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Short Takes on Long Poems, Volume 2

Marianne Boruch, John Koethe, Jon Davis, Camille Dungy, Cate Marvin, Rachel Hadas, H.L. Hix, Shane McCrae, Nicole Cooley, Gretchen E. Henderson, David Caplan, and Jake Adam York weigh in (briefly) on their favorite long poems.

Short Takes on Long Poems, Volume 1

R.T. Smith, Michael Leong, Dana Levin, Paisley Rekdal, Cecily Parks, John Poch, Daniel Bosch, Spencer Reece, Michael Ryan, Sam Hamill, Erica Dawson, and Robert Pinsky weigh in (briefly) on their favorite long poems.


Writing to a half-brother he didn’t know, Shane McCrae tells a powerful story of longing across race, distance and lies–a story of “water in a fist” where the brothers are “not the fist/…not the water/we the thirst.”


“When thought goes a long way away from the point, apply heat/and observe its tracks.” Taking her own advice, Rusty Morrison traces a mind through illness, noting the ways in which, “Indistinguishable from body’s surface, a net/of symptoms floats.”

from Bye-Bye Land

Sampling athletes, politicians and canonical poets (among others), Christian Barter tells the story of 21st-Century America in a poem whose range is matched by its remarkable narrative force.

from Labyrinth

“Still the heavy kick drum of the bull-man’s gait shakes the boy’s gut,” writes Oliver de la Paz in this opulent version of an ancient myth. “Still the labyrinth gathers its boundaries in redundant corridors.”

Homeric Turns

A masterful poem of suffering, storytelling and gods from Alan Shapiro, in whose hands “the rank and file/Massed for a sleep walk into corpse fires” can become, for a moment, “A figure now for storm clouds out at sea.”

Delusion’s Enclosure: on Harry Partch (1901-1974)

“LISTEN TO THAT.” Stephen Motika makes his own original music in writing the life, work and migrations of a composer who once asserted, “tongue must couple with the cavity or there’s no resonant tone. yes, this is sexy.”

The Monongahela Book of Hours

V. Penelope Pelizzon strings her time in a mining town together with stories of an early coal baron, the workers who opposed him, and the art in the museum that bears his name, hunting “Illuminations sharp/enough to catch…/dark earth’s plunge/to underworlds where men still crouch to free/the stone whose flesh is flame.”

Two Prose Pieces

In one of the two prose poems here, Rachel Zucker deals with a friend’s death, her unreliable memory and her fascination with another poet known only as “one.” In the other, Elaine Bleakney begins, “This is the beginning of talking to you: deer in the yard,” setting off a series of meditations that cover a terrible job, a traumatic labor, and culture shock.