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NOR Shakespeare Issue

Published August 29, 2016 Posted By
new orleans reviewThe newest issue of New Orleans Review is a special tribute to Shakespeare. According to Guest Editor Hillary Eklund, "The primary motivation for this issue is that 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, and we wanted to commemorate that by looking at Shakespeare's 21st century literary afterlives."

The original call for submissions was: “Four centuries after William Shakespeare’s death, his name ennobles a variety of cultural institutions, from libraries and endowed chairs to summer camps and rubber duckies. Even as these structures—both lofty and lowly—rise and fall, we bear witness to the greatest power Shakespeare described: that of poetry itself to preserve without rigidity, to endure without sameness, and to inspire without dominance. Beyond the array of institutions that bear his name, what conversations do Shakespeare’s eternal lines animate now?”

"We welcomed submissions that riff on, respond to, reimagine, or recast any of Shakespeare’s works in any genre," says Eklund, "including short fiction, poetry, image/text collections, creative nonfiction, and scholarship. The response was great. We had submissions from poets, fiction writers, essayists, and scholars. We especially relished the opportunity to put creative work in direct conversation with scholarly work; few journals have the license to do that, and the result is, I think, quite exciting."

Hillary EklundEklund herself is a scholar of early modern literature and Associate Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans. She has published articles and chapters in Shakespeare Studies and in essay collections on early modern literature. Her book Literature and Moral Economy in the Early Atlantic: Elegant Sufficiencies came out in 2015 with Ashgate Press, and she has a collection of essays, Groundwork: English Renaissance Literature and Soil Science, forthcoming from Duquesne University Press.

When I asked about the experience of editing this issue, Eklund responded: "The experience has helped me to focus the chatter around Shakespeare, who this year more than ever seems to be everywhere, and I hope it will have a similar effect on our readers. As we take stock of the many commemorations and celebrations of Shakespeare in 2016, the pieces in this issue help us think through the question of what we gain from Shakespeare today – what, if anything, reading or thinking about Shakespeare is good for. Some of our contributors have taken up Shakespeare's enduring themes and respun them in modern contexts. Others have used contemporary contexts to rethink some of the problems Shakespeare's work presents, particularly problems of gender and race."

Books :: 2015 Pleiades Press Editors Prize

Published August 29, 2016 Posted By

landscape with headless mama jennifer givhanForthcoming in October is Jennifer Givhan’s Landscape with Headless Mama, winner of the Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry. The collection “explores the experiences of becoming and being a mother through the lens of dark fairy tales,” and is described by Givhan as “a surreal survival guide.”

Copies are available for pre-order from the Pleiades Press website, as well as more information about Landscape with Headless Mama.

Books :: How Punny

Published August 25, 2016 Posted By

oy caramba ed ilan stavansWho doesn’t appreciate a good play on words? The University of New Mexico Press has announced an anthology forthcoming in September, edited by Ilan Stavans, with a title that tickled my pun fancy.

The anthology of Jewish stories from Latin America is titled Oy, Caramba!, and put a smile on my face the moment it arrived. Even the bright, eye-catching cover mixes the Jewish and Latin American cultures: a sugar skull decorated with a hamsa, Chai symbols, and the Star of David.

First published in 1994 as Tropical Synagogues: Short Stories by Jewish-Latin American Writers, the anthology returns next month, expanded and updated.

Check out the UNM Press website for more information.


Main Street Rag 20th Anniversary

Published August 23, 2016 Posted By
main street ragIn his Welcome Readers Summer 2016 column, Editor M. Scott Douglass begins, "It may have gone unnoticed since we didn't make a fuss about it, but The Main Street Rag recently experienced a milestone." Having started in May of 1996, that milestone is 20 continuous years of publishing MSR, beginning as Main Street Rag Poetry Journal. "We've gone through many changes," Douglass writes, "taken advice from notable people like Dana Gioia who advised me to diversify our content and broaden our audience. We did and it did. So did the workload."

Douglass comments on the efforts of many committed individuals who have supported the publication through the years - with blood, sweat and tears, and "who work specific projects for cheap, sometimes for beer and/or Chinese food." Sounds like literary publishing as we know it. But Douglass has built quite a publishing house, producing "as many as 200 titles in a single year, but now averages between 100 and 120 titles per year, when you include our titles, this literary magazine and those we produce for others, and the books we produce as a contractor."

I'm sure there are hundreds of individuals, if not in the thousands by now, who owe some thanks to The Main Street Rag for having given them the opportunity to be published and read, and certainly in those thousands, those who have appreciated being able to read from this publishing house over the past 20 year. MSR has been a mainstay in the literary community. We congratulate them on two great decades of dedication and commitment to literary publishing, and wish them many, many more years of good work.

Georgia Review Feature :: Coleman Barks

Published August 22, 2016 Posted By
coleman barksThe Summer 2016 issue of The Georgia Review includes a special feature on Coleman Barks. In addition to an introduction by Editor Stephen Corey, the section includes several poems and a prose piece by Barks. The prose, an essay titled "Figures from My Boyhood," begins, "Steve Corey asked me to do a prose piece (on my influences, he suggested) for The Georgia Review. But I seem to have more energy for childhood obsessions. Sorry to be so self-absorbed." Exactly what we would expect from Barks.

Other authors whose works in tribute to Barks are included: Ty Sassaman, Hugh Ruppersburg, Jody Kennedy, Ravi Shankar, John Yow, Norman Minnick, Gulnaz Saiyed, Naomi Shihab Nye, Lisa Starr, and Gordon Johnston. Several of the works, including one of Barks poems, can be read online here.

The Meadow 2016 Novella Contest Winner

Published August 19, 2016 Posted By
mark brazaitisThe Meadow 2016 Novella Prize winner is "The Spider" by Mark Brazaitis [pictured] and can be read both in the print issue as well as online. Brazaitis is the author of six books, including The Incurables: Stories, which won the 2012 Sullivan Prize in Short Fiction and the 2013 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award. His latest book, Truth Poker: Stories, won the 2014 Autumn House Press Fiction Competition. The Meadow is the annual literary and arts journal of Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada.
anne marie todkillThe Malahat Review #195 features Anne Marie Todkill's story "Next of Kin," winner of the 2016 Novella Prize. Todkill’s entry was chosen from 225 submissions by three final judges: Mark Anthony Jarman, Stephen Marche, and Joan Thomas. She has been awarded $1,500 in prize money and publication.

Of "Next of Kin," the judges said: "With its controlled reveal of complications, it has the drive of a mystery story—but the mystery under investigation is the intricacies of a family over time. Anne Marie Todkill is an accomplished writer, offering surprising and astute insights into the relationship between sisters. Her dialogue is sharp and she is especially incisive in writing about sex. Her narrator Marian speaks with a knowing voice, at odds with her 'small life'; the things she withholds come to the reader as a series of small explosions. Todkill imposes no pattern over events and offers her characters no epiphanies. Instead, incidents refract off each other and the story speaks powerfully through its silences. Like all good novellas, 'Next of Kin' offers both the concentrated pleasures of a short story and the scope of a novel."

Read an interview with the Anne Marie Todkill here.

Cuban & Cuban-American Writers & Artists

Published August 17, 2016 Posted By
new letters2The newest issue of New Letters (v82 nos 3 & 4) includes a special section of Cuban & Cuban-American Writers & Artists co-edited with Mia Leonin, author of Braid (Anhinga Press) and Unraveling the Bed (Anhinga Press), and a memoir Havana and Other Missing Fathers (University of Arizona Press). Leonin currently teaches creative writing at University of Miami. The introductory note by Editor Robert Stewart reads:

"Humans don't wait for revolution or democracy in order to live their lives," says Mia Leonin...Her point underscores both the force of literature and art, and the hope found there. The impulses to generalize about certain groups, to categorize and perhaps condemn--to indulge in the quality of discourse imposed on us by many critics and politicians--find their antidote in literature. "The poems, stories, and essays in these pages," Leonin continues, "remind us that Cuba is not an idea or ideology, a photo op or a news line. Likewise, its diaspora is neither offshoot nor derivative. Whatever its temporality, literature is the present moment unfolding, and these writers carve out each moment with authenticity and vision."

Authors and artists whose works are featured: Chantel Acevedo, Alfredo Zaldivar, Ruth Behar, Lisiette Alonso, Cristina Garcia ("Berliners Who, two stories" can be read here), Orlando Ricardo Menes, Ana Menendez, Laura Ruiz Montes, Pablo Medina.
  • 57 /

    A Mariel Epistolary, fiction

    , Chantel Acevedo
  • 61 /

    Utopias, poems, translated by Margaret Randall

    , Alfredo Zaldivar
  • 62 /

    For Three Months I Am Alone in La Habana, poem in English & Spanish 

    , Ruth Behar
  • 66 /

    Three Poems

    , Lisiette Alonso
  • 69 /

    Berliners Who, two stories

    , Cristina Garcia
  • 79 /

    Two Poems

    , Orlando Ricardo Menes
  • 83 /

    Two Essays: The Rooster That Attacked My Sister & Wandering Creatures

    , Ana Menendez
  • 94 /

    Two Poems, trnaslated by Margaret Randall

    , Laura Ruiz Montes
  • 96 /

    That Dream Again

    , Pablo Medina
  • 2016 Willow Springs Fiction Winner

    Published August 16, 2016 Posted By

    willow springsThis year's winner of the Willow Springs Fiction is "Gorilla Love Story" by Chelsea Bryant. The award provides each entrant with a one-year subscription to the publication; the winner receives $2000 + publication in the annual June issue. Willow Springs offers some of their publication's content for online reading along with comments from the author about the work.

    [Cover image by Marta Berens from Dream Chapter]

    The Poetry Marathon is Complete

    Published August 15, 2016 Posted By
    finishJust like the foot race marathon, you don't get bragging rights until you actually do it. And, appropriately, this year's Poetry Marathon took place during the summer Olympics. So while I was toiling away at my poetry prompts and posting poems to the official marathon blog, runners from around the world were competing for gold, silver and bronze medals in Rio.

    Unlike the Olympics, the Poetry Marathon is an annual event. I originally posted on it here, and the PM website offers a complete history and FAQ of the event. While I've known about the event for several years, this is the first year I  participated. Luckily for me (and many others), the organizers have created a half marathon, which is what I completed. Both marathons start at 9:00am ET on writing day (Aug 13 this year), then every hour for 12 or 24 hours, participants are expected to write a poem and post it to the PM website. Each participant gets their own login on a group Wordpress site, then as each participant publishes a poem, which is housed on their own blog space, it is also posted to the whole group blog. If you look at the site now, what you see are the poems posted by the participants as they came in.

    If this sounds like a big commitment of a day, it is - or it can be. The organizers are flexible in letting participants commit to (on their honor) writing one poem every hour and then posting them when they can get to a computer. Some participants commented on having to go to work, so while they were writing the poems, they wouldn't be posting them until later. Even for me, with a day "off," I couldn't be at the computer every hour of the day.

    Bottom line: Was it fun? Was it engaging? Was it worthwhile? Yes, yes, and yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Until you do it, you don't quite "get it." Write a poem an hour? Anyone can do that on their own. But it was motivating (even a bit demanding) being in the community, committed to having to publish poems up to the website, having to be responsible every hour of the day. In fact, even while I was just sitting working at the computer, I almost missed one of the hours because I was so caught up in my work. I realized it with only five minutes left in the hour and scrambled to catch up! The pressure! It was wonderful. As were the prompts, which the organizers provide at the top of every hour. I admire those writers who had their own ideas for poems, but I relied heavily on the prompts to give me something to write about and get the writing done. There were many who did the same, and it was engaging to see the various interpretations of the prompts - a lot of really creative writers.

    When it was done - 12 hours and 12 poems later - I felt a deep sense of pride and accomplishment. Not that I believe I wrote 12 astonishing poems that will shake the world. But because I wrote 12 poems in 12 hours as part of a community of people who were just as eager and committed as me. Surrounded for a whole day by an entire community of poets - reading, writing, commenting, and then doing it all over again, and again, and again. I think immersion is the right word.

    I also learned that not everyone will be able to appreciate the experience if you try to share your joy at the accomplishment. "I just finished a poetry half marathon!" I exclaimed to my husband as I walked away from the computer at 9:00pm after just having posted my final poem. "Okay," he said, not turning away from his laptop.

    What you get out of it is definitely personal. Unlike the foot race, and unlike the Olympics, there aren't throngs of people cheering your completion, no competitors there to hug you for a good race won. Though the organizers and participants do post encouraging comments for one another and have chat groups running to motivate one another, in the end, the sense of whatever it has meant to you will be completely up to you to generate and to own.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, I was challenged, I accomplished my goal, and I hope to be back to do it again next year.

    Thank you Poetry Marathon! Congratulations to everyone who completed the half 12 hours of writing and the full 24 hours of writing. I get it: You are amazing!


    Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

    Published August 15, 2016 Posted By
    river teethThis week's covers just say "summer" to me, starting with this Spring 2016 issue of River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative. The cover photo is of Chipmunk Creek, Richland County, OH by David FitzSimmons.
    gettysburg reviewThe Gettysburg Review Autumn 2016 issue features The Letter A, detail by Alexandra Tyng, 2012, oil on linen. The publication also includes a full-color portfolio of eight of his works.
    ragazineThe online publication Ragazine features Castles in the Sky, oil on watercolor paper by Laura Guese, and also includes an interview with her in the issue here.

    Big Muddy 2016 Contest Winners

    Published August 10, 2016 Posted By
    Big Muddy: A Journal of the MIssissippi River Valley volume 16.1 features winners of two of Southeast Missouri State University Press's annual contests:

    2016 Wilda Hearne Flash Fiction Award
    $500 + publication
    "The Mockingbird" by John Blair, Texas

    2016 Mighty River Short Story Award
    $1000 + publication
    "Teachers" by Elisabeth Doyle, Washington, DC

    Books :: 2016 Perugia Press Prize

    Published August 09, 2016 Posted By

    guide to the exhibit lisa allen oritzLisa Allen Oritz took home the Perugia Press Prize for a first or second book by a woman (now open for 2017 submissions) in 2016 with the poetry collection Guide to the Exhibit

    “Inspired by the displays at a small natural history museum” Guide to the Exhibit is “about what we set aside to examine and remember,” using a quirky, scientific lens.

    At the Perugia Press website, readers can find an excerpt from the collection, which will be released and September, as well as preorder copies.

    Amercian Life in Poetry :: Meg Kearney

    Published August 09, 2016 Posted By
    American Life in Poetry: Column 593

    Here's a fine, deftly made poem by Meg Kearney, of New Hampshire, in which the details deliver the emotions, which are never overtly named other than by the title. It's my favorite kind of poem, and it's from her book An Unkindness of Ravens, from BOA Editions. Her most recent book is Home By Now (Four Way Books 2009).


    The girl hunting with her father approaches
    the strange man who has stopped at the end
    of his day to rest and look at the lake.
    Do you like geese? she asks. The man smiles.
    The girl draws a webbed foot from her pocket
    and places it in his hand. It's late fall
    and still the geese keep coming, two fingers
    spread against a caution-yellow sky. Before
    he can thank her, the girl has run off, down
    to the edge of the water. The man studies her
    father, about to bring down his third goose
    today—then ponders the foot: soft, pink,
    and covered with dirt like the little girl's hand.
    He slips it into his coat pocket, and holds it there.

    We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2001 by Meg Kearney, “Loneliness,” from An Unkindness of Ravens, (BOA Editions, 2001). Poem reprinted by permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, LTD. Introduction copyright ©2016 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

    2016 Dogwood Literary Prize Winners

    Published August 03, 2016 Posted By
    dogwoodThe newest issue of Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose (Volume 15: 2016) contains nothing but the winners and runners up of their annual literary contest for 2016. Unique to this contest, once genre winners are selected for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, one author is awarded the Grand Prize overall with $1000 award.

    This year's Grand Prize winner was Anna Leahy’s essay “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This.”

    A complete list of authors as well as judge's comments for each of the winners can be found here along with a link for information about the 2017 contest.

    Lit Mag Covers :: Picks of the Week

    Published August 03, 2016 Posted By
    It's been a while since we've done some cover art features, so thanks to you readers who let us know how much you appreciate this post!
    colorado reviewIrresistable: Colorado Review's Summer 2016 cover image is just so summery with this full-cover-wrap photogray by Lenny Koh of Lenny K Photography.
    themaThema's Summer 2016 cover is reflective of this issue's theme: "Lost in the Zoo." Cover photograph by Kathleen Gunton.
    cimarron reviewAlong with Cimarron Review's Spring 2016 issue, I almost had a whole cat theme going. This one taps my appreciation for whimsy with Sabrina Barnett's photo "Greens (2)."

    Amercian Life in Poetry :: Dorriane Laux

    Published August 02, 2016 Posted By
    American Life in Poetry: Column 591

    Dorianne Laux, who lives in North Carolina, is one of our country's most distinguished poets, and here's a poignant poem about a family resemblance. It's from her book Smoke, from BOA Editions.

    Ray at 14

    Bless this boy, born with the strong face
    of my older brother, the one I loved most,
    who jumped with me from the roof
    of the playhouse, my hand in his hand.
    On Friday nights we watched Twilight Zone
    and he let me hold the bowl of popcorn,
    a blanket draped over our shoulders,
    saying, Don't be afraid. I was never afraid
    when I was with my big brother
    who let me touch the baseball-size muscles
    living in his arms, who carried me on his back
    through the lonely neighborhood,
    held tight to the fender of my bike
    until I made him let go.
    The year he was fourteen
    he looked just like Ray, and when he died
    at twenty-two on a roadside in Germany
    I thought he was gone forever.
    But Ray runs into the kitchen: dirty T-shirt,
    torn jeans, pushes back his sleeve.
    He says, Feel my muscle, and I do.

    We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2000 by Dorianne Laux, “Ray at 14,” (Smoke, BOA Editions, 2000). Poem reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. Introduction copyright ©2016 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.
    michael ananiaValley Voices Spring 2015 is a special issue on Michael Anania, guest edited by Michael Antonucci and Garin Cycholl, who write, "Anania's space is the river, the imagined city - a Chicago of relentless modernity, one capable of reinventing itself and making itself for sale again and again as the waters rise and fall. From here, the poet observes and reflects on this Chicago on the make - a sprawl of fresh water and wind, candy and steel."

    Featured in the volume is an interview with Anania as well as several of his poems. Also included are essays on Anania's work: "Modernist Current: Michael Anania's Poetry of the Western Rivers" by Robert Archambeau; "'Out of Dazzlement'...Chiaroscuro Revisited" by Peter Michaelson; "'Energy Held in Elegant Control': Vortex Anania" by Lachlan Murray; "Another Italian-American Poet in Omaha: Italy in Michael Anania's Poetry" by William Allegrezza; "Michael Anania's The Red Menace: A Study in Self-Production" by David Ray Vance; "'Like Hands Raised in Song': Proper Names in Michael Anania's 'Steal Away'" by Lea Graham; "On Michael Anania's In Natural Light" by Reginald Gibbons as well as several more.

    "This collection of essays and original work," the editors write, "offers a set of moments in lands (and waters) surveyed by Anania. That land pretends a relentless modernity - one that Anania has evidenced for readers, colleagues, and other artists page by page, line by line. Charles Olson argued that the poet either rides on or digs into the land. This collection of essays and Anania's writings attest that he has done both."

    black anthem bruce bondWinner of the 2014 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, Bruce Bond’s Black Anthem, was published this month. The sonnets in the collection are “wide-ranging in their investigations of the body, the psyche, metaphysical hunger, and its place in human conflict.” Black Anthem is available from the University of Tampa Press website in hardcover and paperback.

    2015 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards

    Published July 27, 2016 Posted By
    Issue 44 of Paterson Literary Review annual (2016-2017) features the winners and honorable mentions from their 2015 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards:

    paterson literary review 44First Prize
    Ann Clark, Dexter, NY, “Pretend” and Annie Lanzillotto, Yonkers, NY, “Diminished Capacity, an Indictment”

    Second Prize
    Lynne McEniry, Morristown, NJ, “Splinter”

    Third Prize
    Maxine Susman, Princeton, NJ, “Thirteen”

    A full list of winners and honorable mentions as well as guidelines for this annual contest can be found here.

    different wakeful animal susan cohenIn June, A Different Wakeful Animal by Susan Cohen was published by Red Dragonfly Press. Winner of the 2015 David Martinson - Meadowhawk Prize, A Different Wakeful Animal “takes on the profound questions in language that catches the ear and the imagination. [ . . . ] A Different Wakeful Animal investigates what perishes and what might remain.”

    Readers can grab a copy of Cohen’s poetry collection, and writers can still submit to the 2016 David Martinson – Meadowhawk Prize until August 31.

    SRPR Review Essay Feature

    Published July 26, 2016 Posted By
    Each issue of Spoon River Poetry Review print jounral concludes with “The SRPR Review Essay,” which editors identify as "a long analytical essay (20-25 pp) that blurs the line between the short, opinion-driven review and the academic article. Each review essay is written by an established poet-critic who situates 3-5 new books of contemporary poetry within relevant conversations concerning poetry and poetics. At least half of the books discussed in the review essay are published by small presses." The most recent issue (41.1) features "The New in the News: Poetry, Authenticity, and the Historical Imagination" by Bruce Bond, and includes critical reviews of The Road In Is Not the Same Road Out: Poems by Karen Solie (Farrar, Straus, and Girous, 2015) and Emblems of the Passing World: Poems after Photographs by August Sander by Adam Kirsch (The Other Press, 2015). A list of recent SRPR review essays can be found here, with some excerpted as well as full text.

    Books :: 2015 Tenth Gate Prize Winner

    Published July 26, 2016 Posted By

    works on paper jennifer barberLooking back to May, Jennifer Barber’s Works on Paper was published by The Word Works. Winner of the 2015 Word Works Tenth Gate Prize. Her third poetry collection, Works on Paper “shows us the power of lyric restraint in the hands of a poet who draws from the well of the small moments of motherhood as well as the sweep of Jewish history.” This year’s Tenth Gate Prize just closed earlier in the month, with results announced on October 1st

    2016 Ezra Jack Keats Book Award

    Published July 25, 2016 Posted By
    Ezra jack keatsThe Ezra Jack Keats Foundation is accepting submissions from publishers for the twenty-seventh annual Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Book Awards (known collectively as the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award).

    The awards are designed to recognize and encourage authors and illustrators starting out in the field of children's books who share Ezra Jack Keats' commitment to children and diversity. The award is given annually to an outstanding new writer and new illustrator of picture books for children (9 years old and under). Publishers are encouraged to submit works by new writers and illustrators who are committed to celebrating diversity through their writing and art.

    To be eligible, writers and illustrators must have had no more than three books published. A selection committee of early childhood education specialists, librarians, illustrators, and experts in children's literature will review the entries, seeking books that portray the universal qualities of childhood, a strong and supportive family, and the multicultural nature of our world. The award includes an honorarium of $1,000 for each winner.

    Deadline: December 15, 2016
    American Life in Poetry: Column 590

    As children, just about everyone has experienced the very real fear of an imaginary monster. But what if our mothers could have spoken to our childhood fears? Carrie Shipers of Wisconsin, the author of Family Resemblances: Poems (University of New Mexico Press), depicts just that when a protective mother talks back to her son's Bogeyman in this fine poem.

    Mother Talks Back to the Monster

    carrie shipersTonight, I dressed my son in astronaut pajamas,
    kissed his forehead and tucked him in.
    I turned on his night-light and looked for you
    in the closet and under the bed. I told him
    you were nowhere to be found, but I could smell
    your breath, your musty fur. I remember
    all your tricks: the jagged shadows on the wall,
    click of your claws, the hand that hovered
    just above my ankles if I left them exposed.
    Since I became a parent I see danger everywhere—
    unleashed dogs, sudden fevers, cereal
    two days out of date. And even worse
    than feeling so much fear is keeping it inside,
    trying not to let my love become so tangled
    with anxiety my son thinks they're the same.
    When he says he's seen your tail or heard
    your heavy step, I insist that you aren't real.
    Soon he'll feel too old to tell me his bad dreams.
    If you get lonely after he's asleep, you can
    always come downstairs. I'll be sitting
    at the kitchen table with the dishes
    I should wash, crumbs I should wipe up.
    We can drink hot tea and talk about
    the future, how hard it is to be outgrown.

    We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2015 by Carrie Shipers, “Mother Talks Back to the Monster” (North American Review, Vol. 300, no. 4, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Carrie Shipers and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2016 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

    We welcome any/all Feedback.