Essays and Comment

  • The Edson Letters by Peter Johnson

    As Russell Edson’s close friend and faithful correspondent during the last twenty five years of his life, Peter Johnson initiated and then sustained an affectionate conversation with his mentor and friend–“Little Mister Prose Poem.” Writing profoundly to each other from the periphery of the mainstream poetry world, or as both Johnson and Edson might say, from the peanut gallery of

    Issue #111 November 2020
  • A Hard Road by Charles Coe

    In July of 2016, I was on my way to the Chautauqua Institution, a summer cultural resort in southwestern New York
    Issue #110 October 2020
  • Out of Fresno—Poetry & “Career” by Christopher Buckley

    Philip Larkin—one of the most popular British Poets among my generation in the US—replying to an interview
    Issue #109 September 2020
  • 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