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The American Poetry Review January/February 2018

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.

United States
World Poetry, Inc
6 Issues

in this issue

6 min
eight poems

And One Look at the homie,even when in a ganghe came home to crack Nietzsche, BeyondGood and Evil, Willto Power. Believing everybody dies at twenty-four,not seeing a future in pump-faking, even then.You ever try to read philosophy high?Gone to the hole and hoped for the foul,wished only to finish.After rolling joints in two Zig-Zags,after an hour of starching pants,he transferred trollies and buses.He’s going places.Look at homie, trying to fix himself. Thinks,out of repetition comes variation.It takes a lot of effortto looklike you’re not trying.It should be an air ballto go to collegeat twenty-one, the father of two, justto play basketball. Whenmost folks say they want to change the worldthey mean their own. And Two extra shots. Look at homie. Out pokesa neck tattoo. Winter couldn’t possiblyfollow fall’s fallals.Deck the halls. The oldest…

2 min
two sonnets

For one thing, it’s on the air, you can hear music For one thing, it’s on the air, you can hear music,its sweet trance stretching between shelter andwreckage. In some region of the humanform an echo draws to a lilting end, but in another everything is prenote,pre-noise, pre-nerve, even the soundwe make before we make a sound, like theway we hear before we learn to listen: when we are more animal than human,more hunch and urge. Our primitive antennaexpanding. Bodies alive with omnivorousbrightness, skin creating its own sparked song that is part wave, part field fire. Part voice,vein, and sky scorch. Part echo. But all yours. Note: Title/first line by Kenneth Fields We tunnel through your noonday out to you We tunnel through your noonday out to you.The world shivers with flashing wings and rain.The body’s acidic…

3 min
three poems

Self-biography as a girl with no mouth Let me be pure/let me be holelessThe safest girls are those who stay quietSaints would stitch their lips shut with black wireI always said that one day I would be holyI always said that one day I would be a swanMute and nothing but tar and lovely feathersWe used to mix vinegar with salt waterGargle it to look for cuts inside our throatsI used to swab my own throat until I choked on the cottonOnce I coughed for so long my lungs fell outOnce I forgot how to speakOnce I became all stoneOnce I was something not girlOnce I was a bird Self-portrait as a wound, a bird skull & a stone The cats still in the dark outside your house,at the beach we let the…

16 min
writing from the uncanny valley

IN TERMS OF GENRE, UNBEARABLE SPLENDOR by Sun Yung Shin is hard to pin down. It includes astute academic discourse examining Antigone through the lens of Donna Haraway’s theoretical text “A Cyborg Manifesto.” But it also breaks into lyric moments (“I am like one hundred electric eels. Our skin is an extravagant tongue, tasting everything…”) or scatters lines across the page. One piece unapologetically announces itself as “a story.” Writing for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Kathleen Rooney calls Unbearable Splendor “a strange and captivating hybrid.” Born in South Korea and raised by adoptive parents in Chicago, Shin uses the shifting form of Unbearable Splendor to explore riffs in identity. She writes, “Abandoned and then re-en-familied, re-kinned, an adoptee is many things, including, I would posit, both a form of…

2 min
two poems

Changing the Subject In the kitchen, with the kids finally asleep,and news of another shootingin the space between us,you confess you think deathmight feel like giving birth, the bodyinsistent, having its way.You say you’d never been so at the mercyof yourself as you were on that bed,in that cloud-thin gown, and just the knowingit was coming: ruthlesstransformation.I have no good responseto ruthless transformation, and so it hangs therebeside a bowl of old tortilla chipsand black-bean salsawe’ve decided will be dinner. It lingerswhile a reporter frames chaosas developments; her shoulders rinsed in darknessand revolving red lights. I wantto kiss you. Build asylum inside you.Let our bodies changethe subject, the channelto cartoons. Before night pulls awaydown the flickering interstate,I want one ruined thing utterly redeemed: a deathtollrescinded, a swastika removed,my uncle’s melanoma caught…

9 min
the undressing

Listen,she says. I’m listening, I answerand kiss her chin. Obviously, you’re not, she says. I kiss her nose and both of her eyes.I can do more than one thing at a time,I tell her. Trust me.I kiss her cheeks. You’ve heard of planting lotuses in a fire, she says.You’ve heard of sifting gold from sand. You knowperfumed flesh, in anklets, and spirit, unadorned,take turns at lead and follow,one in action and repose. I kiss her neck and behind her ear. But there are things you need reminded of, she says.So remind me, Love, I say. There are stories we tell ourselves, she says.There are stories we tell others.Then there’s the sumof our hoursdeath will render legible. I unfasten the top button of her blouseand nibble her throat with more kisses. Go on, I say, I’m listening.You better be, she says,You’ll…