Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: March 2021

Here’s a short selection, from our own Jose, of some of the best new poems that hit the web this March. These five poets, both established and emerging, deserve your attention and support—featuring work from Joan Kwon Glass in Kissing Dynamite, Kim Ellingson in Lost Balloon, Rogan Kelly in New Orleans Review, Gretchen Rockwell in Chestnut Review and Sara Elkamel in The Los Angeles Review. Hope everyone enjoys these exceptional poems; we are truly living in a thriving poetry age.


Pantoum for My Father

By Joan Kwon Glass, published in Kissing Dynamite.


At his bump shop on 14 Mile Road, he lowered cars on a platform.
Sometimes I’d stand too close to the edge and hover over
the shaft where the platform had been.
I imagined him pulling me back to safety.


Beautiful tribute piece. The repetition in the pantoum is so effective here. The co-dependency, the desire for a meaningful relationship with the father–juxtaposed with the cold reality of what you get from life. The cars being lowered on a platform. I’ve never written a pantoum, but this poem makes me want to experiment and write one. Nicely done. Would love to read more, including a full-length or chapbook, from this author.



Sparrow Haibun

By Kim Ellingson in Lost Balloon.


There was man I loved, who said, I wish you were less. I closed my mouth. I stayed silent and hungry. I lost a cup size. My skin stretched taut, thin as tissue paper. My mouth became a refuge for endangered birds…


Important prose poem about grief, manipulation, and eating disorders. The use of dialogue to frame the work is nicely done. The direct yet vulnerable tone is powerful. I’ve heard of the enigmatic Japanese Haibun and this poem makes me want to explore it more. Love the hybridity of this form: prose and haiku. The imagery of the sparrow dying in the mouth is on point and a surreal and visceral way to end this poem. Would love to read more haibuns or haikus or prose poems from this author.



Wingdale Farm in March at Dusk

By Rogan Kelly in New Orleans Review.


The rooster, nearby, guarded the chickens; willed itself taller. Taller than the wild hops, taller than the cornstalk woman or the man longer than the hills.


Love the stripped-down, direct aesthetic. Nice quiet pace to the poem. Lulls you in as a reader. We’ll go wherever this friendly narrator takes us. This line is so good, “She looked like young corn in summer when the heat swarms the stalk.” Brilliant. Can’t teach that. The ending with the man and woman sneaking into the coop is charming and rings old-timey. In fact, the whole poem has a classic feel to it. Reminds me of the prose poets from the past. Nicely done.



Ode to Wikipedia

By Gretchen Rockwell in Chestnut Review.


Yesterday’s search history is the start of a new journey.


Love a clever abecedarian poem. Enjoy how the poem effortlessly darts around from topic to topic related to Wikipedia in order to keep the alphabetization going. The humor in the poem and the relaxed tone is charming and well done. I’m assuming the words on the side are related to search items for Wikipedia. Either way, love the mundane quality to this poem; not so serious, let’s have some fun with everyday moments and technologies in our lives. Brava!




By Sara Elkamel in The Los Angeles Review.


I watched as you slept, mouth open, too great a distance from me.


So many meaningful layers here, with the personal and the city and the political. I’m thinking of August here as more than just a summer month, but a fading symbol of hope, lost ideals: memory. Love the control and pace to the poem. The direct sentiment and language yet the poet is saying more than what’s on the page. Brava! Would love to read a book of prose poems or poems by this new-to-me poet!


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.

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