Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web: December 2021

Here’s a short selection, from our own Jose, of some of the best new poems that hit the web in December 2021. These five poets, both established and emerging, deserve your attention and support—featuring work from Molly Sturdevant in Five South Journal, Susan Nguyen in Adroit Journal, Erika Meitner in Southern Indiana Review, Lisa Ampleman in The Rumpus and Hua Xi in The New Republic. Hope everyone enjoys these exceptional poems; we are truly living in a thriving poetry age.



By Molly Sturdevant in Five South Journal.


I laughed out loud in the ocean. The ocean punched me again and I tasted it. I’m not from around here.


A prose poem about the ocean: I’m hooked. I’ve read other poems about landlocked folks seeing the ocean for the first time and they always get me. The idea of the utter vastness of the ocean combined with the fact of never seeing it before: mind-boggling. The wonder and imagination of the prose poem works well. Would love to read more prose poems by Molly.



In Praise of a Hummingbird’s Tongue

By Susan Nguyen in Adroit Journal.


I name each bird as they float at my feeder. A glittering of green, the way they fan their tail feathers. The way they divebomb each other through the notes of their body’s hum. So small a marvel.

Great precision, flow and execution of lines here. This poem is on point, not a word out of place. I love the specificity of a “hummingbird’s tongue.” I feel as if this poem serves as a sort of microscope of sorts, like we’re watching a National Geographic documentary. Well done, poet.


Touch Cave

By Erika Meitner in Southern Indiana Review.


I didn’t see you
on this island or in
a hotel bed or on a
train so I walked
the wet streets.
I went to a bar
where they served
drinks with names
like Wakeup Call &
Bark at the Moon.


Love the free-flowing words and stripped-down form of this poem; reminds me of the New York School poets like Frank O’Hara. I generally like poems with a mundane starting point or aesthetic. From the everyday to the larger issues/world. Now, I want to read Erika’s books to see if this seemingly effortless flow/tone exists in the rest of her work.


Mom in Space

By Lisa Ampleman in The Rumpus.


as in    she translated across the dining module
            to the high chair to turn the wide-eyed,
            open-mouthed child over
            & hit his back repeatedly
            between the shoulder blades
            until a piece of chicken
            just the size of a windpipe
            translated out onto the floor.


Love the way the sophisticated diction flows in this poem. Love the attention/juxtaposition to space and motherhood. The infatuation with space, combined with the flowing, complex diction, reminds me of Mina Loy in a very good way. Great use of form. Most importantly, this poem makes me want to read more of Lisa’s books!


Everything Lies in All Directions

By Hua Xi in The New Republic. 


Once I came back through a poem.

Time refused to pass there, and loneliness

drifted down past my window like snow.

Alone, I did not move. Worlds changed around me.


Love the short, direct lines. The words flow well because of this succinct aesthetic. I feel folks often want to have long, elaborate lines, but I am usually blown away by precision and well-executed brevity. Look forward to reading the full-length collection 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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