TMWR #2: What We Read in February and March ✺

Kieron Walquist, Maira Asaad, Grace Gaynor and Grace Park

TMWR

TMWR #2: What We Read in February and March ✺

Before we knew it, three months had passed since the start of the year! Here's what we read in February and March of 2024.



Poetry Editor Kieron Walquist's Favorites:


Transcript of My Mother’s Sleeptalk: Chincoteague – Hannah Perrin King (poetry)

“Was not a one-trick pony.

Was the trick of many ponies.

Was the trick of swimming

The ponies from the island

To the mainland.”


The sonics in this piece are startling. Arousing. The repetition of was a not only a factor of the poem’s poiesis or “making” but also, as a sound, holding an onomatopoeia quality to somniloquy or someone just surfacing from sleep — was a, was a. A few words, acting as fulcrums, I found to be just as startling, when “girl” and “men” become “Was I ever a girl, was I / Asked the girl who was as / Many tricks as there were / Men, as many men as it took / To no longer be a girl.” This is a poem grieving, remembering, and it’s no easy trick that Perrin King has made the grief and remembrance so stunning.

 


Ivory-Billed Woodpecker – Matthew Tuckner (poetry)

“…where even under the threat

of extinction one must continue

         to sing”


As its nature, to break the bark and burrow for nourishment, the titular bird and speaker in Tuckner’s dynamic poem (a single sentence over 34 lines) breaks expectation and burrows further, layer after layer of harrowing imagery (“the serpentine digestion / of a longhorn beetle,” “boiling over with the blood from the void / left behind when a beak / is hacked off”) and history (rhetoric from Aristotle, words from Woolf, a settler felling an old-growth forest to build a senate-house), until it reaches, in the end, the poem’s center. Parrhesia. To sing resilience. Oh “Ivory-Billed Woodpecker,” your song is breathtaking.

 


Sunday Before Last – Jorrell Watkins (poetry)

“…how will I someday guide their arks to bank?”


Sundays. Often slow and sacred hours. Hayden, and here Watkins, write of ones shared with fathers, the sons bearing witness to work (“…bulging veins still bull / tendon, muscle—settle this month’s debts”) and quiet devotion. “What did I know / of love’s austere and lonely offices?” Perhaps bearing witness, giving generous attention, makes love less lonely — is, itself, a kind of love. The dandruff “ashen Pop’s crown” against the mosquito heat, the way he “slides each arm into his everyday work jacket.” How love, that looking, reminds us — someday, those Sundays will end. I didn’t want “Sunday Before Last” to end.   




Poetry Editor Maira Asaad's Favorites:


Leaving - Madeleine Cravens (poetry)

This poem leans into the musicality of its varying trochaic meter to build its buoyancy. By the mid-section of the poem, the reader finds themselves breathless—as one often is, when swept up in a moment of pleasure or terror, as they write: "Not the pleasure of lovers but the pleasure of letters" or "not the pleasure of empire but the pleasure of after" or "not the pleasure of planners but the pleasure of errors."  It is a generous poem that advocates for the full range of life—its pleasures and pitfalls—and certainly one that I keep returning to.



For M by Mikko Harvey (poetry)

“Please linger

near the

door uncomfortably

instead of

just leaving.

Please forget

your scarf

in my

life and

come back

later for

It.”


This poem is as spare as the first one is abundant, though it is full of its own warmth. In simple diction, Mikko Harvey nudges us down the poem, two words at a time. This is a poem that unspools across a range of surreal moments that feel completely at home in the poem in their childlike wonder and simplicity, especially when paired with the exasperation of adulthood, and lands in a moment of connection and yearning, where the door is always open for another tender moment:




Poetry Editor Grace Gaynor's Favorites:


Backstage At The Cairo Opera House - Sara Elkamel (poetry) 

“For years I hung the concert poster in my room, opposite 

the bed. In the sea of small bodies, I could sometimes see 

a girl who looked like me—both of us swam in our good 

skin like swindlers.”


In this poem, Elkamel develops a clear voice and careful balance between honesty and mindfulness of saying too much. The piece is held together by extremely intentional details and images ("She handed me an oversized pink turtleneck—ugly as a blobfish") that paint a vivid picture of a principal moment within a young life. 



acknowledgments - Danez Smith (poetry) 

“at the function, i feel myself splitting into too many rooms of static

you touch my hand & there i am”

This is a poem that is strong because of its simplicity. It’s a piece that is easy to read and re-read and find a new image or description to appreciate during each experience. I stay enthralled with it because of the complexity that comes with the portrayal of the relationship between the speaker and subject.




Poetry Editor Grace Park's Favorites:


Born, Sick - Kiki Nicole (poetry) 

This poetry-diagram is reminiscent of biology and anatomy worksheets, made at once familiar and strange. I love the rebellion against given instructions, overwritten with a call to instead label ‘& INVENT, CONFLATE, REFUSE’ the diagram. In the face of norms of propriety, scientific sanitization, and dissection under (linguistic) scalpel, they leverage an even sharper wit, “SERVES CUNT— / DESSICATED AND RUDE.” They play with language, speaking into multiple sites of what it means to be “Sick(ening),” particularly in the assertion that I am sickening repeating in red constructing the border/constraints/framing. “Found poetry” is some of the most compelling poetry because the remix is not a lesser version of the “original track;” it is a new (old), different thing in and of itself, challenging us to warp what exists, what we thought was supposedly solid, established, finished. This is reflected in the decomposition of the body-image itself, the melting-in-motion as it slides down the page, as the Body is reformed, relabelled, refused. 



Cada día más cerca del fin del mundo - Anthony Cody (poetry) 

This visual piece plays with (il)legibility, of smudged black ink drawings, overlaid and overlapping characters, broken up phrases in boxes; this poem leans into the absurdity of what all of these letters/words/phrases actually mean when plucked from a page and plopped onto another. When we see pre-industrial or epoch or denial elsewhere (in the context of our climate, drawing “every day closer to the end of the world”), what do these combinations of characters actually mean to us? The arrows throughout this diagrammatic poem suggest direction, and yet, where do they lead us, if anywhere? With no linear way to read this poem, I find myself lingering on the left-bottom-most questions of [where will whale?], [what was bird?], [where forest?], [what ocean?], [where living?], and perhaps the most stark and damning: [air?]

TMWR #2: What We Read in February and March ✺

Kieron Walquist, Maira Asaad, Grace Gaynor and Grace Park

TMWR

Before we knew it, three months had passed since the start of the year! Here's what we read in February and March of 2024.



Poetry Editor Kieron Walquist's Favorites:


Transcript of My Mother’s Sleeptalk: Chincoteague – Hannah Perrin King (poetry)

“Was not a one-trick pony.

Was the trick of many ponies.

Was the trick of swimming

The ponies from the island

To the mainland.”


The sonics in this piece are startling. Arousing. The repetition of was a not only a factor of the poem’s poiesis or “making” but also, as a sound, holding an onomatopoeia quality to somniloquy or someone just surfacing from sleep — was a, was a. A few words, acting as fulcrums, I found to be just as startling, when “girl” and “men” become “Was I ever a girl, was I / Asked the girl who was as / Many tricks as there were / Men, as many men as it took / To no longer be a girl.” This is a poem grieving, remembering, and it’s no easy trick that Perrin King has made the grief and remembrance so stunning.

 


Ivory-Billed Woodpecker – Matthew Tuckner (poetry)

“…where even under the threat

of extinction one must continue

         to sing”


As its nature, to break the bark and burrow for nourishment, the titular bird and speaker in Tuckner’s dynamic poem (a single sentence over 34 lines) breaks expectation and burrows further, layer after layer of harrowing imagery (“the serpentine digestion / of a longhorn beetle,” “boiling over with the blood from the void / left behind when a beak / is hacked off”) and history (rhetoric from Aristotle, words from Woolf, a settler felling an old-growth forest to build a senate-house), until it reaches, in the end, the poem’s center. Parrhesia. To sing resilience. Oh “Ivory-Billed Woodpecker,” your song is breathtaking.

 


Sunday Before Last – Jorrell Watkins (poetry)

“…how will I someday guide their arks to bank?”


Sundays. Often slow and sacred hours. Hayden, and here Watkins, write of ones shared with fathers, the sons bearing witness to work (“…bulging veins still bull / tendon, muscle—settle this month’s debts”) and quiet devotion. “What did I know / of love’s austere and lonely offices?” Perhaps bearing witness, giving generous attention, makes love less lonely — is, itself, a kind of love. The dandruff “ashen Pop’s crown” against the mosquito heat, the way he “slides each arm into his everyday work jacket.” How love, that looking, reminds us — someday, those Sundays will end. I didn’t want “Sunday Before Last” to end.   




Poetry Editor Maira Asaad's Favorites:


Leaving - Madeleine Cravens (poetry)

This poem leans into the musicality of its varying trochaic meter to build its buoyancy. By the mid-section of the poem, the reader finds themselves breathless—as one often is, when swept up in a moment of pleasure or terror, as they write: "Not the pleasure of lovers but the pleasure of letters" or "not the pleasure of empire but the pleasure of after" or "not the pleasure of planners but the pleasure of errors."  It is a generous poem that advocates for the full range of life—its pleasures and pitfalls—and certainly one that I keep returning to.



For M by Mikko Harvey (poetry)

“Please linger

near the

door uncomfortably

instead of

just leaving.

Please forget

your scarf

in my

life and

come back

later for

It.”


This poem is as spare as the first one is abundant, though it is full of its own warmth. In simple diction, Mikko Harvey nudges us down the poem, two words at a time. This is a poem that unspools across a range of surreal moments that feel completely at home in the poem in their childlike wonder and simplicity, especially when paired with the exasperation of adulthood, and lands in a moment of connection and yearning, where the door is always open for another tender moment:




Poetry Editor Grace Gaynor's Favorites:


Backstage At The Cairo Opera House - Sara Elkamel (poetry) 

“For years I hung the concert poster in my room, opposite 

the bed. In the sea of small bodies, I could sometimes see 

a girl who looked like me—both of us swam in our good 

skin like swindlers.”


In this poem, Elkamel develops a clear voice and careful balance between honesty and mindfulness of saying too much. The piece is held together by extremely intentional details and images ("She handed me an oversized pink turtleneck—ugly as a blobfish") that paint a vivid picture of a principal moment within a young life. 



acknowledgments - Danez Smith (poetry) 

“at the function, i feel myself splitting into too many rooms of static

you touch my hand & there i am”

This is a poem that is strong because of its simplicity. It’s a piece that is easy to read and re-read and find a new image or description to appreciate during each experience. I stay enthralled with it because of the complexity that comes with the portrayal of the relationship between the speaker and subject.




Poetry Editor Grace Park's Favorites:


Born, Sick - Kiki Nicole (poetry) 

This poetry-diagram is reminiscent of biology and anatomy worksheets, made at once familiar and strange. I love the rebellion against given instructions, overwritten with a call to instead label ‘& INVENT, CONFLATE, REFUSE’ the diagram. In the face of norms of propriety, scientific sanitization, and dissection under (linguistic) scalpel, they leverage an even sharper wit, “SERVES CUNT— / DESSICATED AND RUDE.” They play with language, speaking into multiple sites of what it means to be “Sick(ening),” particularly in the assertion that I am sickening repeating in red constructing the border/constraints/framing. “Found poetry” is some of the most compelling poetry because the remix is not a lesser version of the “original track;” it is a new (old), different thing in and of itself, challenging us to warp what exists, what we thought was supposedly solid, established, finished. This is reflected in the decomposition of the body-image itself, the melting-in-motion as it slides down the page, as the Body is reformed, relabelled, refused. 



Cada día más cerca del fin del mundo - Anthony Cody (poetry) 

This visual piece plays with (il)legibility, of smudged black ink drawings, overlaid and overlapping characters, broken up phrases in boxes; this poem leans into the absurdity of what all of these letters/words/phrases actually mean when plucked from a page and plopped onto another. When we see pre-industrial or epoch or denial elsewhere (in the context of our climate, drawing “every day closer to the end of the world”), what do these combinations of characters actually mean to us? The arrows throughout this diagrammatic poem suggest direction, and yet, where do they lead us, if anywhere? With no linear way to read this poem, I find myself lingering on the left-bottom-most questions of [where will whale?], [what was bird?], [where forest?], [what ocean?], [where living?], and perhaps the most stark and damning: [air?]