Meditation at Decatur Square

1.

 

In which I try to decipher

                               the story it tells, 

this syntax of monuments 

                flanking the old courthouse: 

                               here, a rough outline 

like the torso of a woman 

                great with child— 

                               a steatite boulder from which 

                the Indians

Natasha Trethewey served two terms as Poet Laureate of the United States (2012–2014). She is the author of four collections of poetry: Thrall (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), Native Guard (2006)—for which she was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize—Bellocq’s Ophelia (2002), and Domestic Work (2000). Her book of nonfiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, appeared in 2010 from the University of Georgia Press. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Trethewey is Robert W. Woodruff Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University.

She Gathers Rocks

Derek Sheffield’s poetry collection Through the Second Skin (Orchises Press, 2013) was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. His work has also appeared recently in the Gettysburg Review, the Southern Review, and AGNI. He lives with his family on the east slopes of the Cascades and is the poetry editor of Terrain.org.

Check dam

Anne Haven McDonnell’s work has appeared in Terrain.org, Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, and elsewhere. Her poetry has received two Pushcart Prize nominations, and in March 2016 she was a writer-in-residence for the Andrews Forest Writers’ Residency of the Spring Creek Project in Oregon. She lives in Santa Fe and teaches English and sustainability courses as an associate professor at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Who Can Know

J. P. White’s poetry collections include All Good Water (Holy Cow! Press, 2010), The Salt Hour (2001), and The Pomegranate Tree Speaks from the Dictator’s Garden (1996). He has published essays, articles, fiction, reviews, interviews, and poetry in the Nation, the New Republic, the New York Times Book Review, and Poetry.

Ghettoland: Exeunt

follow the morning star

 

Tell yourself it’s only a sliver of sun

burning into your chest, a cap of gold

or radiant halo justly worn by

the righteous at heart—

 

then take it off, stomp it, rip out

Rita Dove, born in 1952 in Akron, Ohio, earned degrees from Miami University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her record of achievement is unprecedented. When in February 2011 she received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, she became the first person to have received all three of the country’s highest arts distinctions—the others being the Humanities Medal and a term of service as Poet Laureate (2003–5). She has been a frequent guest of Bill Moyers’ PBS series. In 1987, she received the Pulitzer Prize for her third collection of poems, Thomas and Beulah, which is loosely based on her maternal grandparents’ lives. She also has nine other volumes of poetry: Collected Poems 1974–2004 (2016), Sonata Mulattica (2009), American Smooth (2004), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), Mother Love (1995), Selected Poems (1993), Grace Notes (1989), Museum (1983), and The Yellow House on the Corner (1980). She has published a collection of essays, The Poet’s World (1995); a drama, The Darker Face of the Earth: A Verse Play in Fourteen Scenes (1994); a novel, Through the Ivory Gate (1992); and a collection of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985). She has edited two volumes, The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry (2011) and The Best American Poetry 2000 (2000). From 2004 to 2006, Dove served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia. She holds twenty-five honorary doctorates, is a classically trained musician (viola de gamba), and has done numerous musical collaborations, including Seven for Luck, seven poems by Rita Dove with music by John Williams, and Umoja: Each One of Us Counts, music by Alvin Singleton, commissioned by the Atlanta Olympic Summer Games. Since 1989, she has taught at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she holds the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English.

Three Aubades (Aubade: The Constitutional, Aubade: West, Aubade: East)

In 1516, the Most Serene Republic of Venice confined its Jews to the site of a former foundry. The Venetian word for foundry was geto. 

 


Aubade: The Constitutional

Leone da Modena. The Veneto.

A day like this I should count

Rita Dove, born in 1952 in Akron, Ohio, earned degrees from Miami University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her record of achievement is unprecedented. When in February 2011 she received the National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama, she became the first person to have received all three of the country’s highest arts distinctions—the others being the Humanities Medal and a term of service as Poet Laureate (2003–5). She has been a frequent guest of Bill Moyers’ PBS series. In 1987, she received the Pulitzer Prize for her third collection of poems, Thomas and Beulah, which is loosely based on her maternal grandparents’ lives. She also has nine other volumes of poetry: Collected Poems 1974–2004 (2016), Sonata Mulattica (2009), American Smooth (2004), On the Bus with Rosa Parks (1999), Mother Love (1995), Selected Poems (1993), Grace Notes (1989), Museum (1983), and The Yellow House on the Corner (1980). She has published a collection of essays, The Poet’s World (1995); a drama, The Darker Face of the Earth: A Verse Play in Fourteen Scenes (1994); a novel, Through the Ivory Gate (1992); and a collection of short stories, Fifth Sunday (1985). She has edited two volumes, The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry (2011) and The Best American Poetry 2000 (2000). From 2004 to 2006, Dove served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia. She holds twenty-five honorary doctorates, is a classically trained musician (viola de gamba), and has done numerous musical collaborations, including Seven for Luck, seven poems by Rita Dove with music by John Williams, and Umoja: Each One of Us Counts, music by Alvin Singleton, commissioned by the Atlanta Olympic Summer Games. Since 1989, she has taught at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where she holds the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English.

Osmium Schwartz on Her Back

Courtney Sender’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, Tin House, American Short Fiction, Glimmer Train, Amazon Day One, Slice, and more. She holds an MFA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars and a BA from Yale University, where she now teaches. A MacDowell Colony fellow, she is currently working on a novel.

The Longing of Men

Jerry McGahan (1943–2016), beekeeper and much else, was the author of the story collection The Deer Walking Upside Down (Schaffner Press, 2015) and the novel A Condor Brings the Sun (1996). His stories and essays were published by the Iowa Review, the Antioch Review, the Gettysburg Review, Ploughshares, and other literary journals. McGahan passed away with his wife, Janet, by his side in Arlee, Montana, on the land he had loved for almost fifty years.

The Stones of Sorrow Lake

I pressed my face to the car window to see Jackson’s hometown, the place we’d spent all our money moving to after graduation, the place we would be stuck in. It was June, the month of green. Willows everywhere wept …

Brenda Peynado’s stories have been selected for the O. Henry Prize Stories 2015, as a Chicago Tribune Nelson Algren Award recipient, and for other honors. Peynado has received a Fulbright fellowship to the Dominican Republic, a Writers @ Work fellowship, and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and her work appears in such journals as EPOCH, the Threepenny Review, Mid-American Review, and Black Warrior Review. She received her MFA from Florida State University and is currently a PhD student at the University of Cincinnati.