Once there was a god who opened his mouth,
parted his forehead and widened his lips
the whole world opened. The upper lip was the horizon,
and the waterline, walking distance.
Between presence and absence,
he held the void and eternity
in his hands, pulled them open; …


Noah died in his sleep 350 years after the flood, at the ripe old age of 950. Some websites helpfully point out this was 2,006 years after creation, about 3,800 years ago by their count. They say archeologists found the outline of a boat on a mountain in eastern Turkey, proving Noah’s existence. They say people lived longer back then because it was closer to the Garden of Eden and there were fewer things like viruses and cancer. My wife tells me helpfully that Noah didn’t die because he never lived. You know that, right? You know the Torah is a moral guide not a history book. Noah didn’t die but he didn’t speak …


My father stands over the pots
in my house, baking sweet potatoes,
giving me back the taste
of a world where mothers still exist.

His hands slice thin answers
to my questions, laying
them in orderly rows: consequences,
actions, reasons, reactions …


March Poetry Curator Marcela Sulak

Translation Is an Act of Generosity and Passion

Marcela Sulak is the author of several books of poetry, nonfiction, and translation. She directs Bar-Ilan University’s graduate program in creative writing and edits the Ilanot Review.
On this month’s poems, Sulak tells us: “Israel looms large in the world’s imagination as multi-purpose metaphor. I wanted to show some of the variety of people who live here, with a focus on food and environment as a means of preserving ancient communities and as expressions of love and care. I include three women, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, who are rarely translated. The men, a refugee from high tech, and an Israeli of Moroccan descent, represent the complexity of religious and secular tradition and practice, concern for the physical and familial environment, the world we have now and the world to come” …


I am alone, sitting in a restaurant in Jerusalem.
I order a Kanafeh for me and my friend—
who never arrives. The waiter makes a noise when
he puts the dishes on the empty table.

I ask for a cup of tea; I like to amuse the self,
the impatient self, with the presence of things on the table.
The smell of semneh in the Kanafeh is so strong; it tickles my nose
and opens the door for my tongue to taste …


The poem carried her
through time

she lay reading on the balcony
on a sun-wombed border

a chrysanthemum ignited
the garden’s actuality
a well of gravity …


grey desk and chairs lined up.

They’ve gotten my classes     crisscrossed

   sulking here     swallowing the wrong,

      compacted in       the regular classroom.

I belong

   in a seat that calls my name …


Keusch bewahrt,/ In bescheidener Knospe: In downstairs Berlin bars she meets young men
while machines rip the city’s old seams, laying streets open for new phone lines.
Cranes raise their beaks to the winter sky; the city slips daily into new silhouettes.
Winter rain falling onto the roof of the gold-bricked brewery washes coal-smoke
from the air as the U-Bahn one block over rumbles overhead on high rails
and streetcars rattle below across the cobbles. It has been decades …


Just gravity pulling what free
bodies it touches down, and at times
their refusal. Despite this shaking over
the mouth of the trash, a plate
holding its residue. Adherence the new
law of frustration guiding
this moment …


After the Idea of the Flood Recedes | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

in a turbulent dream,
I wake troubled, confused,
a tabby nosing round the sheets…

the market stalls are dressed in meat,
bavetted, boned, ground to links
beady with nut and veg, dusty
with paprika and cheese—the art …


Eros / ion

Carolina Ebeid holds a PhD from the University of Denver and has had fellowships from CantoMundo, the Stadler Center, Lannan Foundation Residency, and the National Endowment of Arts. She teaches at Regis University’s MFA program and helps edit poetry at the Rumpus and Visible Binary


A Seat at the Table

Kylie Fellatly is the author of The Fever Poems. Her visual poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Fence, Poetry Daily, DIAGRAM, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. She has received support from the Vermont Studio Center, and the Juniper Writing Institute …


Disarticulated Map

Rodney Gomez is author of four books, most recently Geographic Tongue, winner of the Pleiades Press Visual Poetry Series, and Arsenal With Praise Song, recipient of the Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for Best Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters …


Gauze Drill

The poem is from Katrina Roberts’ series, “Kennings: a book-length sequence of erasures based on Abingdon’s Interpreter’s Bible.”
Katrina Roberts has published several books of poems including, most recently, LIKENESS. Her graphic work, poems, and visual reviews have appeared in BOMB, Poetry Northwest, the Ilanot Review, and elsewhere …


January Poetry Curator Octavio Quintanilla

Procrastination is Part of the Process of Creativity

Octavio Quintanilla is author of If I Go Missing and former poet laureate of San Antonio, Texas. The founder and director of VersoFrontera, a literature and arts festival, and publisher of Alabrava Press, he also teaches literature and creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake University.
On this month’s poems, he tells us he likes how distinct they are, and how, despite their different aesthetic approaches, a dialogue between them can still be heard. “Rodney Gomez’ map and Carolina Ebeid’s text-assemblage veer into, and evoke, asemic writing; Kylie Gellatly’s found text and Katrina Robert’s erasures activate the page with figuration and abstraction to disrupt (complete) the poetic text. Textually and visually, these poems are mysterious, and they teach me new ways to read” …


Seaside | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Last night I read Lorca in the bathtub
Three candles and an incense lit …


Patty Seyburn

December Curator

Patty Seyburn is the author of five poetry collections and a professor at California State University, Long Beach. She highlights four California-based poets who all graduated from the MFA program at Cal State Long Beach. Seyburn praises, “They all have something to say and don’t fear being vulnerable and revealing something of themselves.”
Watch Seyburn’s full curation note and read her interview …


You direct my eyes
to the yellow door of the bookshop.

Help me when I ask. Don’t just pull me …


What They Said | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

“What are you reading?” she asked,

from behind an orange mask.

In the past, I would have smiled, …


November Poetry Curator Sheila Black | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Sheila Black is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Radium Dream, and co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. The co-founder of Zoeglossia, a non-profit to build community for poets with disabilities, she currently serves as the organization’s part-time executive director.
About the poetry selections: “I’ve been working on Zoeglossia. This community, which began as a mere whisper, has grown to encompass 38 amazing fellows. I’ve taken a homegrown approach and selected poems from friends and colleagues. It was bracing and oddly refreshing to read what they’re working on in their private poetic lives. Wordplay exuberance lifts and charges the long-borne grief of ‘The Palls,’ Saleem Hue Penny’s heart-stopping short sonnet crown. Quinn Gruber’s poised and playful ‘Large Print Poetry’ has that Frank O’Hara city in spring feeling mingled with sharp social commentary. Tonya Suther’s ‘What They Said’ seems to channel with eerie perfection what I believe my own post-Me-too-enraged-for-a-reason inner voice might actually sound like. Jennifer Bartlett rounds it out with ‘From Claire de Lune, A Play.’ This pandemic suite is seamed with the uncertain weathers of our times, the hard bright difficulty of mothering, growing, living, aging and grieving with disability. What are the people around you writing and thinking? These poems feel very immediate and necessary to me. I hope they will for you too” …


The Palls | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Rookie,   this shift blows–still,   wear your tie, though
    in time   you’ll goddamn the   Southside. Lord   knows

I’ve spilled   coffee, ink, blood’s the worst. June’s cursed,
    dead bodies ride the ‘L’,   too broke   to hearse.

Rent-to-Own   funerals. Hand-me-down wakes,
    violate parole, the drama they make:

gravesite / drive-by   hospice room/ hostage site.
    Handcuffs   cut off   handouts: Boy, keep it tight,

stand up straight! Dad’s splintered 2 x 4 screamed.
    More love for   his unit,   than us   we gleaned …


Ritual | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

From curator Stephen Sexton about the poem: “The spookiness of adolescence, small town life, tragedy. Poems like this, of loss and its aftermath, operate on a particular wavelength. As much as they transmit, some otherworldly resonance feeds back. I’ve no reason to think ‘Ritual’ happens in Autumn, but because it’s Autumn, I think of James Wright’s ‘Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio’ when I read it, and that poem’s proud fathers whose “sons grow suicidally beautiful”. Eva Griffin’s is a poem, among other things, of communication, of what is and isn’t said: the Oujia board certainly at the heart of these matters, or mute, concrete as a ledge. I’m haunted, in the best possible way, by the italics, the voices from elsewhere. There are two such voices from the elsewhere of the poem, where the universe, the poems says, is owed three” …


what the women are doing | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

From curator Stephen Sexton about the poem: “In its splendour, this poem negotiates the double identities of woman and mother, the mild pleasures of of wine and popcorn, and everything else with which the body is consolidated and maintained. But the gold-laced wrists are braceleted, the body is, in its gothic elegance, a gibbet, that is to say, the frame on which the female body is publicly witnessed and known. Extending the witchy and incantatory poems of her books The Quick and Pit Lullabies, ‘what the women are doing’ is a subtle, sophisticated poem of intimacy and responsibility” …


Departure from Saline River | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

From curator Stephen Sexton about the poem: “I’m compelled and frightened and full of admiration for this poem which describes the valedictory moments of its character, sent off, we suppose, down the river. Its ritualised violence is all the more striking for the casualness of its presentation and the strange peace of its victim and the attendant choir. The poem echoes the work of Shirley Jackson, of course, and James Tate too, in the mild surrealism of the flamingos curved into question marks. The everyday cruelty of small towns (and big towns too, and nations) is satirised here, and how easily it can be neutered by an idea of tradition. We’ve always been like this, the poem might say, we can’t change now” …


October Poetry Curator Stephen Sexton | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

October Poetry Curator Stephen Sexton

Traffic Feels Like a Moral Test

Stephen Sexton is the author of two poetry collections, If All the World and Love Were Young and Cheryl’s Destinies. He lives in Derry, Northern Ireland and teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University, Belfast. As our October poetry curator for the Poetry Curator Series, Sexton chatted with us in the green room about his favorite snooker player, finding inspiration in Tokyo’s iconic crosswalks, and how his musical curiosity led him to poetry …


In Pasadena | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

From curator Stephen Sexton about the poem: “Andy Eaton’s poems have for me a rare, numinous quality. They feel classic, and agile, philosophical and, in this case, entirely of the body and its fragilities. It’s cartoonish too, in the way the world of childhood is often recalled; of clear, fundamental signs: the wonderful, inviting simile of the open fridge; the glass of milk. There’s a longing to the poem too, of course, that deep, plaintive realisation, between houses and homes, that there is no elsewhere to go to, you’re already there” …


Sneaking Your Dead Body into Mexico | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Let the sky flip and shake off its dust onto your forehead.

There is no time for rites. Every time you slept

the clouds would fill their lungs and hold …


Notes from El Valle Megamart | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Sister Juanita buys cherry flavored
Lip gloss for the girls
Apple bubble gum for the boys
The lord’s prayer
Smells like a fruit stand
Under the summer sun …


Arrival | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

By throat is how we arrived

A cradle in voice

A passion & command

By hands is how we arrived

A touch …


| Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In a race for a tree, one Mexican soccer player almost beat the rain,
only to be met at the tree by lightning. Light, that cold sheet, replacing his blood,
joining with his muscle. His skin bursting into glorious copper …


The Palm Tree Piñata | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

I’m smacking around a piñata shaped like a palm tree. It is southern California, mid-summer. The palm tree piñata is swinging back-and-forth beneath the bright summer sun. It is my birthday. I’m thirty-eight years old. I don’t always act my age, yet I am …


Danger Music | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

  a woman

on the radio
  a cry …


September Poetry Curator Rodney Gomez | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

September Poetry Curator Rodney Gomez

I Want to Get a Sense of My Place in the World

Rodney Gomez is the author of four books, most recently Arsenal With Praise Song, recipient of the Helen C. Smith Memorial Award for Best Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters. He has been awarded fellowships from the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, as well as the de Groot Foundation. A member of the Macondo Writers Workshop, Gomez was the 2020-2021 poet laureate of McAllen, Texas. About his selections: “The poems I curated this month confront the wondrous, painful, and sometimes comical things that happen when creating a sense of place. These poets dwell in the Mexican/US borderlands, and the poems stem from the concerns of the interstitial mind. But the narratives, told in each poet’s unique voice, sound familiar” …


Selections from While Percival Was Falling | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Percival’s song
is an unruly beast
a howling story
I am a defiant


I’ve gone too far
will you sail to the sea
with me
recover the drowned
like last Sunday
when this story
came to ruin us …


This world, along with several other worlds,
can fit into the outside pocket of my backpack
or in a bag from Switzerland procured …


PISI | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

1. n. part, fragment, piece: I watch her slice the peeled calabash gourd into tiny windshields. 2. v. agpisi: to cut up, divide: Bonnet-mouth fish fermenting in a glass jar, blue plastic lid browned with …


August Poetry Editor Connie Voisine | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

August Poetry Curator Connie Voisine

I Developed a Palate That Is Particular and Acute

Connie Voisine is Zócalo’s poetry editor, and the mastermind behind our 2022 Poetry Curator series, which features monthly takeovers of the poetry section by different guest curators. A professor of English at New Mexico State University, where she directs the creative writing program, she is also the author of several books of poems, most recently, The Bower. About her selections: “Lately, I am fascinated by collaborations and adaptations. Muench and White’s collaborative poem seamlessly coordinates between three voices–their voices and Nobel poet Tomas Tranströmer’s. Then, one of my great loves as a poet has been the works of 20th Century Polish poets Miłosz, Szymborska and Herbert and here translator Rosenthal introduces us to Tomasz Różycki, an inheritor of that tradition. Being French Acadian and translating poems from French myself, I am so thankful for Cuello’s translations of French-Canadian poet Tania Langlais’s fresh and dreamy works. Finally, Aldo I. Amparán is a new poet from the place I live now, the US/Mexico border–this is a IRL collaboration, since Aldo will be teaching with me at New Mexico State University. Thanks to August for giving me this summer dip into what I love right now” …


Sierra | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

A writer forgets how to write
when a writer forgets how to see
oneself through words written,
the voice of a poem drives
all night to watch summer
fall into equinox to imagine
how words view the world
where words pique atop
the 35th floor of a hotel
built within a desert crossroad
a collection intersects thought—
occurs on a line, sketched, to begin
to write oneself cannot write
a reflection without water—each end
lines a memory to a momentary pause,
silent whispers escape as caesuras …


CORPUS | KAPAAS | कपास | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Born a hard seed
     I sprouted into a milky clump.
          Cotton boll picked,
               I was carded, warped, spun.

One amongst many, I arrived at the [ ]—
     wound, ready for the weaving.
          The weaver interlaced us tightly—
               his weft silken, glistening …


July Poetry Curator Jennifer Elise Foerster

Marshmallow Fluff on Top of an Ice Cream Was Like a Dream Come True

Jennifer Elise Foerster, who is of German, Dutch, and Muscogee descent, and is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, is the author of three books of poetry, most recently, The Maybe-Bird (2022). She earned her PhD in English and Literary Arts from the University of Denver, is the recipient of a NEA Creative Writing Fellowship and a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford. About her selections: “The poems by these five poets speak with curiosity and meticulous care for the arts we make, which make us human, of clay, gourds, seeds, leaves, the weaving of language, the Mysteries behind words. I hope these poets inspire you as they do me to see the beautiful complexities of what we can be” …


A lint covered clay vessel
hides inside the China cabinet
anxious for her slipware.

Potter’s hands lift her out.
His breath, a rush of wind,
frees her from dust and inertia …


There is no wall, yet
an ocean looms

lace currents, fingers into every inlet,

I’d call it a longer coastline …


From Roldán: “I met Fátima in New York City. Though she has been living outside Colombia for some time, Fátima’s work is well known in Bogotá for the way it speaks from Eros and memory to address the varieties of experience where Colombia’s political and cultural history become manifest. The work I chose for this publication not only reflects that Colombian imaginary, but presents it as the background to an unfolding theater of doubts, fears and defiance in the life of an expatriate” …


From Roldán: “I heard about John’s poetry before I read it or met him. Fittingly, this book-length poem, Diosestiércol, begins with a quote from Antonin Artaud: ‘There where it smells of shit it smells of being,’ which not only directs us to the lingering presence of the author as a miasmic specter, but perhaps to the divine nature of existence itself, as might be found in the pantheism of Baruch Spinoza. There is a search through psychic realms splayed across references to the ancient and the contemporary, in tropical heat and in the dream of seasons, whose surrealist-tinged self-mythologizing suggests the anarchist politics of sincerest punk” …


From Roldán: “I first met Daniela at an independent book fair. Her wide range of activities—directly and indirectly related to poetry as such—are also representative of a contemporary push towards independent publishing that breaks with Colombia’s staid institutional structures, creating spaces for new voices, specifically women’s voices. For example, Mujer Oblicua (Oblique Woman) is not only a chapbook of sensitive, explicitly feminist poems, it is also the name of an ongoing project to highlight the work of other women writers through readings, interviews and other literary events” …


From Roldán: “I first met Sergio at a poetry reading in Bogotá. While his work as a performer is legible within US spoken-word poetry, his main influence comes from cuenterismo, a form of storytelling performance that can be informative, comedic and didactic. The intersection of cuenterismo, paratextual literary mechanisms and political satire in his work—always self-aware and grounded in authentic experiences of everyday life—not only provides insight into the concerns of contemporary Colombian literature, it can also give us new models for how to experiment with form, voice and differing traditions.” …


En el centro del ring gira un círculo más pequeño,
las llantas de un carro que corre solo.
Metemos el mundo en las peleas más sencillas,
invocadas sin matices.

Es increíble que estaríamos de acuerdo
con apostar nuestras vidas
y las vidas que trajimos
a presenciar y girar
en revoluciones más tensas …


June Poetry Curator Camilo Roldán

I Like Dancing Salsa in Downtown Bogotá

Camilo Roldán is a bilingual Colombian American poet and translator born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and currently living in Bogotá, Colombia. He is the author of the poetry collections Dropout (2019) and El último soneto y nos vamos (2021). His translations include María Paz Guerrero’s book God is a Bitch Too (Dios también es una perra) (2020).
We had a chance to chat with him about time traveling, dancing salsa, and what he would say if he met Colombian artist Beatriz González …


like the air ain’t filled with
coarse windchimes
sirens loud as a jet in flight …


My daughter learned to point
in a cemetery.
There were many deaths that year. …


Sundays are for the depressed
dancing in alleys …


greenery overlapping in the poet’s back garden in Jakarta

because do calls this house an ecosystem

where straddling folioles tangle mighty-fisted

along a wire canopy he strung

above the brick-and-pot garden, and city fox

coming like a client for bananas they feed it sunny

and rats on rare occasion, ‘because this is an ecosystem’,

while i’d lie, wide-eyed for a tail out the window

and up there explosions of birdstrain, as though not far there isn’t …


May Poetry Curator Cynthia Dewi Oka

Sailor Moon Was My Childhood Hero

Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of four poetry collections including Fire Is Not a Country (2021) and A Tinderbox in Three Acts, a BOA Editions Blessing the Boats Selection, forthcoming in fall 2022. Currently Poet in Residence at the Amy Clampitt House, she is originally from Bali, Indonesia. About her selections: “These are poets whose works effortlessly join the historical and the timeless. Their voices are singular, faithful to each poet’s relationship to place and time, yet they are united by their nuanced, vigilant attentiveness to the edges of collective experience. Through Khairani Barokka’s imagining of a culturally-specific micro-local ecosystem as refuge, J. Estanislao Lopez’s mourning for the lives we have lost against the grain of back-to-normal imperatives, Cynthia Manick’s questioning of the crisis-as-spectacle news cycle, and Raquel Salas Rivera’s accounting of the hopes, contradictions, and pressures inherent to anti-colonial praxis, we are invited not only to feel, but to extend the breadth of our perception and possibilities in the world” …


At the threshold of the sitting room
On the only stair that separates the door and the floor
The device snapped …


What storm is brewing
With the falling of dead stars
That lie along these alleys of sea foam?

Suicidal waves
Rise and crash …


Hot Stepper at the Gates of Hell | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

who now pleads with the ancestors
seeing with naked eyes the gates of the dead

who now sees the impossibility of life
finding at last the answer to the question

and wonders how it could all be so ugly
if it be under the power of god

and wonders how it could be so petty
despite the promise of colour and glory

now asks of the ancestors
illumination of the path to the end

now despairs with the ancestors
the lack of light before …


April Poetry Curator Patron Henekou | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

April Poetry Curator Patron Henekou

If I Start Playing Football, There Is Nothing Else I Can Do

Patron K. Henekou is a poet, playwright, literary translator, co-founder and director of Festival
International des Lettres et des Arts, and professor of English at Université de Lomé in Lomé,
Togo. He has been a a Fulbright fellow at the University of Nebraska’s creative writing program
and an African American fellow at the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. His recent works include Des cheveux et des ongles (poetry) and Vendredi soir sur la 13 (short stories). About his selections: “These are several sumptuous West African voices that interrogate natural and environmental challenges, resilience, and the sacred. The five poets here wax poetic as they attempt to establish meaningful connections and continuity among countries separated by borders that are themselves relics of colonial violence,” he tells us …


Thousands or Millions of Tiny Dots of Varying Size | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

From Erika Meitner: “I had the pleasure of reading Donovan’s forthcoming book The Dug-Up Gun Museum in manuscript phase, because I wrote a blurb for it–it’s due out from BOA Editions in 2023. As someone else who has written about gun culture in America, I was blown away by the nuanced way Matt takes on this topic from all angles, using narrative, lyric, and more documentary modes throughout the book. [The poem] takes us through NRA headquarters–and into the National Firearms Museum located in those headquarters–and recreates the experience in great detail, until the poem pivots to speak to America directly. ‘America, I’m done / with prayers,’ he writes, and goes on to meditate on the efficacy of poetry to solve a problem as big as gun violence, and the inevitability of anything changing when we drive the same roads literally and metaphorically over and over” …


I’m not sorry for the summer I gave you chlamydia | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

From Erika Meitner: “Nguyen was a student in some of the first undergraduate creative writing classes I taught at Virginia Tech, and it’s been a joy to see her publish her first collection of poems this past year–Dear Diaspora, which came out from the University of Nebraska Press in 2021. What I love about Susan’s poems is how bold they are–they have a strong and distinctive voice, and ‘I’m not sorry for the summer I gave you chlamydia’ is no exception. It’s a pleasingly winding poem, with surprise turns every few lines–bees, a sexually transmitted infection, scientists with tiny microphones, and all of it is ultimately an unapologetic love poem stitched with humor and a little melancholy simultaneously” …


What It’s Like Escaping Something Trying to Kill You? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

From Erika Meitner: “I first encountered Price’s poems when I read her application to our MFA program at Virginia Tech–it must have been almost five years ago–maybe longer. Her long and vivid narrative poems about her home city of New Orleans after Katrina stayed with me for a long time, and I had the pleasure of reading her forthcoming book I’m Always so Serious–coming from Sarabande in 2023–in manuscript form. ‘What’s It Like Escaping Something Trying to Kill You?’ is from her forthcoming book, and starts in a car with a family trying to escape the path of a hurricane. It begins as a road-trip list poem that plunges us into the immediacy of flight through palpable details, and morphs into a set of deeper existential questions around agency, family ties, caretaking, race and racism, and survival” …


From Erika Meitner: “[It] is the closest of everything I’ve read that articulates the visceral feeling of mothering during the pandemic–in this case, as a state of drowning and stuckness and overwhelm. As we come up on the two year anniversary of the initial set of pandemic school closures and lockdowns, mothers are still in distress, our government has still not passed any kind of legislation or funding around paid parental leave, universal pre-k, or affordable childcare, and no amount of journaling or self-care tips can save us. ‘The mothers were drowning’ is both wholly surreal and utterly recognizable–the mothers are whale-human, beached, and have lost their sheen–they are in perpetual literal and metaphorical distress.” …


An Interview with March Poetry Curator Erika Meitner

I’m a Throwback Jew to Another Century

Erika Meitner is the author of five books of poems, including Ideal Cities—a 2009 National Poetry Series winner; Copia; and Holy Moly Carry Me, winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry. Currently a professor of English at Virginia Tech, her next book of poems, Useful Junk, is forthcoming this year. We got a chance to talk with Meitner, who will be curating Zócalo’s March poetry selections, in the green room, where she shared her favorite meme, why she writes in her car, and how she ended up watching hours of George Balanchine choreography for work …


My story
is the story
of a hoe wearing thin …


The gloaming falls like ground.
In Holland lopes a hound.
A hound with yellow teeth …


All animals were once human, but then
they sinned—
and God flooded our Earth …


Brian Turner

February Curator

Brian has selected four poems in translation from India, the Netherlands, Iraq, and Ukraine. “I’m thinking globally about how can we listen to voices beyond our borders if they’re in a language we don’t have access to,” he told Zócalo. Having had his own poems translated in multiple languages, he knows how meaningful the art of translation can be: “[It’s] a very sweet and kind thing that someone else would take the time from a very short life and use their abilities to care for it.” …


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