Featured Essays

Issue Seven: January 8, 2020


headshot_AUlibrary_SQUARE.jpgErica Charis-Molling, “Negation”

“When I write, “Nobody spoke,” I’m not just describing the opposite of a chattering room. I’m signaling that a room that could be full of chatter, that one might even expect to be full of sound, was quiet. I’ve built two worlds: the one that exists and the one that might have or should have existed.”


Gina Franco, Author SQUAREGina Franco, “’Where nothing is, but all things seem’: Simile and Negation”

“Simile seeks out analogies, parallels, repetitions, and semblances, often in ways that extend, supplant, and reassemble original points of comparison. It exposes perspective—the opinion at work in any attempt to speak truth. And it assimilates parts of the world into figures of language that reflect perception and the movements of thought.”

Mary Ann Samyn SQUAREMary Ann Samyn, “Bring Yourself Along”

“Think of how nice your bootprints look spread out behind you in snow. Now imagine that each print is a line in a poem. Wouldn’t it be sad to rush through? It’s very satisfying to put one’s boot into snow. Especially snow with a bit of crust on top. And I say this as someone who isn’t even particularly fond of winter. Even I can appreciate the satisfying crunch of a boot packing down snow.”


“Here, then, is what poetry can do. It can combine its details to communicate more than one aspect of the truth: to communicate both thought and feeling; describe both physical and emotional facts; capture conflicting impulses; hold more than one meaning, more than one thought, more than one feeling; describe different kinds of sensation; encourage the reader to know more than one moment in time. What gives these moments in the poem more power than other moments is the way in which they involve the reader’s imagination. They stimulate an energetic consideration of what is. In this way, the work involved in comprehending the whole through the relationship among its parts excites the reader’s sensibility.”


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).”