Bruce Bond on “Lunette 15”:
This poem is part of a book-length cycle of poems composed in dialogue with photographs by my brother, Walt Cochran-Bond. In it, I explore the notion of brokenness—culturally, physically, and psychologically—as a summons. The shape of the lunette sometimes gets invoked in the photographs directly, connoting the waning or waxing moon or an architectural feature, but other times the connection is more oblique, as in photographs and poems that explore the tidal pull of the moon as one more image of want and the movement toward transfiguration. But even in the latter cases, the poems’ connection to the shape of lunette, both in single poems and in the book taken as a whole, resonates most meaningfully in multiple ways. These include a dynamic desire for greater inclusivity, a sense of trauma or loss, or a sense of emergence or recession. In this poem, I explore not only birth, but also post-partum depression as that which wells up from the eclipsed region of a mother’s body and, for that matter, the human psyche, a region of great mystery but also, as depression abates, of potential healing, of the psyche slowly mending without the pretense of understanding entirely or occupying the space of the unconscious or transpersonal self. The book Lunette is scheduled for release by Green Linden Press in the spring of 2023.
Holly Karapetkova on translating Dostena Anguelova
Dostena Anguelova is an acclaimed poet, cultural journalist, and political anthropologist, as well as an accomplished painter, and the great versatility of her mind is reflected in the complexity and range of her work. I have been translating Anguelova’s poetry for almost two decades now, and the pleasure I feel in reading her poems is rooted in the sensual nature of her writing and the powerful images that grab hold of my imagination. “Bird or Old Man” in particular is a painter’s poem, a surreal vision rising on the page before us. The poem surprises us at every turn; one idea dissolves into another as the poem moves from a human presence to a landscape of valleys and lakes, to larger concepts of beauty and desire. As often in Anguelova’s poetry, we end in an entirely different place from where we began, not entirely clear how we arrived but carrying with us a sense of mystery and awe that resonates long after we leave the page.
Rachel Hadas on “Moving the Piano” and “From the Cliff”:
My poems “Moving the Piano” and “From the Cliff” both date from around 2018, and both, now that I come to think of it, deal with transition. I could say with loss, but that’s not exactly right. Rather, with change; with letting go; with passing on.
Late in 2017 my son moved to North Carolina to live there with his fiancée; they got married in May 2018. Earlier in 2018 I made the decision to have my late husband’s sturdy upright Yamaha piano shipped down to Jon, who played the piano. Rather than an elegy, “Moving the Piano” is a meditative and occasional poem, maybe even mildly celebratory.
“From the Cliff” is addressed to my good friend and neighbor, Gardner McFall. Gardner’s older grandson was born, I think, in the fall of 2019; “From the Cliff” dates from early in her daughter’s pregnancy. The married child and her freight of future sails away, and the mother watches from a distance that bestows perspective. No more an elegy than “Moving the Piano,” “From the Cliff” is mildly wistful. We elders watch the beloved get smaller in the distance and vanish.
Did I write these poems to match or balance each other? Not that I was aware of, but I see now that they share a family resemblance, and I wouldn’t put it past canny Danny Lawless to have caught that family likeness before I had an inkling of it.
Jesse Nathan on his three poems:
One thing that strikes me about these three poems is how long they took to finish. Leonard Cohen said somewhere he didn’t know if a song was any good until he finished it, and he didn’t know if it was done, sometimes, for decades. I feel that way about poems. These three each took about a decade or more to write. The first drafts were by hand. Quick, scribbled out—I can’t remember exactly the circumstances. Two of them at least I know I transferred to a typewriter—I used to type out poems on an old Underwood sometimes, just to shake up my seeing of it—and so there were several rounds on the typewriter before I moved them over to a computer. Two of these poems started out substantially longer, and large portions of those initial drafts had to fall away for the actual poem to come into focus. “Love and Ink,” on the other hand, began as a single couplet, actually a single rhyme—“confess” and “death”—and accumulated in fits and starts over many seasons. Was it Raymond Williams who said something about years of analysis for a few moments of synthesis? And in my case, when I say “analysis” I just mean living.
Kimberly Johnson on “From Underworlds”:
After the death of my spouse, poet Jay Hopler, I didn’t know if I would ever produce a poem again, as my primary auditory was no longer available to me as a reader. But recently, turning back to Virgil’s Georgics has proved surprisingly generative, resulting in a long sequence of sonnets. I’m not sure the world needs yet another reworking of the Orpheus and Eurydice story, but part of my own project involves a meditation on how we turn to poems (as readers, as writers) not just for their emotional content but also for the way that they offer, in their forms and structures, a way to make sense of—to contain and perhaps even to feel control over—our own unruly experiences, including overwhelming grief. I’m starting to understand why this ancient tale remains evergreen.
Zeina Azzam on “Comet”:
When I learned that a comet, as it travels through space, leaves a trail of rocks and ice that drifts and can be seen for a long time, I thought that in a similar way, those who die bequeath mementos and limitless memories to us that linger and endure. We cling to them long after our beloveds are gone. Although my mother’s passing was a finite event, I felt her presence in an infinite way, like the millions of miles that a comet’s tail can stretch. This poem reflects the need, in my grief, to conjure my mother’s presence in everything around me, to follow what I imagined was her mystical journey in the cosmos after her body left its bounded existence on Earth.
Dennis Nurkse on his three poems:
Terese Svoboda on “Yellowphant” and “Don’t Forget”:
“Yellowphant” digs into the casual cruelty of humans to its fellow animals via our biggest showcase, the circus. Like many of my fellow humans, I’ve enjoyed the amazing feats of man over beasts performed in rousing greasepaint, although these days most people are less impressed by animal tricks because they’ve never tried to train one, let alone get it to do tricks. I have taught a few dogs to live in my house quietly and graciously, by a combination of the Stockholm Syndrome, PTSD and bondage. I’m just pointing out the mostly one-sided relationship, and how other species suffer.
“Don’t Forget” – Where to start? Birth, I guess. In his intermittent dementia Dad sued his eight children, we sued for custody: a nightmare of eight years of litigation. Worst of all is the betrayal of roles: parents are supposed to protect children. Thus, the slow boil.