Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: February 2021
Here’s a short selection, from our own Jose, of some of the best new poems hitting the web this February and early March. These five poets, both established and emerging, deserve your attention and support—featuring work from Patrycja Humienik in BOAAT Journal, Natalia A. Pagán Serrano in Acentos Review, Jacob Saenz in The Boiler, Vismai Rao in Pithead Chapel and Dev Murphy in Cincinnati Review’s Micro Series. Hope everyone enjoys these exceptional poems; we are truly living in a thriving poetry age.
By Patrycja Humienik, published in BOAAT Journal.
gives me a dried bouquet. i prefer weeping
willow, even seaweed, something of water. i want
not to say this but to be understood with my eyes, the way
i was, for a moment, by the fire. but some lovers are not for
lasting, though that part comes later, if i, must i, tell the truth.
Dreamy poem. I’m sure many poets have fantasized about dropping everything and leaving the stressful city for a calm, natural place with a secret lover. There is primal seduction mixed in with the admiration for the speaker’s maternal rural roots. All done in short, choppy sentences with lowercase punctuation. The fragmentation mimics the thought-process of being out there, passionately lost in nature. As far as the magazine, the design and layout of BOAAT’s issues are always sharp, and on point. Bravo, Brava, all the way around!
By Natalia A. Pagán Serrano in Acentos Review
is to be an Other even though there are Others that are treated more Others/ is to stand with Othered/ is to belong to one another/ so they cannot take ownership of our bodies…
Powerful in many layered ways. Also, love the unraveling format of the poem. The speaker here is othered and othered from the others and it’s just a Catch22 no matter what way you look at it from the Latinx diaspora perspectives. Many Latinx folks, myself included, can relate to this: not feeling American enough or Latinx enough or having to prove your worth or prove your right to be here. Then, the alienation from language: from English; From Spanish: “…is to wonder when speaking your language became an act of rebellion” Wow! Well said. Brava!
By Jacob Saenz in The Boiler.
They wiped down phones & fax machines
w/worn rags, sucked up dirt on shag rugs
using Hoover vacuum cleaners w/cords
coiling on floors like slim, limp pythons
Inspiring poem about the struggles of immigrant hotel workers: our parents and our familas. At one point, the hotel workers even dig out pecan pies and other seemingly luxurious foods, compared to “beans and rice” which the hotel workers are used to. This poem says the hard things we avoid as Americans about the working-class immigrant struggle, not just so that we can feel sorry for folks, but so that we can fight for fair wages and equal rights. The mechanics of the poem, on the other hand, is a stripped-down language and minimal punctuation, so that it all flows together, and punches you in the gut.
By Vismai Rao in Pithead Chapel.
Towards the end, the cancer had clamped Thatha’s jaw close. I never witnessed this—only imagined how my aunt might have pried his mouth open to place a spoon of warm soup on his tongue.
Such serene imagery juxtaposed with the melancholy reality of the grandfather’s cancer. As a reader, I love to picture the pigeon races at sunset. So magical yet real and visceral. One gets the sense that at least the grandfather or Thatha is embracing the journey at the end of life. In fact, to him it is routine. Also, importantly, love to see this journal highlight prose poetry in each issue as well. But, I’m probably biased.
By Dev Murphy in The Cincinnati Review’s Micro Series.
My therapist says Most artists are neurotic and I say I don’t want to be neurotic and he says The other end of the spectrum is a rock. Would you rather be a rock?
Profound. Again, the layers of emotion and yet desire for the coldness of a rock. The first line immediately grabs you and is probably something many artists can relate to: being neurotic. I didn’t want to like the forward-slashes in the middle of the prose poem, but I didn’t find it distracting, either. Clever, how the line about the “dead squirrel” comes back–circuitous world that we live in. Would love to read a full-length form this author; full-length of prose poetry, even more!
Jose Hernandez Diaz
Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is from Southern California. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020). His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, The Cincinnati Review, Georgia Review, Iowa Review, The Nation, Poetry and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. Currently, he is an Associate Editor at Frontier and Guest Editor at Palette Poetry.