Posts Categorized: Poetry

Vievee Francis: Coming to the “I”

Vievee at breakfast with IR staff and friends in Bloomington this past April

Vievee Francis is one of those poets who is often described as ‘visionary.’ Her poetry is deep and rich and so strong, and as a fiction writer I feel pretty inadequate trying to describe it. I was amazed to discover, when I sat down and spoke with Vievee in Bloomington (when she was in town for the 2nd Annual Blue Light Reading this past spring), that her voice in conversation is as complex, thoughtful, and passionate as it is in her poetry. You can hear the audio of our interview on The Bluecast page (forthcoming!), or read it below.


Vievee Francis: My name is Vievee Francis, I’m a poet, I live in the city of Hamtrammack, which is a small town—2.2 square miles—in Michigan, completely surrounded by the city of Detroit.

Rachel Lyon: Your poems have a distinct relationship to both city and a rural or country sort of landscape. Can you talk about landscape in your poetry a little?

VF: Landscape plays a strong role in my poetry. I’m from Texas originally—from West Texas, but I’ve also lived in East Texas off and on through my early childhood—but then, I’ve lived in cities as well—Atlanta, Detroit. And I think the play, back and forth, between the rustic and the urban, as well as what is Southwestern or Southern and what is Northern, those are always being juxtaposed in my work.

Read more…

Announcing Our 2012 Poetry Prize Winner & Runners-Up!

2012 Indiana Review Poetry Prize Winner

“The Sublime”

Joshua Gottlieb-Miller

Houston, TX



Missy-Marie Montgomery

Springfield, MA

“Visiting Seattle”

Hannah Oberman-Breindel

Madison, WI

A big congratulations to Joshua Gottlieb-Miller, the winner of IR’s 2012 Poetry Prize, and our runners-up, Missy-Marie Montgomery and Hannah Oberman-Breindel!

“The Sublime” will appear in Indiana Review issue 34.2, due out this winter. Of the winning poem, Dean Young, our final judge, writes, “A beguiling and ambitious poem, ‘The Sublime’ combines a meditative calm with an imaginative sprawl to give a sharp and poignant sense of the instability and absurdity of this dear life.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Many thanks to all who participated. Your support helped make this year’s Indiana Review Poetry Prize a success!

Spring Has Sprung, So Has Young

The deadline for our 2012 Poetry Prize with guest judge Dean Young is fast approaching! Make sure you get your submission in by midnight (or postmarked) on Saturday, March 31st. There’s no going wrong with this entry–for $20 you have a chance to win $1000 in our prize, appear in our next issue (even if you don’t win, your work is still considered!) and get a subscription to the one and only Indiana Review.

You can find submission details here. We can’t wait to read your work!

A graduate of our MFA program here at Indiana University, Dean Young released his most recent collection of poems titled Fall Higher. His numerous books of poetry include Elegy on Toy Piano (2005), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Skid (2002), a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize He has received a Stegner fellowship from Stanford University, as well as fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Young’s awards also include an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His poems have appeared seven times in The Best American Poetry series. Young has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, in the low-residency M.F.A. program at Warren Wilson College, and at Loyola University, in Chicago. He is currently the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas, in Austin.

 Photo courtesy the Poetry Foundation

And all the poetry people said “Amen”

At an editor’s meeting a few weeks ago, I found myself struggling.

There was a particular poem I just loved—when I read it, a sucker-punch wave washed over me and I knew I wanted it in the journal. But why do you like it, a colleague asked, what exactly does it mean here, another chimed in, and while I could point to several details and had a decent grounding within the piece, I couldn’t put my finger on it, exactly. But I wanted to return to it again and again—to me the poem was mesmerizing.

This got me thinking about what we look for in poems, and what a poem sets out to do. This is not a post to expound on the wonders of elliptical poetry, or even to say that I don’t look for meaning in poems—I definitely do. But I think that poetry has an intangible quality that works in a more mysterious way. The other night reading Poetry, I came across “One Whole Voice,” a commentary on faith written by a collection of writers. In the first section Jericho Brown talks about poetry and prayer, stating that poems “ask us not to understand in the same way that we often find ourselves not comprehending the possibility of a God in this world.”

We may not be able to fully comprehend a poem or the divine, but would he be God, would a poem be a poem, if we understood perfectly? He continues, “I’ve never believed that what attracts us to poems is knowing what’s going on in them. As a matter of fact, I think just the opposite. Maybe that’s the problem people have with poetry. That’s not what we’re taught about how words can be used. I do want poems to have meaning, but I also think that having meaning isn’t the end of the conversation about poetry—or about faith.”

And when I read a really good poem, it does require a little faith. To see it as something a little sublime, and to revel in it. If that’s the case, maybe to even say ‘amen.’

Poetry Magazine, February 2012

Inside IR: Meet the Editors

As you might imagine, Indiana Review‘s poetry editor is a busy, busy woman, but Cate Lycurgus takes a moment to speak in exclamation points and spread a little literary love.

Where are you from?

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and did my undergraduate degree there. I miss the sun and the ocean and the tart frozen yogurt!

Favorite issue of IR?

33.2 because it’s here! And because it was the first issue that I really remember fighting for poems. There were pieces I felt strongly about, and wanted to see them published.

Fave non-IR journals?

Too many to count! I love Crazyhorse and Pleiades and Hayden’s Ferry. I also can’t get enough of Poetry, and I look forward to it every month. Especially the “Q and A” issue in December. Hearing writers answer questions about craft and about particular poems is such a treat, and I learn more from them than many literature classes and lectures.

What/who is on your reading wishlist right now?

When they come out this spring, Todd Boss’ Pitch and Mike McGriff’s Sequence of the Night. I want to read Kimberly Johnson’s A Metaphorical God, and Juliana Spahr’s Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You. I always want to return to Rilke, to his Duino Elegies. For fiction, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harback, then so much non-fiction: Reza Aslan’s Beyond Fundamentalism, Melissa Coleman’s This Life is in Your Hands, Walter Isaacson’s Benjamin Franklin: An American Life–I want to read that to my dad.

What do you hope to see next for IR?

Previews of poems that will appear in our next issue online and maybe some new online content. While holding a journal comes first in my heart, I appreciate a tasteful website that has inspiring work so I can get a flavor of it through browsing. I want people to see what a stunning journal IR is and to subscribe!