Kimberly Ann Priest Reads Rebecca Lindenberg

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week poet and educator Kimberly Ann Priest joined us to discuss the work of Rebecca Lindenberg, becoming a poet, poetry as a form of excavating memories. Thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: During our email correspondence, you mentioned that Lindenberg’s Love, an Index was one of the first poetry collections you read when you decided to write poetry. How did this experience shape how you’ve approached your own writing?

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Kimberly Ann Priest: Excellent question. I’m going to give you some background on my entrance into the poetry scene….


It was 2013. I was almost 36 and making a brave move to divorce a violent spouse while also pursuing my MA. I made $11,000 a year as a grad assistant instructor, plus child support, and found myself in the throes of exhaustion and grief and a new style of harassment from my soon to be ex. We had been married for 15 years and I had become accustomed to a semblance of romance, but mostly a list of reasons why I wasn’t a suitable romantic partner. About a year after divorce, my ex would come out as gay and continues, to this day, to assert that the violence of ‘the past’ was not his fault nor the complications it has caused me his responsibility. Getting out of this relationship, with two children in tow, was daunting and complicated as he and his family maintained control over all of my material possessions and the community around me, and continued to try to hold sway over my children’s perspective of the marriage. (Thankfully, on the latter, they were not successful).

All of that said to provide context to my state of being when I entered my grad program at Central Michigan University. I was worn to a thread and working diligently to rebuild myself and a career after having not been allowed to do so for those 15 years. I started my MA with a focus on Brit Lit, but after one semester realized that what I needed to do was write, not analyze others’ writing so much. I think it was October when I sat down with Robert Fanning, one of the poetry professors in the English Department, to inquire about the Creative Writing track in poetry. I remember how “chill” he was during our meeting and thinking that this is what I needed: chill. I needed something in my life to be less demanding and more therapeutic. Thus, I began my journey as a poet.

I don’t recall if we read Lindenberg in class, or if her work was recommended to me elsewhere. I took a lot of courses on craft and female poets so she may have been one of them. All I remember is getting her book and reveling in its steady beats and weaving of grief and romance. It felt like love. It felt like rain. In fact, Megan Devine says “Grief is love in its wildest forms.” It felt like that.

I was writing a lot of love poems then—an irony given my circumstances. But I think the earliest stages of my grief were marked by the loss of romance in my 20s and 30s. I was grieving the love I had felt for someone who didn’t love me back. I was grieving the death of the person I thought he was. The backstory of Lindenberg’s Love an Index is heartbreaking. The man she writes about and grieves in this book was her partner of several years who went permanently missing on an expedition to explore a volcano, something he loved to do. When I married, my partner was my best friend. Somewhere along the way, within only a year or so, I lost him. He went missing. No romance ensued and I found myself mostly alone in my homes with children, emotionally and economically striped to the bone. Somehow, Lindenberg’s work spoke to this early grief—the loss of romance I felt—because her connection to her partner was so raw and real and desirous. She does not hold back her feeling—even writing poems that reveal anger
and argument, regret and desperation.

And this is how her work shaped my early writing, and still shapes it today. My work is deeply relational and, I think, multi-dimensional. No relationship is all joy or all hate, all pain or all roses. Even my relationship with my ex cannot be flattened this way. In “The Language of Flowers,” Lindenberg turns love round and round and shows us both the beauty and pain of it, the sentimental and practical. I appreciate this about her writing. The emotional life is grounded in the reality that there’s a little hate in love, a bit of anger in desire, a lot of bravery in lament, and tensile quality strength in the tenderness and weakness born of agony. Lindenberg has helped me embrace grief in my work as an expression of everything I once loved and hope to love again.

Kimberly Ann Priest Reads “The Language of Flowers” & “The Language of Flowers Revised” by Rebecca Lindenberg

AH:Why did you choose these poems specifically?

KAP: Both “The Language of Flowers” and it’s opposite “The Language of Flowers Revised,” as well as “Carnival,” take objects—flowers and carnival masks—and reveal their duplicity. Again, as I mentioned in the first question, love fueling both celebration and grief. [It might even be said that grief is another form of celebration.] In these poems, flowers are constructed of various materials, even glass and paper, to translate different facets of desire, wanting, care, heartbreak. All of it is love. And all of it is potentially deceitful. In “Carnival” the mask (not to be confused with pandemic masks) is understood as a facial covering both concealing and revealing beauty and pain [as if these are mutually exclusive] and it’s hard to know which it is covering and what it is doing just as it is hard to know our own hearts.

These poems suggest that no emotion is exclusive—or even assured. “[A] moon face” reads “Carnival,” “with a healed gash that means harvest.” What a line. The wound, the gash, is signaling a season of harvest, of plenty. Or how about in “The Language of Flowers where “Plum” means “lost in beauty” and comes right before “Poppy Red” which means “threatening pleasure.” Such a juxtaposition of getting lost in something desirable to the senses as a possible threat of pure bliss. Something is always at stake in Lindenberg’s expressions of romance.


Maybe the most difficult thing about loving someone who does you almost nothing but harm, is that you are unsure of your own love. The emotional self is constantly confused. How do you love someone that screams at you and pins you to walls or shatters glass at your feet only to watch you pick it up slowly so your children won’t walk on it? I only know I tried. Flowers never meant what they were supposed to. And unmasking my abuser was always turned on me in a vicious game. I listen to these poems and wonder what it’s like to write and read them as someone deeply in love with someone who also loved them back. I am so interested in the way they are familiar to me in their metaphors, yet different in their expressions. Or are they? I don’t know. I hope to find out someday.

Kimberly Ann Priest Reads “Carnival” by Rebecca Lindenberg

AH: When asked why she writes poetry in an interview on McSweeneys, Lindenberg said the following: “I think, actually, that you write poems because you have something echoing around in the bone-dome of your skull that you cannot say.” Now I am asking you: why write poetry?

KAP: I appreciate Lindenberg’s answer. I’m not convinced poetry is about language at all. I think it is most certainly about what cannot be said, the silences. It is certainly that for me. I can’t tell you what it’s like to love someone who harms you, or long for romance for 15 years while caring for children, or grieve an abuser, or hate everything the abuser does, or want flowers to mean something wholly different from what they’ve always meant—but I can show you. I can write the wordless pain and desire. For me, poems are most certainly about what I cannot explain.

When I started writing during my grad program, I had no words for what had or was happening to me. In fact, I was in such a dissociated state that I barely even remember what happened those 15 years; I only knew it was bad. Writing, after my grad program, became about excavating those memories. All I could do was portray snapshots of moments and feeling. Many things were “echoing around in my bone-dome” that I could only access through the poem. So, yes, to Lindenberg’s answer.

These days, I don’t have memories to excavate. I have found all that I need. But the echo-ings will come again with new experiences. I feel this deeply. There will always be echoes that have no language; and for those, I will need the poem.

AH:Have any updates (about life, writing, anything!) that’d you like to share?

KAP: Sure!
I just moved to Pittsburgh for a year as the James Tolen Writer in Residence at Writer’s House. Thus far, I am inspired by the squirrels all around. There are so many squirrels. I haven’t begun writing yet, but there may be some squirrel poems soon.


My next chapbook comes out with Harbor Review Press in March. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Allison Blevins, the press editor (who happens to have a new book out—Slowly, Suddenly). My book is called The Optimist Shelters in Place and was written at the onset of the pandemic. It’s my first non-trauma book so I’m excited for something emotionally different on the horizon. It tackles loneliness in America, among other things.


Other than this, I’m just calibrating to a new environment. I finished three full-length books of poetry this year and they are all going out into the world seeking homes. I moved through a lot of past territory in those poems and now I’m exploring the present moment, which is a strange, nice shift. While at Writer’s House, I’ll be doing some memoir pieces and other prose. And maybe just relaxing a bit… watching squirrels.


Rebecca Lindenberg is an American poet and educator. She is the author of Love, an Index (McSweeney’s 2012) and The Logan Notebooks. Her poems, criticism, and essays have appeared in Poetry, Best American Poetry 2019, Tulepo Quarterly, and Diagram, among others. She currently is teaching at the University of Cincinnati, where she also edits the Cincinnati Review.

Find her website here.

Read an interview about Love, an Index here.

Read “He Asks Me to Send Him Some Words (Home)”in Tulepo Quarterly.

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021) and chapbooks The Optimist Shelters in Place (Harbor Editions 2022), Still Life (PANK, 2020), Parrot Flower (Glass, 2020) and White Goat Black Sheep (FLP, 2018). Winner of the2019 Heartland Poetry Prize from New American Press, her work has appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Lunch Ticket, Borderland, etc. She is an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University and serves as an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry.

Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

Find her new collection Slaughter the One Bird here.

Read Kimberly’s poems “This Much” and “About Blue.”

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear in Barren Magazine, Hobart, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and reads for EX/POST Magazine. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Emily Schulten Reads Theodore Roethke  

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week writer and educator Emily Schulten is joining us to discuss the work of fellow poet Theodore Roethke, writing on grief, and first encounters. As always, thank you for tuning in.


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: How and when did you first discover Roethke’s work?

Emily Schulten: I imagine my first encounter with Roethke were in graduate school. At least that’s when his work impacted me such that it has stayed with me. There are some poets who can do this, who have this power to stick with the reader in her daily life, sometimes in the background and sometimes the foreground, but there consistently.

Emily Schulten Reads “The Lost Son” (Part 1, The Flight)”

AH: Roethke was such an inspiration for many, from former students to Sylvia Plath. How has his work inspired you as a writer?

ES: Roethke’s use of rhythm is so musical. The heaviness that he is able to create in tone pairs with these earth images to haunt the reader and even to contribute to his mythmaking. This musicality and myth-making inspire me as a writer, as does the ability to consume the reader with his creation of atmosphere.

AH: Why did you choose these poems? What drew you to them specifically?

Emily Schulten Reads “Root Cellar”

ES: Roethke is a grief poet. More than that, he is able to take grief and use it to transcend himself and to make sense of his grief. These poems are emblematic of the grief that inspired so much of Roethke’s work, the relationship he had with his father in both life and death. (A connection we see that Plath was particularly inspired by.) “Root Cellar” and “The Lost Son (Part 1, The Flight)” approach this grief in strikingly different ways, but with much the same outcome. “Root Cellar” depends so much on the greenhouse imagery to convey the emotion the speaker feels in this place that represents his father, and “The Lost Son” is a more inward journey and interrogation for the speaker. These poems illustrate well Roethke’s breadth as well as his use of sound and image.

AH: Do you have any news to share?

ES: I’m eagerly anticipating November’s release of my second collection of poems, The Way a Wound Becomes a Scar, from Kelsay Books.


Theodore Roethke was an American poet from the mid-twentieth century. After his father’s death and uncle’s suicide, he would become an educator who taught many giants in American poetry: Sylvia Plath, Carolyn Kizer, and so many more. During his lifetime he won a Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the National Book Award for two different collections.

Read more about him and his work here.

Read his poem “The Storm.”

Find his collected poems at Penguin Random House.

Emily Schulten is the author of two collections of poetry, The Way a Wound Becomes a Scar (Kelsay Books, November 2021) and Rest in Black Haw (New Plains P). Her work appears in PloughsharesPrairie SchoonerColorado ReviewThe Missouri Review, and Tin House, among others. Schulten earned her MA from Western Kentucky University and her PhD from Georgia State University. She is a professor of English and creative writing at The College of the Florida Keys.

Find her website here.

Purchase her collection Rest in Black Haw.

Read her poem “Navigating the Afterlife” in Salamander.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear in Barren Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and reads for EX/POST Magazine. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Summer J. Hart Reads Louise Erdrich

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! Today artist and writer Summer J. Hart joins us to discuss the Louise Erdrich, being left breathless by writing, and poetic origin stories. As always, thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: What drew you originally into Louise Erdrich’s poetry? Is there an origin story of how you discovered her work?

Summer J. Hart: I encountered the novels of Louise Erdrich long before reading her poems. After graduate school I spent a year or so temping. One of my jobs was as a receptionist for a realty management office. A retired New Yorker cartoonist named Boris Drucker rented the office next door and we became friends. My job was neither challenging nor interesting, so I would often read or draw behind my desk. Boris saw my copy of Erdrich’s novel Love Medicine and the next day brought in his copy of Tracks. For the rest of my time in the office, Boris and I spent our lunch breaks talking about our love of drawing and Louise Erdrich. Erdrich’s writing, whether prose or poetry, never fails to goose-pimple my arms. I’ve spent years researching, collecting family lore, and making art about my own mixed Native and settler heritage. Before reading Love Medicine, I had never heard stories as similar to those my aunts and grandmother shared with me about life on and after leaving the reservation.

Summer J. Hart Reads “Owls” by Louise Erdrich

AH:I was absolutely in love with the details woven into the poems you’ve read! What were your favorite lines and/or images?

SJH: From “Owls”: “Each night the noise wakes me, a death / rattle, everything in sex that wounds.” I love the way Erdrich writes about sex in this poem as “raw need / of one feathered body for another.” The owl is a symbol of death so terrifying that even children don’t enjoy the lilting repetition of its name spoken in Ojibwe. Which was very fun to read! Kokoko. This poem rips bodies open—pulls feathers and bones from flesh. But, it also nourishes.

A barred owl asks again and again, Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?
The couple in the apartment also have an aching, visceral need. “This is how we make love” she writes, “when there are people in the halls around us…” The world inside the apartment is stripped back until there is nothing left but two bodies clinging together. All around them the gears of domesticity churn, relentless. The grinding consumption and expulsion of days whir along. Outside, birds fly from one throat to another. Neighbors scrub plates in the sink. A glass breaks. The pungency of frying onions drifts down the hall.I am drawn to the images (and sounds) of the owls, the humans, and the dead tree. I read this poem as both love letter and Memento mori.

From “That Pull from the Left”:
I love how she begins this poem with a name. Butch. This Butch, even if I read nothing more of him, has somehow been with me my whole life. “But something queer happens when the heart is delivered.” The word delivered. She follows the first iteration of this line with “when a child is born…” A baby is delivered. Cattle are delivered and again to slaughter. Meat is wrapped carefully in brown paper and delivered to the outstretched palm of a customer. The heart, cut from the body is how we begin and end, the start / stop of a muscle. We cling to life in life (our lolling eyes), and our bones fight to keep the flesh and sinew attached even after a final blow delivers death. The poem talks also of the queerness of the woman’s own heart. How she can feel “That pull from the left…” Then, there is the queerness of the sky, or perhaps internal weather, before the dark plunge.

Summer J. Hart Reads “The Pull from the Left” by Louise Erdrich

AH: As a writer and creative human, how have you been inspired by Erdrich’s work?

SJH: Louise Erdrich is my forever-favorite. Her work absolutely inspires me to be a much braver writer—my instinct is to self-censor, skirt around the truth of a thing. But she writes fearlessly about living, loving, dying in the natural world…with a bit of magical reality woven in. Her words leave me breathless, but my senses are sharper having read them.

AH: Got any news to share? It can be life, writing, creative updates–anything!

SJH: I am honored to be the Land Acknowledgment Writer for The 3rd Thing Press’ 2021 cohort (forthcoming November 2021). My poem, “Salt for the Stain” appeared in the Massachusetts Review’s Winter 2021 special issue, A Gathering of Native Voices. The website accompaniment to this issue including video readings and links to Native resources will launch this fall. My first full-length collection of poems, Boomhouse will be published by The 3rd Thing Press in 2023.


Louise Erdrich is an American novelist, poet, and children’s book writer. A member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, she has devoted her work to exploring the lives of Native Americans and those of mixed heritage. She has published three poetry collections and several novels, many of which have received critical acclaim.

Read her poem “Captivity” at Poetry.

Listen to an interview Erdrich had with NPR here.

Read her poem “Original Fire” at Lit Hub.

Summer J. Hart is an interdisciplinary artist from Maine, living in the Hudson Valley, New York. Her written and visual artworks are influenced by folklore, superstition, divination, and forgotten territories reclaimed by nature. She is the author Boomhouse (2023, The 3rd Thing Press) & the microchapbook, Augury of Ash (Post Ghost Press). Her poetry can be found in WaxwingThe Massachusetts Review, Northern New England Review, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her mixed-media installations have been featured in galleries and shows including SPRING/BREAK Art Show, NYC; Pen + Brush, NYC; Gitana Rosa Gallery at Paterson Art Factory, Paterson, NJ; and LeMieux Galleries, New Orleans, LA. She is an enrolled member of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation.

Find her website here.

Read her poem “Boy Crazy” at Waxwing.

Find her her forthcoming collection Boomhouse at The 3rd Thing Press.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear in Barren Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and reads for EX/POST Magazine. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Jory Mickelson Reads Brian Teare

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week writer and educator Jory Mickelson has joined us to discuss Brian Teare’s poetry, learning from another’s work, and being grounded within a speaker’s body. Thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: Why did you choose these poems and how did you discover Teare’s work? 

Jory Mickelson: Well for one, they are some of his shorter poems. Brian Teare has an incredible ability to write dozen-plus page, dazzling poems. I chose to focus on some smaller bites of his writing rather than read excerpts of longer pieces.

In Teare’s poem “Then I painted the two rectangles,” there is such a sweet resonance between reading the poem and seeing the poem on the page. Additionally, I love how he yokes the two windows above his sickbed in this poem and also the function of imagination in art, all in one go.

The poem “Perceiving is the same as receiving and it is the same as responding.” seems initially simple. It is made almost entirely of images. But it is also an explanation of the speaker’s mind on the page. I’ve read this one again and again, and it always causes me to pause and reconsider what is happening just below the surface.

Jory Mickelson reads “Then I painted the two rectangles” by Brian Teare

AH: How has Teare’s work inspired you as a writer and creative? 
JM: In a real way, Teare’s work teaches me something new in each of his book. There is a quote by Allen Ginsberg that says, “Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private.” Minds don’t come more original than Teare’s. He is fearsome, persistent, and totalizing. What I mean to say is every book is different from his previous one. Some of the concerns repeat, but the language is always pushing itself into new avenues of thought and he is always taking received forms and adapting them. Stretching them. Making them serve new purposes. Who wouldn’t want to learn these lessons?

Jory Mickelson reads “Perceiving is the same as receiving and it is the same as responding” by Brian Teare

AH: In an interview with The New School, Teare said the following: “Our most vulnerable sites of selfhood are our bodies, our mortal naked selves. They ground us in mammalian experience, a welter of hormones and hungers.” He used this to describe how he wants the language and images of his poems to be for readers. Do you relate to this with your own work (if so, how?), or with what you typically read? 

JM: I definitely relate to Teare’s work being grounded in the body, in what he calls “mammalian experience.” The poems in my first book Wilderness//Kingdom (Floating Bridge Press, 2019), are grounded in the bodies of the speakers and in the terrain they inhabit or pass through. The embeddedness or embodiment found in Teare’s work is something we share. Though we approach it or think about it on the page in differently.

In my new manuscript, I wrestle with the legacy of Western U.S. history and what it tells us about our contemporary issues of climate crisis, violence, waning empire, etc. These new poems brought me into the bodies, landscapes, and minds of the past in new ways. It was fascinating to see how their “welter of hormones and hungers” aligned or departed from our own today.

AH: What have you been up to lately? Got any exciting news to share (about life, writing, anything!)?
 
JM: Well, while I was at a writing residency in Taos last winter (Thank you Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico!) My book Wilderness//Kingdom won the 2020 High Plains Book Award in poetry and it was fantastic. All of us residents had a tiny outdoor pandemic party to celebrate.

More recently, I taught the Master Class at our local writers’ conference about how poetry, meditation and mindfulness are interrelated. And just this week I was asked by Hugo House in Seattle to teach classes for their winter and spring schedule! I love the energy in the classroom that happens with writers. While I love writing poems, teaching is definitely my second joy.


Brian Teare received his BA from the University of Alabama and MFA from Indiana University. Teare has received fellowships from the the National Endowment of the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, and was a previous Wallace Stegner Fellow in creative writing at Stanford University. He is the author of the collections Doomstead Days and Pleasure, among many others.

Find out more about his work at his website.

Read his poem “When we are on the right track we are rewarded with joy” here.

Learn more about his collection Doomstead Days here.

Jory Mickelson’s first book, WILDERNESS//KINGDOM, is the inaugural winner of the Evergreen Award Tour from Floating Bridge Press and winner of the 2020 High Plains Book Award in Poetry. Their publications include Court Green, Painted Bride Quarterly, Jubilat, Sixth Finch, and The Rumpus.  They are the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and were awarded fellowships from the Lambda Literary Foundation, Winter Tangerine, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. 

You can learn more about them and their writing at http://www.jorymickelson.com

Find their books here.

Read their poem “Float” at PANK.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear, or forthcoming, in Barren Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and reads for EX/POST Magazine. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Shannon Wolf Reads Olivia Gatwood

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week we are joined by poet and editor Shannon Wolf to discuss the work of Olivia Gatwood, the particular power of seeing poetry performed live, and writing as a therapeutic act. As always, thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: We all have an origin story for when we discovered a favorite poet. How did you discover Olivia Gatwood?

Shannon Wolf: Just like many of her fans, I found Gatwood through Youtube performances of her poems. She has a huge following in the slam poetry scene, and I found both her performance style and the actual content of her poems really compelling. She’s best known for earlier poems – like “Alternate Universe in Which I Am Unfazed by the Men Who Do Not Love Me” – and I think it’s because these poems (especially for women) are accessible in their language and ideas, which is not to say they aren’t well written. She has a wonderful eye for making magic from the minutiae. So many of her poems are about the female experience, the female body, and all of its burdens and blessings. Her work is somehow both refreshing and dark, and as a poet myself, that seems like one unattainable feat to accomplish.

Shannon Wolf Reads “If a Girl Screams in the Middle of the Night” by Olivia Gatwood

AH: During our correspondence, you mentioned that you’ve actually seen Gatwood perform her work live. How was the experience? Did the experience of hearing and seeing it performed change anything for you?

SW: It was really fantastic. I think it’s important to note how the venue was packed with so many people identifying as women and it felt like this safe, collaborative, familiar environment – the laughter and the emphatic noises of agreement you often hear at poetry readings seemed three times louder than usual in that room in Portland, Oregon. She performed with a musician, Mexican singer-songwriter Joaquina Mertz, setting her poems to sound, and it was a total sensory experience. Gatwood’s performances (with and without music) definitely add a layer of meaning to the written word. Her style of reading, her tone contextualizes the work – she has this great deadpan delivery that just lights each piece on fire. This particular performance was on the tour for her chapbook New American Best Friend, so I’d love to take in a reading of poems from Life of the Party, which I think drill a lot deeper into the female consciousness (and the dangers that seem to surround it).

Shannon Wolf Reads “My Mother’s Addendum” by Olivia Gatwood

AH: In an interview with The Adroit Journal, Gatwood said the following about Life of the Party: “I was in a constant state of feeling afraid, and instead of running from that feeling or trying to soften it, I held a magnifying glass up to it, tried to figure out where it was born, then write from the beginning.” As a writer, have you felt similar emotions and experiences when trying to write a particular piece?

SW: Absolutely! I would be surprised if there isn’t a writer who doesn’t use their work as some kind of therapy, honestly. I think whether it’s fear, or a specific trauma, or even just making sense of a memory, stepping toward it with your writing can produce something really striking. I often say that Gatwood’s poems are so personal – many in her chapbook refer to specific details from her own reality – but in Life of the Party, Gatwood appears to distance herself much more. Somehow though, this serves to bring the reader in even closer. In “If A Girl Screams In the Middle of the Night”, the singular scream of a girl becomes universal. In inspecting her own fear, she taps into our collective fear. I try to do this in my own work when I inspect generational trauma, and abusive relationships. Perhaps this hard stare into the sun eventually softens the fear anyway.

AH: Have any exciting news you want to share (it can be anything! Life, writing, new revelations)?

SW: I do. I just recently signed a contract for my first full-length poetry collection. Green Card Girl, which will be forthcoming from Fernwood Press in September 2022. It’s about my immigration journey from England to the US, the genesis of my chosen family, and the slow rot of toxic relationships. You can follow me on Twitter @helloshanwolf or check my website helloshanwolf.com for updates on the book! I also have poems coming out with Sledgehammer Lit and HAD, and I’ve just started a new teaching job here in my new hometown, Denver, CO. There’s a lot going on right now!


Olivia Gatwood is a writer and activist. She is the author of the full-length collection Life of the Party and has performed her poetry both in the United States and internationally. Her poetry has appeared in The Winter Tangerine Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and The Missouri Review, among others.

Find her website here.

Watch her perform her poem “We Find Each Other in the Details” here.

Purchase her collection Life of the Party at Penguin Random House.

Shannon Wolf is a British writer, living in Denver, Colorado. Her debut full-length poetry collection Green Card Girl is forthcoming from Fernwood Press. She received a joint MA-MFA in Poetry at McNeese State University and also has degrees from Lancaster University and the University of Chichester. She is Co-Curator of the “Poets in Pajamas” Reading Series. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction (which can also be found under the name Shannon Bushby) have appeared in or are forthcoming from The ForgeGreat Weather for MEDIAHAD and NoContactMag among others.

You can find her on social media @helloshanwolf.

Read her poem “Ode to Tony Soprano” here at No Contact Magazine.

Learn more about Shannon on her website.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear, or forthcoming, in Barren Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and reads for EX/POST Magazine. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Maya Williams Reads Anis Mojgani

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week writer, slam poet, and organizer Maya Williams has joined us to discuss the work of Anis Mojgani and poetry as conversation. We hope you enjoy as much as we did, and, as always, thank you for tuning in. 


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: How did you discover Anis Mojgani? 

Maya Williams: I discovered Anis Mojgani upon watching his performance of “Shake the Dust” uploaded to Button Poetry on my birthday in college (it was only uploaded two days before!). I have been obsessed ever since.

Maya Williams reads “They Raised Violins” by Anis Mojgani

AH: In an interview published at Literary Arts, Mojgani stated the following: “That’s what poetry comes down to––the opportunity to make sense of who we are, that we might grow and learn and foster ourselves, and in turn perhaps aid in the growth and learning and fostering of others.” Through interacting with Mojgani’s work and poetry as a whole, what has poetry become for you? 

MW: Through interacting with Mojgani’s work and poetry as a whole, poetry becomes for me an expansive conversation. One with myself as I’m reading, one with the writer of the poem (even if the writer cannot respond to me as I’m reading), and with others who may resonate with his work or another writer’s work. It continues to inspire me to make sure my poems in my work can be their own conversations for people.

Maya Williams reads “Sock Hop” by Anis Mojgani

AH: Why did you choose these poems specifically? 

MW: I choose these poems specifically because I wanted to showcase different phases of Mojgani’s work. It’s incredible to see what remains the same in his work and how he has grown overtime not only in his work, but how talks about it and tries to make his work a pulse for social change in any way he can.

AH: What’s next for you? Got any plans you’d like to share (about life, writing, creativity—anything!)? 

MW: Ooh! Next for me is finishing up my third semester at Randolph College, working on a thesis right now about the ramifications of the metaphors of mental illness that correlate with the prison industrial complex. I’m excited to start poetry programming with the Portland Public Library in 2022. I was selected as Portland, Maine’s poet laureate in July of this year, which involves community poetry programming I get co-facilitate with fellow poets I admire!


Anis Mojgani is a visual artist and spoken word artist originally from New Orleans. He received his education in Sequential Art then Performing Arts, which led him to joining poetry slam teams. Mojgani currently is the Poet Laureate of the state of Oregon, where he currently resides. His poems have appeared in The New York Times, Rattle, as the Poem-of-the-Day at Poets.org, and have been performed all around the world.

Find his website with his art and writing here.

Watch Mojgani perform “To Where the Trees Grow Tall.”

Discover his book The Feather Room here.

Maya Williams (ey/they/she) is a Black Mixed Race poet and sucide survivor residing in Portland, ME. They have received residencies and fellowships from the Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA), Voices of our Nation Arts (VONA) Foundation, The For Us by Us Fund’s Words of Fire Retreat, and Hewnoaks Artist Colony. You can find em as one of the three selected artists of color to represent Maine in The Kennedy Center’s Arts Across America series. You can also find her on her website at mayawilliamspoet.com

Watch Maya read their poem “Definitions of Home.”

Read their poem “The Words We Wear” here.

Read their essay “I’m a Black Suicide Survivor and Joy is My Act of Resistance” here.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear, or forthcoming, in Barren Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and reads for EX/POST Magazine. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Alina Stefanescu Reads Alice Notley

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week writer and editor Alina Stefanescu has joined us to discuss the poetry of Alice Notley, the complicated nature of being human, and questions evoked by the poetry we consume. We hope you enjoy as much as we did, and, as always, thank you for tuning in.


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: I’m absolutely in love with Alice Notley’s work! What was your first experience with her writing? 

Alina Stefanescu: I can’t recall my first experience with Alice Notley but I can say that she slam-dunked me this year, after reading Cedar Sigo’s Guard the Mysteries (Wave Books), a stunning book, a constellation of a book, built around tributes to his literary influences, including Joanne Kyger.  It struck me that Sigo selected Alice Notley’s poem, “The Fortune-Teller,” as his favorite tribute to Kryger. Notley is often invoked as a New York school poet, but what Notley does in this elegiac poem for her friend is to evade those markings. Notley ends the poem by placing Kryger in the school of “b. 1934,” a birth-year which Sigo suspects was “the only marker Joanne could trust.” 

The school of being born in 1934: the school of that year rather than the school of the movement of the moment. This radical re-visioning, this way in which Notley saw her friend apart from the crowds, and insisted on locating her within her own instance–it made me ravenous, it opened a room in my mind – the Room with Notley- a room without which I can’t imagine this pandemic. I felt as if Notley had given a template for how she wants to be remembered, which is something we often do when memorializing others, as Joseph Brodsky wrote in an essay whose title I can’t remember. How do I want to be remembered, and how do our poems hide these palimpsests? One encounters the urge to reckon with that…

Alina Stefanescu reads the work of Alice Notley

AH: Alice Notley was writing in the 1960s, which adds such a deeper layer of interest to her writing—her work is provocative, the antithesis of what was expected of women at the time. For you, as a poet and writer active decades later, do you find yourself channeling similar kinds of energy when approaching particular topics?

AS: What does independence signify in an ecology of fellow humans? I think Alice Notley asks this. What’s the distance between reverence and worship?: another question Notley brings close. Any statue becomes a hot-spot for nostalgia. The hero’s looking back illuminates a reactionary golden age, a time when heroism was possible. I see that with Confederate statue demons in Birmingham, Alabama, where I live. What is my personal relationship to, and with, that? How am I implicated in these memorials? No lies, no obfuscations: just write.   

Who am I in your mouth, and why does your mouth matter? What are you allowed to make me? These are questions that don’t disappear.

During this pandemic, I’ve struggled, like many, to balance the accelerated performance of motherhood with the discipline of writing life, and the social guilt that comes with expressing this. The appalled caesura on people’s faces if one dares to say: yes, it is hell to have to choose between my life and theirs, it is sick to live in a culture where motherhood is put on a pedestal so high that we are set in stone, afraid to say, “I have never wanted to be a monument to self-sacrifice.” That’s not how I want my kids to remember me. The mom who gives up her life for her kids is a terrible legacy, a perpetual guilt-machine for the kids we leave behind. Notley’s tangles and cord-bloods and shattering syntax encourage me to write despite the impossibilities, to write and to write and maybe to spite the grotesqueness of capitalist realism. 

We’re all a little broken, despite the cultural impetus to selfie ourselves otherwise. “Poetry comes out of all the places where you break,” Notley has said, and it’s okay to study those spaces, to devise new forms to hold the fragments, to see oneself whole in the busted shards of a mirror. Our souls aren’t binaries, we don’t live in positive vs.  negativity boxes (though sometimes we hide in them because the pressure to perform reductive emotional binaries is continuous). Look, there’s a billion-dollar industry devoted to making us happy, or making us look happy, or teaching us how to say happy so hard that it hurts. It’s okay to be dense, layered, complicated, atonal, atypical, banal, ungrateful and blessed in the same breath. It’s okay to write raw bones, to invoke the moon, to make love and weep in the hot ashes of the wreck.

AH: Why did you choose these two poems specifically? What drew you to them? 

AS: As Good As Anything” is a sort of soothesay, a balm over the mind worn raw by contests, by competition, by delusions of scarcity as they play out in publishing, by not wanting to give a damn and yet, measuring myself in precisely in those millimeters of hot damnation, only to convene in my complicities, which is a long way of saying that Notley reminds me, at the end: it is the poem that is rock-like. It is the poem that deserves my attention, my tenderness, my loyalty, all my damns laid at the foot of that rock. 

As for “A Baby Is Born Out of An Owl’s Forehead,” I give Cedar Sigo all the credit for the gift of this poem in my life. While researching Sigo’s work for a review essay, I found his  “Daydream of Darkness” , a piece which reconfigures the essay form as an image, a visual illustration, the doodle of bats, spiders, polar bears and flowers, a daydream enacted or seeking form. “I do not want to walk right into the making,” Sigo writes, “I want to wander around in the underworld if it has, in fact, been left open.” And then he mentions this poem by Alice Notley, who said the form of her poem, “A baby is born out of an owl’s forehead,” came from the effort to reinhabit her 1972 postpartum- depression body.  Words and images not only evoke the world, but also, to quote Sigo, “provoke our agency to deal in past and future time.” To quote Notley, in this line that still takes my break away:

Of his birth and my painful un-birth

I choose both.

To know what I know of the world after the body is broken by this American capitalist enterprise known as “m/otherhood”, where pain is privatized and exhaustion is stigmatized and the pedestal keeps changing the model of performance, I choose both. And I choose to write about both. And I choose the discomfort it brings to the table where we might prefer not to discuss these worn, trodden, ever-gory things.

AH: What have you been up to lately? Do you have any exciting news you’d like to share (life, writing, anything!)? 

AS: Thank you for asking this, even though I’m never sure how to answer it: whether to plug the forthcoming book or mention the fascinating thing that holds my mind at the moment, which is to say, the thing I am writing, the thing I can’t stop imagining and seeking in patches of time between events. Sometimes I talk about these things on twitter. Sometimes I blog about them. Mostly I marvel at the editors, publishers, readers, peers, and collaborators who have let me be part of this world, and whose generosity blows my mind. 


Alice Notley is an American poet often associated with the New York School. Born in California but New York-bound as a student at Barnard, she then received her MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop in fiction. She is known for her use of hybridity and bending genres to evoke how breaking the traditional rules is a reflection of the inner and cultural self. The author of over forty poetry collections, her work has received global attention.

Find her work in Poetry.

Read her poem “Woman in Front of Poster of Herself.”

Discover her voice a recent interview.

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her partner and several intense mammals. Recent books include a creative nonfiction chapbook, Ribald (Bull City Press Inch Series, Nov. 2020). Her poetry collection, dor, won the Wandering Aengus Press Prize and is forthcoming in July 2021. Alina’s writing can be found (or is forthcoming) in diverse journals, including Prairie Schooner, North American Review, World Literature Today, Pleiades, FLOCK, Southern Humanities Review, Crab Creek Review, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor for Pidgeonholes, Poetry Editor for Random Sample Review, Poetry Reviewer for Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Co-Director of PEN America’s Birmingham Chapter.

Find Alina online at her website.

Preorder dor here.

Read Alina’s poem “Poem for the Black Bird” at Poetry.


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear, or forthcoming, in Barren Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and reads for EX/POST Magazine. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: John Sibley Williams Reads Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week poet and educator John Sibley Williams has joined us to discuss the work of poet Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, what courage may look like, and the cutting details and musicality of a poem. As always, thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: We all have specific memories of the first time we picked up a specific book or read a favorite poet—when was the first time you discovered Marcelo Hernandez Castillo’s work?

John Sibley Williams: I was lucky to have discovered Castillo’s work purely by accident while shopping at my local independent bookstore. I was there looking for a specific book, but this stark, brilliant cover caught my eye. I opened to the first page and was immediately hooked by the simple complexity of its first lines:


Because the bird flew before
there was a word
for flight

This linguistic and philosophical conundrum was followed by:

years from now
there will be a name
for what you and I are doing.

This unexpected shift to the intensely personal while remaining elusively abstract truly caught me off guard. I ended up reading almost a quarter of the book right there, standing in a narrow aisle in a crowded bookstore. And I think I finished it later that night.

John Sibley Williams Reads “Cezontle” by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

AH: I love the rich details and topics the poems delved into! What drew you to these poems specifically?

JSW: It’s so difficult to dismantle poetry that really speaks to you in order to pinpoint what exactly about it fills and breaks and then refills your heart with its music. But the musicality in Castillo’s work is definitely a part of its allure. Each line, phrase, syllable just seems to inspire and converse with the next, and the varied structures in every instance perfectly compliment its themes. But, beyond the evocative language and surprising shifts and richly universal themes, Castillo consistently strikes this astonishing balance between the concrete and abstract, the heartbreakingly intimate and highly conceptual. Everything just leaps off the page, demanding attention and careful consideration, while also asking us to throw all that out and simply sink unquestioningly into his world. There’s just this overarching sense that these poems were written specifically for me and at the same time specifically for everyone else. These poems are bridges across cultures and times, philosophies and deeply felt personal experiences.

John Sibley Williams Reads “Drown” by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

AH: In the Los Angeles Times, a reviewer described Castillo’s work as “courageous.” For you, as a poet, what has courage looked like on the page?

JSW: “Courage” can take so many (often overlapping) forms in a poem. It can be striking out to attempt something wholly new, breaking with one’s usual conventions and stretching one’s creativity just shy of the breaking point. It can be making bold linguistic decisions that may or may not work, that could be monumentally moving or utterly ridiculous, but still choosing to walk that tightrope whether or not the poem “fails”. I know it’s a cliché, but isn’t it a beautiful thing to master failure? To take huge risks and just pray readers follow your leaps and twists and experimentations? But “courage” can also be deeply personal. Most of the poems I love know exactly when and how to break and then to heal me. There’s a sense of genuineness, an authentic vulnerability, an unspoken agreement that poetry is meant to be one half of a conversation, trusting readers to be that necessary other half. Trusting others with your own deeply felt truth is true courage.

AH: What have you been up to lately? Got any exciting plans (anything!) that’d you like to share?

JSW: Although I haven’t been writing new work as much as I’d like to due to my shifting focus on being the best father I can be to my twin toddlers, I’m honored and thrilled to have two new books forthcoming. “The Drowning House” (winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Award) and “Scale Model of a Country at Dawn” (winner of the Cider Press Review Book Award) are both due out this coming winter. Professionally, last fall I founded Caesura Poetry Workshop, an affordable online workshop series focusing on both poetry and publishing. Each month I’ve been offering new classes, and I’ve been incredibly busy fostering and learning from the community we’ve built together. Beyond the creative, though, I am spending most of my time and energy on my children. It’s a tough world to be brought up into, and there’s nothing more important to me than ensuring they’re prepared to meet it with open hearts, open minds, and a strong sense of themselves.


Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is a poet, essayist, and translator. His collection Cezontle was selected for the 2017 A. Poulin Jr. Prize, and he is the author of the award-winning memoir Children of the Land. The first undocumented graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program, he aided the establishment of Undocupoet Fellowship. His work has appeared in The New York Times, New England Review, and The Paris Review.

Discover more about Marcelo on his website.

Read his poem “Essay on Synonyms for Tender and a Confession.”

Purchase his collection Cezontle.

John Sibley Williams is the author of seven poetry collections, including Scale Model of a Country at Dawn (Cider Press Review Poetry Award), The Drowning House (Elixir Press Poetry Award), As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press), and Summon (JuxtaProse Chapbook Prize). A twenty-six-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and founder of the Caesura Poetry Workshop series. Previous publishing credits include Best American Poetry, Yale Review, Verse Daily, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, and TriQuarterly.

Find his website here.

Read two of John’s poems in North Dakota Quarterly.

Purchase his poetry collection Skin Memory.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear, or forthcoming, in Barren Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She is the Co-Editor in Chief at both Mud Season Review and Juven Press, and reads for EX/POST Magazine. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Arhm Choi Wild Reads Mary Jean Chan

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week we’ve chatted with poet Arhm Choi Wild about the beauty of Mary Jean Chan’s poems, what is means to survive, and how they discovered Chan’s work. Thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: You’ve chosen to read such rich, luscious poems—the entire collection they’re from, Flèche, is so wonderful. What resonates the most for you in these poems?

Arhm Choi Wild: I’m so struck by the rare mirror that these poems provide. Because of the history of erasure and curation of single stories such as the model myth minority, it’s only through intentional and pointed searching that I’ve been able to to find other queer Asian writers. There is such relief in finding that I am not alone in my experiences, that there is a commonality I can fall back on when faced with what feels like impossible questions. Discovering these mirrors makes the questions less daunting, knowing there are others to journey besides.

Arhm Choi Wild Reads “Conversations with Fantasy Mother” by Mary Jean Chan

AH: In “Names,” Chan writes: “You do know / how much I want you — us — to survive?” There is so much power in these last couple of lines, when combined with the forced distance between both the speaker and their relationships. I’m actually thinking about your writing right now. Would you say that as a writer yourself you dwell on similar themes of survival in particular situations?

ACW: Absolutely. In Korean culture there is such an emphasis on family. Since I was a child, I have been engrained with the sense that you do whatever is necessary for family and that they in turn will do anything for you. To think I might lose that support system, especially when my immediate family is small and all of our relatives are across an ocean, made it seem that being my full and authentic self meant choosing between survival and queerness. Only when it became clear that in order to survive, I have to come out to my family did I gather the courage to do so.

Arhm Choi Wild Reads “Names” by Mary Jean Chan

AH: We all have an origin story when it comes to reading our favorite poets. What is the origin story of you discovering Mary Jean Chan’s work?

ACW: I was introduced to Chan’s work in a workshop class I was auditing with R.A. Villanueva, an incredible poet and teacher. After attending many workshops where most of the texts we read were by white, cisgender, and straight people, it was such a joy to be introduced to R.A’s syllabus and Chan’s work.

AH: What have you been up to? Got any good news (about life, writing, anything!) you’d like to share?

ACW: I am so excited and honored to receive fellowships to the Sewanee Writers Conference and the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing this summer. I’m working on a 2nd book of poems around coming out as non-binary, the death of my father, and navigating a divorce during the pandemic, and I’m grateful to have time to work on this manuscript!


Mary Jean Chan is a poet, lecturer, and critic based out of England. She is the author of the poetry collection Fleché, which won the 2019 Costa Book Award for Poetry and was a 2021 Lambda Literary Award Finalist, among receiving other awards.

Find Chan’s website here.

Listen to Chan’s interview about her full-length collection here.

Read her poem “Fully Human” at New Republic.

Arhm Choi Wild is the author of CUT TO BLOOM, the winner of the 2019 Write Bloody Prize. Arhm received a MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and their work appears in Barrow Street, The Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, Split this Rock, and other publications. They have received fellowships from Kundiman, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing. They work as the Director of the Progressive Teaching Institute and Diversity Coordinator at a school in New York City. For more information, visit arhmchoiwild.com.

Purchase their full-length collection, Cut to Bloom, here.

Read a portion their work here.

Read their poem “The Story of My Name” at Two Hawks Quarterly.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear, or forthcoming, in Into the Void Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She currently reads for EX/POST Magazine, is the Managing Editor of Mud Season Review, was a Brooklyn Poets Fellow, and is the co-Editor in Chief of Juven Press. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Jihyun Yun Reads Emma Hine

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week we’ve chatted with poet Jihyun Yun about the poetry of Emma Hine, surviving through chaotic times, and the wildness of dreams. We hope you enjoy reading through and listening to the poems as much as we did!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: What was your very first experience with Emma Hine’s work?

Jihyun Yun: I attended NYU’s MFA program with Emma but our paths crossed very little during our years there. Funnily enough, my first brush with her work was several years after we both graduated when we were published together in an issue of 32 Poems. I was invited to write a short blog piece about another contributor’s work for their Marginalia series, and I chose to write about her poem “Mammoth Cave.” I was really drawn to the unhusked emotional precision of that piece, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Jihyun Yun Reads “Jaws” by Emma Hine

AH: Why did you end up choosing these two poems to read for us? What draws you to them specifically?

JY: I chose these poems because I feel like they encapsulate what I so love about her debut collection, Stay Safe. They’re both wildly tender and full of love, even in their careful interrogations of grief and impending loss, but they’re also simply wild in the same way dreams and fables are. There is a sense of transformations in these poems where girls become birds and take flight like in “Don’t You See” or are called towards the water by an almost supernatural pull like in “Jaws”. These poems make good promise of what can be found in spades in the book: world-building, a family’s emotional journey made mythic, but done in a way that we can still see our own lives and anxieties reflected in it. These poems are imaginative and sweeping, but still let us touch the ground.

Jihyun Yun Reads “Don’t You See” by Emma Hine

AH: When describing her poem “Don’t You See” for Poetry Society of America, Hine says that these poems from the collection tend to revolve around the fear of grief. For you, as a creative writer and human going through the turmoil that has been the past year, have you found yourself agreeing with these sentiments in your recent work?

JY: I sympathize with that sentiment a lot, and it might be why I’m so drawn to this book: it rings true to me. This past year we all had a crash course in both fearing the possibility of loss and then experiencing it in one way or another. I was no exception. My father-in-law was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer at the beginning of the pandemic, and every moment leading up to his passing was an exercise of dread. It changed the way I navigated the world, and the poems leading up to the loss and after the loss are very tonally different. So much of the grieving process is contained before the event of loss, and writing through it, whether it be poems or just diary entries, was essential in helping me compartmentalize the anxieties of that anticipatory period.

AH: What have you been up to lately? Got any exciting plans (life plans, writing, anything!) coming up?

JY: My partner received a fellowship and is headed to Korea in the fall, and I’m going to go with him (hopefully for the full year but if not, at least for a few months). My grandparents and I are all fully vaccinated now, so I’m really looking forward to seeing them again. I’ve also been drafting a YA novel, not with any intention of querying it, but to teach myself the basics of writing in a different medium. It’s been a lot of fun!


Emma Hine is a poet and essayist. She receieved her MFA from New York University and her poems have appeared in Copper NickelThe Missouri ReviewThe OffingThe Paris Review, among others. Her debut poetry collection, Stay Safe, was published by Sarabande Books in January 2021.

Find her website here.

Discover her poetry collection Stay Safe here.

Read three of her poems at The Offing.

Jihyun Yun is a Korean American poet from the San Francisco Bay Area. A National Poetry Series finalist, her debut collection Some Are Always Hungry won the 2019 Prairie Schooner Prize in Poetry and was published by the University of Nebraska Press in September 2020. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets, Ninth Letter, Adroit, Poetry Northwest and elsewhere. She currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she is working on a novel. 

Find Jihyun’s work on her website.

Read her poem “Dialogue with the Husband Snitch” here.

Purchase her full-length collection Some Are Always Hungry.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and writer. She has had work appear, or forthcoming, in Into the Void Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She currently reads for EX/POST Magazine, is the Associate Managing Editor of Mud Season Review, was a Brooklyn Poets Fellow, and is the co-Editor in Chief of Juven Press. More of her work can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com