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 Kryger.  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

Lyric Essentials: Athena Dixon Reads Seamus Heaney

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! We’ve chatted with poet, essayist, and editor Athena Dixon about the universality of Seamus Heaney’s work, connecting past and present within writing, and moving forward in life. As always, thank you for reading!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: What was your first encounter with Seamus Heaney’s work?

Athena Dixon: I first came across his work during my second tour through undergraduate school, but I didn’t really hold onto it until I was working on my MFA two years later. At the time I was compiling my creative thesis, Way Station, and quite a few of poems in that collection concerned my hometown and its working-class roots and routines. Heaney’s poems, especially those in Death of a Naturalist and North, were very concrete for me and I added them to my touchpoints for continuing to craft my final project.

Athena Dixon Reads “Digging” by Seamus Heaney

AH: Even if we are not Irish, living in the Ireland that Heaney wrote about, would you say that there is this universal aspect to his work that everyone can relate to in some form? 

AD: I think so and that’s what kept me connected to his poems after my initial introduction. There is a common thread that connects Heaney to his readers because the heart of his work is universal. Readers can relate to Heaney’s very clear reverence for family and tradition. I come from a very blue-collar background. My father was a steelworker and my mother was a factory worker. So, there was an instant understanding in how he describes the work, the physical toll of it, and how it can impact the individual and the family. His work makes me revisit pieces like Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays” for the same reasons. There are for sure quite a few people who can relate in the same ways because we’ve seen this kind of labor ourselves or are participating in it to raise our own families. They can understand judgement from social circles and society at large. And they can understand the underlying desire to respect tradition, but to also move forward along your own path.

Athena Dixon Reads “Punishment” by Seamus Heaney

AH: In “Punishment,” we see this interweaving of finding a bog body and political strife in contemporary Northern Ireland. As a writer, how do you grapple with this tension of past and present in your own work?

AD: I try to find tension that is useful to the work and myself. There is, of course, always tension to be found when trying to reconcile the past and the present. However, writing for me has always been a way to filter through that tension and find what is going to be best for not only my art, but also my own personal journey. I think there has to be some balance between the two because what is tension if you aren’t trying to truly dissect it and discover some measure of beauty or questioning in it? I think anything else is just for shock value and that’s not the purpose of writing for me. I want to be able to go back to the past and come back changed in some way. I don’t want to wallow in it. That doesn’t mean there has be complete healing or understanding, but there has to be something useful if I’m going to add more tension to my life.

AH: Why did you choose these two poems specifically?

AD: “Punishment” was the first Heaney poem I encountered and it was like a shock to the system. I fell in love with how he broke his lines and how he crafted images. Those images are rich, but not overwrought. I found such pleasure in the idea he wasn’t trying to be opaque in the poem as well. It is both accessible, yet elevated. Heaney gives us something violent and troubling in a very concise way. It highlights how detached the punishment was despite the very passionate act that led to her demise. Also, his ability to move readers from a macro level to a micro level is brilliant. We get see the overarching expectations and rules of society, the woman’s actions, the reaction to her “crimes”, and even down to the very essence of her bones and brain. It’s an amazing journey in very lean lines.

I love “Digging” for some of the same reasons. I instantly wanted to dissect how there could be such depth to the world building in such slim stanzas. However, what I love the most is his use of sound and rhythm. This poem begs to be read aloud just to hear how the words bounce against each other, how they pull you from one line to the next, and how the poet uses word choice to engage our senses. For me, the poem also is very much an act of love that is recognizable on both sides. The caring of the father and grandfather through their manual labor which gives them the means to care for the speaker juxtaposed against the speaker’s desire to honor those men in the medium he has at his disposal is lovely. And the idea of generational betterment that isn’t couched in shame but rather respect and acknowledgement is close to my heart, too.


Seamus Heaney was a poet and playwright from Ireland. He is widely considered to be one of the finest Irish poets in contemporary history, as his poetry and writing was well-loved all over the world. Full of rich, luscious descriptions of Ireland and its natural beauty, as well as informing readers about the politics and history of the country, his poems showcased his prolific talent as a writer.

Discover some of his work at Poetry.

Read an interview he had with The Paris Review.

Read this New Yorker article on his legacy.

A native of Northeast Ohio, Athena Dixon is the author of The Incredible Shrinking Woman (Split/Lip Press) and No God in This Room (Argus House Press). Her work also appears in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic (Haymarket Books) and in various publications including GAY Magazine and Narratively. She resides in Philadelphia. Learn more about the author at www.athenadixon.com.

Read Athena’s essay “You Have the Right to Remain Silent” at Grub Street.

Find her essay collection The Incredible Shrinking Woman at Split/Lip Press.

Listen to the podcast Athena co-hosts, New Books in Poetry, here.

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 forEX/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

Lyric Essentials: Rachel Stempel Reads Joshua Clover

Welcome back to this edition of Lyric Essentials! Rachel Stempel has joined us today to read poems by the poet Joshua Clover. Join us for a discussion about poetic origins, searching for meaning, and artistic responsibility. Thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: Why did you pick Joshua Clover? 

Rachel Stempel: I tell my creative writing students that poetry (writing in general) is storytelling, and storytelling is the most fundamental mode of communication. I think it helps demystify what poetry is. Storytelling implies a narrator and narratee—a contract between writer and reader and text. The existence of those relationships require work, and I love poetry that makes me work for meaning. Image-heavy, allusive, disjunctive, and somewhat comical.

Rachel Stempel Reads “Orchid & Eurydice” by Joshua Clover

AH: Is there a story behind how you discovered Clover’s work? 

RS: I majored in geology in undergrad, so it wasn’t until my junior year I even took an introductory poetry class, and I’m truly blessed to have taken one under a poet I admire—and whose work I’ve tattooed on my body—Crystal Curry. Whatever she told me to read, I’d read. She assigned “The map room” in class but it wasn’t until I was lurking around my MFA’s lounge for books to steal that I found the collection in which it appears—Madonna Anno Domini—that I really took notice of Clover.  

Rachel Stempel Reads “The map room” by Joshua Clover

AH: Do you find your writing relating to Clover’s in any way? If so, how? 

RS: I think poetry takes on a weird classification that most feel all art is exempt from—i.e., responsible vs. irresponsible—when the reality is the opposite. Nothing is apolitical. The motivation to apoliticize is like an act of erasure—more nuanced, but in what ways, I’m not sure I can articulate. So, Clover’s critical background—not necessarily academic—crafts his work.

In his Verso Books author bio, Clover states he’s a communist before any other identifying information. As a white, neurotypical passing, able bodied, AFAB person, I’m constantly questioning whether what I have to say—the art I have to make—is responsible. A lot of my work deals in my identity intersections—genderqueer, immigrant, Jewish—but what part of my thematic leanings are performance for the dominant narrative? For me, Clover’s work is driven by this one-sided panic as a subject of capitalist empire and seeks to unpack it through critically-informed strangeness. That’s what I want my work to do, too—serve as an archive of my panic.

Also, I self-identity as a middle-aged white man with tiny glasses.

AH: What have you been up to lately? Any exciting projects you’d like to share? 

RS: I’m grateful that my microchapbook, Craigslist Is A Place On Earth, will be a part of Ghost City Press’s 2021 Summer Series along with my friend, Robin Gow’s work (and yours!). I’m currently finishing up my MFA thesis—a YA novel in verse that contemporizes Slavic folklore. 


Rachel Stempel is a genderqueer Ukrainian-Jewish poet and educator. They are a staff writer for Up the Staircase Quarterly and EX/POST MAGAZINE and a poetry editor for MAYDAY Magazine. They are the author of the microchapbook Craigslist Is A Place On Earth (Ghost City Press, 2021) and the chapbook BEFORE THE DESIRE TO EAT (Finishing Line Press, 2022). Their work has appeared in or is forthcoming from New Delta ReviewInto the Void, Boxcar Poetry ReviewPenn ReviewHypertext MagazineSHARKPACK Annual, and elsewhere. They currently live in New York with their rabbit, Diego. Find them simping for Aase Berg on Twitter @failedcaptcha.

Click on the colored text in their bio to find samples of their work.

Joshua Clover is a writer and scholar originally from Northern California. He is the author of the poetry collections Red Epic (2015), The Totality for Kids (2006), and Madonna anno domini (1997), and has had three more books about cultural history and political theory published. He received the Walt Whitman Award and an NEA grant for his work. He currently teaches English literature and critical theory at UC Berkeley.

Read more of his poems here.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is a multimedia artist and poet. She has had work appear, or forthcoming, in Into the Void Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She currently reads for Mud Season Review and EX/POST Magazine, is the Playwriting & Director’s Apprentice at New Perspectives Theatre Company, 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: Anna Meister Reads Diannely Antigua

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week Anna Meister will be reading Diannely Antigua’s work and discussing the act of reading a poem verbally, admirations, and future plans. Thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: Why did you choose Diannely Antigua? 

Anna Meister: I wanted to speak about Diannely’s poetry because I so appreciate and admire the frank, unapologetic way her work wrangles mental illness as subject matter. I almost wrote that her poems embody a fearlessness, but I think it’s more that the poet allows fear (of stigma, of succumbing, of survival) to be in the poems, and I find that honesty very brave and refreshing.

Anna Meister reads “Variations on a Theme” by Diannely Antigua

AH: Throughout the poems, there seems to be this theme of hunger for something. As a poet yourself, would you say you feel a connection to this concept of wanting something more in your writing? 

AM: Yeah, I certainly feel like my poems tend to come from a place of not knowing, searching for answers. And in that vein, the feeling of longing or unsatiated hunger propels me forward, which I do feel moving through Antigua’s work. It also makes me think about the biblical references and imagery in Ugly Music, how the speaker’s religious history and questioning/speaking to god are connected to an erotic hunger and understanding of her own sexuality.

Anna Meister Reads “Equinox” by Diannely Antigua

AH: Listening to you read these poems and actually reading them on the page was a completely different experience. How was the act of verbally reading these poems? Did it change anything for you?

I always like to hear things aloud as I’m reading; there’s such joy in how differently a poem’s music comes through when read versus on the page. And yes, her book is titled Ugly Music, but Antigua really does have such a musical ear and there’s a lot that’s just sonically delightful about these poems. Something else I noticed in reading them aloud is that, due in part to all of the poems being in first person, their vulnerability (and mine as the reader) felt amplified. The term “confessional poetry” can get a bad rap (which is pretty sexist), but I think Diannely is absolutely showcasing the power of the poem as a space for confession and saying the “unsayable” thing.

AH: Your poetry collection recently came out with Sundress. Got any exciting plans coming up in the near future? 

AM: While this isn’t related to What Nothing, I was just able to get a vaccination appointment for the end of the month and I’m pretty excited about that! I’m looking forward to the ways in which life will feel easier in the months to come, as more and more people get vaccinated and are able to be together again. I miss experiencing poetry with other people! To have my first book released during quarantine/a pandemic has been different than I’d imagined, though I have enjoyed partaking in virtual events and I’m grateful for the accessibility and connection they’ve provided. I’m hoping to travel a bit later this year to see friends, do some readings, and celebrate What Nothing more widely. I’m really proud that it’s finally out in the world!

Diannely Antigua is the author of Ugly Music (YesYes Books, 2019), which won the Pamet River Prize. Previously nominated for the Pushcart Prize and selected for Best of the Net, her poems can be found in The Adroit Journal, Bennington Review, and Washington Square Review. She received her MFA from New York University.

Anna Meister is the author of the poetry collection What Nothing (Sundress Publications, 2021), as well as two chapbooks. Meister received an MFA in Poetry from New York University, where she was a Goldwater Writing Fellow. Her poems have appeared in The Rumpus, Redivider, The Adroit Journal, BOAAT, and elsewhere. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa with her wife and son.

Find her at:

www.annameisterpoet.com

Twitter: @annameisterpoet

https://therumpus.net/2020/09/rumpus-original-poetry-two-poems-by-anna-meister/

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi has had work appear, or forthcoming, in Into the Void Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She currently reads for Mud Season Review and EX/POST Magazine, is the Playwriting & Director’s Apprentice at New Perspectives Theatre Company, 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: Esteban Rodríguez Reads Jay Wright

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week, poet Esteban Rodríguez is joining us to discuss Jay Wright and the complexity and inspiration behind both Wright’s and his own poetry.


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: What inspired you to choose Jay Wright for today’s feature?

Esteban Rodríguez: Jay Wright has always been fascinating to me for a number of reasons. His work (that is his work after his debut collection The Homecoming Singer) is considered quite complex, and he seems to be overlooked when we discuss contemporary American poetry, despite the fact that he has won numerous awards and fellowships (the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, a Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets, the American Book Award Lifetime Achievement Award, a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship). No doubt there is still conversation around his work, but enthusiasm seems to be absent, or at least minimal. I am enthused with Wright’s work precisely because of its difficulty and because I believe his poetry, in more ways than one, extends into philosophy, myth, and history, and brings its readers closer to the sublime. Any chance I get, I reread Wright’s work, and I recommend it to writers and readers.

Esteban Rodríguez reads “The Lake in Central Park” by Jay Wright

AH: At times, in the poems you’ve chosen, there seems to be snapshots of moments that are quietly intimate. During the past year, I’m sure we’ve all had a moment like this. Are there any specific moments from your life that have inspired you?

ER: I am always looking for the moments that upon reflection were actually much more meaningful than I had originally thought, and that show up in my poetry, especially in The Valley: Playing in a plastic pool in the middle of summer (“Recuerdo: Summer, 1996”), microwaving leftover food (“Recuerdo: Nuked”), or watching my uncles work on customizing their cars because of the promise those cars offered (“Recuerdo: Lowrider”). I don’t think the mundane is uninteresting, rather, I think it hasn’t had a chance to be looked at thoroughly, and I’m constantly referring back to these moments for inspiration.

Esteban Rodríguez reads “The Healing Improvisation of Hair” by Jay Wright

AH: The poems here are both from the same collection, Transfigurations: Collected Poems. Transfiguration means a metamorphosis, typically into something more beautiful or in a spiritual sense. So, to follow-up on the previous question, do you think these poems exemplify the idea of transformation, or, perhaps, the idea of beauty in the mundane?

ER: I think they do, especially over time. Rereading “The Lake in Central Park” now from when I first read it (back in 2018) has been a completely different experience. I’ve obviously changed and grown as a person and writer, so maybe I am seeing a transformation within them that doesn’t necessarily exist. Nevertheless, the best poems don’t try to be portraits a person, event, or moment, but rather they attempt to transform an idea into another, and I believe Wright’s work does exactly that.

In “The Healing Improvisation of Hair,” the speaker gives the following account:

How like joy to come upon me
in remembering a head of hair
and the way water would caress
it, and stress beauty in the flair
and cut of the only witness
to my dance under sorrow’s tree.
This swift darkness is spring’s first hour.


Wright takes what appears on the surface to be mundane (washing hair and viewing the way water caresses it) and he makes it meaningful, tying it in to spring’s first hour and a new phase in the speaker’s life. This is what makes Wright great, revealing how the ordinary is actually extraordinary.

AH: If it has, how has Wright’s work inspired you?

ER: Wright’s work has inspired me in the way that I approach not just a poem, but an overall manuscript in progress. There has been some debate in recent years about the book project versus the book of poems, and while I appreciate the latter, my work always veers toward the project. I don’t want to leave poems abandoned, and in my early days, when I was writing my first book, I left a lot of poems behind. Wright reinforced the idea of cohesion in a book, as well as the idea that poetry can incorporate various other elements, such as history, philosophy, surrealism, myth, and folklore, while still focusing on the complexity of the human condition. If I can do some of that in my work, then what more can I ask for?


Jay Wright is a poet hailing from the Southwestern United States. He has published fifteen poetry collections since the start of his career, and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations, the Academy of American Poets, Princeton University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. His most recent collection of poems is Disorientations: Groundings (2013).

Read more of Wright’s work here.

Purchase Transfigurations: Collected Poems here.

Esteban Rodríguez is the author of five poetry collections, most recently The Valley (Sundress Publications, 2021). His debut essay collection Before the Earth Devours Us will be published by Split/Lip Press in late 2021. He is the Interviews Editor for the EcoTheo Review, an Assistant Poetry Editor for AGNI, and a regular reviews contributor for Heavy Feather Review. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Purchase Rodríguez’s newest collection The Valley here.

Stay updated with Rodríguez on Twitter.

Read three of Rodríguez’s poems on The Rumpus.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi has had work appear, or forthcoming, in Into the Void Magazine, DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She currently reads for Mud Season Review and EX/POST Magazine, is the Playwriting & Director’s Apprentice at New Perspectives Theatre Company, 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: Sarah Lilius reads Anne Sexton

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week poet Sarah Lilius joined us to read poems written by Anne Sexton, and discuss the nature of confessional poetry and how there is an intense intimacy when being open in your work. Thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: During our correspondence, you’ve mentioned that Anne Sexton is your favorite poet. As you’ve grown as both a poet and an individual how has Anne Sexton influenced you? 

Sarah Lilius: When I was younger, I was always struck by how confessional Sexton’s poetry is. I’m sure that her work has definitely influenced mine over the years. I find myself writing from my own experiences and it’s often therapeutic, much like hers was intended to be at first. Much of my work is drawn from my experiences as a woman and as someone who has faced mental health struggles. I think of Anne Sexton as my favorite poet not only because I love her work, but because I always come back to it for inspiration. I think
Sexton’s poetry is refreshing not off putting because it’s confessional.

Sarah Lilius reads “Her Kind” by Anne Sexton.

AH: On a similar vein to the previous question, as you’ve grown older or more experienced, has your view of Anne Sexton and her work shifted?

SL: Some of my viewpoints towards Sexton changed after I read her daughter’s memoir (Searching for Mercy Street: My Journal Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton by Linda Gray Sexton). On the one hand, the book strengthened the argument for me that mental illness should be taken seriously and treated adequately. The stigma of mental illness is a dangerous societal problem that ruins lives. I think access to education about mental health issues and mental health care is crucial to help the situation. Despite the negative allegations surrounding Sexton, I think her work is important to the poetry canon because it still adds a strong female voice. On the other hand, I’m torn by the viewpointof Sexton painted by her daughter. Should we revere someone that harms their children? I think I need time to process how I feel about this issue.

Sarah Lilius reads “Wanting to Die” by Anne Sexton.

AH: What compelled you to choose these specific poems? 

SL: I chose “Her Kind” because I know what it feels like to be a “different” kind of woman. When I was growing up, especially as a teenager and young woman, I often had different ways of looking at things, of understanding the world. I’m still like that today; it could be the poetry life inside my mind. Also, I like the tone of the poem which is confident and haunting. In general, it’s easy to be misunderstood when you’re a woman. Others tend to pigeonhole women into categories or to stereotype us and then treat us how they think is appropriate. I like the language and imagery that Sexton uses, such as, the witch in the neighborhood, the cave stanza which reminds me of a woman in a kitchen, and the last stanza which shows a woman being drove around in a cart. The last stanza has a feeling of escape and freedom and then she writes, “a woman like that is not ashamed to die,” and I think this line leads into the other poem I picked, “Wanting to Die.” Sexton owns the very idea of death and is unafraid what others will think of her when she does take her own life.

I chose “Wanting to Die” because of the frank, specific nature of the language and how the idea of wanting to die is taboo in our culture. The lust of wanting to commit suicide is something that consumed Sexton and ultimately destroyed her. She lost the struggle, but I like to think of myself and hopefully many others as being able to resist that incredible feeling, to get the help we need and live out our lives. The fact that Sexton started writing poems as a form of therapy is interesting and poignant to this matter. Poetry is an important art form used to express oneself and to interpret the world. Poetry couldn’t save Anne Sexton and I think we, as poets, can learn from that.

AH: What do you admire most in Sexton’s poems? 

SL: I most admire Sexton’s unabashed sense of self in her work and also the images she chooses. Often her poems seem just commonplace but then she will hit the reader with an obscure image or great sound, and I love that. My favorite Anne Sexton poem is “The Truth the Dead Know” because the grief she expresses feels concrete and almost like a living thing. I think grief poems are the hardest to write and this poem always hits it for me especially after my father died. “I am tired of being brave” she writes. This sentiment feels perfect.

Sarah Lilius is the author of five chapbooks including GIRL (dancing girl press, 2017) and Traffic Girl (Ghost City Press, 2020). Her first full-length poetry collection is forthcoming from Indie Blu(e) Publishing. Some of her publication credits include the Denver Quarterly, Court GreenFourteen Hills, Boulevard, and forthcoming in the Massachusetts Review and New South. She has also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net Prize. She lives in Arlington, VA with her husband and two sons. Her website is sarahlilius.com.

Further reading:

neil young gives me heart palpitations in the living room,” published in perhappened

Ode to COVID-19,” published in Global Poemic

Hominidae or Homo Sapiens,” published in Willawaw Journal

Anne Sexton was born in Massachusetts and is seen as a face of the confessional poetry movement. She was a trailblazer who was seen as very autobiographical in nature, as she wrote about intimate details of her life, such as depression, her interpersonal relationships, and thoughts of suicide. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for her collection Live or Die.

Read her work here.

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi has had work appear in Into the Void Magazine, Mud Season Review, Rust + Moth, and The Shore, among others. She currently reads for Mud Season Review and EX/POST Magazine, is the Playwriting & Director’s Apprentice at New Perspectives Theatre Company, was a Brooklyn Poets Fellow, and is the co-Editor in Chief of Juven Press. She can be found at ashleyhajimirsadeghi.com

Lyric Essentials: Brice Maiurro reads James Tate

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! This week, poet, editor and community organizer Brice Maiurro joins us to read James Tate and explore the often overlooked world of the strange and whimsical within poetry. As always, thank you for reading!


Erica Hoffmeister: Why did you choose to read James Tate for Lyric Essentials?

Brice Maiurro: Tate, for being a writer who has received a lot of accolades, is not someone that I hear people reference very often, and he’s been a very important poet to me. I remember being in a bookstore, picking up a copy of Return to the City of White Donkeys and the first poem I read was “The Memories of Fish”. I loved it. What a strange and whimsical idea for this man to make fun of these fish, only to feel deep regret the next day for his behavior. The ending is the kicker too “he had mocked their very fishiness, for which there can be no forgiveness.” His work has a magic to it. There’s something punk rock to this attitude of “fuck it, I’m gonna write about a guy who is mean to fish.” 

He often dismantles the ideas of poetry needing lyricism, needing stark imagery, needing a noticeable cadence or rhythm. Tate’s poetry puts you in the poem where you have to find the poetry of the situation. Not in beautiful words but in beautiful magical situations. He uses narrative prose to take you out of your day.

Brice Maiurro reads “The Memories of Fish” by James Tate

EH:  Do you have a particular connection to Tate’s collection City of White Donkeys where these two poems are found?

BM: It’s the first collection I ever read by Tate, I mostly read it on the light rail on my way to and from work. I was working at my Mom’s cupcake shop on 16th Street at the time. I think of James Tate as being a hall pass for me into being strange, especially to find the strange, and thus at times the divine, in mundane everyday situations. 

I grew up in the suburbs of Denver, in Lakewood. Went to T.J. Maxx and King Soopers with my Mom and sister on the weekends. Took girls on dates at Southwest Plaza mall. I spent a lot of time counting ceiling tiles and daydreaming. My Dad ran a shoe store called “Just For Feet” where I’d be stuck in his office for hours with nothing to do, so I wrote poems. I guess my poetry comes a lot out of waiting and boredom, and that’s something I see in James Tate. He seems like he’s just entertaining his shower thoughts.

I tend to tell people I see poetry as a math equation. Where you create a strange problem and then solve it. For example, in “Beautiful Shoeshine”, Tate seems to have asked himself “what if I had an airport entirely to myself?” He drops himself into this airport all alone, then he finds a shoeshine man, then he realizes he’s not alone, but the people around him are moving too fast to be seen, then in the poem he says, again with the good ending lines “I must not be traveling enough these days.” So here we have the problem of being alone in an airport, and Tate somehow manages to solve the equation by finding in the situation a commentary on a culture that moves so quickly, maybe doesn’t take enough time to rest and relax and breathe, all the hypercapitalism we’re so familiar with, but in a sad moment, our narrator in the poem decides not that the culture is broken, but that he must not be doing enough. I love this.

Brice Maiurro reads “The Beautiful Shoeshine” by James Tate

EH: City of White Donkeys is a peculiar journey into surrealism poetry—something Tate is known for. Your work also contains narrative forms, often playfully as well—do you ever draw inspiration or connection from Tate into your own writing in particular?

BM: I absolutely draw inspiration from Tate, going back to the idea that he gave me permission to bring surrealism into everyday scenarios. I have a poem where I talk to God at a Denny’s over a cup of coffee, I have a poem where I’m doing the dishes and all of a sudden I am taken into the astral plane, I have a poem where a man cuts off one of his fingers accidentally while chopping carrots and the first thing he decides to do is play his piano. Tate’s work resonates deeply with my own experience. Specifically the idea that while we’re in the muck of our everyday lives, we are so many other people and places and things. Also the humor. Humor is not as simple as just laughing. I find humor as a sense of solidarity, sometimes a way of honoring the absurdity of life, sometimes a way to process trauma, including our collective trauma. I believe humor is as valuable a tool in a poem as any other literary device.

EH: And lastly, is there anything you are currently working on that you’d like to share with our readers?

BM: I’m working on a manuscript. The working title is “and i open another door and”. Same weirdo poems as always. Finding myself influenced now though by the softness of Ocean Vuong and the syntax and visual elements of e.e. cummings’ poems. With the poems, I’ve been considering liminal space a lot, and the acknowledgment of not having the answers. I’ve been reacting to the tenets of white supremacy as well and challenging the ways I might embody some of those identities and how I can work through that. One of the tenets of white supremacy is either/or thinking. The poems in my new collection don’t claim to have answers as much as capture my feelings and thoughts around not knowing. The title itself kinda leans into the idea of being between moments, and in a limbo, which I know during COVID is a very real experience for a lot of people, myself included. 

The press I work with, South Broadway Press, is doing a lot of plotting and scheming too. We have a March edition on the theme of Language of the Earth. Our editor Chloë Thompson created the concept, which we’ll also be exploring in our February and March open mic series. We’re also looking into publishing a full-length poetry manuscript and launching a chapbook contest. We have a big team now, seven of us, and it’s been great to see our minds and hearts come together to create an identity for this very new press.


James Tate is an American Pulitzer Prize winning poet known for his whimsical, surrealist, and well-loved absurdist poetry. He is the author of over twenty poetry collections, including The Government Lake (2018), The Ghost Soldiers (2008), Worshipful Company of Fletchers (1994) which won the National Book Award, Selected Poems (1991), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the William Carlos Williams Award, Distance from Loved Ones (1990), Constant Defender (1983), Viper Jazz (1976), and The Oblivion Ha-Ha (1970). His many accolades include an Academy of American Poets chancellorship, a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Poetry, the Wallace Stevens Award, the Tanning Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He taught at University of Massachusetts in Amherst for five decades, and died in 2015.

Further reading:

Purchase Return to the City of White Donkeys by James Tate.
Read this in-depth interview with Tate in the Paris Review.
Watch Tate read a selection of his poetry in 2013 in Poets & Writers.

Brice Maiurro is Brice Maiurro is a poet from Earth. He is the Editor-in-Chief of South Broadway Press. His work has been compiled into two collections, Stupid Flowers and Hero Victim Villain. He has been featured by the BBC, NPR, The Denver Post, Boulder Weekly, Suspect Press, and Poets Reading the News.

Further reading:

Stay updated with Maiurro on his website.
Read this interview with Maiurro featured in Westword Magazine, honoring him as a Colorado Creative.
Check out Maiurro’s indie press, South Broadway Press.

Erica Hoffmeister is originally from Southern California and earned an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in English from Chapman University. Currently in Denver, she teaches college writing and advocates for media literacy and digital citizenship. She is an editor for the Denver-based literary journal South Broadway Ghost Society and the author of two poetry collections: Lived in Bars (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), and the prize-winning chapbook, Roots Grew Wild (Kingdoms in the Wild Press, 2019). A cross-genre writer, she has several works of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, articles and critical essays published in various outlets. Learn more about her at: http://ericahoffmeister.com/