Featured Essays

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.”


Issue Four: October 31, 2018


Jennifer Franklin, “How Can It Be That I Am No Longer I: One Student Remembers”

“I will never forget her saying that every poem is an utterance to God, “Dear Lord—pay attention to me!” Since poetry had already been my religion for years, I was primed for a priestess. And there she was, in velvet, with hundreds of lines of poetry memorized, a melodic and haunting voice that was as cutting as it was soothing. She seemed at the same time deliberately crafted artifice and completely authentic.”


Alexandra Lytton Regalado, “I See Myself In Her: Three Women Poets Through the Lenses of Time, Sexuality, and Nationhood”

“As a young poet, I had a difficult time talking about my history because all I knew about my birth country, El Salvador, was from headlines, my parents’ memories and childhood photo albums of our summer visits. El Salvador underwent many changes in those twenty-plus years that I lived in the United States. Land Reform. Armed conflict. Earthquakes. Death squads. Night bombings in the capital. Perhaps, I was so absorbed in my own struggles that I didn’t look outside my self; perhaps, I felt I did not have the authority to write about those events.”


Kevin Prufer, “Writing Against Your Music”

“As a student, I often heard that the music of a good poem ought to be inseparable from the poem’s meaning. I had no idea, however, what that meant, though I could play like I understood it. I could talk about prosody with some fluency, nodding occasionally toward the neat fit of form and function in certain classic poems. But when it came to my own work—or when it came to discussing the work of most other writers—I was, for many years, unable to separate words from their most reductive meanings. Then I saw Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant A Clockwork Orange, and I began to think about poetry in an entirely new way.”


Adrienne Su, “The Way to the Heart Is Through the Ear”

“Once, these formal elements were the definition of poetry. Now that writing in rhyme and meter is anything but the default, poets must consciously decide when to do so. It might pay off especially well in love poems, where conflict is in shorter supply than in unhappier poems. Formal elements themselves can act as sources of tension, even suspense. The reader, along with the poet, wonders what is going to rhyme with “down if,” or “examine.” A stanzaic pattern, once established, can be adhered to or disrupted, to convey conformity, transgression, or transgression within conformity….”