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On Ohio & Grief

This is a playlist of poems about grief by Ohio poets. I don’t know if the folks in Iowa think about grief as much as Ohioans think about grief. My entire life, I’ve lived in the Buckeye State, which means I have been buried by heavy winters when it should be spring, and I have driven down roads where billboards tell me hell exists. I don’t know if the Midwestern joke about Iowa, Ohio, and Idaho all being the same states makes sense, but the highways enveloped in corn in the former states hints that it might. Iowa is where I found myself driving through Iowa City, my mother next to me, as we passed by grandparents out with their grandkids, and you could feel the disconnect in our car, the way we couldn’t relate anymore. All of our loved ones have come and gone. Our AirBnB was owned by a woman going through a breakup, her ex having taken on of their two dogs, but you couldn’t feel the weight of heartbreak in the walls. At home, each time I walk into my own house, once owned by my grandparents for over four decades, there is a pressure that I can feel. Grief, when you boil it down to its purest form, is different for everyone. I can’t go anywhere without trying to feel everyone else’s, even if it presents itself in the lightest ways. There’s nothing but corn and grief in Iowa and Ohio, but everything feels so much heavier at home.

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Featured on November 4, 2019

Tender Points

“Tender Points does precisely what people are always saying can’t be done—it combines a moving, distilled, literary journey with advocacy and even pedagogy, here about trauma, chronic pain, patriarchy, and more. Call it “écriture féminine en homme,” if you want (as Berkowitz does, with acid wit)—but whatever you call it, this is firm, high- stakes speech speaking truth to power, radiating beauty and fierceness from its inspiring insistence and persistence.” —Maggie Nelson

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Featured on October 28, 2019

In an Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also a Frame

“A tapestry woven with myth, sorrow, wonder, and the odd pharmaceutical, In an Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also a Frame presents to us its world: a world we tilt our head to recognize, a world at once quotidian and shimmering and darkly strange. With intelligence, grace, and an understated humor, Julia Guez investigates the fabric of our being, and puts words to the uneasy peculiarity of being alive. ‘Have we made it across the vast plain of night?’ asks one poem. We have not: even the day feels night here, as the poems unfold in the dim shadow of the unquiet mind’s gloaming. But even as an animal sadness stalks us from page to page, the poems chart a course forward toward a pinpoint of warm light, and the promise of something beautiful.” —Camille Rankine

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Featured on October 21, 2019

the specimen's apology

In the specimen’s apology George Abraham writes with a sharp elegance about lineage, about inheritance, about what gets passed down, and what doesn’t. What’s erased. What’s obscured. What’s locked away. I get the sense of Rubik’s Cube-ing, searching for the right sequence of words or images or structures to make sense of absence, and in doing so, he makes a beautiful, furious, and crackling new kind of sense. His writing smacks my feelings right across the face. — Tommy Pico

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