Tag Archives: io Poetry

Best Thing I’ve Read This Week: Rachel B. Glaser in iO Issue 9

14 Jun

So, did you see it? Another stellar issue of iO scurried into the frame this week with work by Dara Wier and Bryan Beck and lot lots of other great greats. Constantly happy (even when I’m poemed into sadness or other non-happy emotion) with iO, this crisp no-longer-new online mag, now one of my favorites.

But the poems that my velcro heart got stuck on were Rachel Glaser’s two poems, “With No Desire To Call Anyone I Reach For My Phone” and “He’s Got A Camera.”

I saw her read in Boston for AWP this year. I know her books like Pee On Water from the beloved Publishing Genius Press (though sad sad honesty I’ve never read that book or as much of Rachel’s work as I mean to). But there’s always this spunk too them, not like quirky teen spunk, but like non-kid person who isn’t boring spunk. There’s not enough of that in this world.

Both these poems talk within themselves, near-ramble on about expectations and desire, until both Glaser and I are standing next to each other, finger-pointing like totally gotcha. These speak to things that too often eek on the line of shameful but are also just kinda normal goofy parts of this modern living, like both of these could be called “Tyler Gobble Poem” and “she’s like haha, bad boy, but really it’s okay we all do it, welcome to 2013.”

Here’s the beginning of “With No Desire…”–

somewhat moved in the temple
during my public speaking class
after the fireworks
I reach for my phone

“truly interesting,” I say to your story at lunch
then under the table, check my phone

deeply moved in the temple
you look at me with love
but I’m remembering my phone

and here’s the beginning of “He’s Got A Camera”–

he’s got a camera
so that means he’s a photographer
which means he’s creative
and creative guys are normally hot
hot guys struggle with math
and smoke weed instead
weed makes boys free
and freedom makes guys outdoorsy
the outdoors teach lessons
stars make guys think
the moon is fat like their mother
trees are ominous friends

“After He Is Gone & Killed I Will Come To You” by Portia Elan

28 Feb

I have to share this lovely poem from Portia Elan up on iO Poetry called “After He Is Gone & Killed I Will Come To You.”  A sliver:


Repetition in this has a sweet, metaphysical musicality; it reminds me of this, echoing parts building and building out into bigger and bigger worlds.  This is a canticle, a full glass of dry wine, a crown of wedding braids in spring.

Read it all, enter this tent.

What happened to that confection of longing I saw in the sky?

19 Nov

A person whispers, “Clouds are so terrifying.” And one responds, “Both in life and as a word in a poem, the cloud is the thing to keep at hand, to symbol that you’ll never know really what’ll happen, when it’ll come, yet with a little bit of rhythm, rolling it around in one’s hand can do so much good.”

Katie Byrum in her poems in iO has pulled it off perfectly, these glorious uses of the cloud, the moments they are captured within, the moments they capture and let out of themselves.

Today there was a purple cloud wandering through the other weather. I pined
for this cloud, groping my way back home, retreating from the litter of dead
jellyfish, the small globes of their bodies, mottled like sealskin.
The synapses still firing and twitching a heartbeat. Hesitate to touch
but desire to feel the sleek back of a being all mind and arms
ungathering. And heartless. Shining the sky back to itself.

Read the rest here!

“the fog burns off/and my death is there treading like a voiceless song.” — Chris Smith in iO Poetry

21 Aug

There’s thinking and then there’s meditating, you know this, the hop-to-it contemplating, like the sky doing what it wants with the clouds, the body doing what it must with the heart, the brain doing what it can’t but do with its thoughts and feelings and memories.

That’s where I lock into Chris Smith’s poems in issue 6 of iO Poetry, where I pull my grumpy hands out of my grumpy pockets, and applaud as I must, for these poems, which have worked through some BIG things, both metaphor and hunks of skin, biopsy and heart, these poems, which have moved me, reminded me so deeply, of what life does to our bodies.

from “Biopsy”

One day I will become an elemental property,
will, like gas, assume the shape of my container.
Excuse this sadness, it will soon enough vanish
like an airplane into the unstable sky.
Excuse this intelligence, it will always be ahead of itself,
will always have a skull.


13 Apr


Nick Sturm

io Poetry, $8 (includes shipping), 21 pages

  1. Nick Sturm’s work stumbled into my inbox as I was editing Stoked, these bold Basic Guides, to Truth, to History, to Home Repair, these radical poems that stretch the imagination and capacity to hold onto a poem, the poet behind it, this voice telling you something we hope is important.
  2. And I’ve stumbled around Sturm and his work ever since, flailed in the dark, in love with this style, this voice.
  3. And eventually I put my head on this pillow, okay it’s a chapbook, called WHAT A TREMEDOUS TIME WE’RE HAVING! (oh you wild child, all caps AND an exclamation point), each poem that same title, each poem that Sturm-booyeah of mind-energy.
  4. Three rad TREMENDOUSes at iO Poetry.
  5. The titles are repetitive, but more importantly they are reminders.
  6. I asked Nick once why not a long poem, or sectioned, or titles are necessary? or what? He said it is a series. I said a series of what? He rode off on stampede of horses. Or maybe it was a birthday cake.
  7. I think something I love lots and lots is the child-like fascination with the world. No, that’s not right, kinda dumb to say, rather I mean that unfiltered unbogged lens used to look at the surrounding glob, look within it, that thing lost with time of life, of writing, of cracks called sucky moments.
  8. Here is an example: “Take off that ridiculous hat & tell me you love me/is what I want to say but my tongue is not so evolved.” Then it trickles in the weirdness of the tongue, generations of crabs taking apart teeth, before circling back to all that in this youthful heart matters: “which is when the world was the size of a gazebo/with one undying heart at the center of our lives.”
  9. Have you seen that stop-motion video Sturm made for one of the poems. I watch it and think that is how these poems exist. They are tiny movements and wacky objects and the string holding it all together is an emotion that is not fleeting so much as it is fast, not silly as much as it is overwhelming for the speaker, for us, for everyone ever.
  10. What is forever? It is everything, man.
  11. The other day I told someone that I’m interested in poems that are sincere, but then I asked myself HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT OR EVEN WHAT THAT MEANS. I don’t.
  12. Charles Bernstein’s poem “The Republic of Reality,” specifically I’m thinking of the passage “mimicking maniacs like it was/going out of the question, when/you fall upon a fellow with/falters and a fit for a glove:/not the machine in your/eye but the ladder in your/mind…” seems to offer something about what I’m struggling to say here, a poem lending itself to a review trying to lend itself to a hunk of poems. What I mean is these poems are wisps of poetic identity, this chatter about the self, excluding not a thing, reaching and reaching.
  13. Maybe like a poem that starts wacky then punches you in the mouth, dude. “A whale is not a type of information/Neither is a ship’s rigging nor a peach tree/If you were not alive you would already/know this.”
  14. Maybe like the poem that ends it all, burrowing in that place where, yes it is okay to be silly with the lights on: “My dinghy can catch some wicked air/Let’s go to the carwash & chew on the sun/Let’s go to the capital & use our hands/Our hands which are a chance for music” and still get back to what we’re talking about, to never really leave what we’ve always been talking about: THE TREMENDOUS TIME WE’RE HAVING
  15. Yeah, I know she’s talking about Edward Hoagland and his essay about turtles and about CNF in general, but I can’t get this sentence out of my head, from “The Situation and The Story” by Vivian Gornick, about how these Sturm poems tackle and tangle with objects, weird wild and real, yet there is that speaker, that voice I wanna hug: “The reader realizes that the man who’s using turtles as a stand-in for human intimacy has been there from the very beginning” (p.51).
  16. Maybe like a poem that worries about friendship and self-disappointment, “It is so embarrassing how nothing out there/stays together How playgrounds build up/in our jaws but we never learn to play right.” Or the ending of that poem “Sometimes I just want to give up & say/watch this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
  17. I like Nick Sturm’s poems for their awareness, how they go to the place, bounce around, the voice and its lovely echo, shifty lens, from the spot where it needs to be to the spot where it needs to be.