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Jackleg Opera: Collected Poems, 1990 to 2013. BJ Ward. North Atlantic Books, 2014. 272 pages, ISBN: 978-1-58394-677-0 Jackleg Opera is the fourth collection by BJ Ward and is a collected poems gathering together over twenty years of amazing work. It was published at the end of 2013 by North Atlantic Books and should be on everyone’s bookshelf. Ward’s poetry is an incredible blend of wit, intelligence, playfulness and insight. He is a poet that not only loves language and craft but loves humanity, the adept phrasing that reflects the hidden emotional realities, charting what Emily Dickinson called the “internal difference where the meanings are.” His own words describe the accomplishment of his poetry, for his poems are a net to capture the moment but release the energy --Suzuki Dance This [...]

Michael T. Young: Thank you, BJ, for agreeing to an interview. Your newest collection, Jackleg Opera, is your fourth, and is a new and collected poems. Could you comment on putting it together: how and if you worked on the new poems to connect thematically in any way to the whole or just worked on the newer poems independently of any overall cohesion? BJ Ward: I worked on the new poems as they came to me, not concerning myself with how or where they connected to the other work. Once I had about sixty poems that were publishable or had already been published somewhere, I chose and arranged the thirty-three new poems that make up the first part of the book. The thirty-fourth new poem I placed after my 2002 book, [...]

Sarasvati Sarasvati at the river in the gaze of a goose foraging like I am at her banks through gratitude and fear willing that some bridge appear carry me down the middle of this way mapped by blood and memory she sees me wraps me in her veil shows me her name everywhere in river reeds and starlings honey mirror at the bottom of my tea the billboard I see reads: the path is clear I am ready   Listen to the audio version of this poem here.     GROW Me... Mine... My... You  will  all  expire whether  your  spine is  crushed in  9  places or  your  body  just runs  out  of  breath and  right  after  your  death some  other voice  talking  through dirt  shaped into  skin will  walk [...]

Keisha-Gaye Anderson is author of the poetry collection Gathering the Waters (Jamii Publishing, 2014), which has been described as "a lyrical outpouring of kinship, heritage, and a woman’s transformation within the world that envelops her . . . a rich compendium of heartfelt poetic verse." As both a writer & reader of mystical poetry, I found her work lovely and compelling, and invited her to the Infoxicated Corner for a conversation about her aesthetic, influences, process, and work overall. Fox Frazier-Foley: I first learned about your work from your book, Gathering the Waters, which I was drawn to read because I thought the cover was so lovely and striking. Can you tell us a little bit about the genesis of that book? What was your process like in creating it? And [...]

    Montana Ray is a feminist poet, translator, and scholar. She is the author of five chapbooks and bookworks. Her first full-length poetry collection, (guns & butter), is now available from Argos Books. She’s a PhD student in comparative literature at Columbia University and the mom of budding zoologist, Amadeus.

Montana Ray is the author of (guns&butter), published this year by Argos Books. Intrigued by the poem she sent me for TheThe's Infoxicated Corner (also appearing here today), I asked whether she'd be interested in doing a Q&A on the blog as well. Here's the deeply enjoyable conversation that ensued:   Fox Frazier-Foley: Tell me a little bit more about the project of (guns & butter). Did you know from the start that you wanted to write a book of gun-shaped poems? How did that come together? What is your overall vision for the book? And, other than the beautiful sonic resonance between the two words -- what's butter got to do with it? (I mean, I guess butter has to do with everything for some of us. My family [...]

Bury the Girls, Then Bury Their Babies The face of a young girl stares out from the cover of Fiddle is Flood (Blood Pudding Press, 2015), Lauren Gordon’s stark and awe-inspiring chapbook. Her hair intermingles with a collage of sky, vines, bare legs. Another girl lies on her back along the bottom, looking up, wistful, white skin gleaming. Though a black-and-white ink drawing, the girls’ lips are plump, pouty even. A bursting red flower, scattered amongst the scrolling detail, is the only color. Gordon created this cover herself; the lush, rouge flower provides readers a visual, introductory cue for her explosive poems that circle sex and death. Through Gordon's sparse words and lyrical lines such as: I will cut the bluestem grass in the blazing sun I will walk through [...]

Phone Booth Parable So much has gone missing where are the words our parents read aloud long storks on the bedroom wall midflight I never got a good look at what they carried all that way to the window why fly when the ground is so good at pulling you down said the scarecrow how’s the reception on your end is it better to persuade or just push your tongue into my mouth a little taste of what wrong numbers can do said the tin man whose speech should be good for another few miles already the moon over bruise over stubble shorts out when so many TVs howl at once said the lion we’ll come back as dogs to bury our own bones but time is a limiting factor [...]

Editor's Note: Marguerite Van Cook and James Romberger are the artists whose collaborative graphic novel, Late Child (Fantagraphics Books, 2014), tells the intimate, autobiographical story of the struggles Van Cook and her mother faced during World War II and after, as Van Cook, a child born out of wedlock, came of age and learned how to seize her own voice and power in an aggressively sexist and classist society. Alex Dueben interviews them here about the stories ehind the book, and their processes and conversations in creating it.     Exploring the Personal and Political Landscape of The Late Child and Other Animals by Alex Dueben The new book The Late Child and Other Animals opens at the height of World War II with the co-author’s mother and aunt on top [...]

Dilemma If I tell my son his mouse is dying I may as well tell him the rest: her shallow breath means her lungs are deflating, causing the rest of her organs to slowly betray her. If he asks me if it’s painful, well. What can hide him from that truth? Her cage is littered with her loss of strength: untouched water bottle, food pellets staling in the pink plastic bowl. If I tell him she’s dying I may as well tell him the worst of it, that his father and I knew exactly what we were doing when we encouraged him to choose her, the fastest mouse of the dozens of albinos in the pet store’s glass aquarium, yes, we brought her home to die and hoped that in [...]

Cassetsy Notebooks is a micro-press of sorts; founded and run by native Brooklynites, it produces small notebooks, crafted by hand from paper, old cassette tapes from your favorite '80s and '90s bands, and the album art and liner notes they came packaged in. As part of the mission of TheThe's Infoxicated Corner is to promote indie art of all kinds (and to emphasize the confluence among literature, creative writing, and other types of art and creativity), I asked Andrew Jung, one of the co-founders of this small arts business to tell us a little bit about the genesis of their press and the creation of their handbound notebooks. This is my Cassetsy notebook, which I love. I told them to surprise me with whatever album they thought best, and they [...]

Hear the audio version of this poem here.           Hear the audio version of this poem here.       Hear the audio version of this poem here.       Meg Cowen writes, paints on canvas and builds furniture in her old New Hampshire farmhouse. Some of her recent work appears in PANK, Whiskey Island, Passages North and interrupture. She edits Pith, a journal of experimental writing, and lives online at      

True Ugliness: Cate Marvin's Oracle by KT Billey People are fucked up and funny, and so is the world. This is a fact that Oracle (Norton, 2015), Cate Marvin’s third and most recent collection of poems, bestows upon us, and it’s clear from the get-go that anyone looking for soothsaying better look elsewhere. Or consider what soothsaying means. The very first line throws us into a sharp, observant speaker who sees and understands being seen:   As the leering boss poised by a photocopier…   There is no false advertising in this book’s truth-promise title, nor are these poems riddles. “On the Ineptitude of Certain Hurricanes,” the introductory poem, sets a scene for many readers—likely the east coast, a couple years ago, but if not in a particular time and place, surely [...]

Portrait of Thumbelina As A Poet Like ducks, she moves in circles: old tattered lamentations, same fears to excavate, this eternal wait for fingers other than her own to hold open the book. A loss of faith in what the city knows. The scent of the rickety lemons on the sidewalk, the rains from under the streetlights,the palimpsests of the potholed sidewalks. Assurance of scripted disobedience, the maroon ruptures in the city's maps. She writes the names of her other lovers on her wrists, her palms-- places from which her husband won't be able to avert his eyes. In this city where poems flow like snot, where poets infest both homes and gutters like mosquitoes, she is just another housewife striving to be a poet. Unable to tear apart her [...]

Letter One Dear Continuum: I got an issue of Poets and Writers in the mail yesterday. I enjoyed what I read, but it was not inspiring at all. It was realistic. It was honest about the uphill battle it is to get a book seen. I know the work of this all too well. But this letter is not about books, this is about voice and the love and armor you will need to have yours heard. When I think about being a writer in 2015, being a writer with a Black woman’s voice— as Lucille Clifton said, “I am a black woman poet...and I sound like one”—with no agent, no powerful mentor opening doors, no financial support, no salary, no benefits, then I realize that this really is a [...]

I asked the poet Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie to talk with me a little bit about the genesis and refinement of her new book, Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation, which is excerpted today at TheThe Poetry Blog. (And please see the end of the Q&A for a brief note from her publisher about his grassroots micropress, Grand Concourse!) Fox Frazier-Foley: I really loved this book, and I'm so excited to talk with you about your process in creating it. Can you tell me a little bit about how you started the project? How did you come up with the character, the name, the gender or lack thereof? Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie: Only the first letter was my idea. I wrote it because I was angry about things I was [...]