Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: February 2018
Here’s a short selection of some of the best new poems hitting the web—curated by our talented reader, Nicholas Brown. These seven poets, both established and emerging, all have talent worth copying. Enjoy, and be grateful, knowing so many awesome poets are making our community beautiful.
“In those days we knew that he was going to kill us all, but we didn’t know that the world would stand by in silence.”
In a time in which it is easy to turn our backs to the world, “Black Milk” turns toward it. It peels back all the layers of possibilities and almost-truths to reveal a rare honesty. It is the letter we have all scrawled out and then hidden away for fear of its truth.
“Of course we can go inside the gas chamber.”
There are many readings of Dasbach’s “Human Metonymy: A Tour Guide Through I and II,” thanks to the poem’s structure. However, with each reading, I find our treatment of history to be at the forefront. In one hand, there’s an intimate nearness and in the other, a brute distance to the past. A surreal juxtaposition of the two is showcased here.
“Land remembers like a body does. A city full of men / still has a mother”
Alyan’s “In Jerusalem” accomplishes two things: it strips away the idealized gloss of travel, providing insight to the underrepresented narrative of the female traveler. Secondly, it hones in on the after-effects of sexism, the troubled act of remembering and self-questioning.
“A darkness that has always existed at the edges, demanding a license for the night.”
After the numbers were finalized, when so many of us woke in the morning stunned in disbelief, a common refrain was, “How did this happen?” Despite the questioning, we all knew how Trump became president. It was our neighbor, our coworkers, and our family who filled out ballots in support of him. Popa’s “My Godfather Votes Trump” examines the underbelly of that truth and how we should have seen it coming all along.
“Don’t rely on lessons learned from frost / that beards the trees in winter”
Both inescapable and fleeting, “The sting of finite” shows us everything we are and aren’t. It harmonizes everything we can’t help becoming. You do not have to be a poet to unravel under Grandbois’ sting.
“how we were made to bleed and then made a nation out of dying”
“and when I say body i mean country” writes Ferguson in his exploration of the self in relation to nationality. The speaker, stripped of a singular, concrete identity, subverts the borders of the body and country in a quest to find self-love.
“& my song is, I still love / our parents. & my song knows / they are not my only // family. But I do, I miss the five-part / howl-screech of our laughter / around the kitchen table”
Chen Chen’s “The School of Song” is a returning home—even if imagined for the speaker—and the complications therein. It is also a redefining of family. It is the act of opening up, despite being shut out, a celebration of remembering. Bonus material with “The School of Song” includes Chen Chen’s note of influence by Joesph O. Legaspi and the editor’s take.
Nicholas Brown is a first-generation Mexican American poet. His work appears, or is forthcoming, in Superstition Review, Apogee Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, DIALOGIST, New Delta Review, TIMBER, 45th Parallel, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Auburn Avenue, Peach Mag, Third Point Press, and elsewhere. All of Nicholas’ poems are available online and most can be found in journals supporting people of color and other marginalized groups. He hopes to create work with greater accessibility than print journals provide. In the same vein, he reviews poetry found online. To read his reviews, and the poetry itself, visit the REVIEWS tab of nickbrownweekly.