The Blog

(Sort of) a Lonely Jew in Iowa: An Interview with Daniel Khalastchi

Sevy Perez

Daniel Khalastchi is an American poet. He is a professor and assistant director of the new Undergraduate Certificate in Writing program at the University of Iowa, where he obtained his MFA in poetry from the Writers' Workshop. His first collection of poems, Manoleria, debuted last year and was awarded the Tupelo Press/Crazyhorse First Book Prize. He is also the managing editor at Rescue Press. His latest poem, "Notes from an Adjunct Professor at a Major American University," is featured in the Fall 2012 issue of The Iowa Review.

I sat down with Daniel to discuss his new poem, rap music, and why the chicken man blew up in Philly last night.

SP: I see you a lot with your iPod, walking around Iowa City. What kind of music are you listening to?

Carolyne Wright's MANIA KLEPTO

Robert McNamara

Carolyne Wright’s Mania Klepto: The Book of Eulene records the adventures of a doppelganger. Wright, who has published five books of poetry, including Seasons of Mangoes and Brainfire, winner of the Blue Lynx Prize and the American Book Award, as well as three volumes of translation from Bengali and Spanish, describes Eulene in the essay “Disquieting Muse: The Eulene Series” as having arrived as a “nameless, amorphous” figure “cropping up on otherwise well-behaved poetic exercises” when Wright was in Syracuse University’s writing program. Despite her genesis in a writing program, Eulene has no near literary relations. Berryman’s Henry Pussycat may be an uncle thrice-removed, but no closer—Eulene gets along fine without guilt.

Norma Farber's YEAR OF REVERSIBLE LOSS

Karen An-hwei Lee

Illuminating the inner life of a remarkable Bostonian woman of arts and letters, Norma Farber’s slender collection was gathered and published posthumously by her son, the Berkeley poet Thomas Farber. Married forty years to Sidney Farber, the oncologist pioneer of chemotherapy, Norma Farber (1909-1984) was a poet, concert vocalist, and translator. Year of Reversible Loss is the year-long journal composed in the months after her husband’s demise. Now available nearly three decades after her passing, this elegant book presents a record of Farber’s lyric meditations from April, the month of her late husband’s death, through March of the following year. 

Peter Richards's HELSINKI

Matt Miller

Published a little more than ten years ago, Peter Richard's first book, Oubliette, took on major themes concerning the nature of time, solitude, and mythmaking and responded to them with a dark, lyrical intensity that seemed completely unique. Richards arrived at a time when many young poets were looking for something new and surprising that was neither ideological and academic, like most Language Poetry, nor naively autobiographical, like the countless post-confessional backyard epiphanies that still populate most literary journals. One group's porridge was too cool, and the other's was, if not too hot, too bland. Oubliette was something bold, fresh, and idiosyncratic. A relevant heir to Keats, Richards demonstrated negative capability in the teeth of post-modernity, as well as the ability to "load every line with ore" and consistently delight by surprise.

Duane Esposito’s DECLARATION FOR YOUR BONES

Tim Wood

Duane Esposito’s new book of poems Declaration for Your Bones is a slim, elegant volume easily read in one sitting, but you probably should be sitting. The best poems in the volume meet the high bar that Emily Dickinson set for poetry: they knock the top of your head off. The volume begins:

      We’re a skull that cannot close

      Around a brain of light—

The poems delve into the sedimented grief that one carries and brings into relationships with a spouse and then with children, and how that pain affects perspectives on the world and on politics. It often seems to make the contours of the world sharper and the desire for peace and justice more keen. It also makes it possible to utter difficult truths about our inability to attain such ideals.

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