Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: August 2021

Here’s a short selection, from our own Jose, of some of the best new poems that hit the web this August. These five poets, both established and emerging, deserve your attention and support—featuring work from Todd Dillard in HAD, Wendy Xu in Jubilat, Laura Villareal in Guernica, Margaret Ray in Adroit Journal and Jenny Qi in The Atlantic. Hope everyone enjoys these exceptional poems; we are truly living in a thriving poetry age.



By Todd Dillard in Had.


The TV says a crane collapsed off 34th and
she wants to know if it’s because the crane was thirsty.
Some afternoons we visit the neighborhood pool and
even though she can barely swim my daughter isn’t afraid.
She’s so unafraid it makes me afraid.


Such a fun, charming poem. Love the straightforward lines, brings us in. Father, daughter poems are always great. We need more of them. Dillard has a stripped-down aesthetic revealing the subtle beauty of mundane, family moments. If you haven’t already, check out his book, Ways We Vanish, published by Okay Donkey Press.



Annual Air

By Wendy Xu in Jubilat.


The poem about money
and disappointment
writes itself if only
you let it. You let it.
Light sliding off
your pointy interview shoes
until the mind
neatly divides
in two.


Xu’s casual style is genuine and relatable. She has a way of capturing our attention with direct yet intimate lines; never oversells. The lines about money and disappointment and poetry are unfortunately very true and funny. Her lines are vivid and yet seemingly effortless. Look out for her various books; they are so good! Also, farewell to Jubilat 🙁


My Mom Buried a Saint in the Yard

By Laura Villreal in Guernica.


A novena candle melted in my car, the pink wax filled each corner
of a cardboard moving box & honeycombed the bubble wrap.

Our Lady of Perpetual Wandering,
should I settle like this wax or overflow?


Villareal paints with a lean, realist brush, however, there is higher meaning behind her strokes. More than mere figurines of saints getting buried, Villareal and mom, like most of our first-gen Latinx moms, are digging in mystery so that hope and blessing can flow into our lives. Look out for Villareal’s full-length next spring 2022.



By Margaret Ray in Adroit Journal.


It is evening when we get home, and safe,
and one day I will learn that joy can whither
if you hoard it, will learn to name, also,
the things that don’t destroy us.


This is a powerful pandemic poem. Ray’s final lines about joy dissipating during the pandemic after countless struggle, rings true. Her statement that she “will learn to name, also, / the things that don’t destroy us” feels like an anthem for folks trying to survive the pandemic. During periods of crisis, Ray reminds us, it is also necessary to recognize what isn’t trying to kill us, and, instead, gives us life, as hard as that may seem these days.


Postcards from the Living

By Jenny Qi in The Atlantic


Remember when I was 10 and hateful, trying
too hard to be cool, how in a rare moment


you said all you wanted was for me to love
my life, my only life, this life you started?


Here, look how the clouds blush so fiercely;
the stark blue winter, so cold and bright.


Heartfelt poem about remembering an influential loved one, the way love lingers. Enjoyed the use of couplets and the ease of the line breaks and enjambment. The title is especially powerful and well-done. Look out for Jenny’s debut collection, Focal Point, published by Steel Toe Books, coming in October 2021.


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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