Tag Archives: Poetry

‘Secular and Inconsolable’ by Noah Blaustein

My goal was to wake with nothing in my head –– it’s nice to begin a day having already achieved. Sunlight on the dead grass of the ski slope. A lone runner works his way up the fire road, a dull throb in my ankle where it twisted on the edge of getting younger, of celebrating my luck in still being able to run. Ralph, my friend, has been trying to convince me for years that the life of an adult is boring but I’ve never aspired to the life of an adult. My wife holds up a diaper, “A …Continue reading

Posted in Excerpts | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Harmony Called Survival: Q&A with ‘The Carrying’ Author Ada Limón

One of my first memories of Ada Limón involves a party in Brooklyn nearly 15 years ago. Ada was across the room, in a beautiful blue coat. A mutual friend introduced us, whispering as she did that “her poems are even lovelier than her coat is.” Within months, I knew this to be true. I am lucky to know Ada: We moved in similar circles in New York in our twenties, and left about the same time. I came home to California, and she moved to Kentucky, while still keeping her ties to Sonoma, her hometown, active with regular trips. …Continue reading

Posted in Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Merging into a Singular Voice: ‘They Said,’ edited by Simone Muench and Dean Rader

They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (535 pages; Black Lawrence Press), edited by Simone Muench and Dean Rader, is an ambitious, immersive collection that challenges readers and writers alike. Breaking out of traditional ideas of authorship, the book gathers hundreds of pieces of multi-author writing that span multiple genres and formats. At the end of each work is a blurb written by the authors that describes their unique writing process. In the spirit of the collection, we decided to collaboratively read and review the work in the form of a conversation. Claire Ogilvie: What stood out most …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Just Us’ by Paul Wilner

The Rape Guy approaches the podium, with practiced confidence, Jimmy Stewart smiles. He knows the ropes, been through this drill before. He lives around the corner from my brother-in-law, who says he doesn’t know him but his wife is “delightful.’’ I’m delighted. Aren’t you? Who wouldn’t be? Just a drunken grope and grab, lurch and lock, his Irish Catholic pal always ready to turn up the noise, set the stage. Dominis vobiscum, the Latin Mass is still the best. Closeted libido, directed who knows where, Three in the room. Three’s a crowd, three’s company. Company man. It’s all good. Ask …Continue reading

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Relevant and Relatable: ‘American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time’ by Tracy K. Smith

American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time (120 pages; Graywolf) delivers on its promise of introducing readers to some of our most important contemporary American poets, both well-known and emerging. Moreover, the writers featured in it are a reflection of the diversity of the United States, which is what one would hope for in a collection curated by the current U. S. poet laureate, Tracy K. Smith. In addition to featuring a racially diverse group of writers, there are poems by old and young, female and male, and straight and gay poets (although queerness is not a theme that is …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Secretly Wishing for Impossible Futures: ‘Her Mouth as Souvenir’ by Heather June Gibbons

Her Mouth as Souvenir (88 pages; University of Utah Press), winner of the 2017 Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry, is a breathtaking and lyrical debut collection from Heather June Gibbons. Gibbons’ voice is a strong one, as she leads the reader through well-crafted and captivatingly honest free verse. Pressingly urgent and timely, Her Mouth as Souvenir is a study of action in the face of anxiety. The poems’ context includes larger societal trends, such as the technologizing world that presents “a strange kind of convenience, / to access at the tap of a fingertip / so much information without …Continue reading

Posted in News | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Queering Language: ‘Feeld’ by Jos Charles

A few days ago, I woke up half-dreaming in the made-up language of Jos Charles’s feeld (64 pages; Milkweed Editions), which is to say I landed softly. feeld –– which is currently longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award in poetry –– challenges the reader to engage with a singular, complex voice (“Chaucerian English [translated] into the digital twenty-first century,” as Fady Joudah notes on the book’s jacket), but one that is also accessible and refined. Throughout the book, which contains sixty short poems, it is evident Charles is a poet who values breath and space. Both aurally and visually, the …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Grief of the Particular: ‘Be With’ by Forrest Gander

Reading Forrest Gander’s work makes the reader feel as if she’s entering a world larger than her own, one with a broader vocabulary, richer imagery, and a deeper understanding of the relationships between the ordinary and the unknowable. Sometimes one is baffled, but more often feels stretched, welcomed into a cherished complexity. On the cover of his newest book, Be With (92 pages; New Directions), the names of the title and author in severe san serif type are pinned between black lines and the absence of lines. It’s a perfect cover for a book that explores absence and presence, loss …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Thoughts and Prayers’ by Paul Wilner

guns and roses, money, honey, what’s the point. raise, hold, stay, fold, left out standing in the cold. If I had a thought, I’d tell you, bow my head if there’s a prayer. no such luck, no such mercy i am waiting, I am old. give us this day our daily bread, maybe we’ll feed it to the dead. Paul Wilner’s work has appeared in The Paris Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere. You can read more of his writing in ZYZZYVA No. 106 and No. 109. 

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Blossom on a Chain Link Fence: ‘Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God’ by Tony Hoagland

Tony Hoagland’s books probably have the most intriguing titles of any contemporary poet. The newest one, Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God (74 pages; Graywolf Press) follows hard on Recent Changes in the Vernacular, from Tres Chicas Books, out late last year. What Hoagland does better than any other poet is select the exact details to throw the cognitive dissonance inherent in contemporary American life into stark relief. Never sentimental, often fond, and always accurate, his lines cut through to the essence of experience. Yet they are leavened by tenderness and longing, a wry acceptance of the human condition. …Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Texture of the Light: Q&A with ‘Edith’ author Meg Freitag

Meg Freitag’s Edith (83 pages; BOAAT Books), winner of the inaugural Book Prize from BOAAT Press, comprises a series of vivid, voice-y lyrics addressed to a pet parakeet—the titular Edith—who dies halfway through the book. It turns out speaking to a pet bird makes a certain kind of affectionate disclosure possible; the experience of reading these poems is often one of overhearing an earnest speaker struggling to explain herself to a tiny, mute beloved. But the speaker’s love for her pet is also inextricable from her tenderness toward the world, and her mourning for Edith is bound up in other …Continue reading

Posted in Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Craft Talk: Dean Rader on Poetry Workshops, Writing Hurdles, & Looking Outward

Diligent readers of ZYZZYVA will have noticed Dean Rader’s dazzling poems in numerous issues of the journal, most recently in our Art & Resistance-themed Issue 111. We’re pleased to announce that Rader will also be leading a ZYZZYVA Writer’s Workshop in Poetry on August 18th, which is currently accepting submissions. The deadline to enter is June 18th –– so do not delay! The poet recently took time out of his busy schedule, which includes teaching writing at the University of San Francisco, to discuss the merits of the Workshop format, writing hurdles he’s overcome, recent poetry collections he’s read, and much …Continue reading

Posted in Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment