Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I Forgive and Forget, by Tom C. Hunley

Tom C. Hunley was once the world’s forgotten boy, but now he’s God’s lonely man. He is a husband of twenty years, a father of four, a professor, and a publisher. His poetry collections include PLUNK (Wayne State College Press 2015) and THE STATE THAT SPRINGFIELD IS IN (Split Lip Press 2016).

Poet on the poem:

This is part of a book-length manuscript consisting of fifty-odd self-epitaphs. The tentative title is THE GRAND PAUSE.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Aleppo, by Lola Haskins

Lola Haskins’ latest collection is How Small, Confronting Morning. Her prose includes a poetry advice book and a book about Florida cemeteries. She has won the Iowa Poetry Prize and two Florida Book Awards and was recently named Honorary Chancellor of the Florida State Poet’s Association. Haskins taught at Pacific Lutheran University’s Rainier Writing Workshop for eleven years.

Poet on the poem:

“Aleppo” came from a news story which drove home for me what life must be like for all those people who live, hoping that today no bomb will fall on their children, and how much under those circumstances even a few moments of sky/freedom can matter.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Day at the Beach, by Merridawn Duckler

Merridawn Duckler lives in Portland, OR. Poetry current or forthcoming in TAB, Literary Orphans, International Psychoanalysis, Really System, Rivet Journal, Rogue Agent, Unbroken Journal, The Offing, and Otis Nebula. Recent humor appears in in Defenestration. She was a finalist for the 2016 Sozoplo Fiction Fellowship. Duckler is an editor at Narrative and the international philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics.

Poet on the poem:

Where we live, in the Pacific Northwest, nature’s ability to heal is well known. But I wanted a reminder that nature isn’t solely for skilled and accomplished, even competitive, outdoors-people. It’s for all. I don’t need to tell you this world is no day at the beach. But maybe also: go to the water. Say what you find there.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Allied Maintenance, by Merrill Oliver Douglas

Merrill Oliver Douglas has published her work in Barrow Street, San Pedro River Review, Baltimore Review, Lips, IthacaLit, and South 85 Journal, among others. She lives in upstate New York, where she runs a freelance writing business, working with trade magazines, university magazines, nonprofit organizations, and corporate clients.

Poet on the poem:

When I first met my future husband, and for several years into our marriage, he worked on the machine maintenance crew at the huge IBM production complex in our area. IBM is no longer a significant employer in our part of New York State.

Monday, May 22, 2017

An Emergency of Birds, by Diana Decker

Diana Decker is a poet whose work has appeared in Verdad, Poppy Road Review, Silver Birch Press, deLuge, KY Story’s Anthology Getting Old, Mothers Always Write, and Smoky Blue Magazine. She writes, sings, and counts the birds on the small farm in New York that she shares with her husband.

Poet on the poem:

This is about habitat loss and climate change, of course, but also about a delayed realization of loss and missed opportunity, and the momentary impulse to just give in and ride the decline.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Pasta In A Ditch, by Brendan Cooney

Brendan Cooney is a U.S. poet living in Copenhagen. His poetry has appeared in Spillway, Sugar House Review, Canary, and Isthmus. He’s published essays in Prairie Schooner, Salon, Counterpunch, Chicago Reader, and Outlook India, and journalism in National Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, and other magazines and newspapers. Glimpses of films and other work are at: https://brendancooneyblog.wordpress.com/

Poet on the poem:

My immediate inspiration here was the Tang dynasty poets. The twin longings I have long had for solitude-in-nature and for home I was thrilled to find in work over a thousand years old. The pasta story ended with the man, a Swedish dairy-farmer, taking me for an Eastern European burglar, rounding up neighbors a few minutes later to hunt for me. I could see their lights from my new hiding place. The alienation from the species I felt at the time deepened. A homelessness never more shocking than upon return to my sacred swath of ground in Maryland.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

You Go Too, by Dennis Caswell

Dennis Caswell is the author of the poetry collection Phlogiston (Floating Bridge Press).  His work has appeared in Bluestem, Crab Creek Review, Poetry Northwest, Rattle, and assorted other journals and anthologies. He lives outside Woodinville, Washington, works as a software engineer in the aviation industry, and loves Bassetts jelly babies.

Poet on the Poem:

I’m guessing that it takes a long time and a lot of thought to muster the resolve to commit mass murder. What sort of thought could that be? I wanted to create a sort of calculus of alienation: a system of thought within which slaughter makes a kind of psychotic sense.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

For My Cousin, The Stripper, by Maari Carter

Maari Carter is originally from Winona, MS. Her poems have appeared in such places as Salt Hill Journal, Superstition Review, and SundogLit, among others. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at Florida State University, where she serves as Poetry Editor of The Southeast Review.

Familial mythology is often a point of interrogation in my work as a way to examine the causality of that initial priming that occurs through inherited narratives and the schematic dissonance it can create, even within something as interconnected as the family unit. With this poem, in particular, I wanted to focus on oppositional epistemologies without privileging one or the other, but acknowledge the cost and limitations of each.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

How the Birth Mother Was Found, and Thorn, by Lynne Thompson

Lynne Thompson is the author of Beg No Pardon, winner of the Perugia Press Prize and the Great Lakes colleges Association’s New Writers Award, and Start With A Small Guitar (What Books Press). Thompson’s poems have appeared in Ecotone, African American Review, North American Review, and Prairie Schooner.

“How the Birth Mother Was Found” accurately reflects the way in which a friend found my birth mother, and, ultimately, connected us. It was the first time I understood that the gene pool includes the vocal chords. “Thorn” was born of my ruminations—read: fears—about the kind of mother I might have been and, perhaps, why I never became one.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Valentine Palindrome, by Christine Butterworth-McDermott

Christine Butterworth-McDermott is the founder and head editor for the online journal, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine. Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Normal School, River Styx, Southeast Review, and others. She is the author of Woods and Water, Wolves and Women.

“Valentine Palindrome” was inspired by two separate incidents: an old boyfriend who hid some love letters from another girl and a mockingbird (not a cardinal) that crashed into my window.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Short Talks (After Anne Carson), by Molly Brown

Molly Brown is from Geneva, IL. She holds degrees in Music and English from Bucknell University. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Word Riot and Turtle Island Quarterly.

After encountering Anne Carson’s “Short Talks” in Plainwater, I was struck by their form and timbre, how their collective voice is at once reverential and then twists away into humor and then back again. I wanted to try my hand at this kind of voice, at its lovely, intimate, and beautifully strange brevity and presence.

Monday, May 8, 2017

"I Was the More" by Martha Gray Adkins

Martha Gray Adkins was born in St. Louis, MO, and has lived at Egleston Children’s Hospital, Fort Benning, Fort Ord, and Fort Drum. Adkins’s work has appeared in Feminine Inquiry and Lavender Review, and is forthcoming in Plenitude.

“I Was the More” is based on my experience as a survivor of intimate partner violence. This poem is part of an ongoing body of trauma-oriented autobiographical work re-interrogating the domestic, where each piece uses fragmented text from Shakespeare’s Hamlet (in this case, Ophelia’s line “I was the more deceived”) as title and kindling.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Introducing David J. Daniels, Assistant Poetry Editor

David J. Daniels is the author of Clean (Four Way Books), winner of the Four Way Books Intro Prize, and finalist for the Kate Tufts Award and Lambda Literary Award for Poetry. He is also the author of two chapbooks, Breakfast in the Suburbs (Seven Kitchens Press) and Indecency (Seven Kitchen Press). He teaches composition in the University Writing Program at the University of Denver and has received fellowships or scholarships from Kenyon Review, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and The Stadler Center at Bucknell University.

Crab Creek Review is honored to welcome David J. Daniels to the editorial team. David has been hard at work reading submissions for the 2017 Crab Creek Review Poetry Prize. Follow David on Twitter @David_J_Daniels

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Selfie at the End of the World, by Francine Witte

Francine Witte is a poet, flash fiction writer, photographer, blogger and reviewer. Her latest poetry chapbook “Not All Fires Burn the Same” won the 2016 Slipstream Press competition and will be published this fall. She is a former high school teacher, and lives in New York City.

The title of this poem just popped into my head one day as I noted how everyone loves to document each moment with a selfie as a kind of stamp that this particular moment took place and I was part of it. I thought of all the possibilities this offered, and the most outrageous one would, of course, be pausing in the middle of chaos just to snap that photo.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Motai-nai: Don’t Waste, by Sara Yamasaki

Moving Words Writing Clinic. Her poetry is published in Calyx and Echoes from Gold Mountain, book reviews, articles and essays in the International Examiner and The Kyoto Journal. She is a 2015 Hedgebrook Writing Residency recipient. Movingwordsclinic.com

While caring for my 92-year-old father, at times I felt crazy. He had dementia. His days and nights, and past and present realities were mixed up. Yet, I began to see I wasn’t just caring for him. Sometimes, at the most surprising moments, we dipped back in time and he became my caring, insightful father, and I became his little girl. He passed away on February 28, 2016.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

This is Your Love Poem, Al, by Corrie Williamson

Corrie Williamson is the author of Sweet Husk, winner of the 2014 Perugia Press Prize and a finalist for the Library of Virginia Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in The Missouri Review, AGNI, Shenandoah, Willow Springs, and elsewhere. She lives in Helena, MT.

“This Is Your Love Poem, Al”: I have been known to say that all poems are ultimately about sex, death, or god. My partner has gently pointed out the potential cynicism and narrow-mindedness of such a claim. He usually makes a fair point, and so I did my best here to prove myself wrong.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Oh, This Could Be the Last Time So Here, by Peter Twal

Peter Twal’s poems have appeared (or will soon) in Kenyon Review Online, Ninth Letter Online, Public Pool, Quarterly West, cream city review, The Journal, Devil’s Lake, RHINO, Booth, Yemassee, DIAGRAM, Bat City Review, and elsewhere. Peter earned his MFA from the University of Notre Dame. Read more at Petertwal.com.

First inspired by the LCD Soundsystem song “All My Friends” and later the poetry of Habib Al-Zayudi which I was translating from Arabic, I began writing poems obsessed with nostalgia, began exploring the ways in which memory can be a sort of violence against the body, both past and present. These poems explore that premise at different points in manuscript—specifically, when the speaker’s memories begin to bite back.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Crab Creek Review Poetry Prize open for submissions

Spring is almost here in the Pacific Northwest, and after a cold, wet winter, Seattle is looking forward to some sunshine! While we wait, we're buoyed by flurries of submissions for the 2017 Crab Creek Review Poetry Prize, and excited to have Diane Seuss on board to judge this year's contest.

The entry period for the 2017 Crab Creek Review Poetry Prize began on February 15th; entries will be accepted until May 15, 2017. A $500 prize will be awarded for the winning poem. All entries considered for publication. Winner and finalists will appear in Crab Creek Review. All poems are read anonymously (blind reading) by the editorial staff. We follow the CLMP code of ethics; if you think you are too close to the poetry editor or judge for comfort, please refrain from submitting work to the contest. We have a non-contest option available to all, with a 10-day turnaround time. A small processing fee is charged for this "Fast-Lane" submission option.

Diane Seuss was born in Indiana and raised in Michigan. She earned a BA from Kalamazoo College and an MSW from Western Michigan University. Seuss is the author of the poetry collections Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (2018); Four-Legged Girl (2015), finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open (2010), winner of the 2009 Juniper Prize for Poetry; and It Blows You Hollow (1998). Her work has appeared in Poetry, the Georgia Review, Brevity, Able Muse, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Missouri Review, as well as The Best American Poetry 2014. She was the MacLean Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Department of English at Colorado College in 2012, and she has taught at Kalamazoo College since 1988.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Politics of Scent, by Kelly Grace Thomas

Kelly Grace Thomas is a Pushcart Prize nominee and 2016 Fellow for the Kenyon Review Young Writers. “The Politics of Scent” was a semifinalist for the Crab Creek Review Poetry Contest. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in: Rattle, PANK, Rust + Moth, Crab Creek Review, Black Heart,
and others. Kellygracethomas.com

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Grinding Up the Seed Corn, by Mara Adamitz Scrupe

Mara Adamitz Scrupe creates poetry, book arts, installation, and public art. She has authored two poetry collections, “Sky Pilot,” published by Finishing Line Press, and “BEAST,” winner of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies’ Stevens Manuscript Award.

Poet on the poem:
I live on an 18th century-era farm in Virginia where I do most of my writing surrounded by the stories and artifacts of history set amidst splendid and profoundly moving natural landscapes.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Carious Lesion Scale (Or, the classification of dental cavities), by Verity Sayles

Verity Sayles is an essayist from Massachusetts. She received her MFA in nonfiction from Oregon State University where she discovered a love of pine trees. Her work appears in Under the Gum Tree, Commonline Journal, Burningword Literary Journal, and Dark Matter Journal. She can be reached at
Veritysayles.com or @saylesteam.

Writer on the essay:
No stranger to the dentist’s chair, I wanted to write a piece that felt like a growing cavity, and engaged the paradoxical ratio of decreasing enamel with increased pain. “Carious Lesion Scale” developed from a prompt given to me by the fabulous poet, Jen Richter. I love writing within existing constraints, especially those of a medical nature, and trying to push the emotional weight of an essay into clinical boundaries.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Engine Crisis, by Janet Reed

Janet Reed teaches writing and literature for Crowder College in Missouri. She began giving her poems breath in the world over summer break a year ago and is pleased to have published in multiple journals. She is humbled to share this poem with Crab Creek Review.

Poet on the Poem:
This poem began as an exercise about a vivid memory from childhood. My dad could fix anything, and his garage was better organized than any chef’s kitchen. I had never seen him fail, and the anguish that hung in the air when he gave up has stayed with me. The poem took on some surprises for me as I revised and also made me feel tender toward a man who was both brilliant and fragile.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

De Melkmeid by Johannes Vermeer, by Rachel Rear

Rachel Rear is a teacher, writer, actor, and sometime aerialist living in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Off The Coast Poetry Journal, and Forage Poetry Journal. She is working on her first book. Follow her on Twitter

Poet on the Poem:
Vermeer’s De Melkmeid was on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009, in its first US appearance since the 1939 World’s Fair. Painted circa 1657-1658, it is a pivotal work completed in what is considered the middle of Vermeer’s career.

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.