Vol. 19, No. 3 & 4, Spring/Summer 2002

About the Cover

Hay bales in Alaska’s Matanuska-Susitna Valley glow in the late afternoon sun as rain clouds form over the Talkeetna Mountains.

©2002 Benjamin Spatz



Digital orders get access to three files: PDF, Mobi (Kindle) and Epub (Nook and other eReaders).

Table of Contents

Special Section: Billy Collins

Passport to Poetry Country: A Conversation with Billy Collins

Selected Poems

A Portrait of the Reader with a Bowl of Cereal

Taking Off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes

A Night on Earth

The Invention of the Saxophone

The Blues

Flying through Clouds

Putti in the Night


Questions About Angels

Billy Collins is the United States Poet Laureate for 2001-2002. Of his appointment, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said, “Billy Collins’ poetry is widely accessible. He writes in an original way about all manner of ordinary things and situations with both humor and a surprising contemplative twist. We look forward to his energizing presence next year.” John Updike described Collins’ poetry this way: “Billy Collins writes lovely poems . . . Limpid, gently and consistently startling, more serious than they seem, they describe all the worlds that are and were and some others besides.”

Billy Collins’ books of poetry include: Sailing Alone Around the Room: New & Selected Poems (2001); Picnic, Lightning (1998); The Art of Drowning (1995), which was a Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize finalist; Questions About Angels (1991), a National Poetry Series selection by Edward Hirsch; The Apple That Astonished Paris (1988); Video Poems (1980); and Pokerface (1977). Picador in the UK published his collection of poems, Taking off Emily Dickenson’s Clothes. He also has recorded a spoken word CD, The Best Cigarette (1997). His other awards and honors include: The Oscar Blumenthal Prize, The Bess Hokin Prize, the Frederick Bock Prize, the Levinson Prize, New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. He has been featured frequently on National Public Radio.

Billy Collins is Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College, City University of New York, where he has taught for the past 30 years. He is also a writer-in-residence at Sarah Lawrence College and served as a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library.

Speaking at the Lehman Convocation in October 2000, Dr. Collins noted the broader connections between poetry and learning: “Let us slow back down from the computer to the television, to the newspaper, to the essay, to the novel, and finally to poetry. This supersonic, digital age demands rapidity. But poetry can slow us down to the speed of sound, and university life can slow us down to the speed of thought, the leisurely pace of deliberation.”

In the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, Collins has powerfully emphasized the importance of poetry and its expression in our lives. “Life is precious. The moment is all we’re given. Many poems that help us in these troubled times do not address some larger political topic or global crisis, but rather, are smaller, more modest poems that enshrine the moment – a moment of perception.”

Billy Collins is a contributing editor to Alaska Quarterly Review and most recently guest edited our spring & summer 2000 poetry section. The conversation took place between Billy Collins and Stan Sanvel Rubin under the auspices of the Brockport Writers Forum and Videotape Library, SUNY Brockport, on March 2, 2000. It has been edited, updated and adapted to fit AQR’s format.


One Quick Turn Fred Cooksey
Fred Cooksey has published fiction in Touchstone and an essay in the Washington Post Magazine.
Baby, Think it Over Malena Watrous
Malena Watrous’ work has appeared in Kyoto Journal. She is a recipient of the Truman Capote Fellowship at the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa.
Amber Dermont
Amber Dermont is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. This is her first published story in a national literary magazine.
Last Night of Carnival Norberto Luis Romero translated by H.E. Francis
Norberto Luis Romero, a citizen of Spain originally from Argentina, is the winner of the First Noega Award for Fiction, the Antonio Machado Award, and many prizes. His collections include Transgressions, Cradlesong for a Domestic Fly, and The Moment of the Unicorn, as well as the novel Signs of Decomposition. His collection, The Arrival of Autumn in Constantinople, published in the U.S. in the Sun and Moon Classics Series, was translated by H. E. Francis, who also translated “Last Night of Carnival.” Francis is a widely published fiction writer whose work has appeared in the O. Henry, Best American, and Pushcart Prize volumes. His most recent novel is Goya, Are You With Me Now? (Beil).
The Danish King Carol K. Howell
Carol K. Howell’s recent work appears in North American Review, New Orleans Review, The Cream City Review, Other Voices, and Sojourner.
That Strange Flower, the Sun Tim Keane
Tim Keane’s fiction was awarded a NEA fellowship in 2000. “That Strange Flower, the Sun” is the opening chapter of his novel, Bad, which is set in Bronx, NY, in the 1950s. Other chapters have been excerpted in Northwest Review, Quarterly West, and Other Voices.
You Walked Here in Sunshine Jamie Nash Yourdon
Jamie Nash Yourdon is a recent graduate of the University of Arizona MFA program. This is his first publication in a national literary magazine.
The Project David R. Means
David R. Means is the author of a collection of short stories entitled Assorted Fire Events, which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Other stories appear in his collection, A Quick Kiss of Redemption (William Morrow), and in Harper’s Magazine, Open City, and The KGB Bar Reader.
The Good Word Sheila O’Connor
Sheila O’Connor is the author of the novel Tokens of Grace (Milkweed Editions). Her stories have appeared in a wide range of literary journals and in the anthologies The Next Parish Over, Mothers and Daughters, and the Best of the Helicon Nine. She currently teaches fiction writing at Hamline University.
Ray Peter Moore Smith
Peter Moore Smith’s fiction has appeared in the American Literary Review, The Greensboro Review, and The South Dakota Review, and was recently included in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Mystery Stories. His novel, Raveling (Little, Brown), was nominated for an Edgar Award for best first novel.
The Story Edith Pearlman
Edith Pearlman’s short stories have appeared in many prize collections including the Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, Best American Short Stories, and The Pushcart Prize. Her own first collection, Vaquita, was published in 1996; her second, Love Among the Greats, will be published in 2002.
On the Red River Tom Kealey
Tom Kealey’s stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, Mid-American Review, and Ascent. He is a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.


Guest Editor: Peggy Shumaker
A Place to Stand Grass Cutter, Bellagio Dave Smith
Dave Smith is coeditor of The Southern Review and Boyd Professor of English at Louisiana State University. His most recent book is The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems 1970-2000.
Beside the Juniata The Chinchorro Mummies Fleda Brown
Fleda Brown’s most recent book is The Devil’s Child (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1999). A new book, The Women Who Loved Elvis All Their Lives, is due in 2002, also from Carnegie Mellon University Press. She teaches at the University of Delaware and directs the Poets in the Schools Program.
Taking the Keys from Mother Walt McDonald
Walt McDonald is the author of nineteen collections of poems and fiction, including All Occasions (University of Notre Dame Press, 2000) and Blessings the Body Gave (Ohio State, 1998). His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including American Poetry Review, The Atlantic Monthly, New York Review of Books, and Poetry. He is Texas Poet Laureate for 2001.
Gravity Hill Oral Tradition Julia Kasdorf
Julia Kasdorf is author of two books of poetry, Sleeping Preacher and Eve’s Striptease, and a book of essays, The Body and the Book: Writing from a Mennonite Life. She is Associate Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, where she directs the MFA program.
When Evolution Occurred to Darwin Melanie Dusseau
This is Melanie Dusseau’s first published poem in a national literary magazine.
Exhuming Phineas Gage Nancy Hall James
Nancy Hall James’ poems have appeared in Sky Magazine and are forthcoming in The Poetry Miscellany, Poetry International, and Prairie Schooner.
La Cruz de los Caidos, or Self-Portrait with Cross Virgil Suarez
Virgil Suarez is the author of four collections of poetry, including Garabato Poems and You Come Singing (University of Arizona Press, “Camino Del Sol” Series), as well as four novels and a collection of short stories. His work has appeared in TriQuarterly, Poetry London, Parnassus, Poetry Wales, and many others. He is a professor of creative writing at The Florida State University.
Limbo Variations on a Theme Maurya Simon
Maurya Simon is the author of four volumes of poetry, most recently The Golden Labyrinth (University of Missouri Press). Her fifth volume, Weavers, is due from Blackbird Press in 2002. She teaches in the Creative Writing department at the University of California, Riverside.
Footfall To the Tree Frogs Outside the Window Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye’s recent books include Mint Snowball (Anhinga Press, 2001) and Come With Me: Poems for a Journey (Greenwillow, 2000). Her poems also appear in the volume Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets (Greenwillow, 2000).
Winter Solstice: Oregon Hill Strange Child Gregory Donovan
Gregory Donovan is the author of Calling His Children Home and recipient of the Devins Award. He teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University.
A Personal Version of Therapy Sam Pereira
Sam Pereira’s recent work appears in Salt River Review and in two anthologies, The Body Electric: America’s Best Poetry from The American Poetry Review (W.W. Norton, 2000) and How Much Earth: The Fresno Poets (The Roundhouse Press, 2001).
Layers For the Cousins Deborah Brown
Deborah Brown’s recent poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Women’s Review of Books, The Beloit Poetry Journal, and the Connecticut Review. Her chapbook, News from the Grate, is forthcoming from Oyster River Press. She is Associate Professor of English at the University of New Hampshire in Manchester.
Rooftop: Absence Susan Tenaglia
Susan Tenaglia’s work has appeared in the North American Review, Tar River Poetry, and California Quarterly. She teaches at Manhattan Community College in New York City.
Flux Storm Versions Cynthia Hogue
Cynthia Hogue’s recent poetry has appeared in Poetry International. Her third poetry collection, entitled FLUX, is forthcoming from New Issues Press (2002). She directs the Stadler Center for Poetry in Pennsylvania and teaches English at Bucknell University.
Sunday Morning Jeanne E. Clark
Jeanne E. Clark is the author of a poetry collection entitled Ohio Blue Tips (University of Akron Press, 1999). She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and English at California State University, Chico.
When in Some Distant Time I Think I’m Sorry Black River Margot Schilpp
Margot Schilpp’s first poetry collection, The World’s Last Night, was published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. Her poems have appeared in The Southern Review, New England Review, Shenandoah, and Chelsea.
North to the Future: Gustavus, Alaska Nicole Cooley
Nicole Cooley’s first book of poetry, Resurrection, won the 1995 Walt Whitman Award. She is the author of a novel, Judy Garland, Ginger Love, published in 1998. She teaches at Queens College, The City University of New York.
Orchard Breath in a Dark Bar Patricia Goedicke
Patricia Goedicke’s twelfth book of poetry, As Earth Begins to End (Copper Canyon, 2000), was chosen by the ALA as one of its “top ten” poetry books of the year. She has poems forthcoming in Seneca Review, Hubbub, and Yale Review. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Montana in Missoula.
Helmet Kelly Lock
Kelly Lock’s work has appeared in Bloodstone, Salt River Review, Voices From the Outside, and Chile Verde Review.
Birds Converging And Yet Christianne Balk
Christianne Balk’s most recent book is entitled Desiring Flight (Purdue University Press).
Lost Glasses Once Hilda Raz
Hilda Raz’s most recent books are Trans and Divine Honors (both from the Wesleyan Poetry Series). Her work also appears in two anthologies, The Best of PS: Essays and The Best of PS: Fiction and Poetry (both from University of Nebraska Press).
OK Tucker Robin Becker
Robin Becker’s fifth collection of poems, The Horse Fair (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000), was a finalist in the 2000 Lambda Literary Awards. She is Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State University and serves as Poetry Editor for The Women’s Review of Books.
The Nipple-button The Weekly Morning Meeting of the Town’s Civic Band The Gathering Evening Alberto Rios
Alberto Ríos’ newest book of poems, The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. He is a recent recipient of the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award for his memoir, Capirotada. He is presently Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University.
Hunting Accident Angela Rydell
Angela Rydell’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Kerf, and Barrow Street. A manuscript of her poetry was chosen as the 2001 Poets & Writers Writers Exchange Program Winner.
Congestive Heart Failure: Letting Go Richard Dauenhauer
Richard Dauenhauer was Poet Laureate of Alaska from 1981 to 1988. His awards include the Alaska State Governor’s Award for the Arts and the American Book Award from The Before Columbus Foundation. He is also a widely recognized translator of poetry.
The Visitation Nance Van Winckel
Nance Van Winckel is the author of three books of poems including After A Spell (Miami University Press, 1998), and three collections of short stories.
Plums Anna Marie Craighead-Kintis
Anna Marie Craighead-Kintis lives in Chicago and teaches at Columbia College. Her poems have appeared in The Evergreen Chronicles, Massachusetts Review, The Nebraska Review, and Salt Fork Review.
Black Currants, Red Currants Elegy for the Men Killed at Winter Quarters, Scofield, Utah, 1 May 1900 Leslie Norris
Leslie Norris is Distinguished Poet in Residence at Brigham Young University and a former finalist for the position of Poet Laureate of England. His poems and short stories have been widely published in journals and anthologies. His Collected Poems and Collected Stories are published by seren in Wales.
Sundays: Rebecca’s on the Hill West, East, Sunday Julie Fay
Julie Fay’s most recent poetry collection is The Woman Behind You (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999). She teaches writing and literature at East Carolina University.
Inclining Toward Grace Robin Standish
Robin Standish’s recent poems have appeared in Bottom Fish and Swamp Fox.
Zen Again September,Listening to the Old Songs Ed Ochester
Ed Ochester’s recent collections of poetry include The Land of Cockaigne (Story Line Press, 2001), Cooking in Key West (Adastra Press, 2000), and Snow White Horses: Selected Poems 1973-1988 (Autumn House Press, 2000). He edits the Pitt Poetry Series.
Plainsong Anna Zerelle
Anna Zerelle lives in the San Francisco Bay area. This is her first published poem in a national literary magazine.
The Divine Jon Tribble
Jon Tribble’s poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, Ploughshares, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner. He teaches at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where he is the managing editor of Crab Orchard Review and the series editor of the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry published by SIU Press.
Mistaken Identity Tongue Allison Joseph
Allison Joseph teaches at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and serves as one of the editors of Crab Orchard Review. She is also the director of the Young Writers Workshop, a summer writing conference for high school students.
What I Drank Tony Whedon
Tony Whedon’s poems have appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Poetry East, and Spoon River Poetry Review.
Anachronism Jeffery Bahr
Jeffery Bahr’s work has appeared in Barrow Street, Many Mountains Moving, Indiana Review, and Borderlands. He is currently an editor of The Alsop Review.
The Deer American Miniaturist Diane Glancy
Diane Glancy’s recent collections of poems include The Relief of America (Tia Chucha Press) and The Stones for a Pillow (National Federation of State Poetry Societies Press). The author of several novels including The Man Who Heard the Land (Minnesota Historical Society Press), The Mask Maker (University of Oklahoma Press), and Designs of the Night Sky (University of Nebraska Press), she has received an American Book Award, the Native Prose Award, and an NEA fellowship.
Heir to the Bridge Denise Bergman
Denise Bergman’s recent poems have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Nimrod, Oxford Magazine, and Many Mountains Moving. She is currently poetry coeditor of Sojourner, A Woman’s Forum.
A Night on the Queen Mary Reetika Vazirani
Reetika Vazirani is the author of World Hotel (Copper Canyon, 2002) and White Elephants (Beacon, 1996). Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2000 and the 2000 Pushcart Prize anthology.
Thinking, Making Ready Zenobia Speaks, in Chains and Free Carole Simmons Oles
Carole Simmons Oles’ recent book of poems is entitled Sympathetic Systems. She is a Professor of English and Coordinator of the MFA Consortium at California State University, Chico. “Thinking, Making Ready” and “Zenobia Speaks, in Chains and Free” are part of a book-length sequence based on the life of American sculptor Harriet Hosmer (1830-1908).
A Double Spiral of Pokeberry Listen to the Mockingbird Paul Morris
Paul Morris’ recent work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Threepenny Review, Sonoran Review, Cutbank, and in the anthology Fever Dreams — Contemporary Arizona Poets. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Arizona State University.
Work and Grace: Diaspora Frank Stewart
Frank Stewart is the author of ten books, the most recent from Copper Canyon Press. He lives in Honolulu and edits Manoa: A Pacific Journal.
Midnight Mass, Escalante Thor, in Disguise, Searches for Freya Dawn Psalm: Pine Valley David Lee
David Lee’s recent books include A Legacy of Shadows and News from Down to the Café, both from Copper Canyon Press. He is Poet Laureate of Utah.
Cretan Interlude: Lasithi Plateau Riddles Alicia Ostriker
Alicia Ostriker is the author of nine volumes of poetry, most recently The Crack in Everything (1996) and The Little Space: Poems Selected and New (1998), which were both National Book Award finalists. “Cretan Interlude: Lasithi Plateau” and “Riddles” are from a new manuscript, The Volcano Sequence, forthcoming in spring 2002.
Some Dogs of the World John Balaban
John Balaban is the author of ten books of poetry and the recipient of many awards including The Academy of American Poets’ Lamont Prize, a National Poetry Series Selection, and two nominations for the National Book Award. Locusts at the Edge of Summer: New and Selected Poems won the 1998 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. He is Poet-in-Residence and Professor of English at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
Revision Degradation Stan Sanvel Rubin
Stan Sanvel Rubin’s poems have appeared in The Georgia Review, Ohio Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Kenyon Review. He is the recipient of a 2001 Constance J. Saltonstall Foundation Grant in Poetry.
Winter Solstice Chant Here Annie Finch
Annie Finch’s books of poetry include Calendars, a 2000 National Poetry series finalist, and Eve (Story Line, 1997). Forthcoming work includes Marie Moving (Story Line, 2002) and a translation of the complete poems of Renaissance poet Louise Labé (University of Chicago Press). She is an Associate Professor at Miami University.