Posts By: Anna Cabe

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IR Staff Tells All: Poetry Collections We’re Thankful For

IR is proud to be partnering again with IU Press to award our second annual Blue Light Books Prize, this time to an outstanding poetry collection! Submissions open December 1, 2016. Check out our guidelines for more details.

In preparation for Blue Light Books submissions, IR staff and MFA students in the Indiana University Creative Writing Program reflected on the poetry collections they’re most thankful for this holiday season. Think of these collections as our blue lights through clouded times.

Be sure to check out our Blue Light Books Prize tableau on our Instagram page.

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Online Feature: “Dwellings” by Linda Hogan

Not far from where I live is a hill that was cut into by the moving water of a creek. Eroded this way, all that’s left of it is a broken wall of earth that contains old roots and pebbles woven together and exposed. Seen from a distance, it is only a rise of raw earth. But up close it is something wonderful, a small cliff dwelling that looks almost as intricate and well-made as those the Anasazi left behind when they vanished mysteriously centuries ago. This hill is a place that could be the starry skies of night turned inward into the thousand round holes where solitary bees have lived and died. It is a hill of tunneling rooms. At the mouths of some of the excavations, half-circles of clay beetle out like awnings shading a doorway. It is earth that was turned to clay in the mouths of the bees and spit out as they mined deeper into their dwelling places.

This place where the bees reside is at an angle safe from rain. It faces the southern sun. It is a warm and intelligent architecture of memory, learned by whatever memory lives in the blood. Many of the holes still contain the gold husks of dead bees, their faces dry and gone, their flat eyes gazing out from death’s land toward the other uninhabited half of the hill that is across the creek from these catacombs.

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Online Feature: “Railway” by Mai Nardone

We’ve gathered at the railway.

Our nerve endings have faded, the gamut of our sensations become just two poles, yes or no: Can you feel that?

No. Not much anymore, said while testing a point against the pillow of thumb, of palm, against corded wrists. Glass to skin. Needle to skin. The way flesh puckers before it’s punctured. But nothing coursing beneath it: a riverbed of fissured earth.

We’re waiting on the tracks that skirt Bangkok. The rhythm on the rails is a heartbeat and it pummels through us. We lay on the ground to better catch the pounding, the low moan of a horn. We stand with backs stretched, shudder pleasantly like a man urinating. We hum train songs, skip on the crossties, stack gravel into mausoleums for diminutive kings. We are listless, parched, and waiting for the arrival, finally, of a man who comes tripping across the dawn expanse. Distant roosters rouse the moment. A nursery rhyme ripples through us:

Make way! Give way! How many birds can we feed today?

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IR Staff Tells All: Our Favorite Scary Stories

To celebrate Halloween, Indiana Review senior editors shared what stories, poems, and novels cause shivers down our spines. If you’re wanting a spooky evening in tonight, why not check out our recommendations?

Be sure, too, to see our literary Halloween tableau on our Instagram page.

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Online Feature: “Trespass” by Stacy Gnall

               for my mother

Once

  when you could still smell the green on me

back when your looking old was new

we ran to the dark churchyard
           and under God’s empty bell.

The dimmed silver held us in its huddle.

Its walls refused
     the lawn’s stichic hieroglyphics.

It was colder than moon.

Together we pushed its great weight up
     but nothing.

Its round rim could only mouth mother
                to the night.

A lark then.
        An absent cloud.

The bell with its tonsil out.

  The three of us unable to make a sound.

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This poem appeared in Indiana Review 31.1, Summer 2009. 

Emily Corwin (Poetry Editor):  I have always loved the attention to music and the fresh imagery in Stacy Gnall’s work, particularly in “Trespass.” This poem embodies Gnall’s magic, the spell-like quality of lines such as “It was colder than moon/…Its round rim could only mouth mother to the night.” There is such tenderness in this poem, tenderness beneath the dark churchyard and God’s empty bell—a closeness with the mother, for whom the poem is dedicated, the mother who trespasses in the churchyard, who raises the bell with her daughter.

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Stacy Gnall is the author of Heart First into the Foreststacy%20headshot%20bw (Alice James Books, 2011). She holds a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Southern California and is also a graduate of the University of Alabama’s MFA program in Creative Writing and Sarah Lawrence College. Her most recent poems are either published or forthcoming from Colorado Review, New American WritingCrazyhorse, and Another Chicago Magazine.