Criticism is an act which involves a restless seeking after the essence of art . . . it must illumine the necessary relation between art and life.— George Core

Winter 2016: Dwelling In Possibility

How slowly the mountain
takes it in,
like a diagnosis
of darkness.

—Christian Wiman, “A Dusk”

The title of the winter issue on poetry, the first of our 124th year, comes from Emily Dickinson’s poem, “I dwell in Possibility,” and refers to the depth of interpretation possible with good poetry. This issue includes a plethora of such poetry, bookended by Christian Wiman’s meditations on religion and healing, as well as new Sabbath Poems from Wendell Berry; more poetry by J. T. Barbarese, Cally Conan-Davies, William Virgil Davis, Ernest Hilbert, David Madden, Stephen Malin, Jerome Mazzaro, and Kathryn Starbuck.

This issue also features some fantastic essays on poets, including Dawn Potter on the strain that writing puts on a writer's personal relationships, an essay by Scott Donaldson about Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker’s relationship, and a discussion of Raymond Carver’s poetry by Robert Lacy. More essays and reviews include those by Chris Arthur (on Seamus Heaney), John Check (on Maurice Ravel), Brian Keeble (on Kathleen Raine), David R. Slavitt (on Merrill Moore), Marc Hudson (on Tolkien’s Beowulf), David Havird (on James Dickey), and George Core (on Malcolm Cowley). Along with this wonderful symposium on poetry, this issue contains a historical short story by Ann S. Epstein about the Radium Girls.

Why do we want copies signed by the author? Why do I value the letters Heaney sent me? Is it that, for all our sophistication and skepticism, a poet can still seem like a kind of shaman, an intermediary between this world and some other, such that a token of his person may carry with it the promise of a spark of something almost sacred?

—Chris Arthur, “Seamus Heaney, a Personal Turas”

It also seems as if Conrad Aiken—whom the Aiken Taylor Award is named after—has been on everybody’s mind. His name pops up multiple times throughout this issue like Waldo among those tumultuous cityscapes.

You can find the list of books reviewed here.

You can see the cover of this issue in high definition here.


Sample a poem from this issue

Sample this issue's fiction

Sample an essay from this issue