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craft of poetry

Illustration by Matt Manley of man looking through a square frame, hidden by shadows.

          I was fortunate to be born into a family that emphasized the importance of story.
          The first story they told me was my name. Next came my great-grandfather cutting watermelon into quarters as he and my father walked a field in Kentucky. Then came my mother running and jumping on the basketball court, powerful and balanced.
          Growing up, my little brother, Nathan, and I shared a room. Both Dad and Mom would come and read to us. They sat on the floor...

Illustration by Matt Manley of man looking through a square frame.

          What else do we have except story? To say how we love one another. To offer comfort. To prepare for grief, for suffering. To try to remember joy.
          In the beginning was the word and the word was made flesh. And what were those words? Mostly the language of the body. Breast and thigh, curve of back, ankle’s stem and neck’s graceful turn like the limb of a willow nudged by the wind.
          We were young, only twenty-three when we...

painting of a small child sitting in grass

Laurie Lamon​

The making of this poem took a very long time. I did not write about my father's death for almost twenty years.

I was always interested in my father's tools, especially his level, which now is mine. It is big and heavy, and over seventy years old. To barely move it is to disrupt equilibrium. 

So much of working with poetry makes me think of his work: cuts of wood measured in the millimeters, 
as with lines breaking, and...

Illustration by Jessica Mercado

     Poetry gives me a chance to document reality in an emotional way.

     I have lived in New Mexico for twenty-three years now. I bought my house nine days after I drove into town. From the start, I loved watching the way the clouds bubbled and shifted. The light blistered like a lit match, especially on overcast days, and I realized I needed this sort of glory. The climate was nearly perfect. Summers were not too warm and never sticky like the East Coast had been. And they came...

Midwestern

Sometimes poems start with nouns. Could we even go so far as to say all poems begin their at-first fragile lives with the solidity of nouns? In the dark we move, and that moving matters when we bump into something or when our bare foot, warm from the bedclothes, comes down flesh against angle, onto a Lego block. Through the day we touch nouns: a pen, a handlebar, a coffee cup, our ear, a book’s spine, our beloved’s spine; or we long to touch, dream of touching, imagine touching,...

Buildings

My arsenal when I enter my poetry workshops is seemingly innocuous: a pen, a 99¢ notebook, and a clay mug that contains a stapled together tea bag.  The tea, bought in bulk, doesn’t hint toward a distant land like Masala Chai nor does it promise a feeling like Calm Chamomile. No, my stuff is just stuff that one could have purchased, and did purchase, decades ago.

After I arrange my supposedly timeless things, it doesn’t take long before I start in on a...

Human shadow

Felicia Zamora’s Poem “A Long Road Never Takes Us” Will Appear In Nar Issue 302.1.

What brings you to the page? The incessant lull of the image? Perhaps the habitual pace around the desk, in taunt of your time? The spark of unexplainable inspiration that requires you to bolt toward any mechanism of capture to get it down? The guilt...

The power of surrender

I live a double life as a poet and a yoga instructor. It’s a curious intersection. The forms are different, but the process surprisingly similar: shedding the unnecessary to find the essential.

There’s a lot of unnecessary to surrender.

In yoga training, there is continuous undoing, from the narrowed brow to the tightened shoulders, held breath, and barricades throughout the body. If we don’t undo these tensions, we train them into the positions we are relentlessly practicing...

Water's Touch

Alyce Miller's poem titled "On Finding a Legless Doll at the Beach Called Park Facing Southeast, California" was published in issue 295.3 of the North American Review.

 

...

An epidemic of deaths hit our family over the five years beginning in 2010. I lost three brothers, a niece, an aunt, two grand-nieces, and a grand-nephew. The youngest to die was one month old, and the oldest had just passed his fifty-sixth birthday. The door to my writing life cracked open to let death in as I tried to make sense of each new loss. Some of that writing became elegies published in the Summer 2015 issue of Mezzo Cammin.

So why does death, or the fear of it,...

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