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 the poems they write still bear a 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.
TJ Jarrett is a writer and software developer in Nashville, Tennessee. Her recent work has been published or is forthcoming in Poetry Magazine, African American Review, Boston Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Boxcar Poetry Review, Callaloo, DIAGRAM, Ninth Letter, Linebreak, Rattle, Southern Poetry Anthology, Third Coast, West Branch and others. She has earned scholarships from Colrain Manuscript Conference, Sewanee Writer’s Conference and Vermont Studio Center, and others; her collection The Moon Looks Down and Laughs was selected as a finalist for the 2010 Tampa Review Prize for Poetry. Her debut collection Ain’t No Grave will be published with New Issues Press in the fall of 2013. Her second collection Zion (winner of the Crab Orchard Open Competition 2013) will be published by Southern Illinois University Press in the fall of 2014. TJ is looking for work that defies logic, resists existing forms and creates a physics and order of its own.