Essays and Comment

  • Inviting the Reader: Narrative Values, Lyric Poems by Sydney Lea

    Inviting the Reader: Narrative Values, Lyric Poems by Sydney Lea   The editor of an online journal recently asked 25 poets to complete the following in one sentence: “Poetry is…” Here’s what I wrote: “Nowadays, poetry consists of units of language that their authors call poems, and can range from conventional forms to prose poems and include anything in between.”

    Issue #108 August 2020
  • It’s Called the Renaissance, You Know, or The Soul Sibling Report by David Kirby

    “Lady and gentlemen,” said composer Dimitri Tiomkin in his 1955 Academy Awards acceptance speech
    Issue #107 July 2020
  • Rescuing Ourselves by Celia Bland

    I have been touring the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, via an online iPhone film.
    Issue #106 June 2020
  • “Getting Stabbed Kinda Takes the Fight Out of Ya” by David Kirby

    This month’s essay on voice by David Kirby emanates the confidence and tone of an accomplished poet who is also a master teacher. Astutely aware of the collusion that occurs between sight and sound in effective “voice,” Kirby cites one poignant example after another of the audible magic he calls “direct speech”— speech he claims that “keeps talking” for reasons

    Issue #105 May 2020
  • “But They Have Dwindled,” Rethinking Wordsworth’s “Resolution And Independence” As A Modern Day Cautionary Tale by Chard DeNiord

    In one of his most profound existential poems, “Resolution and Independence
    Issue #104 April 2020
  • Flash Essays by Alfred Corn

    Most of us have read Joyce’s Dubliners, which includes the story “Ivy Day in the Committee Room,” but do we know what Ivy Day is in Ireland?
    Issue #103 March 2020
  • Essay on the Prose Poem by Charles Simic

    I’m grateful to Peter Johnson for bringing Charles Simic’s brilliant, unpublished “Essay on the Prose Poem” to my attention. Although Simic wrote this essay ten years ago, twenty one years after he won the Pulitzer Prize for his book of prose poems titled The World Does Not End, it reads as freshly today as it did in 2010. Rife with

    Issue #102 February 2020
  • Reading and Writing Outside Thebes: In Praise of Syntax by Kimberly Johnson

    In 1939, at the queasy outset of the second World War, W. B. Yeats’s last published works appeared 
    Issue #101 January 2020

    In his poem “In the Evening Air,” Theodor Roethke declares, “I’ll make a broken music or I’ll die.”
    Issue #100 December 2019

    Dear Reader, Fellow Perfume Testers and Collectors, Parfum Editors, Shunned Lovers Who Can No Longer Stand the
    Issue #99 November 2019
  • On Ross Gay’s Likely Dispassion

    When is dispassion in a poem more passionate than heat?
    Issue #98 October 2019
  • Suspense, Suspension, and the Sublime in the Poetry of Robert Frost

    Suspense, Suspension, and the Sublime in the Poetry of Robert Frost     Robert Frost was a sublime poet who struck terror in both himself and his readers. Gifted with a prodigious capacity for what John Keats called “negative capability,” that is, the ability to exist “in uncertainty, Mystery, doubt”—and I would add suspense—“without any irritable reaching after fact and

    Issue #97 September 2019