 2017. As Hurricane Harvey devastated coastal Texas, Villarreal’s book seared me with its portraits of Houston in storm season, the ocean “slicktongued and thick with oil and ants.” Only days after Trump crowed over the end of DACA and then feebly tweeted, “No Action” (attempting to reassure those who feared deportation during the program’s six-month phase out), nine Dreamers were detained for hours at Falfurrias Checkpoint. That very day I read and reread Villarreal’s wildly inventive prose poem “dedicated to the immigrants buried in mass graves in and near Falfurrias, Texas,” in which the poet walks the sacred ground where “agitation pulls even at hanging planets”: “I swallow a bee for each ill deed done. I am a hive walking. I strain to hear you over the regret.” Continue reading

Remembering Lynn Moe Swe (1976-2017)

By Ko Ko Thett 

“Until the end of the wake” by Lynn Moe Swe (1976-2017):

The funeral I wrote down happens today. 
Or, does it?

The opening lines of “Until the end of the wake” by Lynn Moe Swe anticipate afterlife. Lynn Moe Swe, who died of Dylan-Thomas Syndrome aka alcohol poisoning in the wee hours of Monday, September 18, in his hometown Monywa, was one of Myanmar’s most outstanding poets of his generation. He was 41. Continue reading

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