New Ohio Review Issue 16 (Originally printed Fall 2014) is archiving previous editions as they originally appeared. We are pairing the pieces with curated art work, as well as select audio recordings. In collaboration with our past contributors, we are happy to (re)-present this outstanding work.

Issue 16 compiled by Hannah Hoover.

Small Boy

By Joseph Scapellato

Featured Art: Pepita by Robert Henri

The small boy says to his big sister, “Why did we kill all the Indians?”

They’re in the basement playing a video game. Both of them are white.

“We didn’t kill them,” says his big sister, “our ancestors did.”

“Why did our ancestors kill all the Indians?”

“Okay, not really our ancestors because Dad’s family came in the 20s and Mom’s in the Sixties and the Indians were already totally dead by then, mostly.”

“Why did ancestors kill all the Indians?”

“But I guess you could say it was us, pretty much, because today we’re basically the same culture as the culture of the people who killed the Indians back then. And it’s ‘Native Americans,’ not ‘Indians.’ ‘Indians’ is ignorant.”

The small boy says to his angry stepmom, “Why did we kill all the Native Americans?”

They’re returning from the grocery store in hardly any traffic. Plastic bags stuffed with food rustle in the back seat.

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The Light Factory

By Sandy Gingras

I work the night shift at the light factory.
The gears of the conveyor belt slip
silently, and emptiness goes by me
one segment at a time. I have to take
the dark in my gloved hands and make
something of it, then connect it to something else.
Someone further along the line bends
it, I think. Nobody really knows much about
the other guy’s job here. We just do our part.

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By Sandy Gingras

My mother wants her head to be frozen
after she dies. I’m against it, but
there’s no talking to her. She has a brochure.

On the cover, there’s a picture
of a white building with no windows.
I tell her, I go, “I’m never gonna visit you there.”

She says, “Fine, fine,” the way she does.
She reads me the whole brochure.
She’ll be maintained at something-something degrees

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The Undersized Negative

By Robert Glick

Sometimes the day after Mom’s miscarriage, a chemistry teacher with chin-only stubble interrupts class to tell you he is dying. There were so many reasons not to be anywhere. I, Dr. Watermelon, convened everyone at the abandoned house, which I insisted on calling the sketch house, on account of the Etch A Sketch I had found in a toy chest. My buddy Filbert plopped himself down on one of the oyster chairs; the air clouded with dust mites and dried skin. “Finders, keepers,” he said. We demanded answers of the Harris family from phone bills and colanders, from the oregano scent of the bathroom cleaner, from a postal sack half-full of gas caps. The throat to the fireplace was choked; perhaps a bird’s nest.

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The Egg

By Eric Nelson

We’re sitting at the table the way people do
When a family member dies and a stream of well-wishers
Arrive with sympathy and food.

Everyone is concerned for the widow, 70, tough, wiry,
Who now seems weak and befuddled, staring at people
She’s known for years without answering,

Rising and walking out the back door, staring at the woods
At the far end of their land.
Returning to the table without a word.

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Gun on the Table

By Eric Nelson

My favorite scene in Body Heat has nothing
To do with the intricate plot
That William Hurt and Kathleen Turner
Devise to kill her rich, oppressive husband.
My favorite scene, maybe ten seconds long,
Shows Hurt getting into his car as an antique
Convertible drives by, a fully costumed clown
At the wheel, waving. Hurt stares, slightly
Bewildered, while the clown passes and disappears.
That’s it. Cut to Hurt and Turner in another
Sweaty sex scene and post-coital planning,

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My Life with Pines

By Tom Wayman

In the glow of a fluorescent, I sit leaning
over a table to sort through parts of
a jigsaw puzzle, working hard to recreate
a picture displayed
on the box I purchased
while outside
great pines have moved in the darkness
down the ridge to surround my house, many of the trees
taller than the roof. A fierce wind
causes the pine trunks to sway, their limbs
churning the dark in wild
and pitiless gestures.

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The Road

By Lee Ann Dalton

I left, not looking back. I was afraid.
I left the things he bought me, just in case.
I had to close my eyes to find the road.

I carried names and numbers, tucked inside
a pocket in my purse, and not much else
to leave and not look back. I was afraid

of corners, entryways, store windows, hid
and dodged whole neighborhoods, memory’s curse.
I had to close my eyes to feel the road.

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By Jennifer Leonard*

When, years later, I learn Kevin Miller,
the boy who grew up next door, is in jail
for drugs and a stolen car and a gun,
I think of eighth grade:
Kevin with his buck teeth and buzz cut
always getting into fights, Kevin suspended
once for carving the F-word into a church pew
during Wednesday Mass, then again
for slinging walnuts against the windshield
of Mrs. Sabatino’s car.

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Pavlov’s Dog

By Derek JG Williams

I chase my shadow all morning. The neighbors watch
from between drawn curtains.

I tear up clumps of lawn until my blood churns how it does
when the bell rings. I sit in the sun and pant.

Next time I’ll lunge for his throat. But the bell sounds
and I love him still. When I run away, it’s to nowhere

special. There’s a certain slant of moon
I seek. It changes the angle of my longing.

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Photograph Albums

By George Kalogeris

“We finally got all of our family photos
Onto our home computer,” Quentin was saying,
Just as we entered the Asian fusion place.

And that’s when it hit me: all those leather albums
With their matted pages and bristly hides,
In their mundane way as archly ceremonial

As the Golden Dragon preening against
The restaurant window. All those cumbersome tomes,
In a decade or so defunct as the dinosaur.

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For My 1st Ex-Lover to Die

By Francesca Bell

I heard this morning my old lover died, and I cannot say I loved him, though I may have said it at the time, cannot say he was a good person or lover or anything other than a man who called me in the small hours, driving back roads drunk in his Ferrari, when I was 23 and he was 50, who bought me books and a Lalique clock that’s been broken 20 years, who was the dumbest smart person I ever knew, crying in his car at 4 in the morning, wearing a coyote skin coat that reached to his shoes,

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Dialing The Dead

By Mark Kraushaar

I’d never call.
First of all, I’d be intruding, and besides
I can see my dead friend with all his dead friends
even now, translucent, weightless, winging
through a cloud or sitting in a circle
on some creaky, folding chairs—
Hello, my name is Peter and I’ve
been dead ten years, car wreck.
Hello my name is Edith and I’ve
been dead a week, pneumonia.
Hello, my name is Frank and I’ve been . . . .

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Last Call

By Penny Zang

Each night, after work, we changed our names. We were trying on new identities, seeing which ones fit. Serena and I would throw off our aprons and get undressed in the car, wiggling into tight black pants and shirts thin as napkins. Sometimes we wore red lipstick, sometimes eye glitter. Then we’d find a new bar with the same tattered barstools we were used to balancing on, the same veil of smoke and low light that felt like home. To the men who approached us, we turned into different girls, ones who knew how to charm even without the promise of making a tip.

Our new names were decided on the spot, never the same name twice. They were names we’d once used for our baby dolls, names we’d wished our moms had given us: Isabel, Deanna, Lily. Everything else came later—our stories, our new personalities—fueled by beer and tequila, a practiced game of improvisation. Sometimes men invited us home or out to their car. Sometimes the night just fizzled and we’d stumble out to the street in the wrong direction, too lost to even know it. We’d stop to eat greasy pizza and compare notes, our throbbing feet the only part of us that wanted to give up.

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Sitting in a Simulated Living Space at the Seattle Ikea

By Abby E. Murray

To sit in a simulated living space at Ikea
is to know what sand knows
as it rests inside the oyster.
This is how you might arrange your life
if you were to start from scratch:
a newer, better version of yourself applied
coat by coat, beginning with lamplight
from the simulated living room.
The man who lives here has never killed.

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The Game

By Steven Cramer

Let me clarify some things about the game.
First rule: think about the game, you’ve lost.
No tiles, cards, currency, whirling dials: all pieces

are included, space has been cleared at the table.
Join in. Your turn. Kids learn the game in school
corridors, score it in red along their forearms,

new staves on old. It doesn’t end when the day ends:
race for the stairs, dodging the geeks and slow kids,
thunder of fists on lockers, last push to the streets.

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A Theory of Violence

By Jennifer Perrine

In the museum of sex, the video loops
its cycle of common bonobo behavior:
penis fencing, genital rubbing, whole groups

engaged in frenzied pairs, their grinds and shrieks
playing for the edification of each patron
passing through the room. We all summon

our best poker faces. One woman speaks
softly, reads from the sign that describes
all the various partner combinations,

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Embarrassment: from baraço (halter)

By Jennifer Perrine

All he found when he came looking for us was the home my mother wanted to leave behind: newspapers stacked knee-deep in the hallways, every corner redolent of cat piss, linoleum caked with dried mud and dust, tangles of hair matted to the tub, dried scabs of meals coating plates and bowls piled high in the sink, on counters. Everywhere: the stink, the rot and mold, the great heaps of unwashed clothes, all the filth my mother never let anyone see. No friends allowed inside. Even her dates didn’t get in the door.

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By Patricia Horvath

The sign on the door says: Children Under 18 Not Admitted to the Chemotherapy Suite Under Any Circumstances.

They call it a suite, this room at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital where chemotherapy is administered, as though its occupants were members of some elite group, which in a sense I suppose they are. For reasons that elude me, the chemotherapy suite is located on the same floor as maternity services, and the elevator is often crowded with an odd mix of cancer patients and pregnant women. The cancer patients are generally hairless, elderly, their skin ashy, their bones prominent. The pregnant women are all flesh and smiles.

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By Amanda Williamsen

Baltimore, Maryland
My uncle calls from the wharf; his freighter is in;
he’s walked to the nearest food and I find him
in a crab shack at a table by the window.
Waitresses carry crabs on trays, whole piles of them—
stiff, blue, dead—and the restaurant patter crackles
with the brittle speech of small mallets on their shells.
Elena, his wife—she’s from Colombia, my age—
wants a divorce. She’s living in Miami
with some Cuban, he says; she’s got his TV and his car.
When his crabs come, I order grilled cheese,
tell him about karma, how I’ve removed myself
from the chain of suffering and he says, shit,

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Coins for the Ferryman

By David Denny

Marlene and Ralph walked up Kaanapali Beach about half a mile from their hotel. They sat in a corner of an outdoor restaurant with a floor of sand. Each of the small, round tables was shaded by an umbrella made of palm leaves. A row of tropical greenery, punctuated with orange and red hibiscus, separated the restaurant from the boardwalk. They could hear the waves hitting the sand about forty feet away. 

Marlene slipped off her sandals and wiggled her toes in the cool sand as she looked over the menu. Mahi was her new favorite; however, she’d eaten it two days in a row and thought she should try something else. Up next to the bar, a local singer was nearing the end of his lunchtime set. He took a slug of water, traded his guitar for a ukulele, and began crooning the popular island version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Marlene wasn’t all that hungry. A shrimp cocktail and a Diet Coke might do the trick. Her husband had his cell phone out on the table in front of him, checking their reservation for the dinner cruise out of Lahaina harbor. He had decided before he left the hotel that he would order a burger; he was tired of fish already. 

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Whatever I Might Say

By Sydney Lea

Though to touch its flame would surely be as painful as when it burned brighter, the candle’s low now. On the table, just prior to guttering after dinner, it vaguely illuminates friends.

The glow takes me to Creston MacArthur, one son’s and one grandson’s namesake, and to our many evenings as a campfire ebbed. Just now I’m remembering a particular night, the two of us seated next to a favorite river, swapping stories. His were better.

A bleakness sinks into me despite the patent pleasures of this later interlude with other people I care for and admire. I’ve long savored their camaraderie, their conversation, their gifts for wit. The lateness of the hour has turned our talk to rote murmuring, something like the water of that river, which always flows right below my consciousness.

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The Pain Suit

By Claire Bateman

If you happen to live in a broad and open place,
you can watch as it comes flying in your direction—

not really a suit, of course, just the mask and gloves,
though considering its effect, the term is apt.

You can’t hope it’s hunting some stranger, since everyone knows
that it’s visible only to its destined bearer;

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By Claire Bateman

For all the times
we’ve checked the weather,

why won’t it reciprocate,
inquiring into our condition,
our immediate and long-term forecasts?

Is it oblivious, incurious,

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By Claire Bateman

At last the heirloom china rides
cupboardless, exposed and free
upon Suspension™.

Books float alphabuoyantly unshelved
upon Suspension™.

Bartenders slide their brews
along Suspension™.

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Feature: Should Poems Tell the Truth?

By Lawrence Raab

Mid-way through my freshman year at college, my roommate, Roger, asked if I would read a poem he’d written and tell him what I thought. I was pleased to be considered a literary person whose opinion might be valued. And my roommate, who would major in geology, had previously shown no interest in poetry. “Of course,” I said.

The subject of the poem was the death of Roger’s father, and I felt a small shock in reading it, since no one I knew had yet lost a parent. Unfortunately, Roger’s poem was a very bad poem. I don’t now remember the various ways in which it failed, but there seemed no doubt in my mind. Given the subject, however, what kind of criticism would be appropriate or bearable?

I began by expressing my condolences, and Roger interrupted quickly to say, No, his father hadn’t really died. That was just the subject of the poem. “But you can’t do that!” I exclaimed. Perhaps I didn’t actually exclaim, or even say it directly. But it was what I felt. This was wrong, a violation of some rule or code. You couldn’t do it, or you shouldn’t.

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Feature: Where Are You Really From?

Reading and Writing Place and Experience

By Adrienne Su

Maxine Kumin’s poem “Encounter in August” describes a standoff between gardener and black bear over a crop of beans:

Inside the tepee that admits
sunlight to the underpart
he stands eating my Kentucky Wonders.
Downs pod after pod, spilling the beans,
the ones I’d saved for shelling out
this winter, thinking soup
when he’d gone deep, denned up.

The speaker stands ten feet from the bear and watches him devour her beans. The bear doesn’t notice her while he polishes off the season’s yield. The danger to the gardener goes unstated; mainly, we feel her indignation and loss. The encounter ends with the bear’s oblivious departure and the speaker’s effort to make peace with what has happened:

At last he goes the way the skunk
does, supreme egoist, ambling
into the woodlot on all fours
leaving my trellis flat and beanless
and yet I find the trade-off fair:
beans and more beans for this hour of bear.

For years I loved this poem, along with many others by Kumin; they fed my vision of her home in New Hampshire, Po-Biz Farm, and the surrounding area. From “Taking the Lambs to Market,” I imagined Amos the butcher; from “Nurture,” I saw stray animals warming themselves by Kumin’s fireplace; from “Woodchucks,” I imagined Kumin struggling to protect her vegetable garden from devastation by woodchucks. In 2009, Kumin came to Dickinson College, where I teach, which gave me two precious days to talk with her about poems and life. “Encounter in August” was one of the poems I brought up.

“That one really happened,” she said. “That was a real bear. It actually ate the beans from my garden.”
Although I was pleased to know this, on some level I was disappointed—not in this poem, but in the fact of its being exceptional. If this one was notable for being true, then others were invented, or partially invented. Amos the butcher might be Jonas or Peter; it was possible that no one on Po-Biz Farm had ever shot a single woodchuck. Even as I routinely urged students to alter facts for the sake of a poem’s success, and did so myself, I had been unwittingly reading Kumin’s poems as literal truth. Knowing that they might be fabrications did not diminish my regard for the poems, but discovering that I had somehow counted on their realness revealed that I had, over time, become attached to a person who was and was not the real Maxine Kumin.

This was as it should be, of course. “What really happened” is never the point. There’s the life, and there’s the work; the latter does not owe accuracy to the former. But still, I wanted the Maxine Kumin who was sitting next to me at dinner to be the Maxine Kumin who had lived in my readerly imagination for all of my writing life. My selfish desire to meet this fantasy person counted on her to exist as her words had led me to believe. (I’m sure there are parallels in online dating, but that’s another essay.)

In the end, however, the disappointment was fleeting. Kumin’s poems have such a close resemblance to Kumin’s life that whatever is fabricated in them fits nicely into the larger picture of who she was. At Dickinson she spoke earnestly and with humor to a student audience about the situation depicted in her poem “Looking Back in My Eighty-First Year”: reflections on her real-life decision, as a young woman, to turn down a fellowship to do literary studies in France, and instead settle down with the man she remained married to for the rest of her life. She talked with touching candor about her friendship with Anne Sexton, her beloved horses, her beloved dogs. Certain people and animals make it into her poems in the same spirit in which they existed in real life; whether or not the facts were exact, this was the kind of correspondence that made sense.

Robert Frost’s “Birches,” one of the first Frost poems I knew, evokes a rural landscape where snow and ice routinely weigh down branches. About the birches, the speaker observes:

Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Then he imagines a boy raised in that landscape expertly swinging on the branches:

I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer.

The poem goes on to describe the precision with which such a boy, uncorrupted by urban or even small-town entertainments, handles the branches, having taught himself in verdant solitude just how far up and out to climb without breaking them. Then the poet declares: “So was I once myself a swinger of birches. / And so I dream of going back to be.”

This is only one of many Frost poems that mark him as a New England poet, but unlike many of the others, this one strongly implies that the speaker, like the boy he imagines, grew up there, ignorant of alternatives. Having no one to play with, he has always played with birches. He seems to be such a longtime native of this place that he hasn’t thought to imagine what another childhood might have looked like. That the birches are “his father’s trees” suggests, also, that his family has been here and nowhere else for generations.

Thus was I surprised in 2003 when, heading to Frost’s house in Franconia, New Hampshire, now known as The Frost Place, for a summer as poet-in-residence, I began looking at Frost’s life where previously I had looked only at the poems, and found out that he was from San Francisco. True, his relocation to New England had taken place when he was still a boy—age eleven—and his father had come from a New England family, but Frost had by no means grown up “too far from town to learn baseball.” Frost’s mother was from Scotland; his parents had met in Pennsylvania. Frost’s native landscape hadn’t seen much in the way of the snow and ice-storms in “Birches.” If he had in fact acquired such excellent birch-bending skills, it would have been in early adolescence, with full awareness that he wasn’t in San Francisco anymore.

I was surprised, but not betrayed – not even annoyed. Learning this felt similar to the little surprises that arise in the study of food: corned beef and cabbage do not constitute a normal meal in Ireland; tomatoes aren’t native to Italy; no one eats General Tso’s Chicken in China (except now, on occasion, as an American import). Our notions of authenticity are often manufactured by marketing people, or based on some arbitrarily timed snapshot of what happens to inhabit a particular culture at a particular moment. Why should a poet’s identity be any different, given that a poet, like a restaurant or tourism board, is packaging an identity through a body of work?

A child of immigrants, I took heart in seeing Frost as a kind of immigrant to New England. It meant—his father’s family notwithstanding—hat a person from elsewhere could become a local there, in the public sense if not in the neighborhood. And surely his having come from somewhere else gave him the perspective it would take to portray New England in such credible, memorable detail. The boy who’s been swinging from birch branches all his life doesn’t know what’s extraordinary about it because he’s never known a life in which he didn’t swing from birch branches. Thus the outsider poet creates the sense of place and, by being widely read, the place itself. Again, the self created by the poems doesn’t have to match the self who lived the life, although, as with Kumin, the multitude of resemblances enhance verisimilitude. Kumin herself is often compared to Frost as a portrayer of New England life, lived close to the earth. And lest we forget, Maxine Kumin came from Pennsylvania.

Several years ago, the poet Nick Carbó, guest-editing an Asian-American issue of the online journal MiPoesias, asked me and a number of other Asian-American poets for poems on the theme “I Will Not Love You Long Time.” I had nothing lying around that fit the theme, so I figured I’d better write something. In any case, I found the prompt irresistible. It evoked for me the many family members—mostly older—whose English was that of a non-native speaker, but whose phrasing in English sometimes made for more effective statements than the grammatically correct version would. I’m convinced that, just as Frost and Kumin’s non-New-England beginnings surely sharpened their perceptions of New England, my relatives’ non-English-speaking beginnings gave me an understanding of English that I would not have had if I’d grown up entirely among native speakers of it. Hearing things said in nonstandard ways illuminated the standard ways and suggested that there were alternatives to “correct” language. I liked, also, the idea that anyone who says, “I will not love you long time” is simultaneously admitting love for the addressee and declaring the imminent end of that love. It’s a breakup statement at once decisive and vulnerable. Its grammatical awkwardness adds a layer of difference, conveying that the “I” and “you” come from different cultural backgrounds, and that both their love and their estrangement transcend these differences. Another thing that remains unknown is who left whom: the “I” might be reacting to having been left, or the “I” might have made a decision to leave, despite residual feelings of attachment.

I had no idea that the line was a reference to a scene from “Full Metal Jacket,” in which a Vietnamese prostitute approaches two white American GIs with various lines in broken English, among them “Me love you long time,” nor that “I will not love you long time” had become a slogan among Asian Americans fed up with sexual stereotypes of Asian women. But all of that worked out fine with the poem I ended up writing, “Sestina,” in which the speaker addresses a man who has said whatever he needed to say to get her to sleep with him, then run for the hills. I relished playing with the language, which is how the poem became a sestina, its repetitions intended to reflect the human tendency to justify decisions we may know to be poor. I gave the speaker a Chinese grandmother who, like my own grandmother, lived in Communist China throughout the speaker’s life and died before the speaker, an American, could visit or even emerge from childhood. The speaker mentally consults the grandmother for advice throughout the brief relationship, but of course the speaker has to invent the grandmother and provide the grandmother’s replies herself, in deliberately broken English. As the speaker tries to navigate the emotional fallout, she finally admits that the grandmother is a fiction and she is on her own:

The real grandmother—
who knows what she would have wanted?
Maybe she would’ve said, This time
different; for this man, first-sight love;
maybe she abhorred the limits of ancient wisdom
on female joy. So I took you at your word.
Now I’m putting words in my grandmother’s
mouth again, vessels for wisdom that’s wanting:
Tell bad man, I will not love you long time.

I think of the poem as depicting a commonplace experience—who hasn’t misjudged a relationship or cast about for what an unavailable confidante would have said?—and not anything in particular about my own life. I don’t think of my own life as interesting enough to be of consequence on the page, except insofar as episodes that seem to come from my life can shed light on someone else’s life. And on one level, I cringe to think that someone reading the poem might take this to be an actual recounting of an experience, because it’s fiction and I want it to be understood that way, except that it also isn’t, because it’s true to what I know and understand about negotiations between the sexes in a “liberated” society, both generally between women and men but also particularly between Asian women and white men—as well as between Asian-American women and traditional Asian attitudes toward women, in this case represented by an imagined grandmother.

On another level, though, I think I’ve accomplished what I set out to accomplish when a reader thinks it’s real. It means I’ve created a credible speaker and situation, and persuaded someone to believe in the integrity of the story. Some poems, like “Encounter in August” and “Birches,” invite the reader to believe that the poet is the speaker, and as reader I’ve taken them up on it and derived more pleasure from the poems thanks to that credence. My effort in “Sestina” makes a similar invitation, much as I’d prefer not to seem like this speaker. If this means that I have to go around seeming to have been an idiot at least once, so be it: I’m not writing in order to seem virtuous or wise, but to be believed.

Adrienne Su’s fifth book of poems, Peach State, is forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2021. You can visit her website here and follow her on Twitter @AdrienneSu

Feature: A Brief Response

By Louise Glück

Frankly, I have no idea why this should be any sort of problem. I love discovering that a reality, or what I experienced as a reality, is invented, that a world has been contrived to provide context for a set of perceptions, or for a voice that is almost by definition other than the poet’s in some way. Pretty much nothing I write is literally true, and very little is borrowed from someone else’s stories, which seems to me immoral. A voice presents itself and around that voice events form. I love this in fiction and assume it In poetry. Otherwise we’d all be hopelessly limited.

Louise Glück won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2020.

Feature: Telling the Truth in Poetry

By Carl Dennis

All good poems must be truthful, but the truthfulness they embody is not that of accuracy to historical fact but fidelity to what might be called the facts of the human condition. In the service of discovering and expressing fundamental attitudes toward life, poetry is allowed, with some qualifications, a license similar to that accorded to fiction and drama: the freedom to substitute imagined materials for those it finds ready-made in the world. Poetic license means that William Wordsworth would have been free to write a poem about meeting a leech-gatherer even if he had never met one in the flesh, that Matthew Arnold would have been free to write a poem about standing on the beach at Dover with his sweetheart without ever having been to Dover, that Robert Frost would have been free to write a poem about picking apples even if he had never picked apples, if, say, a bone spur in his left foot had made it too painful for him to use a ladder. The demands of the poem itself are allowed to take precedence over any demand for strict autobiographical accuracy.

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Feature: “Father”

By Michael Ryan

Like almost every other MFA graduate then and since, I couldn’t get a teaching job in 1972 after I earned my degree. My teachers—Marvin Bell and Donald Justice—kindly offered to let me stay and work on The Iowa Review if I enrolled in the PhD program and thereby qualified for graduate student support. So I did. The magazine was staffed mostly by workshop students like me and to entertain ourselves we tacked on the office bulletin board particularly psychotic submission cover letters.

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