Poetry

Illustration by Tom Moore

This blog is about Betsy's poem "nails and wings" which appeared in NAR issue 302.2 and is available here.

            Dog paddling across a gigantic sparkling lake while weeds grab at my legs—that’s the metaphor for marriage that floated to the surface this morning. Unlike falling in love, which is generally effortless, delicious, deliciously frustrating, frustratingly rewarding, but most of all finite,...

Art by Matt Manley

    I wrote “I, Beast,” a poem honored by the North American Review, after reading a New York Times article in 2014, which explained that the soil in one particular Russian city had preserved ancient documents, some as mundane as a shopping list and a child’s fanciful drawing. The drawing was made in approximately 1260 by a boy named Onfirm, believed to be six to seven years old and includes the words, “I, beast,” as well as the creature that I describe in the poem. I’ve...

Illustration by Tom Moore

In the summer of 2014, while traveling to Greensburg, Pennsylvania for a poetry retreat,  I sat to write a poem as a reply to a Father’s Day letter I had received from my son, Patrick. The response eventually became a book-length manuscript. The poems of Soul Be A Witness, my latest collection, attempt to speak truth of and to boys and men of color as only an African American son, father, and grandfather can.

As native sons of America, boys of color have...

Self by Ciara Shuttleworth

Images by author

 

Courtney by Ciara Shuttleworth     I went to school for painting before I went for poetry. I kept a notebook in my painting studio, but the act of writing in a notebook is more like painting than editing a drafted poem: the body...

Illustration by Melanie Lambrick

     I had the good fortune to be a finalist in Five Oaks Press’s poetry chapbook competition last spring, and because of that, had my collection published this March. In the past, when my work has been accepted for publication, I’ve felt a combination of excitement and relief: someone liked it! And also: now I can stop revising.

     With the chapbook, though, my experience was different. The pages were smaller than the standard Word doc I compose in and the poems had erratic, often...

Illustration by Matt Manley

     The Polish government designated it the Year of Zbigniew Herbert and organized a celebratory reading at the Polish Embassy in DC, where a handful of Polish American poets read and discussed his singular influence. I read a Herbert-influenced poem along with an excerpt from my translation of Pan Tadeusz, the great nineteenth century Polish Romantic epic—the scene where all nature and all the inhabitants of Lithuanian Poland react to the advancing Napoleonic forces with an eerie...

Illustration by Matteo Gallo

So far, it has been a constant.  Ants drawn in from under the front door; cockroaches flitting into their spaces whenever the light is flicked on; that one spring when ladybugs huddled upside down in the corners of my ceiling; mice; rats; bedbug welts the size of golf balls. My house has never been able to keep them out. There always seems to be something unwanted. And I began to wonder if this was a long tradition, something inherited.

            I remember my parents setting...

Illustration by Kali Gregan

            Grief and regret are two of those ghosts that seem to frequently haunt my creative process.  More often than not, whenever I sit down to write, they will pull me far from where I want to go and inevitably towards where I need to.  And then, especially in those moments where I most resist them, I will somehow unexpectedly find myself caught in their orbit.  It is such a strange commitment we are asked to make as writers: attempting to capture in words the inherently unsayable. ...

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...

Illustration by Matteo Gallo

I came to writing late, starting at age thirty-four. My artistic life was born a month after my first child was born. I’m not fully conscious of the reasons for this. I only know that my writing often rises out of the dissonance between artistic and family life and that the poem included in the North American Review is no exception. Time is always the enemy. The need to spend time with my wife and children. The need to spend time with my work. And because time is limited, these two...

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