Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Kalamazoo Visits Saint Francis’s Tomb, by Susan Blackwell Ramsey



Among other places, Susan Blackwell Ramsey’s work has appeared in The Southern Review, 32 Poems, Poetry Northwest and Best American Poetry 2009. Her book, A Mind Like This, won the Prairie Schooner Poetry Book Prize. She lives in Kalamazoo and still can’t break herself of spacing twice after a period.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Gardening, by Connie Post (2016 Crab Creek Poetry Prize winner)



Connie Post served as Poet Laureate of Livermore, CA (2005-2009). Her work has appeared in Calyx, Crab Creek Review, Comstock Review, Slipstream, Spoon River Poetry Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Verse Daily. Her first full-length book, Floodwater (Glass Lyre Press 2014), won the Lyrebird Award.

Poet on the Poem:
The poem, “Gardening,” was dormant in the back of my mind for many years. I saw the image, I lived with the image, but it never became a poem until this year. As many poems happen, they stay in our conscious and subconscious for years, and they tell us when it’s time to be born. I am pleased I listened to the poem’s voice, and was patient with its blooming.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Moon, by Kelly Michels



Kelly Michels received her MFA from North Carolina State University. She is the author of two chapbooks, the most recent entitled Disquiet, published by Jacar Press. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Green Mountains Review, Nimrod, Connotation Press, One, Redivider, Reed Magazine, and Barely South Review, among others.

Poet on the Poem:
I wrote this poem for Betty Adcock and Claudia Emerson, whose poetic friendship was deep and enduring. The poem was inspired by a moment in which I stopped to look at the moon after spending an evening discussing one of Claudia’s poems at Betty’s house. Soon after, Claudia passed away, and I sent Betty the poem, knowing I had very little to offer in the face of such grief. It was the only thing I could do after the loss of such a brilliant voice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Junior Partner, by Nilla Larsen



Nilla Larsen holds a MFA in poetry from UNC-Wilmington. Her poems are featured in or forthcoming in Asheville Poetry Review, North Carolina Literary Review, Slippery Elm, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing First Place Poetry Fellowship. Follow her on Twitter @nillalarsen.

Poet on the Poem:
“Junior Partner” is the most slash-full poem I’ve written so far, but the slashes were not part of the early drafts. What jumpstarted the poem were the similes in stanza one, which challenged me to find the resonant qualities in mundane, inanimate objects. The narrative is inspired by two lines from Jenny Hval’s song ‘That Battle is Over’: “So are we loving ourselves now? Are we mothering ourselves?”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Amazing Grace, by Jennifer Jean



Jennifer Jean’s debut collection is The Fool. Her writing has appeared in: Rattle, Waxwing, Drunken Boat, Solstice, Green Mountains Review, and more. Jennifer is Poetry Editor for The Mom Egg, Managing Editor of Talking Writing, and Co-director of Morning Garden Artist Retreats. She teaches Free2Write poetry workshops to sex-trafficking survivors.

Poet on the Poem: 
This poem is from my manuscript exploring objectification, and sex-trafficking—which is modern-day slavery. It’s based on the famous hymn which has become an anthem against all kinds of social injustice. Included is an excerpt from this D.W. Winnicott quote about the human condition: “It is a joy to be hidden and a disaster not to be found.” Shame often keeps us hidden when we need to be found—seen, and known—to be healed.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

this is my da Vinci face, by Dennis Hinrichsen



Dennis Hinrichsen’s most recent collection is Skin Music, co-winner of the 2014 Michael Waters Poetry Prize from Southern Indiana Review Press. His previous books have won the Akron, FIELD, and Tampa Poetry Prizes. He has also received a 2014 Best of the Net Award and the 2016 Third Coast Poetry Prize.

Poet on the Poem:
I wrote this poem after having a couple of negative blood tests post prostate surgery via the Da Vinci Surgical System, so I felt a little saved, as if I had been re-birthed, painted, re-painted by da Vinci himself. Hence, the opening lines and then the run toward figuring out what to do next with that saved life.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bulrushes, by Alec Hershman



Alec Hershman lives in Michigan. He has received awards from the Kimmel-Harding-Nelson Center for the Arts, The Jentel Foundation, and the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design. Other poems of his appear in recent issues of Denver Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Cimarron Review, Western Humanities Review, Bodega, Posit, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. You can find out more at Alechershmanpoetry.com.

Poet on the Poem:
I initially thought to publish “Bulrushes” online accompanied by a video of my googly-eyed hand in drag—big garish “mouth” reading the poem somberly aloud before uncurling itself at the end, but the editors and I couldn’t agree about the video, and so this poem had to go back into its fascicle for a couple years until it could behave or further insist to me its video cause. Here it makes its print debut, along with its chaperone poem, “Is to Cowardice, Is to Grace.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Freshman Health, by Ross Helford



After more than a decade working as a screenwriter, Ross Helford earned his MFA, which rekindled his passion for prose. He is presently nearing the completion of his second novel. Ross is also a teacher, black belt, trombonist, and ordained vegveyzer living in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.

A word from the author:
My wife awoke from one of those dreams where she didn’t graduate high school. At the time, our daughter was five months old, and I thought how odd our subconscious remains stuck in adolescence even with all the inherent worries of parenthood. Stylistically, the story owes much to Elizabeth Crane.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

At the Art of War, by Maximilian Heinegg



Maximilian Heinegg is a public high school English teacher, singer-songwriter, and guitarist. His poems will appear this fall in Nine Mile and Structo (UK). His songs and adaptations of poetry from the public domain can be heard at Maxheinegg.com

Poet on the poem:
This poem was written after my wife and I followed our daughters and their friend around the Harvard Natural History Museum, which connects to the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. Our visit came during another snowy New England winter, and my kids were looking for a place to find their spirit animals. Instead, we stumbled into The Art of War. The poem is syllabic, written after reading a lot of Thom Gunn, whose work I admire greatly.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Third Thing That Killed My Brother, by Kait Heacock



Kait Heacock is a book publicist and writer in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in journals, magazines, and websites including Bustle, DAME, Esquire, KGB Bar Lit Mag, Portland Review, Tin House, tNY.Press, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and The Washington Post. Her debut story collection, Siblings and Other Disappointments, was published in October 2016.


A word from the author:
During the time that I was editing my short story collection, Siblings and Other Disappointments, my brother died. Many of the stories within the book are inspired by him. As I struggled to make sense of his sudden and horrible death, I turned to writing. This piece is an homage to both my brother and Raymond Carver, whose writing and life often helped me better understand my brother.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Tango Life: Buenos Aires, by Stuart Freyer



Stuart Freyer’s poetry has appeared in Slant, Mount Hope, and Poetry Quarterly among others, and will be seen in Mudfish and Peregrine. “Following In His Tracks” was a finalist in the Cutthroat Joy Harjo Poetry Contest. He lives in a house on a dirt road in Williamstown, MA exactly two miles from the mailbox where he and his wife madly practice their tango steps.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

On Being Told I Look Like the Rapper J. Cole, or List of Black People I Apparently Look Like, or Do All Black People Look Alike?, by Malcolm Friend



Malcolm Friend is a poet and Canto Mundo fellow originally from the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle, WA, and a MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in La Respuesta magazine, Vinyl, Word Riot, and The Acentos Review.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Applying TV Makeup to a CEO, by Morgan Finn



Morgan Finn lives in the Connecticut hills. Her poetry and prose have appeared in Kalliope, Thema, and Wild Dove. A poem of hers won first prize in the 2016 WEN Writing Competition. Upcoming: a story in Tallgrass/Outrider Press, and a poem in PMS Literary Journal.

Poet on the poem:
The first version of “Applying TV Makeup to a CEO” almost sprang onto paper, even though there were other participants that day for an insurance teleconference.  There was something deeply bonding as I hovered over the nervous CEO who let me see inside him, leaving an indelible impression of what lies behind the mask.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

As a Man, a short story by Laura Farmer



Laura Farmer’s fiction has recently appeared in The Antioch Review, North American Review, and other journals. She is Writing Studio Director at Cornell College and a book critic for The Gazette.


A word from the author:
While the plot in “As a Man” is entirely fiction, the world surrounding the characters is rooted very much in my own experience. From the power of hearing a long-lost voice on a tape recorder to the beauty and wonder that is St. Lucy’s parish in Syracuse, NY, these small, real moments were great fun to reflect on—making me feel like I was on a journey somewhere surprising too.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Static, by Tige Ashton DeCoster



Tige Ashton DeCoster, a native of Seattle, received his BA in creative writing from the University of Washington. Tige’s poetry has been published in Malpais Review, Fly South, Calliope, and others. He was the recipient of a 2009 Fulbright scholarship, and winner of the 2016 Joan Grayston Poetry Prize.

Poet on the poem:
My parents were involved with the civil rights movement in Seattle when I was growing up. Their influence drew me toward contemporary struggles surrounding inequality and racism.