All posts tagged: Poetry Feature

November 2017 Poetry Feature

Repair Manuals: A Brief Interview with Sebastian Matthews

VIEVEE FRANCIS interviews SEBASTIAN MATTHEWS

From April 2017 to July 2017, poet, writer, collagist, and teacher Sebastian Matthews and I carried on a long-running conversation, which you will find excerpted below. It is high time to hear from this provocative and engaging poet who, after surviving a head-on collision with his wife and son in the car with him, went into relative literary and social seclusion for several years. While the newest book discloses the private life of trauma and the body, forthcoming projects concern Matthews’ public takes on race, culture, and identity. Always stretching to disclose what others would keep hidden is part of what makes his widening body of work both engaging and authentic.

Sunna JuhnNovember 2017 Poetry Feature
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October 2017 Poetry Feature

This October, we’re celebrating fall with new work from four of our contributors.

LINDA ASHOK

Becoming A Rice Pot

She held the rice pot too
close to her bosom each time
she had to take a cup of it.
Once she would take as
much, she would keep back
a fistful. She never wanted
the rice pot to be empty.
Keeping back, she told me
years later, is restraint. When
you make a good home,
remember, holding back
a little every time will
save you the magic.
When he called me last
summer, I wanted to hold
back a little of myself, but
a sudden gust of Kalbaisakhi
changed the conversation.


Author of
whorelight (Hawakal, Aug 2017), Linda Ashok is the 2017 Charles Wallace India Fellow in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Chichester, UK. Her poems and reviews have appeared in several publications, online and in print, including The McNeese Review, Friends Journal, Axolotl, Skylight 47, Vinyl, The Big Bridge Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poets, Mascara Literary Review, The Rumpus, Stirring – A Sundress Publication, Expound, and others. Linda is the Founder/President of RædLeaf Foundation for Poetry & Allied Arts and sponsors the annual RL Poetry Award (since 2013). More at: lindaashok.com

 

JACOB SHORES-ARGUELLO

Dove

Costa Rica

A metal-throated hummingbird
tucks through a crack in the bus window.
We duck and dodge, rough our hands
through our clothes when we feel him.
We watch as he murmurs through the air,
but we don’t yet love the beautiful bird.
It’s only when the animal flies into Lucite,
and falls like a bullet casing onto the floor
that we claim him as our beloved thing.
A woman kneels to cup our bird, and we hold
our breath when his wings begin to blur.
It’s natural to love impossible things.
The bird swoops and flutters, hovers
like the Holy Spirit above our heads.

 

Make Believe

As children, my cousin and I once
dug into the side of our mountain,

a terrible brown work.
That morning we’d made the cold walk

to the hospital and watched
his mother for a long time.

She was unchained from her machines,
shrinking into ordinary.

It was our first death,
and we looked at our small hands.

But no, my cousin insisted,
these are not our hands,

they are bear hands.
And we walked to our mountain,

shaped our cave:
one meter, two meters, three.

We bears were making a home.
We roared, and shook off our human bones,

until angels howled like dogs
in the valley below.

Jacob Shores-Argüello is a Costa Rican American poet and fiction writer. His second book Paraíso was selected for the inaugural CantoMundo Poetry Prize and will be coming out in December 2017. Jacob is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, the Dzanc Books ILP International Literature Award, The Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship in Provincetown, the Djerassi Resident Artist’s Fellowship, and the Amy Clampitt residency in Lenox, MA. His work appears in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, and The Oxford American.

 

CATHERINE POND

Arrival

I was so dumb. I thought your suffering was something I could solve, or at least push out of sight,
like the dead falcon we found in the forest and carried back home under steel-blue night to bury.

I thought death was a story we’d tell ourselves later, and laugh. Instead, you stopped sharing
things with me, except the poems, which I didn’t even know you’d been writing. I was your only

reader. That summer in the High Peaks your drafts piled up on the picnic table under a paper-weight,
edges shimmering in the wind like long, silver wings. You were newly thirteen. I was half-way

through eleven. I began to write back. I thought we could live together this way, side by side,
not speaking, watching ink run like waves across the page. How could we have known

what the water would do, that the depth pressure would pull us apart, that time would come
towards us like a motorboat, soundless, amorphous. That love is an agony we have to enter alone.

Catherine Pond lives in Los Angeles where she is a ​Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California. She is Assistant Director of the NY State Summer Writers Institute and co-founder of the online literary magazine Two Peach (with Julia Anna Morrison). Her poems and essays have appeared in over 30 magazines, including Narrative, Boston Review, and the LA Review of Books.

 

ZACK STRAIT

Neon

There’s nothing else like it, my father says. He has spent his life
admiring this light, photographing the long tubes
of glass. All heated by hand torches, and cannon, ribbon
and crossfire burners. Bent into symbols
by men like himself, then filled with noble gases. And so I have
come to treasure the red wings of flying stallions
above the highway, the blue trim of diners. The holiness
of a movie theatre marquee, in the hours
after a storm. We sit on the hood of his car, let it wash our faces.

 

Payphone

Through the dark lattice of the earpiece, the voice of my mother
falters as she tells me she’ll enjoy the racehorses
unless she finds out she’s dying. But she has been dying
all of her life, a leaf bronzing in the wind
like a miracle small enough for a child. I feel around for nickels
in the coin slot, add my thumbprint to the clouds
of oil on the faceplate. I tell her everything will be okay
and watch the raindrops zigzag down the
plastic windows. A bus rumbles to a stop and I say I have to go.

 

Grace

My father seated at the upright piano, his hands fluttering
like injured birds over the keys. He’s singing
a hymn about redemption, the terrible sweetness of
dying, his bare feet pumping the brass
pedals like he’s weaving the notes on a floor loom. I look
out the window, the last light jagged and red
behind the mountains. He folds down the fallboard
and turns to ask what I thought. Snow
begins to gather on the sill and I do my best to assure him.

Zack Strait is pursuing his Ph.D. at Florida State University. His work has recently appeared in Ploughshares and is forthcoming in Poetry.

Debbie WenOctober 2017 Poetry Feature
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September 2017 Poetry Feature

This month The Common brings you a selection from the anthology WORDS FOR WAR, NEW POEMS FROM UKRAINE, edited by Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky, forthcoming next month from Academic Studies Press.

The armed conflict in the east of Ukraine brought about an emergence of a distinctive trend in contemporary Ukrainian poetry: the poetry of war. Directly and indirectly, the poems collected in this volume engage with the events and experiences of war, reflecting on the themes of alienation, loss, dislocation, and disability; as well as justice, heroism, courage, resilience, generosity, and forgiveness. In addressing these themes, the poems also raise questions about art, politics, citizenship, and moral responsibility. The anthology brings together some of the most compelling poetic voices from different regions of Ukraine. Young and old, female and male, somber and ironic, tragic and playful, filled with extraordinary terror and ordinary human delights, the voices recreate the human sounds of war in its tragic complexity.

ANASTASIA AFANASIEVA  |  “Can there be poetry after:”

BORYS HUMENYUK  |  “Our platoon commander is a strange fellow”

ALEKSANDR KABANOV  |  “He came first wearing a t-shirt inscribed ‘Je suis Christ,’”

KATERYNA KALYTKO   |  “April 6”

LYUDMYLA KHERSONSKA  |  “When a country of — overall — nice people”

SERHIY ZHADAN  |  “Third Year into the War”

Flavia MartinezSeptember 2017 Poetry Feature
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August 2017 Poetry Feature

This month we welcome back long-time contributor to The Common, John Matthias. His poems previously published by the magazine can be found here.

John Matthias has published some thirty-five books of poetry, translation, scholarship, criticism, and collaboration. He taught for many years at the University of Notre Dame and is a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge. Until 2012 he was poetry editor of Notre Dame Review, and is now Editor at Large. Shearsman published his Collected Poems in three volumes in 2011, 2012, and 2013. More recently, they have published a new volume of poems, Complayntes for Doctor Neuro, and a collection of memoirs and literary essays, At Large (both 2016). His most recent book is a collaboration with printmaker Jean Dibble and critic Robert Archambeau, Revolutions (Dos Madres, 2017).  Two collections of critical essays have been published on Matthias’s work, Word Play Place, edited by Robert Archambeau, and The Salt Companion to John Matthias, edited by Joe Francis Doerr. “Prynne and a Petoskey Stone” is part of a new book now taking shape, which will be called Acoustic Shadows.

Isabel MeyersAugust 2017 Poetry Feature
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July 2017 Poetry Feature

This month we welcome back one of the most crucial and distinctive Anglophone poets, Lawrence Joseph, whose sixth collection, So Where Are We?, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in August. “In One Day’s Annals” appears in this book, as does “In That City, in Those Circles,” first published in issue #10 of The Common. Joseph is also the author of two books of prose, the genre-defying Lawyerland (FSG), as well as The Game Changed: Essays and Other Prose, from the University of Michigan Press’s Poets on Poetry Series, which presents Joseph’s estimable talents as an essayist and critic.

Isabel MeyersJuly 2017 Poetry Feature
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June 2017 Poetry Feature

Over the past year Vievee Francis has received well-deserved recognition for her latest collection, Forest Primeval, which won both the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Award. Her previous book, Horse in the Dark, won the Cave Canem Northwestern University Poetry Prize for a second collection, and her first, Blue-Tail Fly, preceded a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. Since the publication of Forest Primeval, Francis has been working on a fourth collection, and at The Common we’ve had the honor and the pleasure of presenting some of her new poems: “On Leaving the Mountains and Coming to the City I Thought I Left For Good” and “The Beauty of Boys Is” appear in Issue 13, Spring 2017, and “This Morning I Miss Such Devotion” is forthcoming in Issue 14, Fall 2017. Here is “’Moan Soft Like You Wanted Somebody Terrible,’” our Poetry Feature for the month of June.

Isabel MeyersJune 2017 Poetry Feature
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May 2017 Poetry Feature

This May, we’re celebrating spring with new work by three of our contributors.

 

STEVE BARBARO

Flavored Graffito

                                                                                      Agrigento, Sicily

             Piz-stack-eee-oh, Graffito registers, the word flooding his noggin

                   like the weed-choked shrubs crowding what should-be-a-more-

         pregnant vacuity surrounding what little remains of Demeter’s

Julia PikeMay 2017 Poetry Feature
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April 2017 Poetry Feature

At The Common, we’re celebrating Poetry Month with new work by five of our contributors.

JAMES HOCH

Fayum Portrait [Deal]

I’ve sent a map on wax paper–
What he loves arrayed as clumsy petals.
If it arrives,
someone will ink it in his back,
so it will go with him
like a paw stuffed in a casing,
boardwalk mojo to ward off the hail of RPG, AK,

FOB after FOB, Amputee Ward, TBI, Arlington.

Sarah WhelanApril 2017 Poetry Feature
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