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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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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Hannah Brooks-Motl on “Idyll”

I saw an actual feather in a wire apparatus once. I was staying with friends who were renovating their house. There was the stuff of house renovation all around. In one corner: this. I don’t know what kind of feather. I don’t know what the wire thingy around it was for. The fact of these objects, the mystery of their arrival or intended use, are not analogues or allegories or metaphors for poetry.

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Pauline Fan on Kulleh Grasi

The world Kulleh Grasi evokes in his poetry is both present and absent—it is seen and longed for, remembered and forgotten. It is the real and reimagined world of the poet’s homeland, Sarawak, the Malaysian state that stretches along the northwest coast of Borneo.

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Anna Gurton-Wachter on “Poem from Hypnosis”

This is the first poem, or proem, in my first book Utopia Pipe Dream Memory. It encapsulates many of the themes that appear throughout the book: imagined intimacies, invocations, conversations with the world of material objects, hallucinations and visions, animal worlds colliding, the carving out and claiming of space.

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Diana Marie Delgado on “The Sea Is Farther Than Thought”

I arrange shards; “The Sea Is Farther Than Thought” is the result of such an arrangement. Even after it was published in the Indiana Review: Latino/a Summer Edition, I continued to rearrange and revise until the final version was published in my first collection, Tracing the Horse (BOA Editions, 2019).

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