Featured Essays

Issue 11 on Poetic Closure

September 17, 2023

Interview with K. Iver

“Biblically, the epiphany is delivered as a ‘shining forth.’ When I think of illumination, I think of surprise, encountering an old thing as new. For me, that’s an open experience. An illumination arriving before the end of the poem is one example of refusing to finalize an ending.”

Interview with James Davis May

“What’s worth our readers’ attention? Not false grace or forced conclusions. The wrong ending can sound contractual and wooden, like ending a first date not with a kiss but a robotic statement like ‘I would like to continue to see you in more social settings and perhaps eventually have a long-term relationship with you.'”

Interview with Orlando Ricardo Menes

“I prefer to end my poems with a resonant image that loops, knots, and cuts the stitch of words. My sense is that this approach creates a middle space between open and closed, one that allows the poem to end with a pliant eloquence.”

Lawrence Raab, “Uncertain Clarity: Some Ways Poems End”

“I’m drawn to endings that don’t exactly end, but persuade me to return, look again, find what I may have missed.”

Interview with Alina Ștefănescu

“Sometimes, the belief that a poem will reveal its own ending to me becomes a limitation. The poem may want the blue flower growing in a neighbor’s yard across the street; the ending may be located outside the boundaries we erect around the poem, or the spaces we claim as our own.”

How Do You Know It’s the End?
A Roundtable on Poetic Closure

On June 8, 2023, D.S. Waldman discussed poetic closure with Tongo Eisen-Martin, Kathy Fagan, and Amanda Gunn. “Allen Grossman talks about the impossibility of poem making—that these poems are impossible to write, and that maybe some of the resonance comes from that reaching. Maybe the closing might lie along the threshold of where our language can no longer reach for that thing we’re trying to capture.”

A Few Resources on Poetic Closure

We’ve gathered a few resources on poetic closure in case you want to read more. You’ll find books, essays, interviews, audio & video, and some blog entries. Have any suggestions on what we should include on the resources page? Add a comment on the page, so we can share even more thoughtful ideas with our readers!