Sara Wainscott: “The Apprentice Making Paint”

I  am interested in the way poems allow scenes to overlay one another, in the relationship between image and reflection, in the simultaneous workings of internal and external worlds. Mostly, though, I have a lot of fondness and respect for ‘shit jobs’ and the lessons I learned by working my way up. (Sara Winscott) The Apprentice Making Paint A stupid boy, crying into the lapis lazuli again and rubbing his punished head. The mortar and pestle, very blue, and his runny face hued by the costly grime— a waste of ultramarine, the most unyielding stone, so hard to grind by hand. Half-filled flasks of linseed oil, spilled pot of rabbit skin glue, husks of roaches. The boy, sighing, holds the stiffest brushes to warm under his arms. The window’s writhing landscape, the hollers from the damp street, the coal-sellers, the basket-vendors. The raving rooster woman wrings her cloak. The still canvases on the wall—unfinished portraits, hunting scenes—most of all the wonderful archangel drying leisurely in a vermilion sky (mercury and sulfur need tending as they …

Wendy Willis: “A Virtuous Wife”

“Who can find a virtuous wife?” is the opening line of Proverbs 31:10 and begins an acrostic poem—each line starting with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet, undoubtedly creating an easy way for the virtuous wife to recall that she must consider a field and buy it and plant a vineyard and strengthen her arms and clothe her household with scarlet.  As for this poem, I wanted it to wonder about virtue, to occupy two minds, to scratch what itched, to listen for the birdcalls, inside and out.  A virtuous wife does not eat the bread of idleness. (Wendy Willis)

David Biespiel: “A Sense of Form and a Sense of Life”

Here’s hoping it’s not too late to finally answer the question,   â€śWhat is it you’re looking for in a poem?” David Biespiel In your hands is my last issue as editor of this magazine. Before I pass along the inky reins and Internet codes to the next editor, however, it’s with enormous gratitude that I thank you for allowing me into your homes and libraries. No one values the contemporary reader of poetry more than an editor of a magazine of contemporary poems, and that includes me. Since I was appointed editor almost five years ago and charged with resurrecting Poetry Northwest from the dead, the staff of the magazine—and let me pause here to say what an outstanding staff they are, far superior to their editor, I assure you, from lifers William Bernhard, Edward Derby, Heather Guidero, Roger Leigh, Phil Sylvester, and to veterans Caitlin Dwyer, Franny French, Liz Fuller, Shanna Germain, Jade Pekkala, David Robinson, Claire Sykes, Amanda Turner, Kate Wheatcroft, and Chalcey Wilding, to newcomers John Blackard, Jeff Lytle, and the many …

Spring & Summer 2009: The Enthusiasm Issue

ENTHUSIASM! James Longenbach’s finds dark secret love in a sick rose Ursula Le Guin searches for a mysterious lingering on the one-strand river Katrina Roberts swings to pure music from the stars at Tallapoosa Lloyd Schwartz goes coy on a dazzling mistress and extravagant bravura J. T. Barbarese climbs Mount Blanc J. D. McClatchy listens to Sappho Plus: Marvin Bell, William Harmon, Herman Asarnow, Henry Hughes, Floyd Skloot, David Mason, Dan Beachy-Quick, Bruce Beasley, David Baker, & more.

Herman Asarnow On James Merrill’s “Pearl”

One of the most important American poets of the twentieth century, James Merrill, is the subject of this summer’s online feature by Herman Asarnow. He elaborates on his admiration for Merrill’s lyrical poem “Pearl,” which appeared in 1995’s A Scattering of Salts. Asarnow’s unpacking of Merrill’s poem also ushers in Poetry Northwest’s newest issue, “Enthusiasms.” Look for it on newsstands and in bookstores this summer.