new in ’22

December 31, 2021

We may have a few more “best-of” book lists after the first of the year, but meanwhile, lists of forthcoming poetry books are already showing up. Here are a few for 2022. (You can also visit your favorite publishers’ websites and view the Spring 2022 catalog of forthcoming titles.)

Happy New Year and happy reading!


December 30, 2021

Due to unanticipated delays, we’ve been remiss in posting the illustrated placards for the 2021 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems. That’s about to be corrected. Over the coming weeks, each of the 25 winning poems will appear in this space and also be linked to the Winners page.

The Contest is deeply grateful to this year’s illustrious judges, Robert Lashley and Elizabeth Vignali, and also extends thanks to the four artists who have added their vision to the poets’ words: Angela Boyle, Megan Carroll, Christian Anne Smith, and Kimberly Wulfestieg.

where we live

December 29, 2021

Photographer Dominique Nabokov has spent much of her career looking at faces and recording where and how people live. Beginning with a commission published in The New Yorker in 1995, Nabokov’s “holy trinity of interior photography” features the living rooms of artists, writers, and other figures of contemporary culture. These are not staged glamor shots, though some are architecturally stunning, but are intimate and immediate, as if the person might have left the room just moments before.

New York Living Rooms (1998), Paris Living Rooms (2002), and Berlin Living Rooms (2017) have been recently reissued by Apartmento.

Literary Hub offers a glance at Nabokov’s photos from the original New Yorker set. Here is an earlier selection from her Paris photos and here is a 2018 interview, with photographs, from Architectural Digest.

The New Yorker recaps

December 28, 2021

As publications review the sorrows and achievements of the past year, The New Yorker has assembled a recap of poems published throughout 2021.

The poetry that The New Yorker published in 2021 attests to the overwhelming sorrow, fury, and strangeness of our time, and locates small yet significant instances of genuine mercy, beauty, wonder, possibility. These poems bear the weight of loss and trauma, incurred in recent months and inherited across generations, but as they mourn they also marvel at the multifarious, improbable experience of being alive, urging us to attend to both what is and what could be.

Read The Year in New Yorker Poetry (click on each poem for the full text and, in some cases, audio).

Take two as needed

December 27, 2021

Now and again, it’s good to update your prescriptions. It may be time to increase your daily dose of poetry. Some of the following links will take you to sign-up pages, others to daily or frequent poem postings. Some sites are curated, some are crowd-sourced.

Take two as needed.

And if we’ve omitted your favorite daily poetry site, please leave a comment!

on poetry

December 26, 2021

“And that thing about locating yourself? Writing does that too. It locates you in the family of living things, the family of seeing what’s going on around you. The writing situates you in the world. My writing is abstract and metaphorical, which puts some people off, but it’s still in a way tied down into really seeing things, real lived and done things.”

Ed Roberson
(b. December 26, 1939)

. . . . .
photo by Anya Schultz

poems for today

December 25, 2021

However you celebrate the day, you might find your mood reflected in The Guardian’s Top 10 Christmas poems. Have a lovely holiday.

* * * * *
graphic © J.I. Kleinberg

one poem, extra large

December 24, 2021

Expo 2020, in Dubai, which opened in October and continues through March 31, 2022, anticipates 25 million visitors to its 192 pavilions. The UK Pavilion, designed by artist Es Devlin and inspired by one of the final projects of Stephen Hawking, features a huge display of poetry generated by artificial intelligence (AI).

According to this article in CNN Travel, this “Collective Message” involved training the AI with more than a million lines of poetry. The couplets change every 60 seconds, with additional words contributed by pavilion visitors. More on the UK Pavilion website.

Best-of season – 3

December 22, 2021

Here’s our third round of best-of poetry books for 2021. Some are part of a larger best-of list, so you may have to browse to find poetry titles.

Happy winter reading!

Finding Light Together

December 21, 2021

This is a guest post by Holly J. Hughes

To share stories during dark times has long been a necessary, radical act.
~ from the Introduction to
Keep a Green Bough: Voices from the Heart of Cascadia

As I write this, we’re losing just four seconds of light each day as we approach the winter solstice, when the days will begin to stretch longer again. This incremental, daily loss of light is elemental as gravity, our seasonal rhythm, but for the last two years, the darkness has felt darker, deeper. And for the last two months, I’ve had to look hard each day to find the glimmers of light that sustain me. I know they’re there — all I need do is step out my door to see them: rain-slick rhododendron leaves, abandoned apple trees still holding a few apples, bright berries of the madrona, billowing clouds that part for a few stray rays of sun. But some days even those glimpses aren’t enough. For me, one of the enduring lessons of the pandemic is that we’re in this together — and that’s when I turn to other writers to help sustain my spirit.

A year ago, I was invited by the publisher of Empty Bowl Press to edit an issue of The Madrona Project. Responding to the mission of Empty Bowl as a publisher of “literature that reveals human communities in wild places,” I put out a call for submissions, asking my sister writers how living in our Cascadia bioregion has sustained them during the past challenging year. I was hopeful that in these divisive times, this invitation might offer a way to come together around this place and our shared common fate.

My hope was to express the diversity of voices in the Cascadia bioregion, so I reached out to many writers, starting with those who’ve lived here since Time Immemorial, as well as women working the land and the sea. My inbox was soon overflowing with poems, essays, and art reflecting not just the beauty of our place but the resiliency of the human spirit. As the voices came together, the title, too, came: Keep a Green Bough: Voices from the Heart of Cascadia, after the Chinese saying, “Keep a green bough in your heart, the singing bird will come.”

Keep a Green Bough has been out in the world for six months now. From the amazing turnout at our Finnriver farm launch to our last Zoom reading hosted by Peninsula College’s ʔaʔkʷustəŋáw̕txʷ House of Learning, those in the audience have been visibly touched and, I hope, heartened. Each time we read together, I find myself in tears at the end, moved by the beauty and power of words spoken honestly, and the resilience not only of the human spirit but of all our kin.

For me, this collection has become a steady reminder of what was affirmed last year: how essential that we connect with our living Earth and witness her human history, even the painful parts, then join together to do all we can to create a just and sustainable future for all beings.

As Rainer Maria Rilke reminds us, this is the role of the poet:

O tell us, poet, what do you do? — I praise.
But those dark, deadly, devastating ways,
how do you bear them, suffer them? — I praise.

. . . . .

In addition to editing Keep a Green Bough: Voices from the Heart of Cascadia, Holly J. Hughes is the author of Hold Fast and Sailing by Ravens, coauthor of The Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, and editor of Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease. Her fine-art chapbook Passings received an American Book Award in 2017. She lives on the Olympic Peninsula, where she leads writing and mindfulness workshops, consults as a writing coach, and directs Flying Squirrel Studio, a writing retreat for women on the aboriginal territory of the Suquamish (suq̀ʷabš), who continue to live on and protect the land and waters of their ancestors for future generations. You can find out more at her website:

author photo by John Pierce

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