Explanatory Notes and Bios

Explanatory Notes and Bios

Meena Alexander

I was moved by the poem by J.P.Dancing Bear (though I did not know the poet’s name then)–the lyric grace, the sweet snout of elegy, the fecund redness, then utter pallor of it. The loss flickered in me. A poem I had already started writing, over a year ago, or rather lines of it I picked up from my notebook and worked so it made its own music. This I sent for the telephone project.

Catherine Barnett

A recent study by Daniel Schachter at Harvard says that we can’t imagine the future without being able to remember the past. I was struck by the epigraph of my precursor’s poem (unknown to me at the time), the line from Sappho: “Can you forget what happened before?” The speaker in my poem was hoping to enliven the past in order to rewrite the future.

Tara Betts

When I first read the poem that inspired mine, I was definitely thinking about a topic that I don’t typically address in my poetry—birds. I wanted to link the poems by using a variation on the last line “diving flocks. Like sparks.” The other image that kept coming back to me was the image of birds that had been falling out of the sky in large numbers in early 2011. It made me think of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and how pollutants permeate everything in microscopic levels that accumulate and grow into a damaging presence. Each line came like a breath, another chance like numbers of a lottery ticket.

Paula Bohince

Meena’s “Sung (Lacking Words)” is exquisite. I read her poem many times, letting its pacing and images wash over me. I felt myself responding to the emergency she presents, made slow and beautiful by her dream-like timing. Her “hand flourishes” made me think of birds flying to and from a hand, which set my poem going. I also engaged with her “Hands grasp at dew// Which is what my flesh turned to.” I tried to be deliberate with my poem’s birds changing into fruit, then fire, then angels, and back to fire. The final return to fire refers to Meena’s poem, which so elegantly has the last stanza echoing the second. Her unanswerable question mid-poem is a moment I gave to mine. I also think that her fantastic use of “somehow” at her poem’s beginning tilted my poem toward its eventual form.

Jenny Browne

When I received Gerald Maa’s poem, I was not familiar with Casaubon, but I was drawn to the larger questions his poem considered about bodies and books, and how we spend our time. I was particularly drawn to the line: I saw I could only be a simile for my past self /I fear. This led me to a memory of once reading an old book on the side of a young mountain, and on downhill from there.

Stephen Burt

When I received Juliana’s contribution (not knowing, of course, that it was Juliana’s) I knew that I wanted to write a poem with sounds and speeches that crossed in the night, with unknown (or vatic or superhuman or mysterious) sources, like the misaligned telephone calls (a literal “telephone poem”) in Juliana’s contribution. I also wanted an excuse to do something long and something a bit uncontrolled compared to the poems that I had been writing, or not writing. And I had been thinking a lot about Belmont, about Rock Creek Park (near where I grew up), about the suburbs at night, about how to make suburbs interesting, and about how to find time to do any writing at all (we have recently had our second child: he’s seven months old, super-cute, and will probably wake up before I finish this paragraph). So those are the ingredients, if you like. I suppose the poem is a sequel to the last poem I wrote with anything like that length and that attitude, which is also in part about Rock Creek Park, “Brief History of North American Youth,” finished five or six years ago. Time, like owls, can fly, especially when it’s too dark to see.

Kathryn Stripling Byer

Staring at Alison Benis White’s poem, wondering what I’d gotten myself into with this project, I began to see images from my beloved aunt’s recent open casket bursting in my eyes, like firecrackers. The red painted lips, the blouse with its small buttons, beneath which I could barely see the bulge of the inoperable tumor. The line, “Every word but mouthed erased, ” pointed toward the poem’s culmination, or so I realize now. Without Alison’s poem, I could never have unbuttoned this outcry of grief and incomprehension at the physical reality of her death.

Sophie Cabot Black

How I wanted to write about those horses! I am always tending horses, hence they sneak into everything in my life. But I held off, and, landed first on the title–always wanting more time = wanting time to stand still–how that speaks now to our age of more and more. And too I loved the formality presented by what came down the right hand side of the telephone line (the poem I got to see then: now that all is revealed–how delightful to have the writer matched to the piece–and too to see what came to follow after mine).

Sometimes when reading, (hopefully most times), one is transported–so this was where I let myself begin with the blank page of carrying on this game of telephone, this string of poems, into where I knew not. It was great fun and I know that had it been another day something very different would have happened, and I wonder what that means too. And now having read the whole enterprise, do I sense a circling back? If we let this business of poem after poem (in visual art it is called The Exquisite Corpse, no?) go on a little longer, I now wonder would the images come back to themselves, the entire project as some full circle, or perhaps instead an uncoiling spiral…

Peter Campion

My process moves at different rates at the same time. This time, there were the immediate questions the telephone project uncovered for me: How can the speech of the poem be collective and singular? What action does the poem perform in relation to other poems? Who are you talking to? The very word “who,” from this last (ungrammatical) question got into my ear, thanks to Steve Burt’s owl. This returned me to a line I tried, and failed, to thread into a poem almost ten years ago: “the who you talk to when you’re talking to yourself.” I was also working at the time on a series titled “Salt Water.” All of these directions led me to the poem I contributed.

Jennifer Chang

When I received the assignment from At Length, I was in the midst of a several-months-long doctor-ordered bed rest due to pregnancy complications. Which is to say, I was a sorry lump in Ohio. I was reading a lot of Frank O’Hara then to keep my mind focused and my spirits up, but it was no use. I kept finding laments – tiny in size, vast in meaning – in every poem. “There should be / so much more, not of orange, of / words, of how terrible orange is / and life” – that’s what I’d say to my veggie burger, my dog, my stubborn belly. And then I got David Caplan’s poem, an observation of a child, the last lines of which articulated the prayer I’d yet to utter “O my little one, O my forever.” His poem humbled me, made me sadder and braver. From this experience, words slowly began to trickle out. I don’t know what my poem is. A record of how my reading intersected with the rhythms of my days and feelings, an utterance forced out in order to combat the silence of the future, a wish for any future that’s not too grievous. Maybe it’s just a sad ditty. I’ve since renamed the poem “Let’s Name Our Son after Frank O’Hara.”

J.P. Dancing Bear

When I first received Kathryn Stripling Byer’s poem, “Look”, there were certain images and ideas that struck me and I felt I could have a conversation with this poem. That I could write from the perspective of a dead woman. There’s so much in our culture about the sensitivities around death and the dead, but there’s also the aspect of having to let go and to move on and what you carry forward. I enjoyed being a contributor to the project; it reminded me that I used to write poems that conversed with other poems a long time ago.

Joanne Diaz

When I received David Yezzi’s poem, I was reading about the work of Atsuko Tanaka, a magnificent Japanese avant-garde artist whose most famous piece is The Electric Dress, which I write about here. I knew what was drawing me toward this material—Tanaka’s fascination with and fear of technology—but I didn’t know how to start the poem. When I read David Yezzi’s last line, I was delighted. It’s a daring move to end a poem with a speculation, and I thought it might be an interesting way to start mine. For me, then, this was a very generative exercise.

Ross Gay

It has been long enough since I’d written this poem, and written it in some kind of response to Jennifer Kronovet’s piece, that I’ve lost track entirely of how I was tethering mine to hers–though that seems fine.  Her poem feels especially exciting and weird to me now, and moreso due to my connection to it, which is there but kind of gone.  On the other hand, to read Hix’s piece right after feels like the way I like to read a poem (and do sometimes out loud, by myself, talking right back to it: “Really?  You think so?”)–his response is so sharp and kind of funny.  The project allowed that little sweet wall that sometimes we put around poems to be kicked over–and now I can see my poem a little more clearly, truth be told.  It seems, from reading these poems, which are pretty damn good and real different from each other, too, to be a good game to play.  And fun.

Kimiko Hahn

I am familiar with telephone-style poetry collaborations from renga, Japanese linked verse.  I was eager to try this more open approach–and honored to be the one kicking it all off.  What did that mean?  As Jonathan described, he gave me a Sappho fragment for starters.  Jim Powell’s translation, Sappho: A Garland (FSG, 1993) came to mind because years ago I had tried (unsuccessfully) to mimic those translations, using his open and closed brackets.  I tried to hang on to those mysterious windows that the damage had left us.  Jonathan was giving me the opportunity to resurrect that wish.  But I digress!  Aside from that initial and personal delight, I wanted for this opening piece a text that would be sharp and magical, but also giving.  I hoped to leave ample resonance so those who linked up would enter an open system.  I think that’s what I was thinking.  Oh, and I am irritated by the closed-systems religious institutions and I hoped to convey that.  All this was done with a deadline.  (More!)

Ernest Hilbert

Kristina Jipson’s poem “and Sharply” is a tranquil, meditative poem that inspired me to think of photographic processing from the age of the silver gelatin print, an art and craft that seem oddly remote to the age of instant “photographs” captured on phones and directly uploaded to social media sites and blogs where they may be witnessed by any number of viewers. (Her poem does not actually describe photographic development, though her description of “tin trays with water” into which paper is “slowly dipped” sent me in that direction.) The care and attention required to develop a photograph (or at the very least drop it off for development and then drive to pick it up again), placed certain demands on a photographer. A photograph cost money and time to bring to its final state, so one was, understandably, selective when closing the shutter.

Around the time I read “and Sharply,” I was directed to a website called Internet K-Hole. Urban Dictionary defines an “Internet K-Hole” as “the place you go when you have been surfing the internet mindlessly for too long and lose track of time or what you are doing.” The website itself offers the slogan “endless photos of strangers.” If that intrigues you, then welcome to the age of voyeurism without consequences. Privacy has been abolished. The pornographic resonance of the name Internet K-Hole is not entirely misleading. It is a website on which tens of thousands of photographs from the pre-digital age have been scanned and uploaded in no particular order and without annotation. The images date back to the 1960s and begin to taper off in the 1990s, as digital photography became more prevalent. The subjects of the photos are often “partying,” sometimes in a state of partial or complete undress, smoking pot, drinking beer, mugging and posing for the cameras, generally “letting themselves go.” The terminal line of Jipson’s poem describes a “sun like a hole in the sky, burning,” and so I felt that two loose intuitive filaments had found purchase. A web would soon emerge.

My first impression upon scanning through the photographs on Internet K-Hole was that I had lifted a cool rock and found a lair teeming with pill bugs. They had been hidden safely down in the protected soil, and I had suddenly aerated their den and exposed them to killing sunlight. Oh, those awful haircuts. Oh, all that wasted time, wasted brain cells. Did people really look like that? Did I? Can’t we just leave it all behind us? Oh, the mercy of oblivion! The photographs on Internet K-Hole were never meant to be “shared” the way digital shots are now or the way in which they are, in fact, now shared on that very site. They were taken for a small group of participants or for a single viewer, who perhaps never intended to share them at all. Yet here they are, pinned up for the world to see. The subjects have since aged, or even died. Surely few if any of the subjects are aware that their photographs have been so rudely exposed to the public.

I decided to reply with an expansive, maximalist gesture, a puffing of the chest. I used the exuberant, wild, popular American dynamism found in Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O’Hara, and John Ashbery. I went full adolescent. I wanted the poem to be big, brawny, as obnoxious as the characters on Internet K-Hole. I wanted it to sprawl and loaf like the boundlessly abundant photographs. It’s a poem about the noise of the modern age. It’s about the death of privacy. It’s about memory. But it is not angry. It’s in the comic mode, a goof. It’s nostalgic. I wanted it to be unabashed, out of bounds, too big for its own good, gawky, feral, vulgar, excited, and, finally, innocent. The website Internet K-Hole is a kaleidoscopic imprint of recent history. It is delightful, shocking, and fun. I can only hope my poem of the same name, conjured from its spirit, can match it.

H.L. Hix

It happened that on the day I received this poem I was reading Don Mee Choi’s new book, The Morning News Is Exciting.  One of the poems in it, “Instructions from the Inner Room,” has this explanatory note attached: “In pre-modern Korea, self-educated, upper-class women wrote instructional poem-songs (kyubang kasa) that were mainly passed down from woman to woman, mother to daughter.  These poems, usually recorded in vernacular Korean, hangul, spoke of family genealogy, proper conduct, duty and obedience to husbands, in-laws, and parents.”  Inspired by the fortuitous juxtaposition of two very different poems, each attentive to the mother, I tried to write “The Mother” backward, line by line, after the manner of Choi’s take on the instructional poem-song.

Kristina Jipson

I got very excited as a teenager once about a “mailbox project” that involved swapping prompts and response poems with some friends through a complicated three-mailbox system–I think the idea was that each box would receive both outgoing and ingoing mail, one dispatching to the next, and then somehow the collaborative project would be compiled in a sort of multiply-stamped scrapbook. I collage-decorated the boxes. I cut fat holes in the top of them in case people decided to send books, pictures, objects from the natural world! instead of their own writing. Then I hung the boxes from strings from my bedroom ceiling. Surely I had talked about this plan with my would-be collaborators? But somehow the the whole thing crashed before it got started at the first reveal of my overwrought boxes. People squirmed. They’d have to think about what to send. Meanwhile, I sent myself a black and white picture of a house on a hill. I wrote a poem with featuring the word clapboard in response. I put the poem and the picture in an envelope, then I put the envelope in a little box with some jacks in it. And so on. It turned out I was the creative tyrant of a postal system for one. Many years later, with considerably less time to paste little pieces of tissue paper into star-patterns on the lids of mailboxes on my bedroom floor, I was grateful for the opportunity to imagine some sort of chain to write into (though as I hemmed and hawed about how to do it, I got some sense of how my poor friends must have felt!). Jonathan’s plan is thankfully less bedazzled than my teenage one, but it seems steeped in the same sort of optimism I remember feeling about people slipping one another little envelopes of inspiration, and in that way making something new together. And how fun that, this time, the mail was sent, it was received, it was sent again!

A. Van Jordan

I decided to title my response with a line from the poem I was given. In my mind, I thought, if we were on the phone and talking about relationships, what might come up. In this sense, the only confession I had to offer was that my life works in cycles. And then the question, “Does yours?”

Jee Leong Koh

Reading Sappho translated by Sherrod Santos, I was drawn to the use of fragments to characterize the conflicting feelings after a relationship breaks up. Kimiko Hahn’s defiant poem gave me the wax image. The living room in Idra Novey’s poem is taken over by vagrants, and in my poem taken back by a couple of Giants fans.

Jennifer Kronovet

In college I took an installation art course, and for my final project I decided to travel around Illinois knocking on strangers’ doors and asking them to trade a personal object with me that I would then trade with someone else, some other stranger. I started off with a bracelet a friend had made me out of a bicycle chain. I traded that for a section of the cloth a woman had used to make her baby’s first blanket. I traded that for a small knife one man had used as a child when hunting with his father. I traded that for a music box a woman couldn’t bear to keep.

When I received Jason’s poem, I felt like I had to treat it in the same way these participants had treated the objects they received. Jason had looked inside and found this pen. I looked inside and found inside had shifted in the months since I’d become a mother. What could I find in there stable, sculptural enough to give  away?

Quinn Latimer

As Dana Levin’s spare poem—her “lyric echo”—is made up of words gleaned from the poem that preceded hers, my poem too (I see now) was built from words that I less consciously pulled from Matthew Zapruder’s poem: glacier, sisters, blue letters. I had just spent some time in the Alps, and the mountains, their idea and fact, were still very much in my head when I sat down to write. (Along with a quote by W. G. Sebald that I had just read: “My ideal station is possibly a hotel in Switzerland.”) In a way, I used the words I gleaned from Zapruder’s poem for their sound and sonic qualities, though I then put them to different meanings. Like some sort of homophonic translation of English to English, but also of the idea of the US and Iran to the idea of Switzerland, of the domestic interior to the natural, wild exterior. Since the political meaning of Zapruder’s “Poem For Delkash” did not really hit me until I read the poem that inspired his—I am ashamed to say—I was most influenced by his very beautiful, circular, quietly singsong cadences. And even if I was abashed to find I had written a love poem under his and the glacier’s influence, it was cool and somewhat reassuring to find that the entire thread began with a fragment by Sappho herself.

Dana Levin

It seems flamboyant to deem my contribution “by Dana Levin;” it reads to me more as a lyric echo, a partial apparition, of the poem written by Mihaela Moscaliuc, especially as it is comprised almost wholly of her words. At the time I was invited to participate in Telephone I was reading and contemplating fragment and erasure; I couldn’t help but read Mihaela’s Amelie through that lens, and conjured up a ghost. 

Gerald Maa

When given this great opportunity, I had been wanting to write a poem on Middlemarch, inspired by Neil Hertz’s phenomenal essay “Recognizing Casaubon.” For a long while, I had had the beginnings of the first handful of lines, but nothing more than those nascent spots of language. I hoped that the Telephone Project would provide the traction necessary to bring the poem back up to speed and then to its end. When I started I wrote with “Simile” off-stage, way off-stage, I confess. I wrote with hopes that “Simile” would swoop in on its own, and it, with its meditation on paternal tutelage, did—to Brechtian effect, laying bare the gulf between meaning and intention, what I wrote and what I meant to say. And thus poetry begat something poetic in its intentions.

Erika Meitner

Ed Skoog’s “Smoked Tongue” is an evocative, musical poem and when I read it, I immediately thought: barbecue—barbecue and language—so that’s where I started, but things got shifty pretty quickly. It was the summer of 2012 when I wrote this poem. It was hot. The Olympics were on and Oscar Pistorius was competing. This was before the murder charges and trial. Bryshon Nellum, too, was running in the 4×400 relay on team USA; he had been shot in both legs four years before the games, while walking near USC, when gang members mistook him for someone from a rival gang. My poems have been obsessed with gun violence for a while now, but I had been ruminating on the idea that our screen lives are things that don’t appear nearly enough in poems—television, Internet, Facebook, all of our virtual attachments. These are our new tongues, images, languages. Do I even need to say that my son kept interrupting me while I was trying to write this poem? I gave up, and put him in. I also realize this poem is vaguely apocalyptic, because: Ezekiel.

Marilyn Nelson

My response started with a line from the previous poem, which I used as a title. I didn’t want to write about erotic relationship; wanted to make a leap to a larger context. The idea of “past relationship” led me to think about the past, about history, about relationships between both individuals and peoples. I used as an epigraph a quote from my translation of one of Rilke’s Duino Elegies. I figured nobody else would be writing in forms, so I wrote in rhymed iambic pentameter.

Idra Novey

I wrote this poem on top of the Sunday paper. After spending some time with the poem before mine in the Telephone Project, I paused to read an article about a street in Cincinnati where half of the homes had been foreclosed. One morning, a woman saw smoke escaping from the foreclosed home next door to her. The complexity of that moment, of a women alone in her house looking out to find the vacant home next door on fire, seemed to have all sorts of curious things to say to the Sappho fragment that had triggered the poem before mine. And so, with a little newspaper ink on my elbows, I started “As in Cincinnati.”

Patrick Rosal

The process begins actively when the poet receives the preceding fragment, but really the process, for me, began when Jonathan sent an e-mail asking if I’d be a part. Dying’s an old mystery, but for an ex-altar boy like me, mystery is just about everything. So the anticipation of the fragment (i.e. anxiety) informed my reading. Would the piece I receive be long? Will I have to read it closely? Do I have time to read it closely? Do I have anything to say in response? And the most compelling question in my head: I wonder who wrote this? The Telephone Project—the poetry project—is like the game of the same name except all the participants are unknown. For one inclined to devotion (see altar boy reference above), this required a good deal of faith.

When I received Catherine Barnett’s fragment, three elements struck me the most: the title, the setting of an art gallery, and white string. I compose often in opposites and when I thought of the art gallery (I didn’t know about Richard Tuttle’s work), I tried to think of a contrasting scene. I just came back from the Philippines, only my third trip in twenty-five-some years and thought of the regular goat slaughter on special occasions, one of them being my arrival to the barrio of Santo Tomás, and the innards piled on a chopping block like thick bright twine. And then I remembered the old man come down from the hills rolling that jug (called a burnay in Ilokano) and how he started jamming with my uncle as the goat was slaughtered.

(The language that emerged from the project has now, since, become another poem, though very similar to its cousin here.)

The last, and perhaps the most rewarding, part of the process is reading the whole string, as it were. Interesting, the juxtapositions, the apparitions, even the visual shifts from voice to voice. Interesting to do this on e-mail. I think we all grew up during a time when you had to actually “dial” a telephone—and they all had lines.

Jason Schneiderman

Telephone was exciting because I was being forced into conversation with a stranger (or as it turned out, someone I know and rather like). It was a thrill to respond to a poem—to be commissioned in effect—to find a footing in someone else’s piece, and then to lay down my own poem as the foothold for the next writer. Writing is lonely. I was recently asked by someone if I’d been in a particular journal, but the question wasn’t in the vein of “I might have read your poem because I read that journal”—it was simply a question of fame. “Have you played Carnegie Hall?” I often get exhausted by how referential life is—how everyone is networking all this knowledge in these artificial ways. It was nice to be worked into a net that’s manageable and tangible. Friendly. Comfortable. Intimate. All the things I like, and of which I don’t get enough.

Roger Sedarat

I have to say, the previous poem did redirect my writing. I’m currently translating a great deal (and teaching translation). Only in retrospect do I realize that the inversion of the bee and beekeeper in the previous poem strikes me in part as what the translator does with the source text (relevant for funeral talk too a la Benjamin’s theory and others of the text dying unless revivified–eulogized?–by another writer/translator).


Evie made me think, again, of the dead and what it means to live beside and behind “done seen too much eyes.” I was thinking about the living beside the memory of trauma. Of epic and state-sanctioned trauma. Of how that shapes our love and what we say to each other over breakfast or in the car or the small spaces we go as those who narrowly survived. I was thinking about the horrors we see and don’t talk about. The horrors our loved ones see that project before us as secondary witnesses. I see we both responded to mother father ghosts. I felt such a kinship with her poem. She cleared my walls of nails for the ghosts to walk through.

Evie Shockley

The title of the poem I received set me off initially. I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about narratives of slavery and the Middle Passage, so when I saw “Salt Water,” the phrase “salt-water negroes” immediately came to mind. The phrase was once used—largely, I believe, by black folks who were born into slavery here—to describe those still being kidnapped into slavery and brought here from Africa on slaveships at a time when that was no longer a common (or “legal”) way to increase the enslaved population. So while it didn’t seem remarkable that I made this connection, what did surprise me was that I heard the phrase as dialogue; someone had something important to say about “them salt-water negroes.” I didn’t know what that something was right away, but as I lifted other words and phrases from the previous poem and placed them in this new context, the warning—as it turned out to be—soon took shape.

Juliana Spahr

It felt impossible. And then it felt possible. Which is often what working with others feels like.

Joshua Weiner

The contrivance of the experiment encouraged me to be loose and have fun, playing with rhetoric and figurative language, contemporary reference, and other formal elements, drawing from the previous installment without too much concern about developing or advancing it.  To the contrary, I was provoked by the straight-ahead lyric/narrative to disrupt the presumption of a genuine fictive occasion, while still using some of the terms it established.  The need to turn, but to do so within audible bounds, taught me something about style and structure, suture and transition, segue and statement: how does a poet create a world?  How does another follow a lead without being beholden to it?   The idea that a single poem could make a tradition of its own composition has positive implications for the future of poetic composition, generally.

David Yezzi

After reading Ernest Hilbert’s “Internet K-Hole,” I went to the website that his poem is based on: internetkhole.blogspot.com and scrolled through the countless forgotten snapshots posted there. What struck me was how many pictures and people there were: something that Hilbert’s maximalist poem gets at very powerfully. Working by contrast, I responded to his sweeping inclusiveness with a kind of minimalism–each line with its own lost history and its own point of view.

Matthew Zapruder

When I got the poem, I was intrigued by “Delkash.” I found this video, her voice and the song was so beautiful I couldn’t stop listening to it all day. Something in her voice and his also for some reason produced in me some feelings about all the things I don’t know about all the people standing up in unimaginably difficult situations all over the world.


Meena Alexander‘s most recent books are the volume of poetry Quickly Changing River (TriQuarterly Books/ Northwestern Univ Press, 2008) and the essay collection Poetics of Dislocation (Univ. of Michigan Poets on Poetry Series, 2009). She teaches at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. www.meenaalexander.com

Kazim Ali‘s most recent books of poetry are Sky Ward and Bright Felon. He teaches at Oberlin College.

Catherine Barnett is the recipient of a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, the Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers, and a Pushcart. Her first book, Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced, was published in 2004 by Alice James Books. She teaches at Barnard, the New School, and NYU. She also works as an independent editor and recently collaborated with the composer Richard Einhorn on the libretto for “The Origin,” his multimedia oratorio about the life of Charles Darwin. Her second book of poems will be published by Graywolf in 2012

Allison Benis White is the author of Self-Portrait with Crayon. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, and Ploughshares, among others. Her honors include the Indiana Review Poetry Prize, Prairie Schooner’s Bernice Slote Award, and a Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers. She currently teaches at the University of California, Irvine.

Tara Betts is the author Arc & Hue. She teaches at Rutgers University. Her work has appeared in Court Green, Ninth Letter, Callaloo, PMS, and the upcoming anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library, 2012) and A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry (University of Akron Press, 2012).

Paula Bohince is the author of two poetry collections, both from Sarabande: Incident at the Edge of Bayonet Woods (2008) and The Children (forthcoming, 2012). She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Amy Clampitt Trust, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, as well as the “Discovery”/The Nation Award and the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Stephen Burt is Professor of English at Harvard. His most recent books include THE ART OF THE SONNET, with David Mikics (2010); CLOSE CALLS WITH NONSENSE: READING NEW POEMS (2009); and PARALLEL PLAY, a collection of poems (2006).

Kathryn Stripling Byer has published five books of poetry, the first in the AWP Series and the rest in the LSU Press Poetry Series. Her sixth, titled Descent, will appear in 2012. North Carolina’s first woman Poet Laureate, she served for five years, maintaining a website devoted to showcasing the state’s writers. She recently received the Hanes Poetry Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers and has had poetry, fiction and essays published in journals ranging from The Atlantic to Appalachian Heritage. She has lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains since 1968.

Sophie Cabot Black has three poetry collections from Graywolf Press, The Misunderstanding of Nature, The Descent, and most recently, The Exchange. Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review. She most recently taught at Columbia University.

Peter Campion is the author of two books of poems, Other People (2005) and The Lions (2009), both from the University of Chicago Press. He is the recipient of the Larry Levis Reading Prize, the Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Fellowship in Literature. He teaches in the M.F.A. program at the University of Minnesota.

David Caplan is the author of four books of poetry and criticism, most recently, Rhyme’s Challenge: Hip Hop, Poetry, and Contemporary Rhyming Culture (Oxford University Press, 2014. A sequence from his current manuscript, “Observances,” won the Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry, given by the Virginia Quarterly Review for the best poem or group of poems the journal published in 2012. He holds the Charles M. Weis Chair in English at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Jennifer Chang’s first book of poems is The History of Anonymity. Poems from a new manuscript have been published in Best American Poetry 2012, Kenyon Review, The Nation, A Public Space, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at George Washington University and lives in D.C. with her husband and son.

J. P. Dancing Bear is the author of nine collections of poetry, most recently, Inner Cities of Gulls (2010, Salmon Poetry), winner of a PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles National Literary Awards. His next two books are: Family of Marsupial Centaurs, which will be released by Iris Press; and Fish Singing Foxes, which will be released by Salmon Poetry. His poems have been published in Mississippi Review, Third Coast, DIAGRAM, Verse Daily and many other publications. He is editor for the American Poetry Journal and Dream Horse Press. Bear also hosts the weekly hour-long poetry show, Out of Our Minds, on public station, KKUP and available as podcasts.

Geffrey Davis grew up in Tacoma, WA and teaches creative writing at the University of Arkansas. He is the author of Revising the Storm (BOA Editions, 2014), winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Other distinctions include the Anne Halley Poetry Prize, the Dogwood Prize in Poetry, the Wabash Prize for Poetry, the Leonard Steinberg Memorial/Academy of American Poets Prize, nominations for the Pushcart, and fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation and Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

Joanne Diaz is the author of two poetry collections, My Favorite Tyrants and The Lessons, and with Ian Morris, she is the co-editor of The Little Magazine in Contemporary America (forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press in 2015). She is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. She teaches in the English Department at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Ross Gay’s books of poems include Against Which (CavanKerry Press, 2006) and Bringing the Shovel Down (University of Pittsburgh Press, forthcoming January 2011).  His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, MARGIE, Ploughshares and many other magazines.  He has also, with the artist Kimberly Thomas, collaborated on several artists’ books: The Cold Loop, BRN2HNT and The Bullet.  He is an editor with the chapbook press Q Avenue, whose recently published books include Chromosomory by Layli Long Soldier, Amigos by Matthew Dickman, Ad Hoc by Chris Mattingly, and Dolly by Kimberly Thomas and Simone White.  He teaches in the low-residency M.F.A. program in poetry at Drew University, and in Indiana University’s English department.

Aracelis Girmay is the author of changing, changing & Teeth. She teaches at Hampshire College & Drew University’s low-residency program. Her second book of poems, Kingdom Animalia, is slated for publication in fall, 2011.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet and visual artist. Her forthcoming collection of poetry, Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books), will be published in 2015. Currently, Griffiths teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn.

Kimiko Hahn‘s latest collection, Toxic Flora (W. W. Norton, 2010), contains poems triggered by science.  At present, aside from sequences on neuroscience and beekeeping, Hahn is collaborating on a translation of Japanese zuihitsu.  She teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation, Queens College, CUNY.

Ernest Hilbert’s debut collection Sixty Sonnets (2009) was described by X.J. Kennedy as “the most arresting sequence we have had since John Berryman checked out of America.” Adam Kirsch wrote of Hilbert’s limited-edition chapbook Aim Your Arrows at the Sun that, “like Robert Lowell, Hilbert is drawn to scenes of carnage, where the true face of humanity seems to reveal itself.” The Poetry Foundation writes that “in his debut collection, Sixty Sonnets, Hilbert establishes a variation on the sonnet form, employing an intricate rhyme scheme and varied line length. A skillful practitioner of form and nuance, Hilbert shifts between delicate sonic moments and humorous narrative sequences.” Penguin’s Poetry: A Pocket Anthology notes that Hilbert “has been credited as one of several contemporary poets who have led a revitalization of the sonnet.” His poems have appeared in The New Republic, Yale Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Parnassus, Boston Review, Verse, New Criterion, American Scholar, and the London Review. He graduated from Oxford University, where he edited the Oxford Quarterly. He was the poetry editor for Random House’s magazine Bold Type in New York City (1998-2003) and, more recently, of the Contemporary Poetry Review (2005-2010), which has been described as “one of the most comprehensive online journals of literary criticism.” His poems have appeared in several anthologies, including the Swallow Anthology of New American Poets and two Penguin anthologies, Poetry: A Pocket Anthology and Literature: A Pocket Anthology.

H. L. Hix teaches in the creative writing MFA at the University of Wyoming.  His most recent book, First Fire, Then Birds: Obsessionals 1985-2010, was published in September 2010 by Etruscan Press.  His website is www.hlhix.com.

Kristina Jipson‘s poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, At Length, Chicago Review, Colorado Review, DIAGRAM, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, How Void of Miracles, was published by Hand Held Editions, and another chapbook, Lock, Means, was recently released from Dancing Girl Press. She lives in South Bend, Indiana, where she is working on a PhD at the University of Notre Dame.

A. Van Jordan is the author of Rise, published by Tia Chucha Press, 2001, which won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award. His second book, M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, published by W.W. Norton & Co, 2004, was awarded an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and listed as one the Best Books of 2005 by The London Times (TLS). Jordan was also awarded a Whiting Writers Award in 2005 and a Pushcart Prize in 2006, 30th Edition. Quantum Lyrics was published July 2007, also by W.W. Norton & Co. He is a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, 2007, and a United States Artists Williams Fellowship, 2008. He is a Professor in the Dept. of English at the University of Michigan.

Jee Leong Koh is the author of two books of poems Payday Loans and Equal to the Earth (Bench Press). His new book Seven Studies for a Self Portrait will be released by the same press in March 2011. Born and raised in Singapore, he lives in New York City, and blogs at Song of a Reformed Headhunter.

Jennifer Kronovet is the author of Awayward (BOA Editions, 2009), which was selected by Jean Valentine as winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in The Colorado Review, Fence, The Nation, Ploughshares, A Public Space, Open City, and other journals. She is currently Writer-in-Residence at Washington University in St. Louis.

Quinn Latimer is the author of Rumored Animals, which won the 2010 American Poetry Journal Book Prize and is forthcoming in early 2012. Her poems have appeared in Boston Review, The Last Magazine, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. Recordings or readings of her poetry have been included in exhibitions at Art Basel Miami Beach; Galerie J, Geneva; New Jerseyy, Basel; Kunsthaus Glarus; and on Radio Arthur in Switzerland. She is a regular contributor to Artforum and frieze, and her art and literary criticism has also recently appeared in Art in America, Bookforum, Kaleidoscope, and Everywhere and All at Once: An Anthology of Writings on Performa 07 (JRP Editions, 2010) and Fast Forward 2: The Power of Motion (Hatje Cantz, 2010). Originally from Venice, California, she currently lives in Basel, Switzerland. Her various writings are archived at quinnlatimer.com.

Dana Levin is the author of In the Surgical Theatre and Wedding Day. Her third collection, Sky Burial, will be available from Copper Canyon Press this March. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Gerald Maa is an editor in chief of the Asian American Literary Review. His poetry, translations, and essays have appeared in places such as American Poetry Review, Common Knowledge, Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China, and Studies in Romanticism. He has earned support from places such as the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Library of Congress Asian Reading Room, and Vermont Studio Center. He is currently based in LA.

Erika Meitner is the author of four books of poems–most recently, Ideal Cities (HarperPerennial, 2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry Series winner, and Copia (BOA Editions, 2014). In 2015, she will be a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing at Queen’s University, Belfast. She is currently an Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she teaches in the MFA program. You can find her online at erikameitner.com

Mihaela Moscaliuc’s first poetry collection, Father Dirt (winner of the 2008 Kinereth Gensler Award), appeared from Alice James Books in 2010. Her poems, reviews, translations, and articles appear in The Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, TriQuarterly, New Letters, Poetry International, Arts & Letters, Pleiades, and Soundings. She teaches at Monmouth University and in the low-residency MFA Program in Poetry and Poetry in Translation at Drew University, and lives in Ocean, NJ.

John Murillo is the author of the poetry collection Up Jump the Boogie. A graduate of New York University’s MFA program in creative writing, he has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The New York Times, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  His work has appeared in such publications as Callaloo, Court Green, Ninth Letter, and Ploughshares, and is forthcoming in Angles of Ascent: a Norton Anthology of African-American Poetry. Currently, he is visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Cornell University.

Marilyn Nelson is the author or translator of twelve books and three chapbooks. Her books have won or been finalists for many awards. Nelson’s newest book of poetry, Sweethearts of Rhythm, was released in 2009 from Dial, and was illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Her newest children’s book, Snook Alone, was released in September of 2010 by Candlewick Press, and was illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering. Her honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, an A.C.L.S. Contemplative Practices Fellowship, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, and a fellowship from the J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Nelson is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Connecticut; founder and director of Soul Mountain Retreat, a small writers’ colony; and was Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006.

Idra Novey‘s first book of poems The Next Country received the Kinereth Gensler Award from Alice James Books and was included in Virginia Quarterly Review’s list of Best Poetry Books of 2008.  She’s received awards from the Poetry Society of America, the National Endowment for the Arts, Poets & Writers Magazine and the PEN Translation Fund.  Her most recent translation is a volume of poems by Brazilian poet Manoel de Barros, Birds for a Demolition. She teaches in the MFA Program at Columbia University and at NYU.

Meghan O’Rourke is the author of The Long Goodbye and the poetry collections Once and Halflife. A 2014 Guggenheim Fellow, and the recipient of the 2008 May Sarton Poetry Prize, she publishes regularly in Slate, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. She teaches at NYU and Princeton.

Patrick Rosal is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive, which won the Members’ Choice Award from the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and more recently, My American Kundiman, which won the Association of Asian American Studies 2006 Book Award in Poetry as well as the 2007 Global Filipino Literary Award. In 2009, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to the Philippines. He currently teaches at Drew University’s Low-Residency MFA program and Sarah Lawrence College.

Jason Schneiderman is the author of Sublimation Point, a Stahlecker Selection from Four Way Books, and Striking Surface, winner of the 2009 Richard Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press.  His poetry and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry, Poetry London, Grand Street, The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Story Quarterly, and Tin House. He has received fellowships from Yaddo, The Fine Arts Work Center, and The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.  He was the recipient of the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America in 2004.  He currently directs the Writing Center at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

Roger Sedarat is the author of the poetry collections Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic, which won Ohio UP’s Hollis Summers’ Prize, and Ghazal Games (forthcoming, Ohio UP). He teaches poetry and literary translation in the MFA program at Queens College, City University of New York.

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Evie Shockley is the author of the new black (Wesleyan, 2011), a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006), two chapbooks, and the critical study Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (Iowa, 2011). She teaches African American literature and creative writing at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Juliana Spahr is currently working on a slightly paranoid book about the literature of the 1990s. She co-edits Chain Links with Jena Osman. She often co-writes essays, mainly about gender, with Stephanie Young. She is co-writing a book with David Buuck that tells the story of Demented Panda and Koki, two friends who are writers in a time of war and ecological collapse. And she co-organized the 95 cent Skool, a week-long something or other with Joshua Clover last summer.

Afaa Michael Weaver (Michael S. Weaver) is the author of 9 books of poems, including The Plum Flower Dance: Poems 1985 to 2005. He has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, a Pew fellow in poetry and taught at the National Taiwan University and Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan as a Fulbright Scholar. He did his graduate work in playwriting and poetry at Brown (85-87) and now holds an endowed chair at Simmons College.

Joshua Weiner is the author of two books of poetry, The World’s Room and From the Book of Giants; and the editor of At the Barriers: on the Poetry of Thom Gunn (all from Chicago).  He teaches at the University of Maryland, College Park, and lives in Washington D.C.

Ross White is the author of How We Came Upon the Colony (Unicorn Press) and, with Matthew Olzmann, co-editor of Another & Another: An Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2012, New England Review, and Poetry Daily, among others. He teaches creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.

David Yezzi‘s latest book of poems is Azores, a Slate magazine best book of the year.

Matthew Zapruder is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Come On All You Ghosts (Copper Canyon, 2010). Currently he works as an editor for Wave Books, and teaches as a member of the core faculty of UCR-Palm Desert’s Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing. He lives in San Francisco.


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PoetryMay 19, 2024

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PoetryFebruary 16, 2024


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PoetryFebruary 9, 2024


“[H]ow do they bear this heat Who / knows who can say what will change,” Joanna Klink writes of this poem’s eponymous plant, also known as trumpet pitchers, as she explores our climate crisis and her relationship with her father in language that is both colloquial and catastrophic, meditative and urgent.

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PoetryApril 11, 2023

Three Weeks

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