Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I might be going on a break over the holidays, returning in early January. Have a good time.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

breathing schedule by Buck Downs

mega mega

restless action
and it does not fix --

sleeping in the rain

leftover travel

leftover dazzle

easy does it over

A native of Jones County, Miss., Buck Downs works in Washington DC. He distributes his poetry primarily in the form of postcards, available through free subscription. To subscribe to the postcard list, visit this site:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Phone Sex With You by Jessy Randall

What are you wearing?
Um, pants and a shirt
Can you make it more sexy?
And a knit hat
Now you're lying
I'm wearing a poncho
Take it off
I'm taking off my poncho in a really sexy way
Describe it
It has Velcro and I'm unvelcroing the Velcro
What sound does it make?
A sexy sound like khkhkhkhkh
A velcroey sound

Jessy Randall's collection of poems A Day in Boyland (Ghost Road Press, 2007) was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Her poems and other works have appeared in Asimov's, Coconut, Many Mountains Moving, McSweeney's, and No Tell Motel. She has a young adult novel forthcoming in 2009, and her website is

Monday, December 8, 2008

PF Potvin Final Day

Of course I thought it couldn't really hurt. Not like leaping naked from a tree to tackle a prickle of porcipines. So when my mother used to chide me about my wanderlust, I'd point my finger at the man to blame. My father. A few years ago he bid on a Rotary auction trip to Zululand in northern South Africa. He kindly bellowed "tallyho!" in my direction, so last winter I'd saved enough to finally get our trip off the ground.

We spent several days in Cape Town before heading north. Contrary to international banter, the World Cup stadium is indeed shaping up, but the toll on the city's limited electrical resources is just as apparent as the multitude of cranes that loom and swing along the skyline. Before leaving the city, we hiked/climbed up the face of Table Mountain. Along the way, we befriended a gaggle of locals and filled our bellies the following day at their traditional brae (S.A. bbq).

One cavet for anyone traveling with a family member who is not yourself. Consider pharmacial drugs. Not just for yourself, but try to get a peak at what your loved one is taking before you sign on the dotted line. If you see one of the boxes with Monday, Tuesday... and that alone takes up an entire suitcase, better break your own leg in a sledding accident or swallow some gasoline with your malt liquor.

In this case, my father and I were both taking what may seem unadventurous to an outsider-- maleria pills. But we had different types. What he was on I had taken before and it turned my brain into one of those factories from Pink Floyd's The Wall. Sometimes I'd sit and just want to cry. Unfortunatley, I didn't get around to real dramtics like making "line up" art, shaving my eyebrows, or stomping on wine glasses in my bare feet.

But the drugs didn't seem to affect my father in the same way. He became even more outgoing, thrill-seeking, and tossed and turned most nights before finally dozing off for an hour or three. My new drugs gave me headaches, although now I think it's possible that those were side-effects of constantly chasing my father around the room.

That said, I'm looking forward to the holidays. We'll be celebrating early with my family in northern Michigan because the 50th U.S. state is calling and in case of an emergency, I always keep a loaded backpack at the door.

P.S. For stellar trivia, try this "group of animals" site and amaze your friends and family over the holidays.

And don't forget about snagging your copy of If Poetry. Until soon!

Friday, December 5, 2008

PF Potvin Week, Day 5

"What did he say? The giant's laptop? The lips of molehair?"

"I don't know, I can't hear anything with my hood up."


"Nothing, just be careful."

I pointed a gloved thumb at sign.

"So many cliffs, so little time. And who would go out walking on that air? It looks really unstable."


Nothing. Better to talk to myself. That way I'm sure to be heard. Better not get too close. Better just snap some pics from here behind the wall. Would be a stellar workout to run against this current, mile after mile. Makes me think of some top runs of all time. Currents on each and every one.

-Mountaintop at edge of Arthur's Pass on the New Zealand's south island. Ran down the spine on gigantic snowpack, shadowcasting 20 feet ahead into the gyring clouds.

- Night up mountainside near Bern, Switzerland and full moon blazing the spring runoff waterfalls. Cowbells in the distance and we howled for cheese and chocolate.

- Tempted the great grey glacier at Torres del Paine in southern Chile by



"Take a step back, you're scaring me."
"I didn't even notice. I was just climbed over because I thought I saw an elephant."
"You couldn't have because they're not in this post, remember? You can't just jump to your South Africa travels by snapping your fingers. They'll come in on our birthday, on Saturday."

"Right, but can't I at least give a preview?"

"Give me your hand and come back from there. Then we'll talk about if and what it could hurt."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Buy Issue 2 of If Poetry Journal

If you're interested in buying Issue 2 of If Poetry Journal, please mail a check for $5 made out to Donald Illich to 1 Alsace Lane, Rockville, MD 20851. Thank you for helping support this journal in advance.

PF Potvin Week, Day 4

The entrance to the Green road seemed hidden, so we hailed a local farmer on his tractor. For another 30 minutes we scouted around, then took what appeared to be a path through the mud and animal dung. It soon widened and became an apparent grassy road, penned in on both sides by maddening stone walls that have weathered and defined the territories of the land for centuries and longer.

Eventually we skirted the road and huffed to the top of a ridge. There was an ancient fort, and regardless of crack or craic, we took refuge within and pulled lunches from our packs. It wasn't long before the cold crept in and we headed back down to make a brake for the man beating his cows from the road with a well-practiced switch. He was headed in our direction. Onward to the Cliffs of Moher.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

PF Potvin Week, Day 3

After helping lug gear and rations into the station from the truck, I shook hands with the soldiers and clambered up to the tenfoot cross at the uppermost cropping of rock in order to gain full vantage. I looked around, up, over, and down. But all I could see was white. Just like the cross, or what it had been once. Now it sported rainbows of graffiti ranging from prophetic to profane. One of the largest appeared in bold black letters.

I looked at my wrist and agreed. I'd forgotten my flashlight at the hospedaje, so I'd need to hoof down to make it back before dark.

The descent was uneventful, but considering it now, I've only been to one other guardtype station (which I'll get to later) and I didn't get a ride up with soldiers. Never even saw any. Just a slew of folk musicians. Inside and out of the pubs. They don't call it Doolin, Ireland for nothing.

My best man, Michael, invited us last February for a week in his motherland during a folk festival. Turns out Michael's relative was none other than Ireland's Whistling Ambassador, Micho Russell.

Although Russell has gone on to play in pastures of evergreen, the music he helped popularize lives and thrives in the pubs. The jams or sessions as I call them go on and on and on, fueled by rudy faces, hot whiskey, and Guiness. The locals, including Michael's uncle, called them something different, something that sounded like an addictive white rock.

(upon spotting us in O'Conner's pub and squeezing his way over)

"Enjoying it then?"

"Sure are."

"Yeh, itis a mighty craic."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Buy If Poetry Journal Issue 2

Day 2: PF Potvin's Further Adventures

Sucker that fer-de-lance, deadly venomous fangster. I set out whistling up the main paved road and swung left, gradually ascending toward Barú. Although it was sunny, the top was shrouded in a halo of cloud. For more than an hour I walked without glimpsing a soul. The howls of random dogs behind fences kept me company. They grunted and rattled their chains as I passed. Finally I neared the gate to Parque Nacional Volcan Baru, and a small girl peeped out from behind a 10x10 concrete bunker. I greeted her in Spanish, but she only stared back. Later in town I discovered she was likely part of the Ngobe Bugle indigenous tribe, picking on the nearby coffee plantations. For all I know, she spoke no Spanish and may have even considered me a mule or monster, especially the way I sweated beneath my pack.

Not long after, I paused and chugged a quart of water. I crunched some peanuts to keep the liquid down. I started hiking again and the road changed from paved to dirt to rock to mud to stone. There was a humming in the distance that seemed to grow louder even as I climbed away. I kept hiking until it forced me to spin about.

Filtered to Code

Where the volcano road steeps to walking with hands, I waited for the soldiers. Their truck acked a grumble through the jungle gnarl as three standing in the bed lurched forward from the sudden brake. Then the biggest man turned. "What are you doing here?" Laughing at my accent, he thumbed me in while flashing his single front, a tooth like me, a sucker scaled and parching in the sun. For the rest of the day we negotiated that road — jumping in bed corners to lend better grip, splashing down to muscle through mud holes, even throwing shoulders below the bumper to shimmytender the axils over ledges. At times we'd hop out and whistle as the biggest man mounted the front grill and bounded the truck over boulders. When the wind began to whip the
cling from our shirts, we finally spied the summit. The biggest man lit up and motioned me head with his smoke. "Here's the station where all the voices get filtered to code. But you know gringo, it's the same message either way: a man a plan a canal panama."

Filtered to Code appeared in Ocho #19

Monday, December 1, 2008

P.F. Potvin Week: Day 1

Today starts a week of blog entries by P.F. Potvin, an accomplished poet. He is an Ultramarathon runner and is the author of The Attention Lesson (No Tell Books). His writing has appeared in Boston Review, coconut, Sentence, Born Magazine, No Tell Motel, and elsewhere. He teaches at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and travels whenever possible to support his writing. Discover more of his adventures at

December 1 and I already need to escape. The Ann Arbor winter with sleeting cold but little snow. Escape back to Panama. Boquete, to be exact. Warm without the blaze. Sweet Boquete, the mountain town in the north where I hiked, met crazy Panamanian birders, toured organic coffee plantations, and spent hours reclined with steaming cups of joe, scribbling in my red notebook under the eye of the looming volcano.

Even then I was escaping. From my summer studying Spanish literature at a language school in San Jose, Costa Rica. I'd gone there because a professor knew a friend who knew the grandson of the Cuban writer whose book I had translated but couldn't publish because I couldn't get the rights. I was assured that the friend of the friend would certainly help me. I quickly discovered that everyone teaching at the language school in San Jose knew somebody who knew somebody and knowing didn't mean squat. It only meant that you had shaken the person's hand or kissed them customarily on the cheek sometime in your long and complicated life.

Anyway, after spending my weekends puking from bus windows en route to swarming beaches where everyone either spoke English or wanted to "practice" some variation of "You want marijuana? You want girl?, You want coke?" Boquete was exactly what I needed.

While I found Costa Rica to be obscenely in-your-face touristy, Boquete has retained most of its charm. As a gringo, I can't help but shy away from what I know and see and experience in my everyday gringtopia back home. That's part of the lure of travel, the unexpected.

Although the gringos have yet to completely overrun the place, I could certainly see our telltale markings on signs as I bussed into town. International firms have purchased entire swaths of land on the mountainsides, invisible from the surrounding roads. They've branded them with ludicrous names like Valley Escondido I and Valley Escondido II (Hidden Valley I and II), as though the name could keep them like Frodo's ring, secret and safe from the surrounding residents and poverty.

One place I did spy gringos, however, was outside the single market store. I stopped across the street at a café first thing after hopping off the bus. I drooled over the entire menu as I prepared to lay down a night's worth of greenbacks. That's right. American coin. But that's another story. Just as I was settling in, several gringo men older than my grandfather caught my eye. They were strolling by, hand in hand with prepubescent native Lolitas. Just the thought made me sour. When the waitress finally twirled out of the kitchen, all I could stomach to order was a chocolate milkshake, which is just as it sounds, milk + chocolate + agitation.

As I sat waiting, I gazed in the direction of Barú, Panama's highest volcano. It was swaddled in clouds, but the following day I planned to hike the winding roads directly up from Boquete. A fellow student in San Jose had told me he went on an overnight guided backpacking trip up the volcano. When I pressed him for details, he confessed that an ATV had carried almost all of the equipment. As I usually look and smell like a mule when backpacking around my fair town, I found his method strange but managed to maintain my strategically poker face.

Although the place I wanted to stay in was completely booked, I found lodging a block further down the dirt road at a small hospedaje (house that rents rooms). My room shared a common area and kitchen with two other rooms. I slept solid, rising before the sun to my chirping wristwatch and readied my daypack to trek to the top of Barú.

Then I heard a woman scream.

Before the Dogs Get Deep

Pitchforked, a boy of eight struts from his mother's hospedaje. He sweats the muddy cul-de-sac to end where the bony dogs crouch in deveined pipes. As he toes the tines, a fer-de-lance that slickcircled the bowl the tourist fled from squatting upon, tumbles limp like the veil, "Only a snake, Miss." It's all he can recall before the dogs perk, pack, and get deep their teeth.

To be continued…

Before the Dogs Get Deep appeared in Sleepingfish .875

New Work by P.F. Potvin in the most recent issue of Sleepingfish ZZZ

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Say What You Will by Grace Cavalieri

I miss them. The women of the 50's, plain sheath dresses, large plastic earrings, coifed hair. How they moved in the room. The one with misshapen legs would be complimented for her stockings. The women greet each other and touch hands. I lean my back against the white linen lady, my back against her heart. She places her hand over my shoulder high on my chest and holds me to her. It says I know something bad, I will never tell you. Your husband. There is no redress. How I miss them, the women of the 60's, sandals and long colorful skirts, flopping their brilliance for sale. A high level of amiability, motives for manners, the women of the 80's clicking high heels at meetings, lunch, umbrellas lost in restaurants. They do not like the light, these spirits. I lean back. I can still feel her hand on my chest, they died just when everything was going so well, and she almost a perfect stranger.

Grace Cavalieri has published several books of poetry. Water on the Sun (Jacaranda Press, San Jose) was listed on Pen American Center’s 2006 Best Books List. Among production awards, her recent play “Quilting the Sun” received a key to the city of Greenville, S.C.. Anna Nicole : Poems (Goss 183: Casa Menendez, 2008)is her latest book. She produces and hosts “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress” for public radio. (The Poet and the Poem from the LOC)

Monday, November 24, 2008

I'm In No Tell Motel This Week

On a personal note, my poems are up at No Tell Motel this week. I thank Reb for taking them, and I hope you all enjoy them.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bird's Eye by Kim Triedman

The day is still— fly with me.
Already I can see
the burning of the trees, and
above me only more and more
of yellow
spun to gold. You used to know
all the best places, the
See there—
that cornfield? Perhaps
that is where it all began,
the plowing and the seeding, the
sweat, yours, mine, salting
the earth. Even those
low stone walls, the ones that
stitch a lifetime
into patchwork, I thought
they were the kind that
never fell down.

Kim Triedman has worked in both poetry and fiction. Her first poetry collection – "bathe in it or sleep" – was named winner of this year’s Main Street Rag Chapbook Competition and has just been released by Main Street Rag Publishing Company. In the past year, she’s also been named finalist for the 2007 Philbrick Poetry Award, finalist for the 2008 James Jones First Novel Fellowship, semi-finalist for the 2008 Black River Chapbook Competition and semi-finalist for the 2008 Parthenon Prize for Fiction. Her poems have been published/accepted widely by literary journals and anthologies, including The Aurorean, The New Writer, Byline Magazine, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Journal, Main Street Rag, Poetry Monthly, Current Accounts, Ghoti Magazine, IF Poetry Journal, Great Kills Review, Trespass Magazine, ART TIMES, and FRiGG Magazine. She is a graduate of Brown University and lives in Arlington.
website -
Main Street Rag on-line bookstore -

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Interview With Super-Poet J.D. Smith

J.D. Smith's books include the collection Settling for Beauty (Cherry Grove Collections,, his first collection, The Hypothetical Landscape (Quarterly Review of Literature Poetry Series), and the edited anthology Northern Music: Poems About and Inspired by Glenn Gould (John Gordon Burke, Publisher). His children’s book The Best Mariachi in the World came out from Raven Tree Press ( in September 2008. His poems have been anthologized in the collections In a Fine Frenzy: Poets Respond to Shakespeare (University of Iowa Press), Poetic Voices without Borders (Gival Press), and Illuminations: Expressions of the Personal Spiritual Experience (Ten Speed Press).

1. Who is your arch-enemy? Why is this person your arch-enemy?
JDS: John Ashbery. I'd better explain that.
I don't bear any ill-will toward John Ashbery the man, who is probably perfectly decent (I've never met him). And I'm not necessarily going to wage war against John Ashbery the poet, though I suspect his work is ultimately a less intellectually profound extension of Wallace Stevens' project of cryptic free association.
But I will dig in my aging heels against Ashbery the pernicious influence, a role he hasn't necessarily chosen. In recent years literary journals have been awash with Ashbery imitations where one line meanders into the next in a way that is not entirely uninteresting but that is ultimately both overly cerebral and quickly forgettable. The reader may get some pleasure from following along, but he is not going to be stirred to the depths of his being. If it hasn't been done already, someone could come up with a random imitation-Ashbery poem generator.
2. Do you fight crime or commit crimes? Why?
JDS: It depends on whether anybody's looking.

Most of the time, though, I like to fight the poetic crimes of undue obscurity and intellectual onanism, on the one hand, and on the other hand the crimes of self-absorption, posturing and sentimentality. Once I'm out of hands I use roundhouse kicks, ninjitsu techniques and assorted weaponry to fight off careless versification and propaganda that tries to pass itself off as poetry.

3. What are your super-powers? How did you get them?

JDS: Invisibility comes to mind right away, though that may just come with the territory of being a writer in this time and place, where writers don't get much attention in comparison to entertainers of one sort or another. This is the business I have chosen, though, and I knew these things going in, so I'll try not to whine too much.

Invisibility aside, my foremost superpower is shape-shifting. I write free and formal verse, and poetry that ranges in tone from the dire to the absolutely silly. When I'm not doing that, I'm writing essays and fiction, including work for children. And that is just within my superhero identity as Writer Guy. As a writer with a day job, I also have to maintain my cover as Salaryman, a mild-mannered editor—except for when I'm an irritable editor—and sustain both halves of my double life.

4. What do you love about poetry?

JDS: I love poetry above all for offering an ongoing sense of discovery and wonder. The world is too much with us, late and soon, as Wordsworth wrote, and anything that prevents our days from turning into a mind-numbing slog must be welcomed. At its best, writing or reading a poem means finding a combination of thoughts or sounds that never existed before, or finding a new way to look at the world. Poetry can transfigure experience and provide a sense of wholeness, as well as give us a sense of the interiority of others as well as afford great pleasure—all in a very short time, with minimal expense and no side effects. Considering how fragmented our schedules are, I am surprised that more people don't read poetry as a kind of mini-vacation.

5. What makes you happy in your writing and what makes you unhappy?

JDS: I'd like to take on unhappiness first, if that's okay. I am continually disappointed that I don't write more and better, and I have problems with procrastination and distractibility. That I haven't taken on a large and ambitious project troubles me as well.
What makes me happy involves both process and product. I love the moments when a phrase or an idea for a poem comes to mind, or when I make a revision, usually by shortening, that brings the poem closer to its ideal form. I also love the times of reaching mental exhaustion when I have finally written a poem that has been in the back of my mind for years. Then I feel like I am doing something with my life.

6. Who are your favorite super-poets and what is so super about them?

JDS: Questions like this are my kryptonite. I'm always afraid I'll expose the gaps in my reading and come off as a total dilettante. That said, here goes.

In the English canon I am going to reach way back and give a shout-out to John Skelton. His strings of rhyming short lines explore the possibilities of English in a way that foreshadows hip-hop. I also love the eighteenth-century guys, particularly Alexander Pope, who made sound and thought mutually reinforcing. Of more recent English poets, there's no ignoring Philip Larkin for his clarity and even tenderness as well as his wit.

On this side of the Atlantic, I will reach into the first half of the twentieth century and name Edwin Arlington Robinson. He help to rescue American poetry from the excesses of Victorian-era sentimentality, and he did so in spite of leading an amazingly hard life. Whatever the critical backlash may be these days, I still love the work of Sylvia Plath for the brilliance of its imagery.
As for contemporary American poets, there sure are a lot of them out there. On the formal side, among established poets I would include Timothy Steele, who is continually widening his range of techniques and who seems to widen his range of subjects with every book. Among younger formal poets, I think of Joshua Mehigan, whose first book The Optimist just crackles with music and intelligence. (It is virtually criminal that two other younger formal poets, Kevin Durkin and Melissa Balmain, have not yet found a taker for their book collections.)

There are quite a few very fine contemporary free verse poets out there, though there a great many more who range from simply boring to flat-out awful. I'll let you come up with your own names on that one. Charles Simic's combination of Eastern European and American sensibilities does a lot for me. I haven't yet read all of Bob Hicok's work, but he has an undoubted ability to make wide-ranging associations that add up to something. His poem "Book Report," which starts with a classroom assignment and moves on to environmental degradation, nearly brought me to tears. Two other super-poets that come to mind are Kevin Prufer, whose work tends toward the expansive and surreal, and Wayne Miller, whose work is more spare and sometimes more direct.
Finally, to get out of the English-language ghetto for a moment, it's important to pay homage to the Central and Eastern European poets of the twentieth century. You could start with Rilke and Trakl and go on to Milosz and the postwar poets who worked to maintain their individual consciousness in the midst of totalitarianism. The ability of some of those poets to express strange truths in plain language boggles the mind.

Kerning by Ann Cefola

Don’t give me that stenography crap,
the designer says, protesting two spaces
inserted after each period. Let me tell you what happens
when you do that:
In the text you create rivers of light.
But, I want to say, spaces tell me to stop. Breathe.

They are waiters bringing tropical drinks with paper umbrellas. Twin beds
made up perfectly. Binocular lenses that form
one image. Miles of thought
after reading a billboard. The weekend. Systolic and diastolic pumps.
Good fences that make good neighbors. A swim lane’s
quivering blue lines.
ex machina.

Give me a canoe. I will paddle those illuminated waters,
salute capitals and glide over run-on sentences like rapids. Yes,
the river will take me. Past misspellings and dangling participles.
Don’t dam them up. Text is tantric, it must stop
to be savored, to be full. Save the double spaces!
You must be reminded to—as the counterman
sighs when you hunt for change,
Take your time.

Ann Cefola is the author of Sugaring (Dancing Girl Press, 2007) and translator of Hélène Sanguinetti’s Hence this cradle (Seismicity Editions, 2007). Her Web sites are and; chapbook:, and translation:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Questions for John Keats, a Poet

Q. What did you eat the most as a child?

A. And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon.

Q. Can you explain the success of the religious right?

A. Fanatics have their dreams, wherewith they weave a paradise for a sect.

Q. Have you heard what's going on with the senate elections in Minnesota and Georgia?

A. Those green-robed senators of mighty woods, Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars, Dream, and so dream all night without a stir.

Q. Have you heard of that great If Poetry Journal yet?

A. Hear ye not the hum Of mighty workings?

Q. Thank you very much for your time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Arrangement #5 by Jordan Sanderson

We live in an obvious manor,

if a bit unconventional, capricious.

A well-organized, safe manor.

An easy and conversational manor.

Everyone who visits has good mannerisms.

"What manner of manor is this?" you might ask.

Our manor is in the manner of Modigliani's

milieu. This manor knows nothing of mountains,

little of macaroni, even less of mourning.

Mooching, yes. Schmoozing, even more.

Of mayhem and mealie pudding, an expert.

A man of mangoes and a man of moons talk

man-to-man in the manor about a man of manacles

and a man of mandrakes. We are a family

of manicous, munching minneolas in the mangy manor.

Jordan Sanderson is originally from Hattiesburg, MS, and earned a PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi. His poems have appeared in several online and print journals, including Madhatter's Review, DMQ Review, and Parthenon West Review. He also has poems forthcoming from Double Room and Caketrain. He currently lives in Auburn, AL, and teaches at Auburn University. He has four poems in the previous issue (Issue 9) of Mad Hatters' Review: And two plays in a previous issue (2.1) of Prick of the Spindle:,

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Early Onset Twilight by Carl Annarummo

The history of a city with its lights turned off. Its ghosts clad in
eurethanes in the western outskirts, sitting with hiccups in neon
alcoholic rooms. This city was once an anagram for the poor. The bus
routes traced into air with rust and washed away in the drawl of
american water. Someone left their list of favorite songs in the
frozen food aisle. Big songs lorn in the titty bars where backup
singers follow you home with their hair muffling the russet scrims of
the traveling skyline. There's been a power outage. Smoke rises from a
tire fire. A hundred Days Inn employees enter the throes that comes
with dealing with strangers in the night as the fires are off by dusk
and the nights erase the heat. Pretty soon, you, the backup sigers,
the Days Inn maid staff, the strange firefighters, the tire-fire
onlookers, and myself all gather in the house of whoever has a
generator and we we'll all share stories and occasionally throw up
from the smell of the burning rubber and by morning we'll all be gone.

Carl Annarummo runs the chapbook press "Greying Ghost"
( He currently lives in the Boston area.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine by Mark Yakich

One of the books I've enjoyed lately is The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine. It's one of those few books that split the difference well between experimental and emotional leanings. While others are purely dreamlike, others confront real world events like Sept. 11th. Some poems play around with shape, like "Please Present This Card At Ascension Church on Saturday, November the Fourth." This poem does so well while telling the story of a doomed marriage (with satirical humor). He can also make a unconventional chronological list of events related to potatoes emotional and touching. The poem "Proof Text," about the grim survival of a group of oppressed Ukrainians during WWII, is one of his best, both heartfelt about degradation survived but also postmodern in questioning how able we, the privileged, can tell these kind of stories. I really recommend this book.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How to Call It by Alan King

Take the woman walking
alone down a boulevard
of lovers,

or the guy seated
at a table for two
with a glass of wine

and his favorite book.
Those around them will
call it as they understand.

The two individuals
unaware of the spectacle
they've become.

As if some wind-up toy
marching into walls,
or ending up in a corner

somewhere, waiting on
the great hand of kindness
to set it straight.

I need a lot of things - lips
and fingers waking the body.
And from what?

Call it hibernation,
but never loneliness.

Alan King's current publications include work in Drunken Boat, Alehouse, and Farfelu. Alan King may be found at:,, and

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Print Submissions for IPJ

If Poetry Journal will accept submissions for the print edition of the journal from Feb. 15, 2009 to April 15, 2009. Until then, print submissions are closed.

My Feet Are Not From Here by Naomi Neal

I have a place to call
and a pocket full of
bus transfers.
Today the sun is out but it's too tired
to give us really
good weather.
There's autumn
and dim sum
in the air.

My feet are not from here.

I will spend all my money on candy and tarot cards
I will promise to do things that I don't want to do
I will close my ears to the sound of my voice

Dusk is coming on
More hair is left in the brush
every day.

Naomi Neal is seventeen years old. She is writing her first novel, a multi-perspective family drama set in Centralia, Pennsylvania, the site of a forty-five-year-old mine fire. She lives in California but plans to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico next year to attend St. John's College. In her spare time, she hikes, collects books, and cooks with friends.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

If Back Cover Issue 2

If Poetry Journal Issue 2 Pushcart Prize Nominations

I am making six Pushcart Prize nominations. Congratulations to the six writers below and their nominated poems:

Terence Winch, "Heritage"
Nathan McClain, "A poem with an iron it it"
Kristen Orser, "The Shape of Time: Tuesday"
Natalie Illum, "Why I Never Understood Longitude"
Kate Dougherty, "Sitting on a Curb on a Hot Night"
John Estes, "My initiation into poetry"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Issue 2 Is Here!

—space between pickets— by Matthew Guenette

I'm going to study the yard. This is

what I'm thinking, standing in the kitchen

(in a brief parenthesis of calm in

the afternoon's demands) looking out the

back door's blue-latticed windows at the wet

yard littered with unraked leaves. Marking

the wood fence at the far end—its gnarled and scoured

tones of brown, the spaces between pickets

where slim fingers of lilacs have poked through—

I read it left to right, the fence ending

in exclamation. Shrubs, telephone pole,

a towering tree whose leaves have brightly

yellowed. The tree, what's its name? Already,

there's something I don't know.

Matthew Guenette's first book, Sudden Anthem, won the 2007 American Poetry Journal Book Prize from Dream Horse Press. I have work forthcoming in decomP, Umbrella, and the Versus Anthology (Press 23, 2009).

Sunday, November 9, 2008

WHY THE FACE by Howard Good

Because the road climbs as though attracted by the form of a mountain. Because she has her sleeve rolled up and a snarling dragon tattoo. Because certain lies are best told in legal language. Because the machine accepts only quarters. Because Freud said whether it happens for real or happens in dreams it happens. Because matter echoes like an accidental gunshot. Because the graves are desecrated but the borders guarded. Because it isn’t raining. Because later it might.

Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of five poetry chapbooks, including the e-book Police and Questions (Right Hand Pointing, 2008), available free at

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Chapbooks, Books Sought For Reviews

Hi, If Poetry Journal is seeking to do reviews of chapbooks and collections. If you're interested in sending a copy of your book, please e-mail; I'll send an address to send it to. The reviews are guaranteed to be tactful, truthful, and generous. People put a lot of effort into their work and it deserves to be evaluated carefully and fairly. I will also run a poem or two from the book in other posts. Thanks.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Famous Last Words

One of my favorite recent poetry collections is "Famous Last Words" by Catherine Pierce, winner of the 2007 Saturnalia Book Prize. My favorite section is the third one, which extrapolates poems from several historical characters' last words, including those of Billy the Kid and Isadora Duncan. I like the way Pierce imagines the scenes convincingly, especially the demented George Appel who jokes about being a "baked apple" before his execution. The rest of the book includes everything from love poems to dreamscapes, a variety for lots of different tastes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Arts Club of Washington Reading -- Ted Genoways

I went to a reading at the Art Club of Washington, and one of the poets was Ted Genoways, Editor of VQR and author of "Anna, washing." The book is a sonnet sequence about a Finnish immigrants Anna and Abe Malm, who travel to Alaska during the gold rush in the 1800s. From the first few sonnets I've read (and the ones I've heard) it's a visceral work with remarkable imagery and a great story of surviving obstacles and enduring hardship. I'm looking forward to reading the rest. (The Arts Club is in a building where President Monroe lived after the White House was burned during the War of 1812 -- neat!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Contributors for Issue 2

Issue Two will include work from these contributors -- as seen in the Contributors' Notes:

Peter Bergquist, who teaches English and Film in Los Angeles, has published poems in several online journals, such as The New Verse News and The Sylvan Echo. Margit I. Berman is a psychologist who lives and works in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Nancy Devine teaches high school English in Grand Forks, North Dakota where she lives with her husband Chuck and their two dogs Yo-yo and Whitey. Kate Dougherty lives, writes, and teaches in Chicago, Illinois. John Estes teaches at the University of Missouri; his chapbook, Breakfast with Blake at the Laocoön, is available from Finishing Line Press. Justin Evans lives and works in the part of Nevada you’ve probably never heard of. Melanie Faith holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, North Carolina., and published a chapbook, Restless: Relative Poems (Foothills Publishing, 2004). C.S. Fuqua’s work has appeared in a diverse range of publications, most listed at his website Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of five poetry chapbooks. Zachary Green is currently studying poetry at Columbia College Chicago and has just published his first book of poetry, The Blankets Caught on Trees. John Greiner has published poetry in The Chopper Journal, Hecale, Sein und Werden, SubtleTea, nthposition, Zygote in my Coffee, Audience, The Beat, Tryst, Psychopoetica, The Blue House, and Inscribed. Randall Horton, originally from Birmingham, Alabama, is a poet and the author of The Definition of Place (Main Street Rag, 2006). Natalie E. Illum is a federal employee and poet with a disability who moonlights as an acrobat and rockstar. Jussi Jaakola is a writer from Finland who hopes your last rhyme is good enough to die with. Frederick (Rick) Lord is the Assistant Dean of Liberal Arts at Southern New Hampshire University, where he also teaches English and serves as poetry editor for Amoskeag, SNHU’s literary magazine. Nathan McClain admits to nothing these poems might imply. Poet and electronic musician Steve Mueske lives in the virtual world at Check out more poetry by Gabrielle Myers in Damselfly Press, The Solitary Plover, Caesura, Produce, and Art for Autism. Naomi Neal lives in California, loves the outdoors, and is working on her first novel. Kristen Orser is not so certain and is following no predictable pattern. Allan Peterson’s most recent book is All the Lavish in Common, 2005 Juniper Prize. Recent work in print and online: Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, Boston Review, and Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Adrian S. Potter is a poet whose lame existence is chronicled at Marian Kaplun Shapiro, a psychologist as well as a poet, is the author of three poetry books, one psychology book, and numerous other publications in both fields. J.D. Smith’s most recent books are Settling for Beauty ( and a children’s book The Best Mariachi in the World ( J. J. Steinfeld lives on Prince Edward Island and has published a novel, nine short story collections, and a poetry collection, An Affection for Precipices (Serengeti Press). Alex Stolis lives in Minneapolis. Kim Triedman was named a finalist for the 2007 Philbrick Poetry (Chapbook) Award, finalist for the James Jones First Novel Prize, and winner of the 2008 Main Street Rag Chapbook Competition; her collection, bathe in it or sleep, will be published by Main Street Rag Publishing Co. in the Fall. Terence Winch’s most recent book of poems is Boy Drinkers (Hanging Loose, 2007); see Ed Zahniser’s third book of poems, Mall-hopping with the Great I AM, was published by Somondoco Press in 2006, and his e-chapbook Ransacking Desire for that Seed of Contemplation is at

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Issue 2

Issue 2 should be out in a few weeks -- to be mailed out to contributors and to be distributed. If you edit or write for a journal or magazine that reviews journals, please let me know. I'll send you a copy.

I plan on adding 2-3 poems from writers on this Web site each week. This work is outside the print journal. To submit, e-mail me at and please let me know in the body of the e-mail that it's a submission for the Web site/blog. Please no attachments, insert poems in the body of the e-mail.

I also welcome reviews of books and journals. They can be sent to the same address.

Monday, August 4, 2008

New Activities to Come

Hi everyone,
I intend to start some new activities on the If Poetry Journal Blog.
I plan to publish a weekly feature on individual poets, with mini-interviews of the poets to go along with them. I also intend to publicize work by If Poetry Journal writers and promote poetry news and articles in general (on a sporadic basis). Also, occasional cultural links/articles and reviews of books.
So, stay tuned.