Illustration by Matt Manley



There are rungs across the plains. If you’re ok with not looking  too close, they become the kind of ruled mirage you find on cereal box  stickers where holographic animals twitch and transform by tilting  the angle of the card. If you don’t mind squinting, tree stands turn  to their fields and caress the pastured cheeks. Take a step back and silos  lean to hold one another’s hips. There is living in nondescript places, ...


This blog originally appeared as the introduction to a section of Arab American Poetry in NAR 302.2 (Spring 2017).

If there were ever a time for politically galvanizing literature, this is it. But, perhaps not in the way you might expect. It’s true that hateful political rhetoric has won the day and is making way for a bewildering political reality. The intolerance that has been normalized is sobering...

Art by Tom Moore


Not the Thing but a Fossil of the Thing


Fern fronds fletched like a feather etch ache into gray slate,    

five petals float in a now-unbound crown,     


a thumb-sized spine curls and fans out to a tail, a spall splits

into stone pages stamped with tree bark


repeating like wallpaper, a leaf shines like oiled leather, oblate,

and an ammonite’s dull weight   


smells of new snow. A clam...

Illustration by Melanie Lambrick

There have been many writers who could be described, to varying degrees, as Gnostic, but Susan Howe is one of the most important. Just as William Blake’s Gnostic poetry endeavors to break out of the Corporeal realm and into the Eternal, Howe uses the materiality of language, writing, and history to break beyond them into a psycho-spiritual realm, into the transmundane. Her poetry connects with minds on the other side of living.

In her meditation on Chris Marker’s filmmaking, Howe...

Matt Manley Art

As the semester ends, I find myself trying to gauge the slipperiness of this thing called improvement. Has Dave’s portfolio of writing displayed that he’s become a better poet this semester? Yes, his specifics are more specific, his forms more formed, but there’s something I realize I haven’t talked about enough: happenstance. The beauty of it. The necessity.

In my desire to impart the craft of poetry, I didn’t emphasize enough the chance of poetry. And chance is what gives life,...


Gift Tower

When I read Siddhartha in Mrs. Stevens’ World Lit class,

the problem I had was reconciling the somber, skinny,


beneath-the-lotus-tree Buddha with the smiling,

fat-bellied, shiny golden Buddha beside the register



Twenty-two nonprofit poetry organizations from across the United States have formed a Poetry Coalition.

Throughout the month of March, the Poetry Coalition presents programs on the theme “Because We Come From Everything: Poetry & Migration.” The theme borrows a line from U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem, “Borderbus.”

Now, more than ever, these organizations believe that poetry has a positive role to play in our country. It is through reading, writing, and...

Image of bird by Matt Manley


Clouds move at the leisure of the wind, whether urgent and gusting or placidly seeming painted upon the sky. Like eagles and falcons, rivers and the wind itself, clouds have provided a permanent and inexhaustible image for freedom. I find it hard not to envy them, yet I would feel unmoored and unnerved by such complete mobility, something like “the unbearable lightness of being” as Milan Kundera characterized it.   


“Plaintive Lives” was written at a time soon...


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,...

A person

Most poems are written in the space between what Wallace Stevens called the “nothing that is not there and the nothing that is,” issued from silence and seeking the resonance and depth of silence. Like Elijah, poets stand on mountaintops and witness fires, earthquakes, and storms, all while waiting for a word from the Divine. Jake Adam York’s poetry inhabited such space—we might call it the via double-negative—with the highest ethical and aesthetic integrity. His were poems of...


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