In Their Own Words

Poets and translators on their work.

Jake Skeets on “The Body a Bottle”

The poem began with a body and a bottle. It was late afternoon and I was driving back home from my summer residency at the Institute of American Indian Arts. The drive was several hours through high and valley desert, country road and freeway. During these long drives, I often find myself capturing certain images; quick flashes of scene on the side of the road.

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Monica Sok on “Self-Portrait in Siem Reap”

I was alone on my last trip to Cambodia. The plan was to do research in Siem Reap, mainly in the Angkor Archaeological Park. I couldn’t help but notice the ways that the tourism industrial complex was thriving, especially on Pub Street where I would sometimes eat in the evenings after visiting temple sites. Almost every Cambodian I had come into contact with had asked me, Why are you traveling alone? Where is your family? They were concerned for me.

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Kristin George Bagdanov on “Diurne”

The constraint and condition of possibility for Diurne is “a line each hour of waking / a poem each day of making.” The book is made up of incremental sentences, wages, and fragments of time—my attempts at capturing the dailiness of consciousness over the course of a month. T

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Kimberly Kruge on “Direct Address”

This is a love poem. This poem is an apology.

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Rick Barot on “The Names”

One of the best-known works by Albrecht Dürer is a watercolor of a hare, which he painted in 1502. The painting is astonishing for its meticulous detail, its warm realism. The painting is now in the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Austria. And though I’ve never been to the Albertina and seen the actual painting, I imagine that if I went there I would spend an hour or so looking at it.

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Bill Carty on “Kiko is Missing”

As with many of the poems in Huge Cloudy, this poem began in transit, with a fragment of syntax that stuck. Something in the language of the original poster—KIKO IS MISSING handwritten all-caps beneath a photocopied image of a black cat, no contact info—offered an urgency much different from the standard “missing pet, answers to this, please call here.” The message seemed to announce the loss of something familiar. You know, Kiko.

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Kathryn Cowles on “Boat Tour”

I like to write in unfamiliar places, to wrap myself in unfamiliarity, to fall for a place in the writing of it, to catch a tiny actual shred of it in language on the page if I can, like a verbal photo album, a pressed flower made out of words. For me, unfamiliarity is generative. It makes my eye pay new attention.

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Jeff Alessandrelli on “Be Yer Own Hitman (Deathsounds / Lovesongs)”

This is the second poem in my collection Fur Not Light; entitled “Fin,” the first borrows from The Misfits, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the fictional reality of German fairy tales. Like “Fin,” this poem—which is taken from “Be Yer Own Hitman (Deathsounds/Lovesongs),” the first section in the book—details how what we as humans often take to be ordinary or commonplace can, under a different mode of seeing or thinking, be entirely alien in both conception and scope

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Alissa Quart on “In Ballard”

The event was a family vacation, in a rapidly gentrified neighborhood in a Northwestern city. The month was August, the end of the summer, a time when some people get manic from the increased light, like Norwegians finally seeing sun. My age was early middle.

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