Volume 109, Number 1/2

Volume 109, Number 1/2

pl10912-lg Every landing
comes as a relief, the platform trembling
beneath my feet….

—Carrie Shipers

Cover Caption: Selection from “Back somersault,” Eadweard Muybridge, 1881. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

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Editors’ Page

In a sequence of nine still shots on our cover, a man launches himself backwards, makes an arc of his own body, turns 360 degrees in the air before landing and standing straight again. With Eadweard Muybridge’s invention of sequential photography in 1878, change became an element within the captured image: all at once, in two dimensions, a horse could trot, a couple waltz, a gymnast somersault through space.

Since its beginnings in 1889, Poet Lore has welcomed poetic sequences, verse narratives, and long dramatic forms—publishing entire plays in translation by Ibsen, Strindberg, “Tchekkof,” and other world writers when their names were still new to American readers. Section by section, scene by scene, such works take shape the way mosaic murals do, each discrete part necessary to a larger whole.

This year, as we celebrate Poet Lore’s 125th anniversary, we honor the tradition by presenting three remarkable and markedly different sequences: “Elegies for the Fallen” by Christopher Presfield, a decades-long odyssey through the American prison system; “Broken Open” by Martha Collins, a 31-day meditation on both global and intimate concerns; and “I Was at One Time Close to Home” by Sherod Santos, a nine-part observation of grief and reorientation.

Our issue begins with a portfolio of poems by U Tin Moe of Myanmar—featured with the conviction that poetry is a universal language and should be shared, however arduous the challenge of translation—and ends with an essay on Muriel Rukeyser, an interview with Chinese poet Xue Di, and engaging reviews of four new books of poetry.

Mindful of Poet Lore’s historic contributions and eager to sustain them, we’re proud to offer such diversity within a single issue—each poem and sequence, translation, essay, interview, and review part of a larger context that may suggest an image of our own changing times.

Maybe it’s the plight of every generation to find its own moment baffling, to struggle for purchase on events as they unfold. How do we navigate the motion of history? How do we land on our feet without stumbling? As U Tin Moe wrote on the last night of the last century: “tomorrow will become today / a tale of new visions /a story of all things….”


World Poets in Translation

U Tin Moe (Myanmar)
Introduction by Christopher Merrill
Boat without a Destination
Chicken in a Coop
Years of Failure
28: I’ll sleep on the rock
29: In the shadow of a bamboo grove
41: Human look-alikes
44: Worshipping the Buddha on Christmas Eve
46: Unknown destination
51: The monsoon is here
52: The century bird

Dian Duchin
Reed Your Ghost

Christopher Presfield
Elegies for the Fallen

Sid Gold
Ten More

Dawn Diez Willis
Imagining History & Aliens

Meredith Kunsa

Jason Tandon
The Actual World

Dorothy Brooks
Digging to China

John Bargowski
Queen for a Day

Janice Lynch Schuster
Axe Grinding

José Angel Araguz

Ginny Wiehardt
Demential Episode Featuring Birds

Catherine Freeling
The Kidney Class

Jason Schossler

Christopher Goodrich
On Death, with Mayzie, Age 4

Marc Hudson
My God Once Gazed at Me

Ann Lynn
Social Security

Ann Lynn
Graduation Day

Todd Davis
Poem Made of Sadness and Water

David Ebenbach

Jay Griswold
Anecdotes of the Dogfish

Philip Fried
In Triplicate

John Bargowski
Living Together

Paula Finn
What Gives You Away as Rich in Mzuzu

Tom Chandler
Even Then

Indran Amirthanayagam
A Conversation from Everywhere

Greg McBride

Brad Johnson
Summer’s Thousand Appetites

Barbara Buckman Strasko
Trees Die Standing Up

Sudie Nostrand
[Those two men]

Sudie Nostrand
[That bird in the oak]

Mark Belair
The Garage

Dorian Kotsiopoulos

Paula C. Lowe
For James at Sally Loo’s

Colette Inez
Ken Dubin’s Field of All Possibility
Ken Dubin, The Field of All Possibility, 15” x 9.5” , acrylic, oil crayon, wax, on paper, mounted to canvas, 2004

Martha Collins
Broken Open

Elaine Fletcher Chapman
Traveling through Onley

Jeanne Wagner
Niagara River Honeymoon

Glenn Morazzini
Litany: Who

Chuck Tripi
Cold Stream Beer and Ice

Jia Oak Baker
Puppet Tragedy of the Gods, No. 46

Barbara Boches
Summer Job, Florida

Mary Anne Morefield
But Those Were Wood Ash

June Frankland Baker
During the Downpour, at the Pond

Sally Lipton Derringer

Lee Rossi

Sherod Santos
I Was at One Time Close to Home

Keith Dunlap
The Longest Day of the Year

Carrie Shipers
Self-Portrait as Aerialist

Patrick Ryan Frank
Stunt Man

Patrick Ryan Frank
Body Double


Dara Barnat
“Finding Muriel”


Alexandria Sheng Interviews Xue Di


James Scruton “Whys Guy”
Child Made of Sand by Thomas Lux

Julie Swarstad Johnson “What Comes Back: Two First Books by Poet Lore Poets”
Salt Pier by Dore Kiesselbach
Instructions for My Mother’s Funeral by Laura Read

Bob Blair “What’s Hidden Would Like to Be Known”
The Most Natural Thing by David Keplinger

Index: Volume 108, 1-4