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Robert Wrigley: Two Poems

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 so ago, the other quite recently. “Dust” was written about the time I was, you might say, entering into the possibilities of rhyme (it was accepted, as many were in those days, by David Wagoner, to whom I offer my thanks); “Hanging Laundry On a Windy Day in Assisi,” was written in Italy this past May, and it suggests that those possibilities have stayed with me.  Rilke said, “Rhyme is a goddess of secret and ancient coincidences,” and that strikes me as one of the finest things anyone’s ever said about a poetic technique. Among other things, the first is about getting very dirty; the other is about the joy of clean laundry. But both are very much about the places in which they occur. I am, it has been pointed out, a “poet of place.” That’s not something I …

Rochelle Hurt: “Bright star of disaster”

Yearling 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 in what Freud might have described as a death drive. The book’s epigraph from Dickinson, suggests, however, that these apocalypses should not be read simply as endings, nor should this drive toward death be read as a form of despair. The epigraph reads: “The World is not Conclusion. / A Species stands beyond—”. In this world, catastrophe is a means of becoming a species beyond. Consider, for example, “Arrow,” a poem that positions the speaker as both predator and prey. Aptly, the poem strikes a tonal balance between divulgence and declaration, beginning: “Drawn, uninvited, I’m an animal with a price on her head, / wrecking a bed of wet pine: I steal through the field twice.” The hunted is also the criminal here. Audacious in her trespassing, she is both vulnerable and cheeky. She implores her addressee: “as …

Lo Kwa Mei-en: “Passion with a Cinema Inside of It”

I ran an internet search on passion to help me write this introduction, and found that I’d written this poem out of my depth. Look for passion in our world and you’ll find an ancient power play with a problem for a heart. You’ll find a historical reel of attempts to define—to contain—our experience of strong and barely controllable emotion. Philosophers, poets, theologians, film directors: the effort to direct passion is, basically, erotic. You can do this at home. I love going to the movies, but as a woman of color the actual cost of admission can be difficult to predict. Certain moments in film reenact trauma borne by people with marginalized bodies, and these moments are not foreshadowed by escalating soundtrack cues so an audience member may cover her ears, her eyes, or her heart. When such moments reach through what I had hoped was a wall and grip my heart, I experience a complex of extreme feeling. I become barely controllable. I am easily terrified, and dissociating in a public space is one …

The Subvocal Zoo: Sierra Nelson – The Brink

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 Union Bay. Topics of discussion include finding the right director for your dream-poems, silence, frog song, collaboration, John Donne’s “Relic,” humor & wit, poetry as technology, and encountering the brink.

Summer & Fall 2015: Poetry, Documentary & Film

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, Documentary, & Film, and features terrific new poems from Sherman Alexie, Corey Van Landingham, Joelle Biele, Sierra Nelson, Emily Bedard, Mark Levine, Sandra Gilbert, Nomi Stone, Kai Carlson-Wee, Matthew Schnirman, Robert Wrigley, Emily Kendal Frey, and many others. Essays by Sandra Beasley and Troy Jollimore exploring the poetic power of film and changing nature of documentary poetics anchor the investigative side of the issue. Cinematic art by Robert Hardgrave (who supplies the glorious cover), Clare Johnson (poignantly illustrating poems by Anne Carson and Emily Bedard), and Nick Gentry light up our pages, too. You won’t find this edition on Netflix. Inquire at your local bookstore, or Subscribe here today!

Matthew Schnirman: “Zac calls this moment the ‘so'”

I should start with how I met him. I had seen him around several times before I wrote this poem. I would go to this bar, sometimes, and he’d be there, standing under this swarm of discotheque lights, and he liked to get drunk by the end of the evening, but I don’t judge. Anyway, there were these blots of wallpaper that if you followed along the base of the stairwell, you’d get to this red door that led out back, and you had to go through this red door if you wanted to smoke, which I did, then, sometimes. So, you really had to push down on this handle, like just punch it to get it open. I did just that, and when the door shut, there he was, standing on the other side, and I was a little embarrassed of my debut. He introduced himself, Hey, I’m Zac, and the way he said his name was both infinite and staccato, like a feeling of love and death at the same time, and he …

The Subvocal Zoo: Michael Bazzett – Finding the Inner Weird

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 7 features Michael Bazzett in conversation with Justin Boening. Topics of discussion include a review of Michael Bazzett’s book published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesotan/Eastern European irony, the etymological opposite of “to remember,” recreating delight, Robert Hass; translating the Popol Vuh, and Mark Strand.

The Subvocal Zoo: Sally Keith – Acting and Failing to Act

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 7 features Sally Keith in conversation with Dan Beachy-Quick. This episode was recorded in the galleries of Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center during the annual AWP Conference. The two poets discuss poems from Keith’s earlier books as well as work from her newest book, River House. Topics of conversation include: motion & emotion, Jorie Graham, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Agnes Martin, image & memory, and the joys of friendship.