‘Feast’ by Ina Cariño: Food for Thought

by Gus Berg

Ina Cariño, the recipient of a 2022 Whiting Award and a 2021 Alice James Award, is a Filipinix American poet whose work draws heavily on intergenerational nourishment and transformation in marginalized communities. Feast (100 pages; Alice James Books), their first book of poetry, is an enriching collection that satisfies a primal hunger for fulfillment while questioning the social conditions that leave people of color deprived. One of the most disarming things about Feast is the bone-deep rawness of this poet’s voice. Even as they veer away from the realm of possibility, the poems feel real because the speaker’s voice remains […]

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‘An Ordinary Life’ by B.H. Fairchild: The Winding Road of Grief

by Gus Berg

In his latest poetry collection, An Ordinary Life (67 pages; W. W. Norton), B.H. Fairchild, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the author of the collections The Art of the Lathe (1998) and Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest (2002) , doesn’t flinch from the foxholes remembered secondhand in “My Father, Fighting the Fascists in WWII” or from images of a Korean War veteran bagging canned goods without fingers in “Groceries.” Fairchild offers succinct commentary with discrete but vivid imagery, honoring the beauty of small-town scenes with artistry and exactitude, transforming even a Walmart on […]

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Q&A with Rebecca Foust: ‘Only’ & Communicating Across the Centuries

by Meryl Natchez

I first met Rebecca Foust when we worked together for Marin Poetry Center starting in 2014. Foust is the author of seven poetry collections, including The Unexploded Ordnance Bin, Paradise Drive, All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song, and God, Seed. Her work has received the  2020 Pablo Neruda Award, the 2017 CP Cavafy Award,  and the 2016 James Hearst Poetry Prize, and was runner up for the 2022 Missouri Review Editor’s Prize. In 2017 she was appointed Marin County Poetry Laureate. I have been intrigued by her new book of poems, Only (Four Way Books 2022; 88 pages), a varied, tender, […]

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Q&A with Tayi Tibble

by Craig Santos Perez

Tayi Tibble, whose first book of poems, Poūkahangatus, was published by Knopf this year, is an exciting and essential voice of the next generation of Pacific Islander authors. Of indigenous Māori descent, Tibble grew up in Porirua, north of Wellington in Aotearoa (New Zealand), where Poūkahangatus was first published by Victoria University Press in 2018. (Her poetry also appeared in ZYZZYVA No. 123.) The concept of whakapapa—the Māori term for genealogy—is an important part of her collection. More than a simple list of names, whakapapa is a core element of mātauranga Māori, or traditional Māori knowledge. It articulates the living […]

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Air Sirens Wailed: Q&A with Maria Galina and Arkady Shtypel

by Ilya Kaminsky

Visiting Odesa, Ukraine, this July, I met with Maria Galina and Arkady Shtypel, two well-known Russian-language poets who decided to leave Moscow for Odesa before the war began. Maria Galina is the author of several books of fiction, including the novels Little Boondock, Mole-Crickets, and Iramifications, which was published in English by GLAS New Russian Writing. She is also a prize-winning poet and literary critic and a regular columnist for the literary journal Novyi Mir. Arkady Shtypel‘s debut poetry collection was published when he was fifty-eight. Since then, he has published five more books of poetry. He is also a […]

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My California

by Lee Herrick

Here, an olive votive keeps the sunset lit, the Korean twenty-somethings talk about hyphens, graduate school, and good pot. A group of four at a window table in Carpinteria discuss the quality of wines in Napa Valley versus Lodi. Here, in my California, the streets remember the Chicano poet whose songs still bank off Fresno’s beer-soaked gutters and almond trees in partial blossom. Here, in my California, we fish out long noodles from the pho with such accuracy you’d think we’d done this before. In Fresno, the bullets tire of themselves and begin to pray five times a day. In […]

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My Unsent Letter to You

by W. S. Di Piero

I’m writing in December. The almanacs call this a cold full moon. I watch it shadow through its veils. My book says of amor fati: want nothing more than what comes at you; love necessity; relive life’s phases in round time, evermore. Pain, unpain, joy, pain, groceries, car woes, plague. Our master plan of repetitions that can’t be planned for. We’ll never want things back. We’ll rush every instant as the last. I say love. I repeat it. I want to drink the lived, absent episodes of any hour, as we drink each other’s words, on the porch, under trees, […]

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My Ancestors Send Me Screenshots

by Tayi Tibble

My ancestors send me screenshots of your group chats dissecting me with all the science of your founding fathers and the sympathy of your murdering mothers wanting to know who I am where I’ve been and who I’ve been with. What the fuck is a whakapapa? Do I carry it in my pussy? In a tiny baggy? Like a real 1? Like a down-ass bitch? Do I have a heart? And does it bleed? Like a steak? If it’s brutalised enough? If it’s served? On a plate? With proper silverware? And presented to your queen still beating would she care? […]

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Q&A with Kathleen Balma: ‘From Your Hostess at the T&A Museum’ and the Urgent Need to Describe

by Danielle Shi

Kathleen Balma demonstrates a prodigious fluency with language in her intelligent and entertaining first poetry collection, From Your Hostess at the T&A Museum (96 pages; Eyewear Publishing), in which monkeys battle for social cachet, time grounds to a startling weather-bending halt, and voices become vehicles of desire when arriving at the right destination. Cleverly imagining the ordinary into shapes exceptional and witty, Balma uses an affectionate yet sardonic tongue to interrogate images as familiar to us as Abe Lincoln’s cabin to the ruins of Pompeii to the moon landing. For aficionados of art history, visual splendor abounds: Olympia and Aphrodites […]

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‘Fudekara’ by Liliana Ponce: Evolution Through Repetition

by Roz Naimi

“Why write confessions? Why confess the written?” asks Liliana Ponce in her poetry collection Fudekara (44 pages; Cardboard House Press; translated by Michael Martin Shea). Ponce is a poet and scholar of Japanese literature from Buenos Aires, Argentina, who incorporates her knowledge of Japanese culture into her work: “Fudekara” is a Japanese neologism created from the terms “fude” (brush) and “kara” (from) to mean “from the brush.” Written over the course of a Chinese ideograph calligraphy class the author took in 1993, Fudekara takes as its subject the stroke: the iterative, meditative practice of putting pen to paper. The collection […]

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Q&A with Rage Hezekiah: ‘Yearn’ & Dispelling the Secrecy

by Chiara Bercu

Rage Hezekiah’s Yearn (65 pages; Diode Editions), the winner of Diode’s 2021 Book Contest, makes an active inquiry into notions of bodily autonomy and limitation, resilience, and an evolving sexuality—charting what Nate Marshall describes, in his blurb of the poetry collection, as a stunning exploration of “the erotic, the familial, and the mundane.”  Hezekiah is a New England-based poet and educator and a recipient of Cave Canem, Ragdale Foundation, and MacDowell Colony fellowships. She is the author of the poetry collection Stray Harbor (Finishing Line Press) and the chapbook Unslakable (Paper Nautilus). Her poetry has appeared in the Academy of […]

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The Poetry Issue: Letter from the Editor

by Laura Cogan

ZYZZYVA No. 123, Spring 2022, The Poetry Issue

Dear Reader, One of the messages we’re most relentlessly bombarded with is the importance of happiness. In so many ways, pop culture cynically suggests that happiness could make us successful, on our own terms. Happiness, it seems, is its own kind of currency. And lack of it becomes yet another reason to punish ourselves. It seems especially cruel that happiness is often elevated as a kind of measure of success that can, theoretically, be achieved, witnessed, and celebrated outside the paradigm of capitalism—as though it’s available to any of us if we only choose it. We absorb the truism that […]

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