TQ2 Editors’ Features

TQ2 Editor’s Foreword

by Jessamyn Smyth

…Here, you’ll find poetry that made us say “THAT. That is why poetry,” and interviews with poets opening up process and projection, the poet’s gaze and the reader’s, the subjectivity of “aboutness” and the means by which we make meaning. Read More »


Aboutness (a conversation with Phillip B. Williams)

by Jessamyn Smyth

I wrote “Apotheosis” after reading a poem by Roger Reeves called “Cross Country” and a poem by Wallace Stevens called “The Latest Freed Man”. In Reeves’s poem, the speaker is called a nigger while jogging and the word repeats over and over again to different effects, becoming both something beautiful and a type of literal harassment as the reader is attacked over and over again: “Nigger in a body falling toward a horizon”, “Nigger in the reeds covering/ the muck of a beaver’s hard birth” etc. In Stevens’s poem, the speaker gives the man who was once the subject of the poem power to speak, his words in an 11 line stanza all their own, his words commenting on another man who gives off light (is the sun itself). Both poems in their own way have to step outside of the speaker to get into the nectar of the poem, and by stepping outside of the speaker the question becomes “Who is speaking? To what ends? For whom?” Read More »


Zirma, la charmeuse (1902). Musée de l’automate de Souillac.

Book of the World Courant: V – VII

by Eric Darton

In the museum, behind a transparent membrane of glass, lives an exquisitely-shaped porcelain dish. Manufactured by the Sèvres workshop for Marie Antoinette’s pleasure dairy at Chatêau de Rambouillet, the outer surface was illustrated with classical myths but purposely left ungilded. Honorably discharged after service in numerous hand-to-hand table engagements, the dish also survived the derisive judgment of a contemporary wag who thought it “barbaric in its simplicity,” and, of course, a revolution, and empire, a restoration and more. Read More »


Down at the Crossroads: on Julie Marie Wade’s “Prose and Cons: Considerations of a Woman with Two Genres*”

by Jessamyn Smyth

…this laughter, this sense of being in the company of one with whom I share inside jokes, might well be terribly specific, but oughtn’t be: do we have to be teachers to recognize these students? To be “bitextuals” to see the fundamental absurdity of the categories? To recognize the wit here, must we know the arguments, the back-stories, the politics, the elevator-stares of the well-intended voyeur who thinks we are a terribly fascinating! animal because we are not precisely like them (except we are, just in another language and culture—a vantage point from which they also look a bit alien, and perhaps even occasionally exotic, particularly when they perform strange verbal acrobatics designed to illustrate their broad-mindedness)? Read More »


Kevin Bubriski - FesCityHomme


Fes, Morocco: Kevin Bubriski

by Cassandra Cleghorn

I hold in my hands a half dozen of Kevin Bubriski’s passports. Extra pages accordion out, covered with stamps of blue, green, purple and pink and scrawls in more languages than I can name. Compared to these well-worn documents, my own passport looks like a cheap fake…Bubriski grew up the small town in rural northwestern Massachusetts where I live; my daily walk to and from work traces almost exactly his boyhood paper route. Bubriski has since circled the globe countless times, first as a Peace Corps worker and subsequently as a journalist and photographer: Central Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Peruvian Andes, Antarctica, and especially in Nepal, Tibet, India, Bangladesh, Burma, Korea, China, Japan, Mali and Niger. Bubriski is at once restless and highly attentive: an artist of serial fixations and enduring compassions. Read More »


Found in Translation: Mapping the Music

by Nancy Naomi Carlson

For most of my life I have been a pianist, starting lessons at the age of 6. I experimented with the saxophone in junior high school for a brief period, until my mother could no longer tolerate my fledgling notes that sounded like duck calls. I had more success with the violin and flute, and recently have been studying voice. Perhaps my musical background explains why I pay so much attention to maintaining the music of the source text when translating poetry, especially if every stanza literally sings in the original. …Reproducing sounds and sound patterns of the original text can be extremely difficult, and often impossible, especially in the case of sounds with no equivalent in English. However, sound mapping is a technique that keeps me from losing my way back to the source text’s music. Read More »


The Incurable Habit: on Okla Elliott’s “The Boiling Glass”

by Jessamyn Smyth

These are people of “(ironically) tiger-striped couch,” of “knowing how people got to be the people they are & how much it cost them,” of coke snorted in bathrooms on immigrant parents’ dimes…Into this milieu we recognize even if we wish we didn’t, in unpredictable and engaging syntax like something out of a Victorian Ikea, comes the narrator of Okla Elliott’s “The Boiling Glass.” He can still move in the tribe of the People of the Ironically Tiger-Striped Couch, if only with increasing effort: he’s seeing them—perhaps clearly, perhaps not—through his own dark glass. He’s the one snorting the coke. He has something he still wants to say, to prove, to show you, to make right—or in the early stages of the story he does anyway: here is his badly broken heart, beating, and even as he’s telling us how he is still good, or was good, or could have been good if The Attack hadn’t happened, if he hadn’t lost Nicole, his incurable habits—“of letting it be known what I want & to what degree”—of pressing his tongue to the boiling glass while the world is incinerated: these determine what comes now, and what does not. Read More »


Damir Sodan


Interview with Croatian poet Damir Šodan

by Ming Di

…In those days, during the Homeland War (1991-1995) as we call it in Croatia, I was teaching English in the secondary school in Čazma, near Bjelovar in Moslavina, northeastern Croatia. That was more like a work obligation for the state rather than a proper job as our salaries were so meager that they could barely cover the travel expenses from Zagreb, where I lived. Nevertheless, I considered myself lucky since at that time most of my friends were in trenches at various front lines, often sharing a single Kalashnikov among several of them, because the JNA (Yugoslav Federal Army) just before the war appropriated all the weapons for the Serbs and themselves, probably knowing that there would be a weapons embargo imposed on Croatia and Bosnia, which is exactly what happened. Read More »


Jesus’ Son: on Chelsea Werner-Jatzke’s “Sweet Nothing: A Manifesto”

by B.E. Hopkins

On October 27, 2013, we lost Lou Reed, legendary front man of the Velvet Underground and a musical innovator with a long and remarkable solo career. Reed’s death immediately sent me back to his catalog, and for over a week I revisited memories I attach to his music. Though my favorites come mostly from the early Velvet Underground era, his album that left the deepest impression on me was New York, which came out in 1989, the same year I went to New York City for the first time as a fully conscious, relatively autonomous human being. I was fourteen. Read More »


The Musing Gaze: a conversation with Chad Parmenter

by Jessamyn Smyth

This view of the muse is linked, but not the same as, the classical one, I think–the muse that speaks, or draws, or writes, through the artist. Instead of providing an external focus for the artist that narrows the world down, and maybe provides an internal compass, this muse uses the artist as a persona, speaking through him or her, drawing some on his or her experience, maybe, but probably mostly those that contribute to the letting go of intellect, and ego, and those sorts of things that get in the spirit’s way. So, Homer asks for the muse to sing, not to help him sing, and lots and lots of other poets have some form of that invocation, somewhere.Read More »


Karl Mullen - A Holy Rose Around Your Throat


Pairing: Poets and Painters

by Cassandra Cleghorn

I’ve conceived of this ‘corner’ of Tupelo Quarterly as a loosely bounded place for poets and painters, a place of mutual usefulness, of reverberations. In TQ2 I will invite poets to write poems in response to images by one or two of my favorite contemporary painters . . . I will then select a number of pairings of image and poem for posting in the following edition of TQ, and the conversation will have begun! I expect the TQ collaborative exchanges to evolve over time, perhaps leading to the inclusion of arts other than poetry and painting. This is a place to start, at once freewheeling yet slightly constrained. Read More »



Synaesthesia: on Laurie Saurborn Young’s “Appearance of the Deer Woman: Diptychs”

by Bronwyn Mills

Which calls to mind Laurie Saurborn Young’s “Appearance of the Deer Woman: Diptychs,” a piece that combines photograph and a slow utterance of words, a dirge for the narrator’s grandmother. Every word has heft; but the photographs are odd, out of focus or taken a detail-negating distance away. Not decorative….The utterance of words, the mutter of photographs. Plain spoken, Young’s language does not grandstand; neither garish, nor slick with no substance, it is photographic. The photos are Kirilian, eerie: is that the head of a deer, or just a blur from a wobbly camera? Closest to illustration, is that a shot of something/someone crouched down? Is it, as the text states, a hybrid impossibility, deer and woman, folding in on itself?Read More »


Turkish Journal, Part 1: By the Spoonmaker’s Tomb

by Bronwyn Mills

Getting ready to make a move halfway round the world has its odd, if not idiosyncratic moments. A slowing down–I think of Emily Dickinson’s “Hour of Lead”…. To renew is also slow. Surrounded by pictures of what an ex’s son calls “my peeps,” and noticing details like the lovely photograph of my daughter-in-law elect and of my mother-in-law: they not only share their first names, but they have the same pretty, slightly shy but simultaneously outgoing smile. A picture of my own son as a little boy before his first haircut, holding an umbrella over his head at that fleeting time of his life when there was no rain… later, striding out of a southeast Asian clinic, thin, in a t-shirt and scrubs with a stethoscope slung around his neck…Read More »


Twin Eulogies

by Eric Darton and Marithelma Costa (translated by Judith Page-Sarfati)

“Dear Marshall, In the months since you died, I’ve thought a good deal about our gemütlich conversations. And also about the difficult talk we never had: the one in which I called you out on your relentlessly positive view of the vicissitudes of our mutual city, an attitude that struck me as naïve to the point of being ahistorical. Recently though, and for reasons I do not entirely understand, I am beginning to get where you were coming from. And also to understand how the particular flavor of Kool-Aid you drank, and espoused, permitted you to keep living, and working.” ~ and ~ “..Tupelo Quarterly has asked me to write about Tato Laviera. About the elegant Tato Laviera. About the fun-loving and generous Tato Laviera. About the poet and playwright who celebrated Puerto Rican, Afro-Caribbean and New York culture…For many months he was in a coma at Mount Sinai Hospital. He waited until November 1st, All Saints’ Day, to pass. New York is in mourning. The Day of the Dead has been extended in his honor. We all are in need of Tato, and only his verses, the words to which he gave life, can console us.”
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