Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: April 2019
Here’s a short selection of some of the best new poems hitting the web this April. These five poets, both established and emerging, deserve your attention and support—featuring work from: Amanda Gomez in [PANK], Dan Kraines in Adroit Journal, Sam Rush in Glass, Zach Linge in The Journal, and Sahar Muradi in Poetry. Enjoy, and be grateful, knowing so many talented poets and magazines are making our community beautiful.
by Amanda Gomez in [PANK]
I wear the galaxy like a dress: little suns
bending in their own orbit.
I’ll be honest—I lost it at “little suns.” In “Rita Moreno,” the poet Amanda Gomez speaks of longing, but with a constant orientation towards the self. This is a poem of self-betterment, one constantly striving towards independence. The lines trudge through the bleak, determined and declaring: “Please, don’t take me for tragic.” This is not a request for permission; it’s a-‘you’d be foolish to try.’ In her little poem, Gomez places delicately the images she uses, and, despite multiple, multiple readings, I find a new way to be taken aback by this poem every single time.
by Dan Kraines in Adroit Journal
I want a new body but
get a haircut instead
One of this year’s six Gregory Djanikian Scholars for the Adroit Journal, poet Dan Kraines writes of closeness. Hyperaware of others’ bodies, the narrator of the poem gets a haircut, letting their mind meander around their barber. Most interesting is that, in a poem with sexual overtones, about the body and gender, little is actually sexualized. The body is hardly more than a means of appearing, of little more importance than any other feature of a subject’s description—”You softly bump / your crotch against me as you begin to buzz / the side of my head, what’s left from what fell out, / you who wears a pompadour, a white / tank top and checkered tights; you regret that you / were the one in high school who pulled kids out / of the closet and told them they were queer…” This is a masterfully sculpted poem.
by Sam Rush in Glass: A Journal of Poetry
Today I keep
the speaker out of me for long enough
to watch a swallow swoon the ghost of song.
Each recollection: a revisioning. Poet Sam Rush, with deliberate pacing, tells & tells a story. Every shape of the narrative laid bare. A thing happens, once, then again & again. The poet writes, ” Once. I took a man at eyes & / out his mouth a stack of breath fainted, lay / still & still hot & silent at my feet. / Once. There was a last whisper that found me.” Each remembering is also a futuristic vision, as the poem concludes with openness towards the possibilities of what could be.
by Zach Linge in The Journal
smoke lazy-cherried American
Spirits, arms clacked in glitter.
The poet Zach Linge invokes the ghazal, and the felt form delivers. The repeated word-glitter is metaphorized into an unintended and unreckonable function—getting & staying everywhere. Glitter, then, becomes a reminder, a persistence. Linge writes, “The knee- / cap, the flat thigh roped in thin / shorts, the leg inside, glitter. I / check each of my testicles and / they are glitter.” The poem’s promiscuity then hides in the repeated image of glitter, as the stuff begins to cover everything. This is a poem that invites several re-readings: a joy to read aloud.
by Sahar Muradi in Poetry
in my used country I felt his teeth
circle as a mosquito the black mystery
he placed my right hand over my wrong
stain said he was bringing me home
As part of the Halal if You Hear Me folio in this month’s Poetry, Sahar Muradi’s work stunned me. I admire this poem for how much is suggested, and how much is left open to interpretation. Phrases stumble over each other, blurring image after image; the reader is taught to accept this or risk staggering over their own reading of the poem. Different languages and possibly even different generations interrupt each other, as the speaker moves from telling others’ story to telling her own. Notions of lineage, turmoil, and pride are introduced, then placed in the hands of the reader, often without conclusion of the ‘usual’ narrative arc—the only movement a change in language. This is a poem I’ll think about for days.
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.