Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: April 2021

Here’s a short selection, from our own Jose, of some of the best new poems that hit the web this April. These five poets, both established and emerging, deserve your attention and support—featuring work from L.L. Friedman in elsewhere, Gabrielle Bates in The Literary Review, Troy Osaki in Poetry Northwest, Marianne Chan in The Kenyon Review and Andrew Villegas in The Indianapolis Review. Hope everyone enjoys these exceptional poems; we are truly living in a thriving poetry age.


The Rescue

By L.L. Friedman in elsewhere.


Wandered into a snowstorm last night. Would have died, but a knight on a white horse rescued me. All was deathly quiet except for the faint jingle of bells on the horse’s red-ribboned reins.


Love the short, stripped-down sentence aesthetic. This can be a great way to write a prose poem. Very direct and deadpan when dealing with otherwise absurd things. Love how we enter the prose poem mid-sentence. Keeps you on guard as a reader. What other quirky things will happen? The presence of the knight immediately makes me happy; always love to see anachronistic figures in prose poems. The subtle musicality and softness of the prose poem. Lulls you in. The ending of choosing good over evil is charming and nicely done.



Mediated Experience

By Gabrielle Bates in The Literary Review.


Is this a moral failing?                   Is her art unethical?

Look at her.

The life-bright doe standing her ground

in the oceanic grass.


This poem is so precise, lush with language, and masterfully done. The “oceanic grass” is simply stunning work. Every word, every line, every stanza: so much thought into the work, yet comes off as effortless. Brava, indeed! #aestheticgoals. Can’t wait to read a full-length from Gabrielle Bates! We need it.



Another Poem in Which My Grandpa Is Gone

By Troy Osaki in Poetry Northwest.


When every

Filipino returns I’ll clip the graveyard grass growing above
my grandpa, seal it in a bag, & bury it in the province

he learned to trap fish in with his mother.


Touching tribute piece. It is a powerful image to think of a man getting shipped back to his original country to be buried. Deep respect for ancestry and lineage. The last couple lines are masterfully done: wanting to bury all Filipinos in the place where he learned to fish. Brilliant and meaningful. First time I’ve read anything by this author; can’t wait to read more!



The Walnut House

By Marianne Chan in The Kenyon Review.


We wanted our own place. So, we lived on Walnut Street and took theater classes at the community college. Sam was a good actor, could bring life to Shakespeare, make his meanings clear.


Again, we have direct, short sentences in this hybrid piece which resembles a prose poem. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen enjambment in a prose poem or flash piece, like this. Interesting and well done. This piece reminds us of our youth, scrambling to get by, drunk on the weekend porch, yet on our own and somehow still alive. Would love to read more of these prose poems/hybrid pieces. The author has the tone and pace and overall aesthetic down—Brava!



I Forgot How to Pronounce My Last Name

By Andrew Villegas in The Indianapolis Review.


It’s a wonder you ever
learned to pronounce tortilla at Chipotle.

Apply that here.


Witty poem about a common issue. Our names are always mispronounced. And there are also folks who use English pronunciation for whatever reason including being raised that way. Still, the speaker in this poem uses a light yet serious tone to bring up something that is truly troubling to him: we can pronounce “tortilla” at Chipotle yet we can’t say “Villegas” correctly. Well-done, good use of humor to talk about serious matters.


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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