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Malachi Black – Storm Toward Morning Copper Canyon 2014 Page Length: 75 Retail: $15   Like the greatest formal poets, Malachi Black writes in shapes. Received forms sculpt the shape of a poem by the measure of their recursiveness: the manner in which the poem moves forward and back simultaneously. In a traditional sonnet, for example, as the speaker develops an idea, a scene, or a narrative (an argument), she also, at the end of each line, creates sonic consonance with that which precedes and/or follows. The result is the sensation of forward movement through recurring patterns and the modulation of poetic effects (in this example the effect in question is end-rhyme, though the same argument can be made for poetic features like anaphora, syntactic parallelism, and other features that [...]

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“Dissolving the inarticulate” has never been more urgent.

  Every few weeks she met Saint Jim in the park. She just wanted to get on Saint Jim’s bed and float away; the bed which happened to be on the same street as her beloved Mark. But, Saint Jim was difficult and recalcitrant as is often the case with saints. So, for now she had to be happy with their short walks and discussions of New York, October light, tiny animals, and politics. Saint Jim told her don’t you dare put me in a poem as he tried to feed a squirrel an acorn. If I cut my body in half, vertically, words would come pouring out. If I cut my body in half, I would have to cut vertically, I would need really big scissors to do this [...]

During 2016, we will shine the spotlight of our public esteem & rapt attention on two poets per month. This month’s first poet is Jennifer Bartlett.   Fox Frazier-Foley: Talk to me about the core of your creative drive and the expression it finds through poetry. There are lots of ways to be creative in this world – what motivates you to write poems, specifically? Additionally, what motivates you to navigate the poebiz landscape? Jennifer Bartlett: I have always been attracted to words and reading. I love visual art too, but using words and connecting with the world through language feels natural. In terms of “why poetry” I believe it’s random. I know people who are musicians and visual artists and each kind of art, including nonfiction and fiction, has its [...]

Beauty Broken and Decamped The women in Ivy Alvarez’s chapbook Hollywood Starlet (Dancing Girl Press, 2015) have all lost something. Whether it’s their minds, a man, anonymity, peace, or a sense of self or place, it’s not coming back. We feel for their losses, but like any disaster hungry mob, we cannot look away. All of the titles have a name of a “starlet” followed by a word depicting an action of loss. Here are some of the titles: “What Vivien Leigh Dropped,”  “What Greta Garbo Offered,” “What Betty Grable Gave.” These women are missing pieces; like the artist Lana del Rey, they embody that idea of “beautiful sadness.” Alvarez captures this theme to a tee in this collection. In “What Katherine Hepburn Lost,” we are transported into her inner [...]

All publishing poets know what chapbooks are. So, I’m not going to provide a history of the chapbook. The internet is full of good essays documenting that history. In fact, one brief essay can be found here on TheThe Poetry Blog by Sam Riedel. Here’s another link to one by the British historian, Ruth Richardson.  What I want to draw attention to is the importance of the poetry chapbook and the folly of considering it as less significant than a full-length collection. A chapbook, which is basically any book with a page count under 48, will not be considered for any major prize. No matter how good, it cannot win a Pulitzer or National Book Award or National Book Critics Circle Award. In fact, there is, to my knowledge, only one national prize [...]

The speakers in these poems have come to tell us what we must learn by heart – that transgressions, violence, rage, and caustic elements and ideas will “crawl out” of the shadow to struggle “with this blow of light.”

Blueberry Elizabeth Morningsnow – Whale in the Woods Rescue Press 2012 Page Length: 73 Retail: $14   Blueberry Elizabeth’s Morningsnow’s debut collection, Whale in the Woods, is mythic and mammoth. Winner of the 2011 Black Box Poetry Prize from Rescue Press, Morningsnow gives us a vision that is obsessive, oddly spiritual, and urgently beautiful. The result is one of the freshest, most original spiritual voices in Contemporary American Poetry.   At the core of Morningsnow’s poetics is the fusion of the elemental and the spiritual. Many of these poems center on large, recurrent, elemental themes and symbols: the weather, the moon, stars, fields, bodies (human, aquatic, celestial), dust, mountains, and copious amounts of light. Atop these Morningsnow layers a spiritual valence that ambiguously and provocatively begs the question of how [...]

where I went while you were dying   this poem is                                                                                (about when your mother collapses in front of you) the emergency plan you don't have when the emergency comes. not knowing your mother's or sister's or sister's blood type. medications. history. is                                                                                  (about your mother telling you she is dying and then       ____________) in lieu of health insurance. anxiety over social worker called height weight charts. or is                                                                                        (what your mother's face looked like without oxygen) the story of your mother saving your newborn life. or waiting to find out if you've returned the favor.   this poem                                                                                     (is about prying your mother's teeth apart) wonders whether you did all you could to return the favor. says it will let you know. whether you did. enough. [...]

During 2016, we will shine the spotlight of our public esteem & rapt attention on two poets per month. This month’s second poet is Amber Flame.    Fox Frazier-Foley: Talk to me about the core of your creative drive and the expression it finds through poetry. There are lots of ways to be creative in this world – what motivates you to write poems, specifically? Additionally, what motivates you to navigate the poebiz landscape? Amber Flame: It is necessary for me to create – I literally can’t help it, even if I gave up on putting it out in the world. I am compelled by everything; visual art, dance, music, as well as all kinds of writing, primarily for my own happiness. I always did write poetry, was drawn to writing creatively [...]

Turtle Finds Himself Once Again Upon the Land   Turtle stands, claws digging dimples in the dirt, wondering which direction to go. Everything is possible in this new life granted by the Great Creator in which he was able to relinquish the weight of the Earth, suspend it from El Sol with clear celestial ribbon of sewn-together star particles and neutrinos.   We’ve got to center it, Turtle had instructed, adjusting the ribbon around the curls of light emanating, endemic of El Sol’s brilliance. If the animals feel the swing and tilt too much, the proliferation of motion sickness will cover the roads in vomit, making it impossible to travel between the 7 Wonders.   And it is not as though Turtle even truly wanted to see the 7 Wonders, [...]

During 2016, we will shine the spotlight of our public esteem & rapt attention on two poets per month. This month’s first poet is Sarah A. Chavez.      Fox Frazier-Foley: Talk to me about the core of your creative drive and the expression it finds through poetry. There are lots of ways to be creative in this world – what motivates you to write poems, specifically? Additionally, what motivates you to navigate the poebiz landscape? Sarah Chavez: It’s funny, but I think a lot about what poetry does and how it has functioned in my life, but hardly ever why I ended up devoting myself to it. I did have other creative outlets: I played piano briefly and am fair at drawing; I even got within a class or [...]

She collects pieces, forms whole body slowly   In Movement No.1: Trains, by Hope Wabuke, (Dancing Girl Press, 2015) an abundance of unexpected, organic relationships power through this chapbook, transmitting energy between humans and people, sound, color, and movement. Like the line referenced in the title above, there are many bodies at play in this collection. The train is a body, and the people, parts, stored inside. Using fluid language and an almost dream-like tone, Wabuke gives us glimpses of humanity’s core like spying on a commuting passenger through the windows of a subway car: intense yet indirect, witnessing a presence briefly. It’s how Wabuke wants us to see: life like “tiny match stick toys.” The word “movement” in the title illustrates a dual meaning: physical movement and orchestral movements, [...]

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The above text and images are by Laura Madeline Wiseman and Sally Deskins, from their book Leave of Absence: An Illustrated Guide to Common Garden Affections, a collaborative work whose lush look at the body and nature in this collection offers a rich pallet on the human form and these tall creatures that stand among us.

During 2016, we will shine the spotlight of our public esteem & rapt attention on two poets per month. We are excited to have an extra installment of our Spotlight Series during the month of February, featuring the collaborative poetry-visual art hybrid work of Sally Deskins and Laura Madeline Weisman.

 Prayer, as Ghost I wave at the blackbird just lifting from the crab apple tree. I’m among   the flightless, the left-behind. An opossum curled behind this tree   stump, dead, half-buried, its fur soft as ash. Everything is the ghost of something else. The starlings’ wings half-stab air, you leaving. The opossum’s eye, its last glitter—a gravedigger lifts his shovel. I ate peaches this morning. Dropped their pits mindlessly onto the kitchen floor.   Their gravities also pulling me closer to the earth’s core. Their gravities reminding me I’m flightless. Though an angel once in church’s nativity play, where I had glittery wings, that I wished were waxed to my bare back, I can’t lift off the ground.   If I jump, for an instant I separate from the [...]