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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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Traci Brimhall on “Dear Thanatos,”

Writing books has largely felt like long-term, monogamous loves, but in between loves I still want to write poems, and for the last decade my "one night stand" poems have been epistles to Thanatos, the Greek god of death.

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Bridget Lowe on “Lady Randall”

Lady Randall is my version of the 17th century ballad Lord Randall, in which a young man leaves home and returns from his journey with reportage of what he has seen in the world. It was also the inspiration for Bob Dylan’s famous interpretation “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” I wanted to have a turn as the meandering lord, telling everyone what I saw, so I wrote myself this poem.

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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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Maya C. Popa on “Mine’s Not A Political Heart”

This is the opening poem in the collection, and there’s something slightly insincere in its title, a misdirect from what’s to follow.

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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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