Posts Categorized: Poetry

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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.

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Online Feature: “Doom is the House without the Door” by Jennifer Chang

More than once you wanted me to die.
I kicked the door until its hinges popped.

I collapsed in particle board dust.
I am a sort of door: I know how to swing open

and slam shut. I know how to lock.
You want the house. You want the last crumb

of soul I have left, but I don’t die. I don’t have a body.
I have an elm, fracturing limb by furious limb.

Our tornado summer. My weekly storm,
the heretic assailing the saint.

To swing open: 98º in the barn shade.
To slam shut: you sleep through my glory,

this dawn-constructed confession. To lock:
I do not know. I do not know how

to fill the smallest rooms. Once the sky
could forestall the revelation of the future,

but now I am an orchard forsaken. Ardent.
Ungovernable. Dead branch, fruitlessness, reach

for what I cannot. Not who you were or are,
but who you wanted to be. A wise thing

growing wiser. Ageless heart. To want
was the first survival. To be, the last.

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This poem appeared in Indiana Review 34.2, Winter 2012. 

Emily Corwin (Poetry Editor):  “Doom Is the House without the Door” gorgeously navigates the dissolve of a relationship and its aftermath. Like the repeated imagery of doors in the poem, Chang’s speaker hinges and stops, back and forth, ever reeling towards this feeling of disaster, loss, a storm to be survived.

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Jennifer Chang is the author of two books of poetry, The History jennifer-changof Anonymity and Some Say the Lark, which will be published by Alice James Books in October 2017. Her recent work has appeared in American Poetry Review, A Public Space, Orion, Narrative, and Poetry. She is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at George Washington University and lives in Washington, DC.

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Microreview: Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib’s The Crown Ain’t Worth Much

The Crown Ain’t Worth Much by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib (Button Poetry, 2016)

I don’t want to imagine how many strangled nights Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib spent thrashing inside the belly of death to give us The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, but I am immensely grateful he survived them with a soul as expansive and rich as found in this debut collection of poetry. This collection carries a fierce duende, a juggernaut unafraid to tie your body “to a truck in east texas” and drag it “through that jagged metal holy land so you can meet god clean”. The Crown Ain’t Worth Much is not so much a book you read, but one you survive—with Willis-Abdurraqib’s compassionate, elegiac lyric gently pushing you forward through heartbreak and violence.

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Ross Gay Reads “His Father’s Wake” by Alicia Wright

As part of the 2016 Poetry Prize winner package, Ross Gay reads Alicia Wright’s winning poem “His Father’s Wake” on our Bluecast here. 

Here’s what judge Camille Rankine says about the winning poem: “What strikes me first about ‘His Father’s Wake’ is the unmoored energy of it. The phrases drift and crash into one another. They collide, they ricochet and spin away. These movements make a voice that is both wild and deliberate, steady and reckless in turn. The effect is captivating. I feel each shift and slow and quickening in my breath, in my heart’s beat.”

Listen to Alicia Wright read her poem here.