Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: July 2021
Here’s a short selection, from our own Jose, of some of the best new poems that hit the web this July. These five poets, both established and emerging, deserve your attention and support—featuring work from Neha Maqsood in The Kenyon Review, Donato Martinez in The Acentos Review, Kwame Opoku-Duku in Poetry Magazine, Sarah Sarai in Okay Donkey and Jenny Qi in SWWIM. Hope everyone enjoys these exceptional poems; we are truly living in a thriving poetry age.
By Neha Maqsood in The Kenyon Review.
I could only climb his legs,
back, then shoulders, and his head, as I,
to walk among those white faces.
Love the unorthodox form to this poem; never seen it before. Great how it influences the pace of the poem. The speaker elaborates on what it is like for an immigrant father to be hyper-visible in a white world; what is like to be a first-generation daughter, hyper-visible in a white world. Maqsood has been publishing poems internationally. Look out for her book “Vulnerability” coming soon!
By Donato Martinez in Acentos Review.
It was these summers
that reminded us of our innocence
As we bravely escaped and got lost in the jungle of gardens and plants and vegetables
We created backyard adventures as we climbed apricot trees
We discovered the mystery and nudity of women in old Playboy magazines.
This poem takes us back to a grandfather’s lap; cutting an orange like a window into the past. Martinez has a stripped-down, clear aesthetic. The poem shines with plenty of moments that make us smile and reminisce. The ending is particularly strong and memorable. Mr. Martinez is also an important educator in Santa Ana, CA. Acentos Review has been publishing Latinx writers for years. Check them out!
By Kwame Opoku-Duku in Poetry Magazine.
from out of nowhere, a Chevy Caprice pulls up,
the windows roll down, St. Michael starts blasting.
in a drawn-out falsetto, he sings, the day of the Lord
is a bitter motherlover. you look out the window.
the world is on fire.
Opoku-Duku juxtaposes ancient prayer with modern violence and the always lingering possibility of death faced by Black men. The speaker utilizes mostly lowercase and a straightforward, deadpan aesthetic to paint his troubling reality. Opoku-Duku has been publishing some of my favorite poems of the day; get his chapbook “The Unbnd Verses” from Glass Poetry Press!
By Sarah Sarai in Okay Donkey.
on top of my
of my flock who know
I run a moral
at top speed.
I admire the way this poem/speaker blends the mundane with levity and satire. The image of pigeons having sex on an air-conditioner is very absurd city; very New York. The speaker’s line/line breaks are quick and lean and the point about protecting ourselves hits home. Okay Donkey is a newer magazine worth your time; take a look!
By Jenny Qi in SWWIM.
In the end, all we grew was oleander,
pink flesh burst from clay,
blowing sweet poison to the wind.
This poem is quite beautiful both on the literal level of planting a garden and the larger metaphor about family dynamics. Qi writes in a luscious, musical line that immediately pull us into their world. This is my first-time reading Qi and SWWIM journal, as well. Definitely going to keep an eye out on future work and issues!
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.