Issue 11: On Poetic Closure

September 17, 2023

“The correction of prose, because it has no fixed laws, is endless, a poem comes right with a click like a closing box.” —W.B. Yeats

“I think a poem should have doors. I wouldn’t leave them open though.” —Robert Frost

“Fulfilling of formal expectations is never sufficient condition for the experience of closure. It depends on what is said in conjunction with how it is said.” —Barbara Hernstein Smith

“Closure must open, must give us back the world somehow.” —Marianne Boruch

“I prefer the term silencing over ending. Sure, we end a poem; that’s what we do. But what happens is silence.”  —Tomas Q. Morin

“I tend to like a poem which instead of culminating in a crescendo, merely comes to a close.” —Marianne Moore.

“Tracy K. Smith once told me to think about poem endings as a door opening outward…The advice made me wonderfully wary of closing the loop, or ‘punctuating’ the train of thought or the rhythm.” —Brian Tierney [1]

For issue eleven, we asked poets to contemplate poetic closure within their own work and other poets. We challenged our contributors to consider how a poem achieves closure—how the poem clicks shut like a box, leaves a door open, or gives us the world back; how a poet subverts expectations or resists closure; how the poet quietly exits into silence or culminates in a crescendo; how closure functions in free verse or formal poems; among other countless possibilities.