Daniel Arias Gómez: “During the last year of my MFA, I read Natalie Diaz’s When My Brother Was an Aztec, a book that made a deep impression on me because of the way it blends a contemporary narrative with mythological elements. After that I became fixated on the idea of the crossing of the underworld as a parallel to the crossing of the immigrant and what that might mean within the context of our mundane day-to-day lives. This poem is part of that exploration.” (web)
Maya Tevet Dayan: “I wrote my first poem the night my mom died. She was 64. I picked up my phone to call her, to tell her the news, that she had just passed away. Instead I sent her a text which came in the form of a poem. After a year of texting poems to her mute phone I published my first poetry book, a one-sided dialogue with my dead mother. That year we left Israel and moved to Canada. Orphanhood made me feel like a stranger in my own home. I thought it will be easier to be a stranger in a place where I don’t even expect to belong. That I will feel less orphaned in a country my mom had never even visited. Being in Canada was supposed to make the distance from her more logical. It didn’t. Poetry is that ocean of fire I step into every time I’m desperate for some logic. It’s obviously hopeless. But for those moments when it seems to almost work, I keep on trying.” (web)
It’s true I drove an SUV once
through Fresno with a backseat full
of college boys to whom I found myself
having to explain you could still catch herpes
even while wearing a condom. One of them
in particular was incredulous, he was listening to his iPod
and he removed his headphones and said he had
a few more questions. These were my husband’s
varsity runners, and I was a volunteer, so I was awarded
the new rental with only four miles on it when we left
the lot. I’m not going to lie—
I liked driving it. It was nothing
like riding coach or making love
with protection. There were so many buttons
to push, and they all did something satisfying,
like drop from the ceiling a DVD player
for passengers or warm the driver’s legs
in just the right places. The seats were leather,
the kind you feel guilty just sitting on,
the good kind of guilty when you can’t help
but imagine parking somewhere with someone
so you can watch the stars rise over the city,
take time to check out all the automatic features.
The boy you’re with will want to know
how things work, and you’ll end up showing him,
because he is young, because he has a bag of sour apple
or peach fruit rings he’s willing to share, because his face
can look so becoming in the streetlights.
But mostly it’s because you can no longer remember
where you were going. Was it to dinner?
Were you taking him back to his hotel, where
he’ll sleep, dream of winning?
Or maybe it was a nighttime snack
run. The SUV is black
and the night is blacker. You can feel it
closing, like a fist around a steering wheel.
You’re not the fist. You’re the wheel.
Bryan Walpert: “Poetry began as a passion, grew into addiction, and has since taken over my life, taking it in directions I would never have expected. Here I am in New Zealand, having followed poetry to the ends of the earth, without fully understanding how that came to be. I no longer know why I write it, only that years of poetry have changed the way I think about almost everything else. And for that I am grateful.” (web)
Craig van Rooyen: “One of my biggest faults is avoiding hard conversations. Among other things, writing poetry is a way to trick myself into saying things I would not otherwise say and knowing things I would not otherwise know.”