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.