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Helene Cardona's DREAMING MY ANIMAL SELVES

Kristina Marie Darling

Helene Cardona's beautifully crafted collection, Dreaming My Animal Selves, drifts in and out of languages, presenting poems in both English and French translations. By doing so, the book raises several compelling questions about the relationship between language and human consciousness: Does language, with its complex grammatical rules, limit what is possible within conscious experience? When one inhabits more than one language, what possibilities open up for thought, expression, and the creation of meaning? Lastly, does language make us who we are, or is there an identity core that exists apart from, or beyond, language? As Cardona teases out possible answers to these thought-provoking questions, her poems prove to be as image-rich and musical as they are faultlessly constructed. 

"Literacy Narrative" by Kiki Petrosino

Kiki Petrosino

The essay below is the result of an ongoing contemplation about whether, as a poet of color, I have a special obligation to write "political poems" or to engage, through my poetry, in the national debate on race. In my student days, I didn't want to write "identity" poems or be known as "the black poet with a social message." If you'd asked me at the time, I would've said something like, "I'm not a political poet, I just want to write good poems"...as if those concepts are mutually exclusive. It has taken me many years, and a lot of study, to realize that compelling language and a politically engaged sensibility can coexist in the same poem. And, more precisely: that I can write a poem that addresses race in those terms.

Michael Tyrell's "Delicatessen" in Best American Poetry!

TIR staff

Michael Tyrell's poem "Delicatessen" from our Spring 2014 issue has been selected by guest editor Sherman Alexie for Best American Poetry 2015

Delicatessen

(after Hurricane Sandy & 3 nights of no power)

In the delicatessen a last avocado.
Black, pulpy—a kind of soft grenade. 

I set it down 
for probably nobody. 

I step out—not through doors
but through clear plastic tatters
shimmering in a doorframe. 

Hothouse roses on the shelves outside;
hyacinths in foiled cups. 

*

Calling storms by dumb names—
not the shabbiest way of neutering disaster, 
I think. 

          Like the pit bull called Cuddles, 
the Lovers’ Lane near the sewage treatment plant— 

Lacy M. Johnson's THE OTHER SIDE

Sarah Viren

When I saw Lacy Johnson read from her new memoir, she came right out with it. “No one says what this book is about,” she said. Then she told us.

The Other Side (Tin House Books, 2014) is about the day that Lacy’s ex-boyfriend kidnapped her and took her to a soundproof room he had built for the sole purpose of raping and killing her. He raped her and then left briefly to create an alibi for that night. He told her that when he returned, “I’ll shoot you in the cunt and then the head.”

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