Launch: The Account!

About a year and a half ago, at a bar called The Owl in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, a few friends and I tossed around this idea about starting a literary magazine. Being that we are PhD students studying literature and creative writing, we feel as though we have two brains: the critical brain […]

What’s wrong with didacticism?

I have a thing for truisms. As I’ve grown as a poet, I’ve come to realize certain things about my aesthetic, from a purely linguistic standpoint: I prefer simple sentences. If I write a sentence made of several clauses, I keep it as short as possible. For this same reason, I love a short line. […]

On Grains

Grain #1 In Image, Music, Text, Roland Barthes argues that language does a pretty poor job of discussing music. We’re limited to adjectives that essentially affirm the position of the listener, rather than really saying anything about the performer or the performance. If we struggle against the adjective, he says, we can approach a space that […]

Poetry as horror

There’s a haiku-writing serial killer murdering the residents of a small Japanese town. His haiku, which he leaves at the scene of each crime, becomes incredibly terrifying in context: Setting a fire– / smoke gives delight / to a country fellow (I’m assuming there’s a dash or other punctuation after the first 5 syllables. Is […]

When fear of lyric subjectivity goes too far

You’re left with a purely linguistic shell, a work of methodology, rather than craft, as Cal Bedient persuasively puts it in his essay, “Against Conceptualism”: Melancholy and militancy, those contrary but subtly related elements of the poetry of affect, cannot be excised from literature, in favor of methodology, without both emotional and political consequences: misery […]

On Pronouns, Collectivity, and Anxiety: How Dead Is Poetry, Really?

This has been one of those weeks where I’ve been mired with rejections, such that I took one demonstrably non-personal rejection as saying, “Your poetry used to be better.” This led to some histrionic sad-facing and familiar but unreasonable thoughts, like “What is the fucking point?” and “I should drop out of grad school and […]

A light distraction

After what feels like a solid month of traveling, I’ve been thinking of writing a new blog post that considers issues of community and commonality in lyric poetry, particularly in light of Mark Edmundson’s (relatively) recent Harper’s article, “Poetry Slam; Or, The decline of American verse.” I’m super late to the game, especially since the brilliant […]

The Problem with Political Poetry

I’ve been thinking about writing a post about political poetry for a while, but I had too many ideas, and I wrote one rambling, didactic piece that sort of lost its bearings. This is one reason for the delay in posting; another is just that I’m terrible at sharing on the Internet. For example, I’m […]

The Untranslatable

I have a particular fascination with what you might call “untranslatable” words—or words that don’t have an English equivalent. I put “untranslatable” in scare quotes because most of these words can be explained in English; they just don’t have an English equivalent—a single word that expresses the same idea. I think I’m so fond of […]

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

This mysterious title is the literalized English translation of Haruki Murakami’s newest novel, released today in Japan. Until this point, almost nothing has been released about the work, and even now, the title and the bits of plot offered by those who’ve only had time to devour a few chapters remain pretty enigmatic. But oh, […]