Small Press Highlight: Poet Lore

Reviewing America’s Oldest Poetry Journal

  Poet Lore serves as a solid pillar of both historical and contemporary literary journals by being the oldest poetry-based publication in the United States. Now located out of our very own Bethesda, Maryland and backed by The Writers’ Center, a nonprofit, this journal has been published out of a handful of different cities for nearly 140 years. Founded in Philadelphia, the journal in its formative years was a comparative literature project of Shakespearean scholars and life partners, Helen Clarke and Charlotte Porter; though the two quickly shifted their focus to that of living writers. The women moved to Boston after two years where the journal remained until it was bought by Washington D.C.’s Heldref Publications in 1976. Eventually, it shifted to The Writer’s Center where it has been published biannually for the last 25 years.  In its longevity, the journal has had the opportunity to publish the early works of renowned poets like David Baker and Mary Oliver. 

It is clear that Poet Lore’s staff is proud of its long and inclusive history. The website declares that “poetry provides a record of human experience as valuable as history”, emphasizing not only the importance of history but the inherent value of the written word. The journal publishes content that is both urgent and intimate, offering its audience “poems built to last” with an emphasis on quality. In an interview with Frontier Poetry, Poet Lore editor Emily Holland said, “we love featuring poems that broaden the spectrum of what poetry is – and can be – on the page.” In fact, the editors are so dedicated to the vast possibilities of poetry that in their newly redesigned issue, the editors opted for a larger trim size to publish poems that might not format well on a standard book-size page. They also printed multiple poems to a page to show connections between pieces. This sizing detail is one example of how the team emphasizes voices that lack widespread renown, reconfiguring the journal itself to better accommodate its contributors. In doing so, Poet Lore remains true to the vision of its founders by maintaining its progressive and inclusive legacy. 

-Review by Chloe Ziegler, Grub Street poetry editor

Grub Street featured in Poets & Writers!

Last month, Poets & Writers released a spotlight on poet Abigail Chabitnoy, who was published in Volume 71 of Grub Street!

In their monthly Literary MagNet series, Abigail and writer Dana Isokawa discuss her writing process, Indigenous background, and all of the journals she has work published in, including our very own Grub Street!

We are proud to be a part of Chabitnoy’s publishing journey.

Read Abigail Chabitnoy’s work In Grub Street here.

Poetry Feature: “On Being Mean” by Olivia Sokolowski

On Being Mean

 

A man walks up to me at the gas station air pump

and tries to explain how to use the machine. I understand

how to use the machine. When he won’t take the hint

I get back in my car and he shouts, I don’t want to hurt

you! I’m just trying to help! And that’s when I get the urge

to lean out the window and smile I’m just a mean

person! Right, don’t I remember your voice from last year

calling to tell me the same? Or was it my mother’s

laughter, saying zippy, zingy, feisty—little tap-

dancey words, maraschinos? Oh man, by now I know

the artistry of Mean, its well-lit pastry case

haloing flavors: blistering pineapple, thoughtless

plum… Rich beyond measure were the egg yolks

plashing the windshield of that new Subaru. I once

stole back a birthday gift, a mounted painting, and stayed

thirsty for that urge days later. Were you not

in the car when A. read us his poem about the body

in his backseat, dying, white hair loosing

from that figure which must have been his grandfather

but turned out to be the treasured family dog? O,

how the rest of us laughed! Like shards of hard candy

shooting out of the sunroof and into the mouth

of the moon. The moon is kind because she eats this

kind of laughter, fashions it into an ambergris

waxed with sleek window cats and tulle-purple dusks, an average

she used to perfume the crags of the quiet stadium

we parked beside. But now, I only want to cross

the highway of that memory to touch the dark

noses of the cows that grazed theresweet and sad

beneath the moon’s blue spit. Why can I only

see them now with their faces to the earth, how the pulses

of their breath ask a question the grass still refuses?

 

 

 

 

 

Olivia Sokolowski

On Being Mean

Olivia M. Sokolowski is a poet currently pursuing her PhD at Florida State University. She earned her MFA at University of North Carolina Wilmington and her undergraduate degree at Berry College. Her work is recently featured or forthcoming in Lake Effect, Tupelo Quarterly, Gulf Coast, and Nelle. You can also find Olivia streaming at twitch.tv/clockwork_olive.

Exclusive Art Feature: “Paused” by Rutvi Vakharia

Rutvi Vakharia

Paused

Rutvi Vakharia comes from Rajkot, India. She recently pursued her BVA in painting from MSU, Vadodara. Her interests are architectural segments, abandoned architectures, and her surroundings in the midst of sprawling urban cityscapes. She is a recipient of Nasreen Mohamedi Award for Best Display 2021. She has participated in annual exhibitions at Birla Academy (2022), Bombast Art Society (2021), and KCC Ami Festival (2020).

Exclusive Art Feature: “Livable Lives” by Jia Jia

Jia Jia Livable Lives Jia Jia is a multimedia artist. She works primarily in installation and incorporates sculpture, video, and performance. Her practice uses satire and humor to imagine everyday objects anew. She earned her MFA in sculpture from the University of Washington. She was the recipient of the Boyer and Elizabeth Bole Gonzales Scholarship in 2020.

Abigail Chabitnoy Reading Two Poems Appearing in Volume 70 of Grub Street

 

 

 

You can read Abigail’s poems “A FOUR-PART APOLOGY FOR MY CONTINUED BEING”, “A PERSISTENT DREAM OF LARGE BODIES  OF WATER & EVERYTHING THAT MIGHT BE WAITING WITHIN”, and “A PRONG OR SHARP POINT SUCH AS THAT ON A FORK, OR ANTLER” in Volume 70 of Grub Street, out now. You can also view her poetry comic on pages 150-154 of Volume 70. Click here to view Volume 70.

 

Abigail Chabitnoy is the author of How to Dress a Fish (Wesleyan 2019), winner of the 2020 Colorado Book Award for Poetry and shortlisted in the international category of the 2020 Griffin Prize for Poetry. She was a 2016 Peripheral Poets fellow and her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, Lit HubRed Ink, and elsewhere. She is a Koniag descendant and member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, and currently she is on faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts and the Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

Exclusive Poetry Feature: “My Lover and I” by Christopher Kuhl

 

October blows dust, summer
long gone into a dark barn

like a hiding lover. Autumn
buries my life as the heavy,
fallen leaves and first hard frost
choke the grass.

My lover loves me
and grants me my loneliness

beneath a sky of steel-tipped
stars. The huge sun, yellowed
like an old bruise,

slips behind the hedgerows.

Who among us is holy?
One with myself, I kissed
the skin of a stone, and

heard the sea, the sea
rolling out, whispering
as dark as wine in a skin

or in its cold jar—the nightmare
silence is broken; I go to my lover

and am lonely no longer. At dusk
our slow breath thickens in
the air: begin with the rock;
end with the water.

Shut the kitchen door slowly
behind me

with a click.

 

Christopher Kuhl has published poetry, essays and short fiction extensively in on-line and print
journals. He has also written eleven free-ranging books of poetry and prose, exploring the
interactive human, natural and spiritual worlds. You can follow him and his fidgety brain on his
Facebook author’s page, Christopher Kuhl Writer.

Exclusive Poetry Feature: “Christmas Comet” by karla k. morton

 

Dec 27th, and it’s already light so much later.


It’s then I realized I missed winter solstice —

no chance to celebrate

the longest night of the year;


still consumed in the everything-grief

of my Deerhound, dead at 13 –

so old for a big breed; so young for a human.

The sweet suffering of a grateful life;


my mother trying to wrap Christmas biscuits

in a trash bag,

asking for the fifteenth time:

where all this food came from,

and whose new jacket is this,

and why didn’t I bring the dog like always;


that hot bandage ripped quick and again

off the wound that had almost healed

twelve minutes ago.


So much to think about – holidays, family, death,

as if the Christmas Comet stirred such things –

like full moons calling forth newborns and floods.


And if the moon stirs the waters,

what would a comet stir

but the very breath from an old furry body,


and the mind of a woman

as sweet as a box of peppermint creams,

the lid left open,

 

swept up and pulled

glowing

into the long darkness of the woods.

 

2010 Texas Poet Laureate karla k. morton has fourteen collections,  with “The National Parks: A Century of Grace” her most recent and historic: visiting and writing about all 62 national parks in situ. She’s a National Heritage Wrangler Award winner, songwriter, and nominee for the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

Chelsea Harlan Reading “The Leopard Slug” Appearing in Volume 70 of Grub Street

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You can read Chelsea’s poem “The Leopard Slug” in Volume 70 of Grub Street, out now. Click here to view Volume 70.

 

Chelsea Harlan holds a B.A. from Bennington College and an M.F.A. in poetry from Brooklyn College, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. Her poems are forthcoming or have appeared in Sixth Finch, Hobart, Cold Mountain Review, The Greensboro Review, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She is the co-author of the chapbook Mummy (Montez Press, 2019), and the recipient of the 2019-2020 Mikrokosmos Poetry Prize judged by sam sax. She lives in Brooklyn.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]
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Chloë Williams on “Fireworks from Floor 9” in Volume 70 of Grub Street

 

You can view Chloe’s piece “Fireworks from Floor 9” in Volume 70 of Grub Street, out now. Click here to view Volume 70.

 

Chloë Williams is a West Virginian writer, filmmaker, and photographer. She has work published in Maelstrom magazine and the Our Minds Our Future anthology. Her work reflects her travels around her home state, as well as in Baltimore and Leeds, England.