TQ4 Editors’ Features



The Animal Kingdom; Grand Metaphors

by Bronwyn Mills

My cabin door is open to let in the mountain air. I am sautéing some chicken legs; and my overindulged housecats puff up, stare intently at the porch through the open door. I know he is there–the neighbor’s cat. This is getting to be regular appearance, dammit. It used to be just one, the yellow one, thin and too long like a worn rubber band, even if you don’t count the tail—SSSST! I have hissed it away, grabbing some water and heaving it in his direction. But tonight, it’s the neighbor’s other one, the black one; and in the dusk, at my repeated SSSST! it leaves slowly with a backward glance. It’s eyes light up, green glittering spheres in a furry face so dark as to almost disappear…  Read More »


charlie_bondhus headshot

Charlie Bondhus: A Poet in Conversation(s) With Art

by Jessamyn Smyth

All the Heat We Could Carry is a rare, brilliant and necessary book, offering a people who have lived well during the war a species of lyric night-vision, a camouflage night, wherein we are taught to field strip a rifle, but also to think about “the soul,/ a puff of wind/ shot from the mouth.” Our wars come home in these poems, through a prophet who’s seen hell, who now lives in the aftermath where all is refracted through the searing lens of wounded memory: “the sun now heavy as a blood ag, where it is hard to tell/ the difference between civilians and ghosts.” These poems move with precision from war to home and back, from stun grenade, body bag and bone saw to a garden in winter. If you want to know, or think you want to know, you must read Charlie Bondhus…  Read More »


Dominae and Domains: Cumberland Island’s Strong Women

by Andrea Applebee

Carol Ruckdeschel, a self-trained naturalist, has lived on Cumberland since 1973. She had a romantic relationship with Louis McKee, a respected surveyor of the island, who promised her some land. Later, when Carol was entertaining a backpacker in their cottage, McKee attempted to break in and she shot and killed him with an illegal sawed off shotgun. Charges were dismissed on grounds of self-defense; a long and complex property battle ensued; eventually, she inherited his estate (contrary to the current laws on the issue), where she catalogues the hurt, dying, or dead animals of the island, dissecting their carcasses and collecting their bones. Her favorite meats are raccoon and bobcat and it is said she cut the heart out of a beached whale to relieve its suffering. Bones and severed turtle heads line her yard; she has an egret preserved in a jar. She is her own electrician…  Read More »


Courtesy of the Jones Library, Inc

Courtesy of the Jones Library, Inc

Fort Juniper: A Poet’s Place

by Jessamyn Smyth

For this issue of TQ, which has called up a theme of the relationship between poets and their physical/geographic wellsprings, I asked Henry Lyman to share some of his work with us, and something of a place I’ve had the recent, if too-brief, opportunity to stay: Fort Juniper, Robert Francis’ house in Amherst, Massachusetts. The connections here to things that matter deeply to me are legion: Amherst is where I grew up, when not at the Homer Noble Farm in Ripton, Vermont; it has remained very much my hometown. As a result, many of the poets who have stayed in Fort Juniper are ones whose work and being I have come to know well. Henry’s tireless support of the house and the poets in it are valiant gifts I honor. The Frost connection adds a dimension of family legacy I cherish…  Read More »


"Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Age 1" by Katie Kehrig

“Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Age 1” by Katie Kehrig

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Obituary for a Shipwrecked Sailor

by Bronwyn Mills & Eric Darton

The Elders are leaving us. If we believe British novelist, Will Self, they are also taking the age of the “Gutenberg Mind” with them. Serious novels, Self opines, will “continue to be written and read, but it will be an art form on a par with easel painting or classical music….” (See The Guardian, May 2, 2014) And so, for me, the loss of Gabriel García Márquez is also a bit like a fire consuming whole shelves of a library. I keep wanting to say, “Stop!!” But of course, one can’t. Any more than King Canute could stop the tides, one can’t. One can’t stop death. Or change…  Read More »



Manifest: a conversation with Camille Dungy

by Jessamyn Smyth

You ask me what I’m most excited about and it’s that I’m working in this other genre. It’s not entirely new. I’ve been writing essays for awhile, just under the radar. This TQ4 publication and one coming out around the same time in VQR are part of a book of essays I’m completing. The essays, like “Manifest,” explore intersections between place, history, culture, and life (by which I mean the vital state of living human and non-human beings on this planet). These have, as you know, long been points of interest in my poetry, so in some ways these essays are really nothing new at all. They just provide me with a new way to explore my obsessions…  Read More »


Bode-Lang Author Photo

The Reformation: a Conversation with Katherine Bode-Lang

by Jessamyn Smyth

In May, I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Katherine Bode-Lang, whose book The Reformation is the 2014 winner of the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Award. I asked her to share some of the as-yet-unpublished manuscript with Tupelo Quarterly, and over email, we talked a bit more about this beautiful and surprising work…  Read More »



The Unusual Door: Preliminary Notes on James Baldwin and Pedagogy

by Eric Darton

Three years before his death in 1987 at the age of sixty three, James Baldwin recounted in an interview for a Spanish literary journal, the moment that signified, for him, the entry into his artistic life…  Read More »


Women in Form

by TJ Jarrett

When I first began to write poems, I assumed that form was an archaic thing left in the same dustbin as chivalry and men carrying handkerchiefs. A few years ago, a friend of mine showed me a sestina he was working on and it was so alive, bursting from the seams with a crackling energy that I wanted to kick him. I didn’t even know the mechanics of it, how it kept driving toward meaning with its circling back. It was envy I felt and I was filled with it. The women profiled here are some of the best writers in form I’ve come upon and I can’t say that I don’t envy their ability to work in the framework of form, slyly subverting it to their whims and purpose. I’ve asked them all about their influences and practice, but it the way they write still seems some kind of magic when I read their work. The craft is not archaic as I had thought—these women demonstrate the best of bringing the past forward into contemporary circumstance. The strictures of sonnet, sestina, ghazal, and others is our linguistic inheritance that we too often take for granted…  Read More »