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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lloyd Schwartz’s 6 Favorite New Poets



Recent events have highlighted what a solace poetry can be in troubled times.

Last week, we spoke to Pacific Northwest poet Scott Poole who read us the poem, “To Run-A Prayer for Boston” (read the poem and hear the interview here). Boston poet Nick Flynn also wrote a poem the night of the marathon bombing.

Our friend Lloyd Schwartz, who’s an accomplished poet and a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston, tells us that he’s been approached at events by people who tell him that they need music and poetry even more now.

Schwartz is a regular commentator for NPR’s “Fresh Air,” and recently published a book of his reviews “Music In–and On–the Air.”

He shares some of his favorite new poets. You can read one poem from each of them below (click on the name to link to the poem):

Schwartz also recommends:

Do you have a favorite poem or poet? Tell us on Facebook.

Andrea Cohen, ‘The Committee Weighs In’

This poem originally appeared in The Threepenny Review (Fall 2012) and will be in Andrea Cohen’s forthcoming poetry collection “Furs Not Mine” (Four Way Books). Reprinted with permission from the author. All rights reserved.

The Committee Weighs In

I tell my mother
I’ve won the Nobel Prize.

Again? she says. Which
discipline this time?

It’s a little game
we play: I pretend

I’m somebody, she
pretends she isn’t dead.

Ron Spalletta, ‘Blank Villanelle’

Reprinted with permission from the author. All rights reserved.


for Patricia


As long as you want
almost never is
as long as you want,

or it is much longer.
He will not live
as long as you want

but his forgetfulness
will last as long as memory,
as long as you. Want,

at once desire and privation,
is the work of his disease.
As long as you want

him, you return to watch hours
unravel. Are they hard as yours,
as long? As you want

to let go of the ghost,
you say “but I’ll stay
as long as you want,
as long as you want.”

David Gewanter, ‘Zero-Account’

This poem originally appeared in David Gewanter’s poetry book, “The Sleep of Reason.” Reprinted with permission from the author. All rights reserved.


for my sister.


Your “x,” withdrawn, vengeful,
undertakes the spousal

rip-off. Quivering passion,
once negated, murders love—

Kindness? “Justice”
is how greed frames
every divorce:

Cupid’s backstabbing

Tara Skurtu, ‘Some Days Begin Like This’

This poem originally appeared in the literary journal Salamander. Reprinted with permission from the author. All rights reserved.

Some Days Begin Like This

The fear of forgetting I am well
crawls into my mouth like a word
that regrets being spoken;
it presses sour phrases against
my teeth, tongue, and gums.
I want to tell it stop,
that I am well,
that my blood is my blood.
But as I’m ready to swallow,
it wedges another phrase
onto the back of my tongue—
something about the flawlessness
of the antibody’s memory,
how it never forgets
the image of the mother
that abandoned it here.

Nathan Gamache, ‘Blesséd are the looters’

This poem originally appeared in “The Helen Burns Poetry Anthology: New Voices (Vol. 9).” Reprinted with permission from the author. Copyright 2009 by Nathan Gamache. All rights reserved.

Blesséd are the looters


who place their fists through abandoned glass
and reach around to find the lock. Blesséd

are the looters, every Creole soul, blacks and whites
alike, though one reads that he is stealing, while

the other is said to be stealing back his life.
Blesséd are those who will not wait to be saved.

Blesséd are those who rummage to find vehicles,
then back up stolen goods into the thirsty crowds,

who let anyone who is thirsty, drink; let whoever
is hungry, eat. Let whoever can steal for others, steal.

Blesséd are those who understand, any possession is
an act of theft, just as any love comes from former love.

Blesséd are those who call from full hospital balconies,
Give us your baby, knowing we are all someone’s baby.

Blesséd are those who will not wait to be saved, who
swim in the streets, cross the bridge, save us from ourselves.

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  • burroak

    oh, poetry
    we do need
    more of you.
    because you help us
    the human spirit,
    you soothe
    our suffering, and
    yet you give us

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard



    Wage Peace

    Wage peace with your breath.

    Breathe in firemen and rubble,
    breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.

    Breathe in terrorists
    and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.

    Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.

    Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

    Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.

    Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.

    Make soup.

    Play music, learn the word for thank you in three languages.

    Learn to knit, and make a hat.

    Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
    imagine grief
    as the outbreath of beauty or the gesture of fish.

    Swim for the other side.

    Wage peace.

    Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:

    Have a cup of tea and rejoice.

    Act as if armistice has already arrived.

    Don’t wait another minute.
    Celebrate today.

    ©2001, Judyth Hill

  • Lloyd Schwartz

    I should have also mentioned http://www.favoritepoem.org, the website of Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project, as a great website for poetry.

    • Rachel Rohr, Here & Now

      Thanks Lloyd! We added it to the list.

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