The 50 Best New Poets 2014 Finalists…

Best New Poets 2014


Christine Adams, “Accretion: A Study”

Annik Adey-Babinski, “Wash Bucket”

Nico Alvarado, “Tim Riggins Speaks of Waterfalls” (nominated by / previously published in Gulf Coast)

Kate Angus, “Wild Rabbits Have Sharp Eyes”

Linda Blaskey, “Looking West Toward the Ozarks” (previously published in Mojave River Review)

Daniel Bohnhorst, “In Aleppo”

Chuck Carlise, “I Can Tell You a Story” (forthcoming in Third Coast)

Anders Carlson-Wee, “Icefisher” (previously published in The Pinch)

Christopher Citro, “Gathering a Few Facts”

Noel Crook, “Notes from a Salt Flat Prisoner” (nominated by / previously published in Smartish Pace)

Karen Embry, “My Love Affair with Darth Vader”

Sara Gelston, “Orbiter”

Benjamin Goldberg, “The Gospel According to Rust” (previously published in Grist: The Journal for Writers)

Lenea Grace, “Yukon River”

Miriam Bird Greenberg, “Shortness of Breath” (nominated by / previously published in The Paris-American)

Richie Hofmann, “After” (previously published in Ploughshares)

Jen Jabaily-Blackburn, “For Gene Kelly”

Wayne Johns, “Delirium” (previously published in New England Review)

Danielle Jones-Pruett, “American Bittersweet”

Andrea Jurjević, “For Yugoslavia’s More Fortunate Ones” (previously published in Verse Wisconsin)

Lisa Kwong, “An AppalAsian Finds Home in Bloomington, Indiana”

Peter LaBerge, “Peter”

Quinn Lewis, “Flora and Fauna: Eyarth Station, Ruthin, North Wales”

S.H. Lohmann, “Lullaby”

Karen Malzone, “Quiet Moon and Harvested Fields” (nominated by the Drew University MFA Program in Poetry and Poetry in Translation)

Amanda Jane McConnon, “Life on Earth”

Corey Miller, “Willow Lake Mine” (previously published in Narrative)

Matthew Minicucci, “A Whale’s Heart”

Jenny Molberg, “Marvels of the Invisible” (nominated by the University of North Texas Creative Writing Program, poem forthcoming in North American Review)

Rachel Morgenstern-Clarren, “The Civil War Photographer (previously published in The Jet Fuel Review)

Erin J. Mullikin, “Leavings That Change the Future”

C.L. O’Dell, “My Father Named the Trees”

Rosanna Oh, “Erasures”

Joy Priest, “Nightstick”

Jacques J. Rancourt, “Open Shed” (previously published in ZYZZYVA)

Iliana Rocha, “Looking at Women” (nominated by the Western Michigan University Creative Writing Program)

Erin Rodoni, “Two Nights in Room Nineteen” (previously published in Verse Wisconsin)

Nicole Rollender, “Gettysburg”

Carey Russell, “Mackerel” (nominated by / previously published in Cumberland River Review)

T.J. Sandella, “Kayaking, Early Morning” (previously published in Zone 3)

E.C. Sawatzky, “Repeat Offenders” (nominated by the University of British Columbia Creative Writing Program)

Brittney Scott, “The Money Shot”

Matt Sumpter, “American Manhood”

Talin Tahajian, “The river burns /”

Gabriella R. Tallmadge, “Marriage An Animal Language” (previously published in Crazyhorse)

Ocean Vuong, “Anaphora As Coping Mechanism” (nominated by / previously published in Southern Indiana Review)

Anna Rose Welch, “Le Petit Mort”

Lisa Wells, “Self-Portrait with Manco”

Phillip B. Williams, “Do-Rag” (previously published in Poetry)

Jeremy Windham, “After the Funeral” (previously published in The Lake)

Trail of Crumbs

So this has been an exciting year for me: growing my fledging publication history slowly but consistently, receiving a Best New Poets nomination from Raleigh Review, and soon, getting to attend The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.  In fact, I’m leaving for Bread Loaf in nine days.  It’s embarrassing to admit that as a poet I lack the words to fully express my excitement.  More embarrassing still is that I’m fighting back the impulse to post this in all caps and exclamation points (three’s all right, I think, but four makes you look like you need a Klonopin and a power nap).

At any rate, I’m thrilled about the opportunity to work with so many talented poets and writers.  I just hope I can keep up!  The faculty and guest list almost makes me need to change my pants.  It even includes a wonderful fiction writer with whom I got to study at U of M.  My favorite living poet (alongside Simic), Terrance Hayes, will be there.  Hopefully he’ll sign my copies of his collections and ignore the hearts I’ve drawn above the pictures of him.  It’s not creepy if it’s love.

If this post smacks of the giddiness (yes, giddiness, dammit!) experienced by someone—a nube, really—just recently acquainted with the thrill of having the possibility of his dreams confirmed, then you’re correct in your assumptions.  I started submitting work for publication a little over a year and a half ago.  When I began, I was still haunted by the questions that I let inhibit me from starting sooner: is it hubris to think I have something worth saying?  Is the fact I could even ask this symptomatic of the flimsiness of my resolve?  If so, will this doom me to a life lived with a clear vision of destinations but no talent for journey?  I could distill any doubts I felt to this question: am I dreaming, just having this dream?

It’s been almost two years.  I’m grateful to now know the taste of small success liberally seasoned with realism.  Sometimes, I consider myself an outsider to the poetry world.  I have no MFA, no real training apart from the handful of workshops I took as an undergrad.  Still fresh in my ears are the boos and jeers I received at a poetry slam in the dingy upstairs performance space of a bar in Ann Arbor.  I was seventeen.  My teacher suggested any students interested in poetry meet him there (obviously this didn’t have administration’s seal of approval).  I read some sopping adolescent doggerel about dei-phelia that literally had grown men hissing at me.  The next morning, I was called to the guidance office to discuss my “well-being.”

Nearly twelve years have passed since then.  They felt like installments in a payment plan that bought me these last two years.  It felt (feels?) next to impossible at times to believe I was on the path.  Maybe that was the path.