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Though I strive in large part to maintain a state of non-fiction in my poetry, there are times when I am unable to retain my grasp on the actual. I've found this happens most often when in pursuit of a portrait of some sort, or when writing about something for which the difficulty of the subject matter exceeds my ability as a non-fictional poet. I don't mean I consider this a failure, even though on a personal level it can be intimidating, humbling and frustrating. These poems, when they...

In the spirit of Halloween, we have decided to post a poem by contributor Cynthia Atkins. We hope that you enjoy her work as much as we do. "Elegy for a Scarecrow" originally appeared in issue 296.4.  Happy Halloween from the staff of the North American Review. ...

Originally blogged by The Best American Poetry, April 3, 2014.

It happens I am a fool. It happens I’m rather good at being a fool. It happens I am at my foolish best in Lisbon.


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I wrote the poem “Visitation” in the year following my father’s death. I’d written several somewhat wild and whirling...

Rebecca Foust was a James Hearst Poetry Prize Finalist in 2010. 

I wrote this poem sometime in 2008, not long after I first returned to writing after a 35-year hiatus, and so it was an early experiment in sustaining a longish poem (anything over a page was long for me then) and one made of short lines organized into tercets. The length was dictated by the length of the story I wanted to tell, for this is a narrative poem based, as many of my...

For the most part, I tend to write a long poem. But as a challenge to myself about two years ago I began writing in this made up form–what I call the five-and-dime because it’s composed of ten lines in five couplets. I wanted to see how much compression I could get into a poem, and how the couplets could control the movement down...


It’s Saturday night and I’m taking part in a fantastic poetry reading. One of the editors of District Lit—an online journal that publishes...


Before the poem “Last Visit,” there was a last visit. I was 24, in Illinois, where I grew up, a daughter and granddaughter of farmers, visiting from my...

I remember watching this video of Robert Bly when I was in my early twenties. He was asking the audience, “So, you want to be a poet? Do you have about fifty years?” Yes, of course, I thought to myself. I do have fifty years if that’s what it takes. I’d been writing poems since I was seven, and I knew I still had quite a few more bad poems to write—real stinkers—before I got any good.


I was compelled last week to reach out to Sydney Lea––Vermont’s current Poet Laureate––as three short essays of his, “Surviving Romance,” appeared in the spring issue of Traveltainted...


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