person_pin Essay Archives

Rae Armantrout’s Radical Swerving

Issue No. 263 ~ April, 2019

In the anthology, American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language (the first volume of the series), editors Juliana Spahr and Claudia Rankine gather a selection of contemporary women poets whose poems, included within the volume, represent some of the most pressing and potent examples of the innovative and radical possibilities of the poetic lyric. One continually exercised possibility is the use of lyric as a means of questioning language and its relationship to meaning, as determined by the self or by a wider community.

Merwin and the River, 1927-2019

Issue No. 263 ~ April, 2019

W(illiam) S(tanley) Merwin died on March 15, 2019, in Haiku, Haiku-Pauwela, Hawai’i. He was blessed with a long and prolific life, publishing more than 60 books, as author and translator, and receiving numerous accolades, including two Pulitzer Prizes in poetry (1971, 2009) and two appointments as U.S. Poet Laureate (Special Joint-Consultant with Louise Glück and Rita Dove, 1999; Poet Laureate, 2010). His well-documented emergence into the poetry scene of the early 50s began with his first collection, A Mask for Janus (included in The First Four Books of Poems), which received the Yale Younger Poets Prize, in 1952. His career steadily came to a close, signaled by his final collection of original poems, Garden Time, published in 2016. He suffered from macular degeneration, robbing him of his sight. This physical loss compelled him to dictate the poems, collected in Garden Time, to his wife Paula Merwin—who preceded him in death, in 2017 (Imada).

Conversation: Morality and Mortality

Issue No. 262 ~ March, 2019

“Would you like a visitor?” “Sure. Can you help me sit up? I have never got the hang of these hospital beds. I am always dropping the remote.” “How did that get so far under the bed? Here, let me get that for you. Is …

Cities and Reflections

Issue No. 262 ~ March, 2019

People observe cities differently. One friend looks from the ground up, another from the top down. I look for reflections, my friend L pays attention to the city’s movements. She embraces or rejects places; I meditate on them. Perhaps, all these thoughts came to me as the result of L’s sudden urgency to relocate to Los Angeles. Perhaps, I am envious because I didn’t find that seductive sentiment of belonging that I sometimes see in other places away from home. That grounding, earthly sense that takes over my body in New York, pulling me deeper and deeper into the city. Is this the fault of the city’s geography, colors, shapes, attitude, or character? None or all of the mentioned?

The Art of Truthtelling

Issue No. 261 ~ February, 2019

As writers, we do what we know and whatever we can in order to understand, measure, examine, endure the world we live in. The world that amazes us, confuses us, hurts us. The world that accepts us or works against us. The world we cannot separate ourselves from.

First Second and Third

Issue No. 261 ~ February, 2019

To a dog lover like me, the notion of seeking consolation from a cat is comparable to seeking compassion from a pathological narcissist. Nevertheless, my father alleged that, as a pre-teen, he found solace in his family’s cat, Peter. There’s even a photo of Dad …

Banzai

Issue No. 259 ~ December, 2018

Embers still smoldered in hearts of Harlemites two years after the Holy Uprising when torched shops blazed because a lone bullet in Memphis pierced MLK’s right cheek. Only three years before, assassins riddled Malcolm X with 21 gunshot wounds in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom. Death threats …

Lillian of the Dark Glasses

Issue No. 254 ~ July, 2018

My mother was evening in Paris; a gold compact with a shattered mirror; the soft face of the moon. She wore faux pearl jewelry in colors that no oyster created. An ex-chorus girl who danced in the living room, singing, “Down among the sheltering palms” …

I Get This Feeling It’s All Connected

Issue No. 251 ~ April, 2018

There’s this part of Elastic Heart where Sia sings “I want it, I want my life so bad, I’m doing everything I can,” and there’s a sense of yearning there. There’s this moment where her voice almost breaks. I don’t know how else to explain …