Doubleback Review is Seeking Short-Form Previously Published Works

Doubleback Review is currently seeking submissions for issue 3:2! We are a part of Doubleback Press, a small press specializing in republishing creative works that were originally published by now-defunct journals and presses. Doubleback Review has also had a special edition for conscientiously withdrawn pieces—works that were withdrawn from journals because of harmful behavior from an editor. We are a home for your retired darlings, and we are also committed to uplifting the voices of marginalized creators.

We are open for submissions year-round and accept poetry, short stories, artwork, and more short-form work. Poets should send up to five poems and prose writers should send up to 4,000 words total—one story or essay, or up to three shorter flash pieces—in one document (Word preferred). Please begin each piece on a separate page. Include your name and email address at the top of each page. Below each piece, specify where it was previously published.

Artists may send one high-resolution image in .JPG, .JPEG, .PNG, or .PDF format, up to 25 MB in size. Please include an artist statement and specify where the piece was previously published in the cover letter field.

Our full submission guidelines can be found here.

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: Robin Gow Reads Margarita Cruz

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! For this edition, we’ve chatted with poet, novelist, and essayist Robin Gow about the work of Margarita Cruz, the origins of poetic inspiration, and how they discovered Cruz’s work. Thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: What originally drew you into Margarita’s work and how did you discover it? 

Robin Gow: Cruz is an editor at Tolsun Books, the press that published my first book, and I have to say I love everyone’s writing on the Tolsun Team so I first encountered her writing when she joined the team there. I’m also a pretty avid reader of New Delta Review too and I read her poem “Actus Reus.” I’m drawn to her writing because of the ways she weaves emotion and memory alongside a keen attention to sensation and touch.

Robin Gow Reads “Billowing” by Margarita Cruz

AH: What is your favorite part of the poems and why?

RG: Ugh, it’s so hard to have a favorite part. I think though what I appreciate most returning to Cruz’s poems is way the poem’s narratives are kept aloft by rich and intimate details. Especially thinking about “Billowing,” I’m struck by the way the opening moment in the poem dangles over the other scenes to enrich them and then returns at the end in a seamless way.

AH: In these poems, we get these pockets of moments that are reminiscent of cinema. In your own work, have you found inspiration in other art forms? If not, where does your inspiration lie?

Robin Gow Reads “TODAY I LEARNED CICADAS IN ARIZONA APPEAR EVERY SUMMER BUT IN MY LOVER’S HOME STATE HE WAITS YEARS FOR THEM” by Margarita Cruz

RG: Definitely! I think my writing converses with just about all art forms. I mean I write poems about memes and YouTube videos even.

AH: Do you have any exciting plans to share with us? It can be writing, life updates, etc. 

RG: What a delightful question. Two things: I’m indulging myself in writing a trans boy gay cowboy romance and I started a new job recently doing education and outreach for a program that empowers survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence in my area and I’m loving it.


Margarita Cruz is a poet and writer. She received her MFA from Northern Arizona University, and currently is an assistant editor at Tolsun Books and a columnist for Flagstaff Live! Her work can be found in DIAGRAM, New Delta Review, [PANK], and Susquehanna Review.

Find her website here.

Read her poem “Sometimes I Fall Asleep in my Mother’s Garden and Remember Us Picking in Fields” in Pank.

Find her on Twitter here.

Robin Gow is a trans poet and young adult author. They are the author of OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL DEGENERACY (Tolsun Books 2020) and the chapbook HONEYSUCKLE (Finishing Line Press 2019). Their first young adult novel, A MILLION QUIET REVOLUTIONS is forthcoming in 2022 with FSG Books for Youn Readers and their first essay collection, BLUEBLOOD is forthcoming in summer 2021 with The Nasiona Publishing House. Gow’s poetry has recently been published in POETRY, New Delta Review, and Washington Square Review.

Find their poetry collection, Our Lady of Perpetual Degeneracy, here.

Head onto their website here.

Read their poem “rice & rain” in Poetry.

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

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney


For the brown widow who laid her eggs
under my son’s bicycle seat

You are searching the domed
curves of shelter, a haunt
of darkness to forge

a pair of eggs larger
than your body.
Anchor and parachute,

wisp and captor,
you cast your nets
cast and cast all directions

then time unspools before you.
Under lip of flowerpot
a lawnchair’s crook

against the weighted clanger
of the chime,
I’ve never spotted your starry

orbs without your fiddleback
your hollow mouthparts
perched in the filigree.

How I’ve dug the stick in
crushed the papery shells into dirt
then pulled you through the wreck.

My apology is thin. I don’t know
where to let you live.
He practiced in the driveway.

It only took a few yards
before he found the midpoint,
that precarious balance of belief

in the center of everything.
One foot pushes off
and the other pumps back,

divine symmetry.
I took him out to the track
where once he circled, he lit,

purposeful. Windmaker,
looping the afternoon to dusk,
how could the sky not

have been an anthem?
He wheeled;
you held. The eggs

spackled in their basket
feeling what of this world.
Laying the bike on its side

we saw your sticky lair,
he had reached under
earlier as he propped himself on.

Had we not dismantled
you would have continued
through the mornings,

the late afternoons,
as he learned how to take a hill
a fall, you would have stayed

until the breaking open
your divine
teal-metal entrance.

A wind here can take
down a litter of palm branches,
overturn the bottle-

heavy garbage cans
but you, feathery mass
of intricate making

remain on such silks
beneath the highway-bound car
the victor of a boy’s

lengthening body
coming into its power.
We head indoors and I am sure

you are more with us
than we see
nestled in the stashed corners

of our lives, mending.
Under the arch
of a thirty-year roof

built by whose hands,
we survive beyond
our knowing

all the wild and immersive
gestures of the earth
too large for us to perceive.


This selection comes from Foxlogic, Fireweed, available from The Backwaters Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little Spells, How to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California. Twitter: @jksweeneypoet

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney


Foxlogic, Fireweed

When I say it breathed inside the house 

I mean I felt the air swell around me. 

I was upstairs; it was behind me. 

I was downstairs; it was roiling across

the room. From all angles, I was turned. 

When I say it breathed

I mean also that it shrieked, the sound 

so dislocating and new, it was heat 

and certainty like steam shearing up 

out of the earth, like lightning 

branding snow. 

My feet were strange to me. 

My hands careless and flimsy. 

It was behind me, at my neck 

as if I could reach out and tremble 

its vapors. I was circling, 

my arms lifted when I saw 

the tribe of foxes 

press at the back door 

searing their cries upward into the house. 

We locked in awe, wild eyes 

until the darkness stole us 

back to our separate worlds.

This selection comes from Foxlogic, Fireweed, available from The Backwaters Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little Spells, How to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California. Twitter: @jksweeneypoet

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.

Lyric Essentials: GennaRose Nethercott Reads Miriam Bird Greenberg

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials! Today we chatted with writer GennaRose Nethercott about the work of the poet Miriam Bird Greenberg, turning to folklore and mythology in times of hardship, and the rich, luscious details that go into language. As always, thank you for tuning in!


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi: We all have an origin story for when we began to obsess over certain poets. How did you discover Miriam Greenberg’s work? 

GennaRose Nethercott: In 2015, I did a residency with fellow poet Ben Clark out in the Nebraskan flatlands, at a magical place called Art Farm. It was in this town called Marquette—the only things for miles around were a bar called the Don’t Care Bar and this residency. The locals thought we were a cult, I think. Anyway, Ben and I were working on an epistolary series called Dear Fox, Dear Barn—and we’d turned this little Japanese tea house some other artist had built in the middle of a cornfield into our studio. 

One night, a tornado warning turned the sky dark and low. We hunkered in the teahouse waiting for it to pass. Ben was a big fan of Miriam’s work—and he’d brought her chapbook All Night in the New Country with him from home. I’d never read her, and he insisted I had to. We weathered the storm while handing the book back and forth, reading poems aloud by candlelight. Then Ben taught me to read fortunes using a poker deck with ‘50s nude pinups on the card faces. We slept under a tablecloth. Survived the night. Hard not to love Greenberg after an introduction like that.

GennaRose Nethercott Reads “I Passed Three Girls Killing a Goat” by Miriam Bird Greenberg

AH:  “I Passed Three Girls Killing a Goat” it’s like this capsule of a tragic and grotesque moment, of a goat’s death. As an American reading this poem right now, it almost made me think of it as symbolic for what’s going in the United States. During times like these, as a writer, have you found yourself returning to certain poems and reconnecting them to the chaotic world we’ve been living in? 

GN: Poems like Greenberg’s are so comforting to me in times like these, because they turn suffering into mythology. Terror, uncertainty, pain—these don’t sit easily in the body. But a story? A folktale? These we understand. These we can process. As I always do in times of turmoil, I turn to poems that speak in this sort of legend-voice, and I turn to folklore itself. Writing takes the harsh, stark realities in which we live and teases them out into myths we might whisper around a campfire in the next world.

GennaRose Nethercott Reads “Before the World Went to Hell” by Miriam Bird Greenberg

AH: Both of these poems you’ve shared with us have such rich, luscious details about the world around us, whether it is a natural occurrence or one orchestrated by humans. What stands out to you the most in these poems and why?

GN: One of my favorite aspects of Greenberg’s work is her deeply velvety, plump use of language. Words like crisp lab coat, spigot, black walnuts, blade on a strop, sweetheart, mustard flowers… They create this heightened, sensory world you can almost taste when spoken aloud. Which is incredible, because I think that’s how she’s able to turn the volume up on these stories, heighten them to the status of feeling like myths. She describes incredibly gruesome, gritty images using beautiful, ornamented language—and this uncanny pairing tips it almost into the realm of a dark fairy tale, a post-apocalyptic fable. There’s this idea in psychology that a sense of the uncanny is created by rubbing two things up against each other that don’t belong—for example, in a ghost story, the living and the dead interact, and it’s that chafing (not the ghost itself) that makes us afraid. In Greenberg’s poems, she rubs luxurious, satiny language against stark, ugly images—and so we are left with a feeling that these stories are not quite of this world, even if nothing strictly supernatural is happening. There’s a strange electricity beneath the surface.

AH: Got any big plans (writing-wise, life-wise, anything!) that’d you like to share? 

GN: So many plans! The big one is that I spent quarantine writing a novel—and I’m in the editing stage now, so my brain is officially pudding at this point. But it’ll be coming out through Knopf Vintage in a year or so, followed by a short story collection, and I’m very excited. The novel blends Baba Yaga folklore with themes of Jewish diaspora, ancestral trauma, and American adventure stories. It’s a hearty blend of fun and sad, just how I like em.

And as for life plans, I’m just holding my breath until I can get this vaccine. And then? Wow, who knows! I want to go to a circus! I want to make out with every stranger on the street! I want to go to the movie theater and just watch all the movies playing, one after another, until they kick me out! …but I suspect what will really happen is I’ll finally get to hug my parents again and that will be all my little heart can take before crawling back to bed.


Miriam Bird Greenberg is the author of several poetry collections and chapbooks, most recently In the Volcano’s Mouth. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications such as The Kenyon Review, Poetry, and The Adroit Journal. The recipient of fellowships from Stanford, Poetry Foundation, and the National Endowment from the Arts, she lives and works in California.

Find her website here.

Read her work in Poetry.

Purchase her collection In the Volcano’s Mouth here.

GennaRose Nethercott is the author of The Lumberjack’s Dove (Ecco/HarperCollins) selected by Louise Glück as a winner of the National Poetry Series, and Lianna Fled the Cranberry Bog: A Story in Cootie Catchers (Ninepin Press). A born Vermonter, she tours nationally and internationally performing from her works and composing poems-to-order on a manual typewriter with her team, The Traveling Poetry Emporium. Her first novel and short story collection are forthcoming from Knopf Vintage.

Find her website here.

Discover her poetry collection The Lumberjack’s Dove here.

Read three of GennaRose’s poems at PANK.

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 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

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Foxlogic, Fireweed by Jennifer K. Sweeney


I am driving a whale heart

In the dome of its body the blue 

whale has a heart large 

as a Honda Civic, its soft engine 

pumping throngs of blood 

in the equator deep. Whaleblood. Whaleheart.

These words open a little salt-rusted 

door in me. I want sometimes 

to sit by the wooden boy’s fire 

in the cave-belly and fold into a song 

and its forgetting. Like crawling 

into baritone sleep after the body 

exhausted from use. After 

the body I never knew 

was a mothering kind of creature. 

I have wanted to be inside the whale’s 

dream, the way the sugar ant wants 

to crawl inside my own heart and feast. 

I left home in a whale heart 

drove it through blizzards, 

off the side of the road, straight 

across the country trading coasts 

for no good reason than to change 

my life as much as I could. 

Largest heart, Deepest diver, 

your blood its own ten-ton sea,

traveling hundreds of miles a day 

in the ship of your body 

sounding your single horn 

to preserve your solitude. 

Chugging toward black rock, black hills 

and the carved-out drop of badlands, 

my offkey songs another dry slap 

against the windshield. 

Hydranths in the cloudhead, 

which current to follow in the rising dark? 

Windmills became mineral plains, 

whales floating above the salt flats. 

I ran to them but they disappeared 

in my arms. Driving my fish-heart 

into the yellow headlands’ tinderbox 

of dead grasses, the baited questions 

were already hooking my future. 

In the corner of a borrowed room, 

I dealt a haphazard astrology: 

If Perseids dripped from the eucalyptus 

If a film about tide pools was projected onto

the fog If the basin proved to be fertile 

then I’d stay in San Francisco. No memory 

anywhere in my wake. 

I think now it was not where I landed 

but the story of the leaving.

Before I knew how to be inside my life, 

rootstock in the daily, 

what I loved most was careening 

toward the idea of it, 

never the stark arrival, 

fumbling with knifed keys 

in the shadows, stepping 

over the gray pool 

of mail with its terrible small weight, 

but one foot in the swirl, 

those brief seconds of lift 

before the tide pulled me in. 

When you washed ashore, Largest

it took four men to pull the heart 

from your body, they wanted to see it 

hauled from the depths. 

It would take 640 male hearts to make yours. 

It would take the starry plough 

culled from the mountain 

to know anything about you at all. 

And then it’s ten years, twenty, 

and my body it’s been the good sea, 

though suddenly, never alone again 

so that when waiting 

in a doctor’s annual office 

I can be seized by the floodwaters— 

the canned triumph of a pop song, 

a plastic seashell in a decaying aquarium— 

the wire so easily tripped. 

When everyone is briefly accounted for

I plunge into epiphany, 

slipping out to fetch the godly bills, 

the dollar grocery papers, waxy catalogs 

that locate me across every migration 

and something in the way the domed sky 

shivers with its palpable fade 

or I am exhausted 

to the point of sheer openness, 

it returns me to the gasp 

of emerging from that car’s 

salt-rusted door at Land’s End 

shedding grain by grain 

in the surf. Cold bare feet 

on the cul-de-sac asphalt 

I crawl into my whale heart, 

pocked and peeling now, 

that place where love 

was sourced in loneliness, 

for a single breath, medicinal sip 

of beyond, licking salt 

from my fingers 

in my own private hum 

before returning 

to the buoyant voices 

the small hands reaching up 

toward their idea of mother. 

This selection comes from Foxlogic, Fireweed, available from The Backwaters Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Kimberly Ann Priest.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three other poetry collections, including Little Spells, How to Live on Bread and Music, and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and a Pushcart Prize, she teaches at the University of Redlands in California. Twitter: @jksweeneypoet

Kimberly Ann Priest is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021), Parrot Flower (Glass 2021), Still Life (PANK 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (Finishing Line Press 2018). Winner of the New American Press 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North Dakota Quarterly, Salamander, Slipstream, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Borderland and many others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review. Find her work at kimberlyannpriest.com.