NER Classics | Linda Bierds


April by Linda Bierds
was originally published in NER 13.2.


A little wind. One creak from a field crow.
And the plow rips a shallow furrow, hobbles
from guide-stake to guide-stake,
draws its first contour line,
and parallel, its next, next,
then the turn-strips and deadfurrows,the headlands
and buffer lines, until the earth from a crow’s vantage
takes the pattern of a fingertip.

And by noon the shadows are gridways: cut soil,
the man on the plow, the plow and simple tail,
each squat on the stretch of slender shade,
black and grid-straight, like the line of anti-light

a screen clicks up to, before its image
swells, deepens. Dark glass
going green, in the shade-darkened room
of a laboratory- it casts a little blush
across the face there, the shoulders and white pocket,
then magnifies the moon-skin of a microbe, then deeper,
electron molecules in a beam so stark it smolders.

The man on the plow fears frost,
its black cancer.The man at the screen
fears the storm an atom renders
on the lattice of a crystal. And heat. And the slick
back-licks of vapor. With luck, with the patience
the invisible nurtures, he will reshape

frost-making microbes, snip frost-hook genes
with a knife of enzymes. And at thirty degrees,
twenty, through seam lines of snap beans, oranges,
almonds, potatoes, no frost will form, no ratchet-bite
of ice, all the buds of transformed microbes
blossoming, reblossoming, like the first flowers.

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New Books from NER Authors

Poetry, Translation and a “Stunning Debut”

mad farmer coverNER author Wendell Berry has reissued his collection of poetry, The Mad Farmer Poems, with Counterpoint Press.

“. . . Mindful of time and earth, of joy and love, Berry calls us to the hard work of a hope and peace and gratitude so incarnate that they rest ‘on the ground underfoot.'”—Christian Century

Wendell Berry is an essayist, novelist, and poet, and has been awarded the T. S. Eliot Award, the Aiken Taylor Award for poetry, and the John Hay Award of the Orion Society. His poetry is featured in early issues of NER, and his essay “Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer” was published in NER 10.1.


roget's illusion cover“surprising delicacy and . . . language rich with insight”

Acclaimed poet Linda Bierds has published Roget’s Illusion, with Marian Wood Books/Putnam.

“Bierds’s poems, with their constantly surprising delicacy and their language rich with insight and a sensuous music, radiate real power and authority and animal presence.”—W.S. Merwin (Poet Laureate, 2010-12)

Linda Bierds is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the PEN West Poetry Prize, and two National Endowment for the Arts grants. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker,  Atlantic,  Kenyon Review and many others. Five of her poems were published in NER 24.4 and 31.1.


Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 10.13.13 AM“disquieting, beautiful, upsetting, and exacting”

NER author Rebecca Cook has published a new book of poems, I Will Not Give Over, with Aldrich Press.

“The greatest quality of the prose poems in I Will Not Give Over is the one quality a writer can’t beg, borrow, or steal: they are genuine. They are disquieting, beautiful, upsetting, and exacting. Here, ‘Love shows up first dressed in fear.’ These are poems playing for keeps.”—Sue William Silverman, author of Hieroglyphics in Neon

Rebecca Cook is a 2009 Bread Loaf Scholar and her essay “Flame” was a notable essay in the 2013 Best American Essays. She is the author of The Terrible Baby, and her poems have been featured in numerous journals, including Antioch Review and Massachusetts Review. Her story “You Girls Have the Loveliest Legs” was published in NER 29.2.


9781936747559“A stunning debut”

Joanne Dominique Dwyer‘s first collection of poetry, Belle Laide, has been published by Sarabande Books.

From Dana Levin, author of Sky Burial: “Harems, mechanical bulls, Christina the Astonishing: Dwyer’s first book, Belle Laide, is a tour de force of verse; you never know where the next turn will take you. A vivid amalgamation of dream, association, and researched material, the poems sacrifice no depth of feeling in their wild meditations on the phenomenal world; or what it means to be a person—and a woman—in our contemporary moment. A stunning debut.”

Dwyer is a recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a Bread Loaf Scholar award. Her poetry has been featured in NER several times, most recently in NER 34.1.


beans“Richly textured and wonderfully evocative … Undeniably original”

NER translator Bill Johnston has published a new book by Wiesław Myśliwski, translated from the Polish, with Archipelago Books. Johnston’s translation of Witold Gombrawicz’s story “The Rat” appeared in NER 25.1-2.

“Like a more agrarian Beckett, a less gothic Faulkner, a slightly warmer Laxness . . . Richly textured and wonderfully evocative . . . Undeniably original.” Publishers Weekly

“Sweeping . . . irreverent . . With winning candor . . . Pietruszka chronicles the modernization of rural Poland and celebrates the persistence of desire.” —The New Yorker

Bill Johnston’s previous translation of Wiesław Myśliwski’s book, Stone Upon Stone, won the PEN Translation Prize, 2012, the Best Translated Book Award 2012: Fiction, and the AATSEEL Translatino Award, 2012. He has translated numerous books and stories from the Polish.

Books can be ordered from Powell’s Books or your independent bookseller.