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Summer & Fall 2015: Poetry, Documentary & Film — now available

August 11, 2015 – 10:56 am |

Dear Readers: We are pleased to report that our newest issue, the summer-fall blockbuster extravaganza, is finally on its way to a mailbox bookstore newsstand multiplex near you. This issue investigates the links between Poetry, …

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Blog, Poems »

Corey Van Landingham: “Epithalamium”

November 23, 2015 – 8:00 am |

“The poet’s role,” Robert Duncan wrote, condescendingly, to Denise Levertov, “is not to oppose evil, but to imagine it.” I’m still trying to wrap my head around this statement. It seems Duncan’s stance was against a polemical, or moralizing, poetics. Understandable. But, conversely, it often seems that poets are discouraged from imagining evil, or the inconceivable experience, the foreign problem. Surely poems can be irresponsibly predatory in their metaphorical appetite. That there is no objective correlative to suffering outside the realms of our daily lives, I concede. When I read about a drone strike mistakenly killing civilians at a wedding, I know I’m not supposed to think about the dissolution of my own engagement. I’m not supposed to write that poem.

So, this is a poem about that, in a way. About the reception of news from afar. About how distance affords miscomprehension. About dangerous comparisons, and human error, and technological error, and their interstices. This is a poem about the borders of experience and the imagination. About misanthropy, opposing the evil in one’s self, opposing the evil of the wanton imagination when confronted with the pain of others, about the evil of the hand, the machine.



Because I’ve seen the way a body
looks preserved, I turned away

from you. That’s the most
that I could do. Distance, dear,

makes the heart grow weary.
The scene where I’m your citizen,

but am touching myself inside
a stranger’s apartement as, in Yemen,

an American drone kills 14 at
a wedding, mistakenly. Mistakenly,

I chose the hydrangea, whose large pink
blush has been said to match the size

of a sender’s heart. When not pruned
properly, the flowers sag, begin

to break. Once, you fed me heart
on a skewer. After, I read the animal

would be inside me forever,
idea that made me sick for days.

Now, my autoerotic display,
while, in Yemen, vehicles still

are smoking. Distance makes easy
unmanning the hands. I hasten

to compare the scene where
I’m such a terror in that dress,

where the flowers are all a mess,
and I’m gussied up. I’m turned on

by men I’ve never met. What a wedding
photographer, as anyone poses

candid for the drone. But, no, I’m
only posing for myself, in the mirror.

Because I’ve seen the cadaver lab.
I’ve held the brain and know

you could make a curtain of the small
intestine, that the cerebellum

resembles the pressed fossil,
a coniferous needle cluster. That

the heart is not so after all
impressive. Though it is heavy.

I don’t know what it is to be a target
for someone other than myself.

Just that twinning the body
with another doesn’t put on pause

the old atrocities, love, all our
ceremonies ruined. Sown with salt.

Corey Van Landingham is a Wallace C. Stegner Poetry Fellow at Stanford University, and the author of Antidote (Ohio State University Press). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Agni, The Best American Poetry 2014, Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.

“Epithalamium” appeared in the Summer & Fall 2015 print edition of Poetry Northwest.

photo credit: verwelkt (license)

Emily Kendal Frey: “The Way Family Works”

November 16, 2015 – 8:00 am |

The Way Family Works
On the stage
The dream stage
Light of hope streaming in
You’re screaming
Your mom in one doorway
Your dad in the other
The doors hanging open
Where is tomorrow
Where are the families
With technology
Where is the car
The package of …

Andrew Douglas Johnson: “Return Service Requested”

November 12, 2015 – 8:00 am |

Not Nothing: Selected Writings, 1954-1994
Ray Johnson
Siglio Press, 2014
People don’t write letters anymore. People don’t even write emails. Ray Johnson wrote letters, an effusion of them, too many to collect. Siglio Press has made two Ray …

Rachel Rose: Two Poems

November 9, 2015 – 8:00 am |

Ars Poetica
It is hard won, it is fragile, it does not bring joy.
It holds water, it holds air, it is its own reward.
It is light as cobweb, it is tough as cobweb, it is barely …

No Things But in Ideas: Mei Mei Berssenbrugge’s Hello, the Roses

November 5, 2015 – 8:00 am |

By Jay Thompson | Contributing Editor
I’m looking for new ways to make sense. Here’s Mei Mei Berssenbrugge:
A mobile relation to perception precedes affect.
Through it I experience from material a screen of surroundings I slice through, like …

Afterwords // Mary Szybist and Robert Wrigley for Seattle Arts & Lectures

October 10, 2015 – 8:00 am |

By Jack Chelgren | Associate Editor
Time and again, Seattle Arts & Lectures has proven itself to be among the best curators of poetry in a city replete with outstanding literary organizations. The opening of the 2015-16 …

Robert Wrigley: Two Poems

September 28, 2015 – 8:00 am |

It may be that the only thing these two poems have in common is that they were written by the same poet, and that they were published in Poetry Northwest, one a quarter century or …

In Discussion // “The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa”

September 24, 2015 – 11:00 am |

On September 13th, the APRIL book club gathered at Little Oddfellows in the Elliott Bay Book Company to discuss The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa (Canarium, 2015). The book gathers poems published during Sagawa’s lifetime (1911-1935), presented in a chronological fashion, …

Interview // Kai Carlson-Wee

September 8, 2015 – 8:00 am |

by Aaron Barrell | Senior Editor
Kai Carlson-Wee has roller-bladed professionally, surfed north of the Arctic Circle. and traveled across the country by freight train. His work has appeared in Narrative, Best New Poets, TriQuarterly, 32 …

Rochelle Hurt: “Bright star of disaster”

September 3, 2015 – 8:00 am |

Lo Kwa Mei-en
Alice James Books, 2015
Lo Kwa Mei-en’s debut collection of poems reads like a manual for self-destruction. There are a variety of personal and global apocalypses in Yearling, and most of them are rooted …

The Subvocal Zoo: Sierra Nelson – The Brink

August 31, 2015 – 8:00 am |

Poetry Northwest‘s monthly podcast series, The Subvocal Zoo, features editors and friends of the magazine interviewing poets. Each episode features lively conversation between writers in a different location.

Episode 10 features Sierra Nelson with Johnny Horton rowing around the edge of Seattle’s …