On Verse

A Lot from a Little: Demystifying the Aphoristic Poem

“Tulip” by Mark Rothko Aphoristic poems are a verbal sleight of hand: minute, almost indecipherable movements generating outsized effects. In his paper, “Aptness and Truth in Verbal Metaphor,” David Hills writes…

For whom the trumpet sounds: on Laura Kasischke’s The Infinitesimals

“They are neither finite quantities nor quantities infinitely small, nor yet nothing. May we not call them the ghosts of departed quantities?” This epigraph from George Berkeley’s The Analyst primes…

Truth and Beauty share a tomb: reflecting on 6 classic poems by women

1. “The Author To Her Book” by Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain, Who after birth didst by my side remain, Till snatched from thence by…

The independent seat: on Judith Barrington’s The Conversation

An “independent seat” is a rarely achieved height of equestrian skill, in which mechanical command and response are transformed into a fluid conversation between the bodies of horse and rider. It is…

Family; or, What It Means to Be a Freak

In Tod Browning’s 1932 film, Freaks, Hans, a sideshow dwarf, falls in love with the beautiful trapeze artist Cleopatra, who marries him for his money and plots to poison him…

You Run, Darling: Mark Doty’s Deep Lane

Mark Doty is tenacious in his in his examination of life and endlessly fussy about his use of words. He makes sure to convey his meaning, whether in the criticism…

Blood on the Jumbotron: Martial’s Arena Poems

Cum traheret Priscus, traheret certamina Verus,    esset et aequalis Mars utriusque diu, missio saepe viris magno clamore petita est;    sed Caesar legi parvit ipsae suae (lex erat ad…

A Mother’s Jealousy, A Mother’s Love

Laura van Prooyen’s new collection Our House Was on Fire reads like a fairy tale. Like so many fairy tales, the poems relate a difficult mother-daughter relationship, in which the…

The enduring power of Adrienne Rich

A Note from the Editor: I have been so privileged to have the chance to edit this special issue on Adrienne Rich, in commemoration of the third anniversary of her death. The essays you’ll find…

Adrienne Rich in Chile: an Interview

Adrienne Rich travelled to Santiago, Chile, in March 2001 to attend ChilePoesía’s inaugural gathering of international poets. The weeklong festivities included both large-scale public readings and smaller events in Santiago,…

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