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Amy Glynn Greacen: Two Poems

Exclusive to Poetry Northwest Online, here are several poems from Amy Glynn Greacen’s A Modern Herbal: a manuscript-in-progress that, according to its author, “shares its title with Maud Grieve’s 1931 herbal pharmacopoeia. Each poem is about a different plant – from fruits and vegetables to medicinal herbs, psychotropics and poisons – in some cases directly and in some, obliquely. It plays with botanical metaphors and with the many ways humans use and interact with plants.”

Rick Barot: “The Poem is a Letter Opener”

In celebration of the arrival of the Spring-Summer 2010 issue (v5.n1) of Poetry Northwest on newsstands and in mailboxes, we offer you this instrument of opening by Rick Barot, exclusively online.  “I wrote this poem during an autumn residency at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire,” notes Barot.  “Prior to the residency, I hadn’t written a poem in many months, perhaps close to a year.  And so my mind was full of half-thoughts and half-images and half-possibilities just waiting for some galvanizing energy to give them coherence.  There was a rocking chair in the studio, and I spent nearly all my time in that chair, rocking and reading.  On the day I wrote the poem, I was sitting in that chair and opened up Bill Knott’s book of poems The Unsubscriber, a favorite book.  Immediately I came across the page that had this as the first line of a poem: ‘The poem is a letter opener.’  I closed the book, knew instantly that Knott’s line was the title of a poem that I wanted to write, sat down at the desk, and …

Zach Savich: “Inner Order”

Shadeland by Andrew Grace Ohio State University Press, 2009. $13.95 Much ear-rich poetry is made of surface sizzle, clatter so bright it bursts from the bobbin, bunches the weft, and weaves tapestries of Mickey Mouse hues, gaudy candy scenes, but there are also poets whose good ears don’t pop but ride on underwires of listening, their rhythms revealing rich psychological and sensual symmetries. Andrew Grace has that kind of ear. His first book, 2002’s A Belonging Field, demonstrates a virtuosity of propulsion and melody that makes the most apt comparisons sound overblown: Hopkins, Herbert, Melville, the gorgeous early James Wright. But that’s not to say Grace is one of those plop plop plop five chicken nuggets to a box formalists who wears his dinner jacket with the label showing; there are also shivers of, say, Michael Palmer and Dan Beachy-Quick in his work, providing an attentive humility that keeps his suit indistinguishable from the body moving in it, a layering effect that makes words like “soul” sensible. “Hide your form, be orderly within,” Grace writes …

Tracking Spring

The next print edition of Poetry Northwest will be the spring-summer issue, due in April 2010. Until then, in addition to our regular monthly highlights from the most recent issue (see Natasha Trethewey’s “Mexico,” for instance), we are publishing new poems by poets we admire as a countdown to and preview of our back-in-Seattle debut.  In January, we featured Eric McHenry’s “New Year’s Letter to All the Friends I’ve Estranged by Not Writing.” February gave us “Hall of Sea Nettles,” a new poem by Paisley Rekdal, rich in sinuous assonance and shifting, sharp-eyed imagery. You can expect to see more poems by Paisley Rekdal in the spring-summer issue to come. Now, on the threshold of our new issue, we are pleased to present Marvin Bell’s “The Book of the Dead Man (The Northwest).” The Dead Man has been a stalwart of Amercian letters since his debut in 1994. His resurrection here is sure sign that spring is upon us again. ~~~

Paisley Rekdal: “Hall of Sea Nettles”

Paisley Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee and three books of poetry, A Crash of Rhinos, Six Girls Without Pants and The Invention of the Kaleidoscope. A hybrid photo-text memoir that combines poems, nonfiction and fiction entitled Intimate is forthcoming from Tupelo. Her work has received a Village Voice Writers on the Verge Award, an NEA Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, the University of Georgia Press’ Contemporary Poetry Series Award, a Fulbright Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and the Laurence Goldstein Poetry Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review. Her poems and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from The New York Times Magazine, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and on National Public Radio among others.