Featured Essays

Issue Six: September 13, 2019


Brimhall Headshot 19 SQUARETraci Brimhall, “Love Is in the Repetition”

“I love the love poem because love is one of the most horrible and terrifying things we do with our lives. It’s an experience that demands so much honesty and vulnerability and hope…and inevitable disappointment and failure and teaches us so much about our own weaknesses.”



Jenny Johnson SQUAREJenny Johnson, “Troubling Forms”

“Struggling with a form that troubles you can be one way of troubling back, as you make space for your voice and bring your own intimate contemporary sensibilities to a given shape.”




Photo #15 (Color) of Phillis Levin - by Sigrid EstradaPhillis Levin, “Recording Mortal Sight: The Drama of Prosody”

“When blank verse works, it’s often creating the illusion of the speaking voice, of authentic, vernacular speech. One of the things I’ve noticed reading this poem is that Hecht interweaves a lot of monosyllabic words with polysyllabic words, and that’s one of the ways I think he is able to modulate the voice, creating different textures of transparency and opacity.”


Nathan SQUARE“Conversation with Nathan McClain”

“How does the poet maintain the proper balance between clarity and mystery that propels the reader through the poem? How can the poem’s details raise questions in the reader that keep them engaged throughout the poem? So, part of what we’re discussing is how the poem creates and manages tension (a key element, to my mind, in any successful poem).”


Issue Five: March 15, 2019


Sandra Alcosser, “A Match Flaring up in a Dark Universe”

“Brevity in writing, whether evidenced in a short poem or a series of tankas like Niedecker’s “Paean to Place,” condenses many of writing’s tropes into a few stanzas with enough absence between each stanza for a reader to participate with the writer in a discovery. It is the surprise within the poem that causes readers to lean in for centuries, finding again and again what absence or presence haunts it on the universe of the page.”


“Interview with Sean Hill”

“Bishop’s ‘One Art’ made me think about how the act of repetition operates in speech—how it expresses and communicates the human condition. We repeat things that are important, things we want to remember, things we want to convince others and ourselves of, and we sometimes repeat things out of nervousness. Repetition can reflect our emotional state. And the speaker of a poem must be, not necessarily relatable, but a plausible voice / being.”


“Giving Shape to the Shapeless: Prosody and Depression”

“Then all of the ill-sourced pressure was relieved. The poem could now breathe, and in its new-found breathing, it could relax and focus and begin to try to say something about what my mind was enduring and struggling to articulate, is still struggling to articulate. Instead of meters and line breaks, I could shift my attentions to sentence variety, internal rhymes, imagistic clarity and precision, associative thought sometimes to the point of pressing toward the edge of the non-sequitur, and all of these in the name of voice, perhaps even vision.”