December 26, 2011

coming to terms with suburbia

I cupped my hand, inched
you, forgotten friend,
closer. We caught

up over coffee
at one of your Star-
bucks. You offered

to pay, typical
you. “Everything’s on
the house,” you said,

“This venti cup, these
rich mahogany
chairs, those million

passing cars, a blank
check for property.”
When you left, I

closed my eyes for a
second and lost you
among the cars,

moving from one place
to another like the formal nomad
who never understood “lost.”

zachary heine (Sherman, TX, 1991)

December 20, 2011

A word or two with... Jessie Carty

Young American Poets is proud to introduce the first installment in a series of interviews which we have dubbed A word or two with... This new section will offer insights into the work and life of our contributors and intends to become a medium for further discussion of poetry in our site. Also, it sort of celebrates our first three years online.

Jessie Carty (Portsmouth, VA, 1975) defines herself as poet, blogger, wife, teacher and herder of cats. She is the author of five poetry collections, including the upcoming chapbook An Amateur Marriage (Finishing Line, 2012) and the award-winning Paper House (Folded Word, 2010). Her writing has appeared in publications such as MARGIE, decomP and Connotation Press. She teaches at RCCC in Concord, NC, and is the founding editor of Referential Magazine.

early memories
I remember making up “songs” on the long bus ride home when I was about 5. They largely involved dandelions.

on influences
As a child I was fascinated with Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Seuss – the usual. As a teen I loved William Blake. As an adult I am constantly finding new poets to love. I think I loved Stevenson and Dr. Seuss for the way they painted images with words. Blake was a fascination because of the symbolism he used. I don't even try to do much with symbolism now, but I loved how he tried to build this whole world around himself. I guess, as a writer, I've always been looking for a “home”.

what's in a name?
When I am around other writers I tend to call myself a poet but with my students I lean towards the word writer. I think just calling yourself a poet can distance you from some people. They see poetry as some odd sort of thing. And, in all honesty, I have published in other genres and continue to write in them (just not as much as poetry) so why not call myself a writer?

❝ I think just calling yourself a poet
can distance you from some people.
They see poetry as some odd sort of thing ❞

day jobs
I worked for nine years as an auto insurance claims adjuster before I went back to graduate school and switched over to teaching. I did the adjunct and freelance thing before starting full time English instructing at a community college in the Fall of 2011.

on the writing process
These days all of my poems start in a notebook I carry with me. I draft them by hand, not really revising in the notebook much at all. Within the same week (usually) I then type up the poems, making edits as I go along. I keep the poem in a New/Revise document in Google docs so I can access it everywhere. I keep making edits until it “feels” complete. I don't really have a particular time of day although I tend to write in the notebook at night while I tend to type items up in the morning or afternoon in between classes and other responsibilities.

on submissions
I save all of my writing in a Ready2Sub document and then I go through a list of possible places to submit and select where I would like to send my work. I tend to submit once a week if I have anything ready to send out. I make my submit list yearly (but I do add as I learn about new places) after reviewing CRWOPPS, Poets Market, Poets & Writers, and the suggestions of others. I've learned with acceptance and rejection that the piece you often think is the “best” or “worst” usually isn't the same to an editor so don't take any of that personally. It is a very subjective process in many ways. Just keep writing and looking for the words that are best for you. If you are submitting for the first time I'd say: do your homework. Read articles about how to submit and research the markets you are considering sending your work to.

❝ I've learned with acceptance and rejection that the piece you often think is the “best” or “worst” usually isn't the same to an editor so don't take any of that personally ❞

chapbooks, books
Three of my chapbooks are currently in print and I have a fourth one coming out in March of 2012. Each of mine have been released by a different publisher so I didn't produce my own. I also have a full length collection of poems that was published in 2010 by Folded Word Press. I had set up Folded Word back in 2008 but I transferred ownership of it as I moved on to other projects. The new editor later asked me to submit a book for consideration. I had that same book circulating to contests and such, but it was great to work with an editor who really pushed me to make the book a cohesive unit.

the MFA experience
I attended the low-residency program at Queens University of Charlotte. I loved my experience there. I originally attended because I had thoughts of teaching, but mostly because I wanted to write in a community of writers. I found that. I also thought that I would complete my degree while working full time (thus not worrying about the cost so much), but an MFA changes you. I ended up quitting my job six months into the program.

the poetry scene
I keep in touch with poets in person and online. I love both communities! Charlotte, NC, has quite a few reading series and open mics. Our state as a whole has a wonderful selection of poets and poetry events to attend. I trade books with a lot of my poetry friends which keeps me up on contemporary American poetry. I see a lot of terrific work coming out. We are all learning, but isn't that part of the poetic journey?

now reading
I'm currently reading Lessons in Forgetting by Malaika King Albrecht and it is the first book of poems I can think of in a long time that brought me to tears. Just amazing.

found on YAP
Going back at names I know and love I have to bull Bryan Borland out. We've had such a great online relationship over the last few years. His poems show so much of what I love about contemporary poetry because they take a bit of pop culture and weave it into the timeless.

* * *


At the A & P Meridiem (Pudding House, 2009), The Wait of Atom (Folded Word, 2009), Paper House (Folded Word, 2010), Fat Girl (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2011)

Further reading:

Jessie Carty's poetry on YAP

Jessie Carty's website:

November 25, 2011


i want to drive a steak-knife into
that feeling
to keep it from changing
scurrying away

andrew egerton (Towson, MD, 1989)

November 24, 2011

here is reality

a yell toward the wetlands will echo
through the trees and back toward the
voice which freed it. it will do nothing

to change the time it takes the sun
to rise. the birds, startled, will sing
in a way that is both peaceful and

haunting, and the light will slink up
the trees, then through the bedroom
window where a restless heart will

admit that the sunrise heals no better
than a sleepless evening spent

alexandra cannon (Pittsburgh, PA, 1988)

November 23, 2011


Sal's shirt smelling like garlic and sweat
or just garlic sweat
and whatever else is brewing
behind those swinging back doors
where Manny carries out meatball subs

Sal's life slices
through days of counting
the same three combinations of change
no bills over 20 cousin
and spring or summer fall or winter
that oven will make you

And today it's raining
dis bullshit weatha
and Sal sits silently behind his moat
of six different pies, calzones and zeppoles
crunching on memories of a place that is not this
new nor this old to him

It's empty and
Sal's eyes widen as lightning hits somewhere there
and something grows in the air around him
a second of clarity through pepperonis
and Sal is not here
and his jaw droops slowly
the only smell watery air
and 33 years of everything
flash like the lightning and the door -
whaddo I get you boss?

tristan franz (Brooklyn, NY, 1987)

November 22, 2011

eulogy for a clock

A clock, a near perfect mechanical invention,
a device that can measure all of time,
accurate, to seemingly godly perfection,
a creation that's greatness borders sublime.

Cogs, seemingly endless, populate its space,
pushing each other, like a tide,
each knows their function, and where is their place.
Seeing this all, I was mystified.

But there was one flaw, a hesitation
in the clock; a single error.
I tried to fix it, to achieve perfection;
but plunged the clock into despair.

The perfect creation has been destroyed,
the cogs, ruined, never to turn again.
It was great, until I interfered;
with my meddling, I've ended their world.

jeremy lockhart (Port Orchard, WA, 1992)

Calling all Young Poets across America:
last days for 2011 poetry submissions

Yes, it's that time of the year again: our reading period is coming to an end. Deadline for 2011 submissions is December 15th. Materials sent after this date will not be considered until we resume poetry reviews on February 1st, 2012.

Want to submit? Then hurry up, but don't forget to read our guidelines here.

The Young American Poets team

November 21, 2011

keep it simple

"Don't be fooled by the moonshine. The night is young and the night is ours. I can see you are wary. I can see the goosebumps beginning to crawl down your arms. They trickle past your elbow like Plinko chips and I watch with disco ball eyes as if a $10,000 slot sits above your middle knuckle. Don't be scared. Trust me when I say I will protect you. Trust me when I say I love you. Don't be fooled by the moonshine. Don't ever give up on a night like this."

cliff weber (Santa Monica, CA, 1986)

November 18, 2011

third floor view

The garage in my backyard
has a hole in the roof.
Leaves and rain
fall in September.

ronald steiner (Butler, PA, 1976)

upon close inspection

Tree rings reveal
good wet years,
dry cold droughts,
and fires, and births, and death.

ronald steiner (Butler, PA, 1976)

November 17, 2011

a love affair

"The poem is a love-affair between the poet and his subject, and readers come in only a long time later, as witnesses at the wedding. But what would the ideal witnesses—the ideal public—be? What would an ideal public do? Mainly, essentially, it would just read the poet; read him with a certain willingness and interest; read him imaginatively and perceptively. It needs him, even if it doesn’t know that; he needs it, even if he doesn’t know that. It and he are like people in one army, one prison, one world; their interests are great and common; and deserve a kind of declaration of dependence"

randall jarrell (Nashville, TN, 1914-Chapel Hill, NC, 1965), excerpt from the lecture Poets, Critics, and Readers, delivered at the start of his second year as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress —currently Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry—, October 1957, as quoted in 'Randall Jarrell in Washington', an article by Peter Montgomery published in the Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Volume 10.4, Fall 2009

November 16, 2011

premeditations on separation

"The Tulips have had their moments"
Margaret Atwood

Neither of us
knew if we were doing it right,
setting fire to each other
becoming a stirred pile of ash.
Your brain inside of mine.
Your brain wanting to multiply
mine trying to divide
back to base.
I’ve been thinking in numbers.
50 percent of unions break in ugly yelps
So in 30 years,
I am half likely
to be her.
Going through her attic
reading letters on mold and time.
Letters you wrote to me--
that is, if you were to start writing me letters.
I would have been a mess--your mess
Now a clean mess--
and leaving a wounded spool of hills.
I will be done killing you—too many times to count
You’ll be tired of dying.
Neither of us
know if we’re doing it right.

morgan eklund (Iowa City, IA, 1989)

November 15, 2011

dog behind bars

dog behind bars
doing time
gathering sympathy
from passers-by
black, young, strong
a patio is his prison
a patio where another dog lies
quiet, tired, numb
been there longer
knows better than that
but knows as well what he is
what he has become

the black, young one
longing for freedom
gathers sympathy from a girl, street lads
a smile brings light
a pat brings joy
silence brings everything back
as I, the poet writing this verses
get a glimpse from afar
riding the bus on an empty stomach
fiddling with issues from long and behind
an instant captive
riddled by the moral of the story
setting my problems aside
wondering who the dog is
who is actually in prison
what the odds are
of living in fantasy of freedom
or knowing better, lying stiff and numb
a dog minus the sympathy
another dog behind bars

james pendleton (Bordentown City, NJ, 1979)

November 11, 2011

levine on upbeat poems

"I can’t believe this guy Barr is a poet, because I don’t think a real poet would think in that way. When a poem comes to you, you’re not going to say, 'Oh, no, this goddamned poem is just too mean-spirited.' You’re going to run with it."

philip levine (Detroit, MI, 1928), answering the question "I wonder if you agree with John Barr, the president of the Poetry Foundation, who, with the help of a $200 million endowment, has been trying to popularize poetry by encouraging poets to write more upbeat poems" in an interview published in The New York Times Sunday Magazine with the headline Philip Levine Still Knows How to Make Trouble, November 6, 2011

October 24, 2011

painting elephant

The face on the canvas
begins to breathe,
like an animal
staring out of a cage.

The elephant holds a tiny brush
in his wrinkled trunk,
paint blotches dried
to his ivory tusks.

He stands, like a small grey house,
mixing colors in his studio.

He’s at his easel all day
and late into the night,
concentrating on a face
across the pillow of his imagination.

Details return to him,
burned into the mainframe of his memory.
He can feel her lips again
kissing his forehead.

craig shay (Bay Shore, NY, 1982)

October 21, 2011


Sometimes mine is a broken wing,
and I haven't the heart to sing.
Trapped in my own rib cage
I see bars on everything.
But every disease has a cure
and every lock comes with a key,
and love rains from high above,
sweetening the salty sea.
I am a dove in times of clashes;
an eagle when I want to be;
I am a phoenix, baptized in ashes,
feeling the wind wash over me.

fatima elkabti (La Mirada, CA, 1988)

October 20, 2011

the heavy musk of masochism

I busted my ass for $20 a week squeezing cellophane dreams out of jugular veins. Flowers hung from sad, limp stems in the raspy hallway of my apartment. My life felt like a screaming frenzy of nothingness. I began panicking, deteriorating, gnashing my teeth late into the night. And then one Sunday morning, as the churning sun beat down on my ingrown toenail, the antidote appeared wearing a silk suit.

The lion no longer chews upon my heart.

cliff weber (Santa Monica, CA, 1986)

October 19, 2011

the atoms of lust

Acid Rain
Free Time
is an illusion
She said
to a classroom
of one.

ronald steiner (Butler, PA, 1976)

the transition

I am the
I ask questions.
I am
the master
I am the
answer to
all questions.

ronald steiner (Butler, PA, 1976)

October 18, 2011

Bruce Lee, the poet

"Bruce Lee was an accomplished poet who not only wrote his own work but translated the work of others. He was a man who took poetry so seriously that he even wrote an entire movie script (with the aid of Stirling Silliphant, the screenwriter of the Oscar winning In the Heat of the Night) based off of a poem that he composed. This poem, "The Silent Flute", was even written into the titular script, set to be delivered as a final monologue for the hero."

dave landsberger, excerpt from 'Poetry Kung Fu or: Breaking Boards With Your Head is Dumb, Write Poems Instead', a Rumpus Original published in the The Rumpus, October 4, 2011

October 13, 2011

cynara cardunculus

Between you and me, a jade earth-flower, upturned
bud with petals, sharp-tipped, alien fruit. You tug
a leaf from its vertical stalk, and dip sweet curve
into even sweeter silk-butter, your liquid eyes smiling
greenly through long lashes. Here, with you, my spirit
glides on velvet currents. As you dip your heart
in honey-lush bowl and raise it to my lips, I open—
October wind sighs outside as I whisper, “Don’t stop,”
for the curve of your hand fits my cheek, of your body
fits mine. Outside, gold leaves break loose in the wind,
and against snow-heavy clouds the blackbirds fly.

lucien darjeun meadows (Virginia Beach, VA, 1987)

October 12, 2011

despite the darkness

the bean plants lived
despite the darkness
of my closet

I didn't think
they'd grow

but they did

into these
spindly white things,
these seedlings,
translucent but tall
and twisting every which
way, almost alien,
almost frightening,
but beautiful, even
unconscious breath-holding:

how unexpected
to be alive

marit rogne (Ann Arbor, MI, 1987)

October 11, 2011

American Poems Every Student Should Know

Emma Taylor, a writer for Accredited Online Colleges, sent us the link to a recent post featured on her site's blog, an article titled 20 American Poems Every Student Should Know. From Edgar Allan Poe to Saul Williams, and including names such as Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams and Charles Bukowski, this selection is witty, diverse and fun to read, and of course carries a disclaimer: "the entirety of the American poetry scene can’t be distilled into only 20 works", stating also that "this happens to be one writer’s opinion of a few worth exploring".

Read the complete list of poems here:

20 American Poems Every Student Should Know (

October 10, 2011

Nobel in Literature awarded to
Swedish Poet Tomas Tranströmer

The Nobel Prize in Literature 2011 was awarded to Tomas Tranströmer (Stockholm, Sweden, 1931), author of more than 15 collections of poetry and regarded as one of Sweden's most important poets.

Tranströmer's most famous works include 17 Poems (17 dikter, 1954), Windows and Stones (Klanger och spår, 1966) and Baltics (Östersjöar, 1974). His poetry has been translated into more than 50 languages.

In a story published by The New York Times, John Freeman, editor of the literary magazine Granta, said about him: "He is to Sweden what Robert Frost was to America."

The Swedish Academy's citation states the prize, endowed with 10 million kronor ($ 1.5 million), was awarded to Tranströmer "because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality."

Further reading:

The Official Website of the Nobel Prize (

The Official Website of Tomas Tranströmer (The Lion Publishing Group)

Poetry Defeats Politics (The Wall Street Journal)

The Academy of American Poets

September 2, 2011


I knew her before she came here.
Her heart like a dug-up ditch, was before as firm as a trunk.
But adze-gashed in youth:
What was heart was ever after raw material.
(We see how the dark piles up:
The wrecked ruins of a once-white temple;
The ashes from a fire, long-ago-lapsed.)
This is where the prostitutes line up like pigeons
Sitting on a wire. Bird-thin and grim.
Drugged-numb as to stitch up guarded wounds.
Her eyes sag like drip-dirty rags, misused and polluted
With a dazed glaze draped thick over her pale-grown pupils:
She’s seen so much that now she refuses her own sight.
I think of her still: Whole nights (most nights) her legs up-tucked,
Fetus-like, wishing for reunion with wombly warmth.
She hides her eyes and chin from me in guilt.
Her hair whips in the wind
like a white handkerchief waving goodbye.

c. dylan bassett (Las Vegas, NV, 1987)

August 26, 2011

devil's paperwork

I am told to sign documents I can read
But I don't understand
I am told to sign one, two, three times
I get a nod when I do the one
I get more nods with two and three
My signature is crooked and ugly
But they are happy with it anyway
And I am now getting a handshake, a pat on the soulder

I am told a new life is waiting for me
I am not sure how it will look like
But it will be new
I am not scared for it's just paperwork
And it will all work out ok, I know
Or at least I try to remind myself everytime
It will all work out ok
One way or another
As I see them walk away

An easy transaction
I now deeply resent
As I regret it all -- my blood as ink,
The shoulder pats, the stupid confidence
The sorrow I can't feel
Because I sold it, and I sold it cheap

But I seem happy anyway

hollis temple (Raleigh, NC, 1975)

August 24, 2011

paint over a black sky

I took my woman to the river bank
South by Jefferson
we were nude and everywhere
she moved like a fish out of water
we were past the city lights
and that night
she tried to move the moon
with one hand but couldn't
we kissed

her lips were bitter like lemons
this was the first time she saw the stars
carelessly thrown like paint over the black sky
and she saw the sun
stick its head out over the distant hills
and it was as bright as a thousand headlights
coming over the Van Wyck
that morning

drew degennaro (Baldwin, NY, 1985)

August 23, 2011


Whisper through woods,
travel quick under brush,
There are Dark Things lurking.
Black eyes to watch you pass
Big teeth you have,
could swallow poor Granny

Beware the tail, don’t let him
Fool you
Meat is sweet and
he doesn’t mind the fresh taste
of Innocence.
Your cloak Red from travel, Red
from fear, his teeth Red from

julia bodwell (Newton, NJ, 1989)

August 22, 2011

you become anything

Your callnotes can strike the empty
fairgrounds after the rodeo trucks home.
You can rip the frail tin from rooftops
and fling it over backyard gardens.
You can throb through the freckles
on a cute girl’s face, wait for the highest
wave to rise and bullet through the blue.
You can knot the nosehairs of old folks
as they nap, unsheathe the half invisible
prophecy, stare through isinglass, screech
at bluejays, trap rubies of sap from pines.
You can open a restaurant, serve only
Rocky Mountain Oysters and Budweiser,
shoot at the full moon with a scattergun,
and drive a Monster Truck, or you can
come back to life and squeeze our hands.

christopher lee miles (LeRoy, MN, 1982)

August 19, 2011

and lo!, a sad asian girl's memory card is full

The 8gb memory card.
The 10.1 mega-pixel camera.
The Asian girl is not a
Stereotype worth generalizing about.
Her Giga pet died years ago,
As Japan’s economy was crashing,
As China’s Great Wall was being
Repaired, this time for tourists,
The Mongolians no longer care to cross,
Though Koreans on either side will be
Shot if they do.
Busy massaging the world,
The Thai are not at home, while
Tibetans are, but feel as though they are not
As bad off as the Vietnamese, who
Are better off than the Burmese, who
Are not as well off as the Japanese.

And just when we fear that the world is
Spinning too fast, that time is rushing like
An elderly addict rushing to the casino,
Somewhere, almost everywhere,
Is an unassuming girl ready to
Record and share it all in spite
Of generalizations not worth
Stereotyping about.

luke armstrong (Kalispell, MT, 1985)

August 18, 2011

spousal anatomy

My three-year-old brother
points to my father
reading naked
on the leather couch
and asks,
Are those brains?
My mother
without looking up
from muddled folds
of laundry

mallory keeton bass (Jackson, MS, 1988)

August 17, 2011

piece of sunset

She’s so
I’d love to see her head spin
As her lips touch the clouds of that piece
Of sky she bought on the street corner in the dark.

Her eyes run glassy to marmalade spheres, lightyears gone and
Falling like an angel from the upper east side
Of a church façade.

Her orange n’ cream glass eyes starin’ and glarin’ and
Freewarin’ into your own as she stops
and shatters.

She’s so trippin’ and her body’s rockin’ in you hands
As that expensive, poisonous sky comes closer
and closer.

She simply fell off the edge of a gargoyle, skeetered
Past its fangs, and tripped into the clouds.

Lucy in the sky, my girl with the ice cream eyes.

nadya agrawal (Houston, TX, 1991)

the gift of language and the wounded ugly boy

“Poetry shouldn’t tell us what we already know, though of course it can revive what we think we know. A durable poet, the rarest of all birds, has a unique point of view and the gift of language to express it. The unique point of view can often come from a mental or physical deformity. Deep within us, but also on the surface, is the wounded ugly boy who has never caught an acceptable angle of himself in the mirror.”

jim harrison (Grayling, MI, 1937), excerpt from 'King of Pain', a review of The Pleasures of the Damned: Poems, 1951-1993 (Ecco/Harper Collins, 2007), by Charles Bukowski, published in the Sunday Book Review, The New York Times, November 25, 2007

Further reading

Pleasures of the Hard-Worn Life: An Interview With Jim Harrison (The New York Times)

Food for the Soul (The New York Times)

Indoors With a Poet of the Outdoors (The Wall Street Journal)

Jim Harrison at the Academy of American Poets, The Poetry Foundation, The New Yorker and The Paris Review

August 16, 2011


At happy hour, two weeks ago,
I began talking with a guy who
(as my interest waned) boasted,
that he was in Wikipedia.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia
of people.

I shrugged like it was nothing.

He wanted more admiration than this,
explained that
not everyone can be listed in there.
Apparently, there is a “process”.

And now, I’m obsessed with it.

I want to be able to Wikipedia myself.
If some schmuck in a bar did,
why can’t I?

I think about my life so far.
I’m not sure that religiously giving
spare change to the homeless will be enough.

I can twirl a baton and sometimes catch it,
but unless I learn to do it while
balanced on the nose of a seal
who is balanced on a ball,
it’s a forgettable gift and not
“Wikipedia” quality.

I could probably get in there
if I schmoozed my way
through social circles,
I could become the
blah blah blah to a yada yada yada.
But I have a knack for
befriending starving artists,
half of whom can’t even afford
their Internet access bill-
I’d end up only schmoozing my way to an open mic night.

jennifer donnell (San Clemente, CA, 1979)

August 15, 2011

the good life

We've lived like squatters
For a couple days
At her friends' house
While they are away on vacation
And the bed squeaks
And the blinds keep the afternoon
Looking as young
As 6 a.m.

"You need to stop talking
about money,"

She tells me.

"We don't have it...
We want it.
And someday,
With a little luck,
We'll have it.
But until we do,
We don't need to sit around
And talk about
How we still don't have it."

I smile,
And wrap my arm around her
In another couple's bed
As the rain and frost mix and slop
All over main street
And I debate this poem
Between each strand
Of auburn hair.

ryan torres (Lebanon, PA, 1987)

August 12, 2011

poetry on the refrigerator

It's the first of the month
The last day for excuses
The first day of
A lot of stuff I just won't figure out
For a few weeks or maybe months to come

Nothing in this room belongs to me anymore
Except this machine where I type
But it's so out of place now
Much like I am

My possessions reside
At a new address
Almost an hour from here
And what doesn't rest there
Is thrown into my car
Much like I have been for the last two weeks

In the morning
I don't know where I am
The new house?
My parents'?
My roommate's apartment?
My generous friends' home?

The dirt in the new house
Didn't originate with me
It came from the bottoms of the shoes
Of some nice people I only met once
{And their very hairy dog}

I'm not sure what to do with myself
So far from my new abode
So disconnected from any of these
New responsibilities that have suddenly become mine
Afraid to leave this house again
For fear I will no longer have protection
{I know that's not true}

I sit in my parents' house
In this room that is no longer mine
Feeling oddly placed
Waiting to be permanently imprinted someplace
Just like poetry on the refrigerator

abigail m. aycardi (Two Rivers, WI, 1985)

August 10, 2011

Philip Levine appointed U.S. Poet Laureate

Philip Levine (Detroit, MI, 1928) was named today as the Library of Congress' 18th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2011-2012, and will take up his duties on Monday, October 17th, during the annual literary season.

Levine succeeds W.S. Merwin as Poet Laureate and joins a long line of poets who have served in the position, including Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz and Robert Pinsky.

Levine is the author of 20 collections of poems, including News of the World, What Work Is, Ashes: Poems New and Old, and The Simple Truth, for which he was awarded the 1995 Pulitzer Prize.

Further reading:

Librarian of Congress Appoints Philip Levine Poet Laureate (Library of Congress)

More About Philip Levine - Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry (Library of Congress)

About the Position of Poet Laureate (Library of Congress)

Voice of the Workingman to Be Poet Laureate (The New York Times)

Profile of Philip Levine, poet laureate (The Washington Post)

Philip Levine interviews at The Cortland Review (1999, 2009, 2011 video interview), The Paris Review, The Atlantic

Philip Levine at the Poetry Foundation,, The English Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and The New Yorker

June 17, 2011


We met the usual way strangers meet
By nefarious chance
Awkward coincidence
In perfect timing
For disaster

Add some casual chatter
Sprinkled by impromptu social-network cross-research
An unnecessary fourth round of spirits
Early summer weather
And there you had us – helpless

Double entrées
Triple distillation
The Kronos Quartet
A five-pointed star tattoo – WTF???
Six bucks in my pocket at the end of the night

And there we go, all over again:
This season's first shooting star
Fleeting, elusive, flamboyant
Lots of things in my life at the moment
Feel very temporary

So it must be two or three in the morning now
It must be time for me to go
That said in poor taste, in sour regret
While silently walking away at frantic speed – without reasons
Just like trying to write a poem under anesthesia

nik anastasiadis (Sacramento, CA, 1984)

April 20, 2011

Kay Ryan, 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Kay Ryan (San Jose, CA, 1945), former U.S. poet laureate, recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, and author of several collections of poetry, won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, published by Grove Press.

The Pulitzer citation calls the book "a body of work spanning 45 years, witty, rebellious and yet tender, a treasure trove of an iconoclastic and joyful mind."

Finalists in the poetry category also included The Common Man, by Maurice Manning (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and Break the Glass, by Jean Valentine (Copper Canyon Press).

Further reading:

The 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners. Poetry (

Kay Ryan, The Art of Poetry No. 94 (The Paris Review)

Kay Ryan, Outsider With Sly Style, Named Poet Laureate (The New York Times)

Stealthy Insights Amid Short Phrases (The New York Times)

Poet Kay Ryan On Words, Writing (NPR)

Poems that turn ordinary things grand (SFGate)

Catching Up with Kay Ryan, Poet Laureate, at the National Book Festival (The Washington Post)

Kay Ryan at the Poetry Foundation,, The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Library of Congress

April 14, 2011

young poests wanted

YAP welcomes submissions by poets born on or after july 20, 1972, from all 50 states, the district of columbia, puerto rico and all territories of the united states of america. send two to six unpublished poems written in English, bound in the e-mail body or as an attached document. our reading period for 2011 extends through december 15.

read our guidelines here!

Young American Poets
A blog and online journal devoted to
New American Poetry by America's New Poets

April 12, 2011

on the historical accuracy of your biopic

As much as you try to forget me
Burning letters, pictures,
Turning the common ground of our memories
Into scorched earth

You just can't erase me from your past
Have no doubt, princess
I'll be the stain you can't get rid of
Researchers, historians -- they will find me

I may not become a paragraph
Maybe not even a line
But at the very least
I'll be a footnote in your biography

Then it will be a question of time

Just let some lame script writer
In need of flesh, drama
For your otherwise uneventful biopic
And there you have me, handsome as ever

Haunting you on the screen
Seducing you
Being the most good-looking
And biggest mistake you ever made

jonathan rothko (St. Louis, MO, 1975)

April 11, 2011


Here is John, right after sushi class
The second in a series of three lessons
For beginners

He is walking down the street, happy as ever,
Carrying a plastic plate filled with sushi rolls he has just fixed himself
It's 9:36 PM

Here is John, happy as ever, carelessly crossing the almost empty street
His eyes fixed in the fresh sushi, wondering
How to tell apart the vegetarian rolls he specially made for his girlfriend
Not noticing the speeding car about to thrust him and the plastic plate
High in the air

He is gracefully elevated from the ground
He is bruised, bitten and pushed by the cold metal
Maki rolls fly without loosing a grain of rice
Which is of course a clear sign of John's fast acquired ability

He hits the ground

The car is gone, the street is again silent
One of John's sushi rolls lands gently on the lap
Of a homeless man sitting on a bench nearby
Reading an old newspaper
He looks at the well-crafted salmon piece with suspicion
And tries it, chewing slowly
His face turns into a big eeewww
He spits all over the place, cursing God in colorful manner

Meanwhile, John is laying on the street
Still figuring out how to tell apart the vegetarian rolls
He specially made for his girlfriend, and he smiles
He has two, three convulsions
And dies

cindy ortemann (New York, NY, 1979)

April 9, 2011

Boston Review's Annual Poetry Contest

The Fourteenth Annual Poetry Contest organized by the Boston Review is now accepting online and mail submissions through June 1, 2011, of up to five unpublished poems and no more than ten pages total. Any poet writing in English is eligible, except current and former students, relatives, or close personal friends of the judge, Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun. The winner will be announced no later than November 1, 2011, on the Boston Review web site. Read the full competition rules here.

Postmark deadline: June 1, 2011

Entry fee: $20.00

Prize: $1,500, work published in the November/December 2011 issue of Boston Review

Further reading:

Poetry at the Boston Review

April 8, 2011


A navel veil,

             A grave Nile,

A vile vale unveils.




Leaving gangs rave.

              Engrave alive

A gun avails.

Evils lie,

               Giving leave






Level silver,

           Leaving leas,

Salvia vessels revel

           Grieving selves.

max brodsky (Denver, CO, 1989)

April 7, 2011

nos saves the world

obsessed with Frank Black
passing around his Hellraiser
puzzle box
neglecting to tell us
he's superglued it

mercyrain (Mystic, CT, 1975)

April 6, 2011


Be here, listen to me now:
Joe slept in, Joe's locked out; moss
Rocks gather it whether rolling or not
Don't need to be a goddamn Dane prince
To know something smells like shit in here

Weekend escapades for the few chosen ones
Bargains for a weakened, glossy heart
Lawyers and accountants on RVs filled
With champagne, pills, 16-year-olds
Playing the GFE, fighting the gag reflex
Cruising cross country, they analyze
Pros and cons of the self-sufficient holiday
In Lake SOB, Fucker Valley and a thousand destinations
For the enthusiastic policy maker who enjoys some time off
Out in the wild, having fun in the rip-opened ass of America

So yeah, let's have our very own TED Talk
Let's discuss double penetrations
Strap-on gang bangs
Tranny orgies, gay bukkakes
What are you waiting for?

Let's discuss asphyxia, double standards
Stained moral values and a million dollars in twenties
Because a CEO position at an NGO does pay, My Deareast
And all of us should have listened to mom
(All of us should have listened to mom, or have we?)

Don't just take every word they say for reals
'Bout the Wall Street crooks who ruined this country
You may experiment, throughout this process
And while effects last
Awkward feelings of happiness, euphoria

Real is what is not
Then, you shovel us for good
Make do without a name
Make do without a home
Be content and calm
Resting assure there will be no such thing as a revolution
Resting assure there will be no end
No pure forgiveness
No hugs

Never, ever forget
The lost triumphs
And gorgeous wounds

The ghostly memories
And the vicious road ahead

erik ivan clayton (Oklahoma City, OK, 1976)

April 4, 2011

heart in a foxhole

there are times when I can't
feel my heart beating inside my chest.
it seems that the blood in my veins
backs up like a city-wide traffic jam
filled with blaring horns and red-faced
motorists in a rush to get

I listen, but there is no sound of the
constant thump thump.
it's one thing to lose your keys.
not even a reason to panic when you
lose your mind.
you can go on perfectly content being crazy.
but this dead feeling between my ribs
sends me searching.
I pull myself apart like a Cronenberg
scene spilling a cluttered mess of me
to the floor.

I have a lot more guts than I thought.
but where the hell is that fickle,
bastard heart of mine?
maybe it is my mind I've lost.
I start rummaging through the inside of
my whiskey-coated shell until finally,
tucked away between the aching
bones of my spine, I find that
barely beating mass of muscle.
hiding like a chicken-shit from the
battlefields of

but it's about time it started pulling
its weight around here.
my liver has handled sorrow for too long
and my dick is tired of dealing with love.
so I pull its cowardly, beating ass from
the foxhole of my spine and
throw him to the front-line.
face the blitzkrieg.
take a few bullets and
shards of shrapnel.
collect scars.
lose fights.
lose it all and
die bleeding with a smile on
your face knowing you lived.

dale wilsey jr. (Tunkhannock, PA, 1984)

April 3, 2011

all poets are failed poets

"As a young editor, Robert Giroux once asked T. S. Eliot whether all editors were not failed poets. "All poets are failed poets," said Eliot. And he was Eliot. To have your work published is nice, of course, but in my experience it takes more than a story or poem to make a nobody feel like a somebody. The world is full of published writers who suspect they're amateur clowns."

lorin stein (Washington, DC, 1973), excerpt from 'The Murakami Landscape; Your Inner Clown', published in Ask The Paris Review, the Paris Review Daily blog, April 1, 2011

Further reading:

Lorin Stein, the Paris Review’s New Party Boy (The New York Times)

349 Minutes With Lorin Stein (New York Magazine)

The Q&A: Lorin Stein, editor (The Economist's More Intelligent Life)

April 1, 2011

not the sunday family movie night

See the red trampoline tongue
Shaggy DA
How many comedies
are made
out of unexpected
when there is a pink
thong on a teen boy
who knows he is a girl
who just has too much of
Too absent of...
He/she twirls knowing
they will be a lawyer:
Special Victims Unit
or a Vet
for little cats
homely dogs
The unclear sex
of the un-prodded rabbit

jessie carty (Portsmouth, VA, 1975)

March 29, 2011


There are crumbles here and there
Even when you move
Crumbles follow you everywhere
And as I take my chances and make a wild guess
I might as well believe your very own crumbles still rattle
In DC, LA, Portland or somewhere

I've resisted ants, unemployment, my parents' divorce
I'm not gonna worry about you

Special and talented were always other people
And yet it was you all along

Whose story will be told in the aftermath?
Winners only tell lovely lies

I am unhappy
As in confused
Longing for the days we sat together
In the same table
Living in the same rented apartment
Riding on the same buses
Cruising the city in our color matching bicycles
Fighting each other to see who could get there first
And neither of us did

You got it all sorted out
I'm still collecting rusty old pieces
Useless, cracked and fallen pieces
What is usually known as detritus

Our very own

scott guglielmone (Jacksonville, FL, 1981)

March 28, 2011

it's great to be alive

I lived with my father
sometimes. A cocaine dealer lived
under us, on the second of three
floors. I met him a million

times but never caught the name.
I heard his stereo
through the floor. His ex
dropped his daughter

off every other weekend.
Tattoos on her clavicle.
She was tan. I walked past a stroller
to the third floor.

When he took a girl home,
I’d hear it
until the morning. It wasn’t his fault
Summer was hot. I left the windows open.

I smoked cigarettes
with him in December.
We were snowed
in often. We have good, loud lungs.

When he had sex
it was so loud, my dresser
shook, my cologne
fell. I’ve been so tired. I’d sleep in
like him

if I could. One night, hot August,
I went out for a smoke. A pretty girl
from my high school
came on the stoop. She hugged.

I smiled. She blushed.
Half Asian half Hispanic, both
or neither,
we talked

for some time. I didn’t realize
what she was doing, where
we were. I was with her. She
walked in to his place. Cologne fell

off my nightstand.
I can still hear
her orgasm,
it echoes

off brick and concrete, off
the hydrant, she flutters
through my window curtains.
I hold my sheets.

dylan tyler forsyth (Lowell, MA, 1988)

March 26, 2011

forgetting the finale

I looked, found screen windows,
dug trails with pruned semen
and sweat fingertips,
from forehead to chin
smiled coyly, muttered confessions to the moon
"my lovely, lovely lover of molten and sulfur"

paced used bedroom of another,
quilted patterns with rabid teeth, looked wall length mirror in quicksilver eye
filled fluster in spilled V patterns
ignored supposed red pill, blue pill philosophy
catered summer leaves to form mask
rain scrubbed
the thousand portal dusty bubble hail screen clean
beer with a hand attached not so much
a vice
as a

matthew wedlock (Taunton, MA, 1984)

March 23, 2011

the stowaways

come stow away with me
forget about the money
think instead of the Odyssey
and how different it would be
to read Homer while at sea

let's go so far from home
we won't have to pay
our student loans

two sailors we shall be!
you can whittle
while I wrestle
with antiquated verse
I'll learn to write

with ample time
to contemplate rhyme
we'll solve the riddle

we've made our life
like smashed up clay
we just need air and light
we'll take what's left
and mold it how we like

let's leave tonight
we have what it takes
to make it right

marit rogne (Ann Arbor, MI, 1987)

March 22, 2011

psalm two

I don't need a chin to rest upon this clenched fist.

I don't need fists to blindly pound the earth, or sky.

I don't need earth to tell where this body has been
or sky to remember where it has not.

john sibley williams (Wilmington, MA, 1978)

March 18, 2011

two girls

Two girls sent to their grandfather's farm
Two girls warned not to speak for fear that they be harmed
Two girls surrounded by Shabab in camouflage and arms
Two girls ordered to speak, standing arm in arm
Two girls called spies, their eyes wide with alarm
Two girls who made it to the evening news but never to the farm

fatima elkabti (La Mirada, CA, 1988)

March 15, 2011


His kisses like
A stallion's breath on my neck
I shiver and my eyelids fall

His fingers like
A spider's step on my back
I shiver and swallow a chill

His gaze not piercing but
A boy that begs to bond
Not bite

But the bites
On my breast
Show the nature
Of the beast

His crooked smile
Like a cub in trouble
Hides the lion
That roars inside

claire audrey gallagher (Fresno, CA, 1991)

March 14, 2011


So often
the setting is the home of my childhood.
The garage, full of multiplying and subtracting cats,
the yellow-and-orange-streaked linoleum of the kitchen, the lava
of my boyhood games,
the windowless den. When I picture that room,
it is only lit by the shaky glow of the television.
It is a museum alive
with memories that breathe and laugh softly,
of items and objects
long ago lost or left behind,
of things just of out sight or
off the edges of old photographs.
The characters
are so often out of place,
think Holden Caulfield
in fair Verona
or Huck Finn in Revolutionary France.
It is as if a passenger train on a time-lined track
had its cars rearranged at random,
the giants of my life, strangers to each other,
introduced and allowed
to mingle.
My lover stands with me at the cool glass of the front door,
his arms around a former version of myself.
I can smell the Windex
my mother cleaned with,
can smell the Christmas trees
from those young Decembers.
We look, together, at the neighborhood he never knew
as he holds this cloudy-eyed boy
who thinks nothing
of a lifetime condensed, strained,
the things most loved,

bryan borland (Little Rock, AR, 1979)

March 10, 2011

three more haikus

crushed between pages of a book
flat, dead
a mosquito

* * *

you coming to my doorsteps
knock, smile, spring
seems rather unlikely

* * *

at Whole Foods today,
sad and lonely,
organic tomatoes cry

felicity johnson-clark (Silver Spring, MD, 1982)

March 7, 2011

love as a dead horse

A Three Act Romance in Reverse

In which he plays an asshole, and she plays a cunt,
and they both say "I love you."

In the months after she leaves,
he drags their bed into the mountains,
Where it finally dies.
He sleeps on the ground next to it
And dreams of her laughing on a cold beach.
When he wakes up he is cradling a ghost,
With no idea where he is.
He sees the bed and remembers,
Lays back in the leaves.
The mice have moved into the cobwebbed space between his ribs,
And he lays there,
Sprawled on the ground,
Listening to them root around in the unfixable darkness.
He can feel his heart,
Even from so far away,
Crashing and pounding in her bedside drawer.

She barely eats.
Wakes up crying and doesn’t know whether it is for herself, or for him.
She tries to think only of the bad times.
Buys an expensive vase so she will have something to smash when the time comes.
She gets drunk,
Sits in the cellar and looks at the unplugged phone the way a killer looks at beauty.
She feels awful.
Thinks to herself, “This is the worst death I have ever died.”
He was loving even as she stuck the knife in,
Kind even as she broke off the blade.
He kissed her face even as she reached for the salt.

In which he plays a wounded dog, and she plays a brick wall.

Their bed has become a landlocked ship shorn of its bones for firewood.
Their bed has become a broken-hearted tree left last in a clearcut graveyard.
Their bed has become a blue whale with a broken back.

When night comes in like a bruise,
They board the bed like a gallows,
Brush lips as a politeness,
And make their backs into mirrors until morning.

That their feet form a bridge between their bodies is the sole evidence of the old tenderness.

God sits watching in the corner, saying nothing.

In which he plays sunlight and she plays strawberries.

Their first conversation takes place on the rim of a wineglass,
In a patch of sunflowers the size of streetlamps.
His jokes are stupid.
Her laughter is enchanting.
Under the microscope, it has all the building blocks of proper chemistry.
The bird has already been carved into her forearm with the razor blade,
And his wreckage has already washed up on too many shores.
But their old wounds are not enough to keep them from risking new ones.

When they undress each other for the first time,
It is a holy fire.
There is chest-catching grace
In their act of laying themselves bare;
In their offering of what they have;
In the simple fearlessness of choosing to love,
Despite the knowledge that sorrow, and grief, and terror
also exist.
They revel in the powerful joy of their naked alchemy
In reducing the world to a room, a word, a touch.

Their bed is a smiling horse.
Their bed is a full belly.
Their bed is a kingdom, lacking nothing,
More than worth all that is to come.

shimmy boyle (San Francisco, CA, 1983)

March 4, 2011


It rained night we met.
Long walks parks.
Sparked, jokes.
Life story
and how your father,
Characteristics, personalities admired.
Realization wanted life intermingle.
For long time, maybe
until couldn't stand anymore.
So time move usually does.
Introduced to loved ones.
Your lady.
I happy.
Somehow I felt you were leaving out important details.
I shrugged it off because our conversations were always full.
Demanded attention and time.
Hickies when I went away.
Trips couldn't keep apart,
bills sky high,
wait planes land,
in your arms again.
Arms felt like bed.
Bed felt like home.
You laid me on your shoulder and told me to get comfortable because
I'd be here for a while.
Despite my fear you assured me that arms were bed,
And bed was home.

rebekah wilson (Jamaica, NY, 1988)

March 1, 2011


I stood behind Melissa Maroon,
stared at her budding curves,
bright pink bathing suit,
sun-kissed legs that climbed
step by step to the top of the dive.
She smiled at her giggling girlfriends,
pinched her nose, made little splash.
Even while flopping into water,
surfacing with damp hair,
she made me blush.

When my turn came, my teeth chattered,
my weak heart sunk.
Melissa shouted, Go, Bri Go!
How did she know my name?

My dive had to be just right,
a perfect splash, high fives from the guys.
Then maybe she’d see beyond
my chicken arms, chicken legs,
zits dotting my nose,
bony hips barely holding my bathing suit.

I clenched my fists, closed my eyes,
bounced once, jumped off.
Water stung my belly, burned my eyes.
I pushed my body out of the pool,
collapsed next to Melissa’s giggling girlfriends.
She glared at them, walked over to me, and said,
That was the best belly flop I’ve ever seen!

I gave my towel back to her,
strutted to the ladder for another chance.
I forgot about my bony hips,
bony arms, bony legs.
This time I performed a dive perfect enough
to earn a peck on the cheek from Melissa,
a high-five from all the guys.

brian fanelli (Scranton, PA, 1984)

February 23, 2011

Young American Poets: now open for submissions!

ok, we admit it: our winter break stretched way beyond our plans. but hey, we've said before we consider slackerism as one of the fine arts! Anyway, YAP is back, again. This marks the beginning of our fourth year online and we'd like to thank once again our readers, the poets who have contributed to our site, fellow bloggers and editors, friends and families who support us and make this project happen.

and we do promise the huge pile of unread e-mails in our inbox will be sorted out asap. thank you for your patience!

Read our guidelines!

Read our poetry!

The Young American Poets team