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The American Poetry Review

The American Poetry Review November/December 2019

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The American Poetry Review reaches a worldwide audience six times a year with the finest contemporary poetry, columns, interviews, photos, translations, and reviews. Every issue includes new voices, established masters, and exciting new translations.

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United States
World Poetry, Inc
6 Issues

in this issue

10 min.
flood the world with beauty

A big literary conference is probably not the best place for a poet dealing with a mental breakdown. But there I was at AWP, skittishly perusing tables at the book fair, under the garish lights of the Minneapolis Convention Center. For two years, paralyzed by depression and anxiety, I was barely able to leave my apartment. Staying inside was also a problem because the TV, phone and microwave seemed to be emitting high-pitched whines. I’d contemplated suicide. But with the help of my husband, a good shrink and poetry, I was slowly recovering. I still wasn’t 100% myself, but just being in that crowd felt like a great victory. At the Tavern Books table, I picked up a poetry collection with a striking title: The Fire’s Journey. As I paged through…

30 min.
the beast

Don’t say that you love me!Just tell me that you want me!Tusk! Tusk! Tusk! Tusk!—Fleetwood Mac, “Tusk” THE ANIMAL This lecture⋆ is called “The Beast: How Poetry Makes Us Human,” but it used to be called simply “The Animal.” When I called it “The Animal,” I was using the word animal l for a few reasons. The first is because for a long time I have been interested in the idea of the Wild in poetry, and the idea that poetry is an animal somehow through its wild use of language. I’ve been invested in the notion of a poem being feral (as Lucie Brock-Broido described this term to her students) and how this ferality could make a being partly not part of itself and partly wholly of the self The wild in poetry…

2 min.
two poems

Love Be a Slow-Moving Storm Love, come cast your body across the city, burgeoning like an odalisque—your gaze trained to the west from whence you came, where you gathered. Bared flesh in churn, Love, give not a damn for our commutes. Love, make from seconds sloshing cubic feet, transform intersections into stalling pits. Conjure rivers from roads. None die from drowning. We are bred and born submerged. We stumble away from our mothers forgetting how to aspirate any substance but air. Love, fill the lungs underneath the city. Flush our toxins into the bay. Then beckon back the bay, Love, to take our sidewalks in a surge. Bathe we in we. You know I am in no rush to be anything but this breathing conundrum—an inorganic anomaly known as personhood. But…

1 min.
facial recognition

Just this morning I opened you upTo learn the difference betweenTheology and theosophy. You let me interruptMy reading and now I don’t know what either means.Instead I know using my thumbI can press your button and thenOn your screen watch you becomeThe mistress of fact, like the time whenThis afternoon I learned that all too soonYou’ll come with software that’ll unlock your denseand dark-faced tombBy IDing 88 spots on my countenance.OK fine—of course I know one means the study of beliefWhile the other confirms god will bring no relief Daniel Torday is the author of the novel The Last Flight of Poxl West, a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, and an International Dublin Literary Award nominee. A twotime National Jewish Book Awardee and winner of the 2017 Sami Rohr…

8 min.
two poems

Vectors 5.2: PG-50 It’s soothing when the newly dead are way older than I am. This guy was 95. His picture—middle-aged, archaic glasses—freezes him somewhere around 1970. But even when they are my age and live in my town and share so many of my habits and interests that it’s upsetting, I keep on. Since never in recorded history has anyone died while reading the obituaries. When we’re talking happily, life is enough. It’s when I’m sitting around restless and bored with it that I worry about how little is left. The years get shorter but the hours are just as long It’s not so much that I’m hard of hearing, it’s just that it takes me longer to get back from wherever I go in my head these days. Sometimes I don’t make…

7 min.
the women of the water people

The women of the water people give barley bread to the horsegrains of bird food to the man who opened the cagethen bury him at the foot of the yew treelet him die if that’s the wish of the bird who flew off unreflectingthe widow knows how to make him more supple to slip him into the earthwithout breaking his bones the water people bury their dead behind the waterfalltheir voices are carried by the noisy waterthey owe nothing to anyone only the water that strides along knows how to wash away suffering, they say Asking advice of the empathy tree is only good for the dead, they say up therevultures’ flight read backwards announces consolation and prosperitythe man whose wealth is seven spades will bury his old horse and hisdecaying harvest in…