Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: March 2019

Here’s a short selection of some of the best new poems hitting the web this March. These seven poets, both established and emerging, deserve your attention and support—featuring work from: Redivider, Split Lip, Missouri Review, Thrusth, The Rumpus, and Cotton Xenomorph. Enjoy, and be grateful, knowing so many talented poets and magazines are making our community beautiful.


As Light

by Devin Kelly in Redivider


                                                         this world

is good to us. I nod to the sky & it responds with

rain. I miss your kiss but find an old one you gave

trapped on the inside of my eyelid.


In a lecture given in 1998 by Fanny Howe, the great poet defines bewilderment as “a way of entering the day as much as the [poem].” “As Light,” by Devin Kelly, is a masterclass in bewilderment. The poet moves us through the poem with quick and careful tempo; at stake is whatever we are grateful enough to consider ordinary. He writes, “Good / morning. The day is a memory we journey through / until we learn to call it home. In whatever language. / However long it takes.” The diction in this poem is delightful, as delicate as it is desperate. “As Light” is a remarkable experiment in radical awe—this is a poem I would love to wake up to.


Notes on Un-Apology

by Erin Slaughter in Split Lip


                             we are fools & monsters, all of us, cobweb-headed

& waiting for rupture.


A poem that will make any reader into a gasper, “Notes on Un-Apology” left me asking what happened with wide eyes. Hinting at heartbreak, this poem carves its way through a story, pausing only to make sure it has taken account of all of the stranger. Slaughter laments, “I am beginning to think of the color green / as a last chance that has already passed & I’m sorry / to be so full of raining.” “Notes on Un-Apology” teaches us what can be remembered. What can be held.


Indeed Hotter For Me Are the Joys of the Lord

by Tiana Clark in Missouri Review


I want the long poem of my body

to not apologize for the space it needs

to make and makeup. I want to relax

inside a long poem and not feel shame.


In her fantastically unapologetic and aware ars poetica, the poet Tiana Clark grapples with tradition, her place in the complicated lineage of the literary canon. “Indeed Hotter For Me Are the Joys of the Lord” makes holy the space it takes. Full of haunting commands over the sonic capabilities of language, Clark is aware of how important it is for us to know that she carries “the borders of [her] body like a burdened beast.” She dances with the poem; the poem is sexual; the poem commands how it deserves to crafted; the poem asks to be learned from. To all of this, Tiana Clark is committing to.


The Pirate Anne Bonny Advises Jane Eyre

by Dorsey Craft in Thrush


       Jane, it is not so intricate


as your sketches. Changing your dress is easier

            than striking your darkest dreams down in coal.


Assonance and alliteration abound, there is no doubt that is this a beautiful poem. In “The Pirate Anne Bonny Advises Jane Eyre,” poet Dorsey Craft delivers to us fragments of possibility, as the two women figures exchange their offerings. I find the poem so fascinating because of how it rejects the easy viewing of each woman as foils for each other, instead finding what would be possible, should the two have met. The closing image seems to suggest this intertwinement: “Let’s all to sea—you, the twin, the girl / and me—and build a blue-walled manor house / with chandeliers of gold and aristocratic bone.” This is a gorgeous and flowing poem that, should you get close enough, might ask you to sit beside it for a while.


Questions Arabic Asked in English (Colonial Fit)

by Noor Ibn Najam in The Rumpus


because the gender it live in body of me,

and no can the body follow when switch the tongue

into code new. i am knowing this. but the violence it fit

in very good behind teeth of me, all the time it waiting

hidden in mouth of me, in language of me


Poets! There is a new form about and it demands to be written in! Noor Ibn Najam’s work in The Rumpus is extraordinary, and his “Colonial Fit” is expansive and endlessly possible—the premise of it, it seems to me, is to write a poem according to the syntactical and grammatical rules of another language, yet keep the poem in English. This creates odd turns of phrase that push against the boundaries of language; one of my favorites, possibly, is when the poet asks and answers the question posed to be the thesis of both the poem and its form—“can woman she fit gender of her / into end-letters of the words the Arabic? // yes. God has willed it so.” Noor Ibn Najam’s work is fascinating, and I am so grateful to read and re-read this poem.


Valenzuela is on TV

by Gabriel Rubi in The Shallow Ends


                                    From within the static box,


set to the target accuracy of the hero’s wrists,

the dancing strings lift or defeat his state.


There is no static in this somber poem. Poet Gabriel Rubi has so elegantly written “Valenzuela is on TV,” making sure that we as readers know what hangs in the balance of these lines. The poet is jaw-droppingly suggestive, placing two unrelated images side by side; the result is often devastating. Rubi writes, “Abuelo contorts his soul and wrinkles his brow / to strain. The pitches we toss are many.” There are conflicting ideas of stillnesses and movements scattered throughout the piece, each of which impact the breath of reading. Gabriel Rubi has crafted an awe-inspiring poem.


For the Spring Semester & For Hannah Rego

By Jess Rizkallah in Cotton Xenomorph


            behind new york there’s a face

its everyone’s and they

are so cute today


The poet prefaces the poem as being after Frank O’Hara, and it is easy to feel his work pulsing in this poem’s veins. Jess Rizkallah places wonder at the forefront of her work, writing lines that are sure to bring a smile to any reader’s face—“yes it is strange that everyone fucks and every / one mentions it and it’s boring too.” Yet, besides this, there is an urgency in the poem, a desire for belonging and understanding. The poem speaks of city-life: there is just as much to question as there is to adore.

Bailey Cohen

Bailey Cohen is an Ecuadorian-American poet studying at NYU. A finalist for the 2018 Boulevard Contest for Emerging Poets, the runner-up for the 2018 RR Laux / Millar Poetry Prize, and a Best of the Net nominee, he serves as the editor of Alegrarse: A Journal of Close-Readings and as a contributing writer for Frontier Poetry. Bailey's work has been published or is forthcoming in Boulevard, Raleigh Review, The Penn Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Shallow Ends, Boiler Journal and more. He loves everyone Latinx.

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