Listen to the audio recording of “Brancusi’s Bird in Space” by Didi Jackson, read by the author.
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I move around the gold line
of a bird until I see a single feather,
the sky and song inside reflection,
an endless body balanced on beak,
the foot a hackle of bronze. I orbit
in and out of my wren mind
where my eye lingers not on the tip
but rather the center swell, the light
lean as if burdened to carry the weight
of another in the core belly of plume.
Death is rarely scheduled.
It may have been winter or maybe spring.
Did he drive my car or his? At seventeen
and already slightly swollen I entered a clinic
to clean up my life. Was I sure? Yes.
Even now, sometimes I’m sure the winter whir
of my ancient basement boiler is my molten past.
I wanted to consume all that made me
ache. No. I wanted to expel all that damned me.
I circle the bronze trying to find another way in
to its wing, to its powder down,
remembering the scrape and pluck.
I don’t remember much
about Brancusi or the court case
affirming his cast metal as art.
Each night, the moon turns its same side
to the earth, forces tides to act
as brakes on our planet’s rotation.
But I am spinning on brakes
worn out years ago.
Listen to Didi Jackson read this poem here.
Didi Jackson‘s debut collection of poems, Killing Jar, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2020. Her poems have appeared most recently in the New Yorker, Ploughshares, and the Common, among other publications. She teaches Creative Writing, Poetry and the Visual Arts, and 20th Century Poetry of War and Witness at the University of Vermont and serves as the associate poetry editor for Green Mountains Review. New poems will appear in New England Review’s forthcoming issue, NER 39.1.
NER Digital is New England Review’s online project dedicated to original creative nonfiction for the web. “Confluences” presents writers’ encounters with works of art such as books, plays, poems, films, paintings, sculptures, or buildings. To submit an essay to our series, please read our guidelines.
Episode 5 of NER Out Loud, the podcast, is now available!
Hosted by producer Juliette Luini, this episode is the first in NER Out Loud’s Vermont Writers Series, an ongoing project in which we ask NER authors who live in Vermont to read their own work.
This episode features poet Didi Jackson reading her poems published by NER—”Burning Bush” (spring 2018) and “Brancusi’s Bird in Space” (NER Digital)—along with several poems from her forthcoming collection, Moon Jar (2020).
The NER Out Loud podcast began as a spin-off to our live annual event featuring student actors and orators, and has grown to include a Vermont Writers Series, in which local NER authors read their own work, as well as episodes that feature authors reading selections from recent issues. The podcast is hosted and edited by Middlebury student interns in collaboration with the NER staff. Tune in to hear new literature soar off of the page in a variety of voices and formats.
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Simone Edgar Holmes presents four contemporary poets from the UK, from NER special feature in 41.2.
Shazea Quraishi reads “Elegy,” Seni Seneviratne reads “A Girl in the Woods,” Naomi Foyle reads “Made from Fibres Not Readily Penetrated,” and Sasha Dugdale reads “Chair No. 14.” All of these poems and more are available online as part of NER‘s recent feature of 15 contemporary British poets, edited by Marilyn Hacker.
Summer intern Simone Edgar Holmes brings together three recent NER authors in Episode 11. They examine the irregular passage of time, the meaning of home, and the curious bonds of family. The authors recorded these works in their own homes in Wymondham, England; Seattle, Washington; and Rochester, New York.
George Szirtes reads his poem “English Rain,” from the British poets feature in 41.2. Joannie Stangeland reads her poem “Parcel,” also from 41.2. Angelique Stevens reads from her memoir “The Only Light You’ve Got,” from NER 40.2
Hosted by Ruhamah Weil, Episode 10 presents Jan Beatty, Greg Johnson, and Jakob Maier, reading their own work from New England Review 40.4.
Jan Beatty reads her poem “The Body Wars,” Greg Johnson reads excerpts from his memoir “Daddy’s Aitch,” and Jakob Maier reads his poem “Food Court Ghost Town.” Ruhamah, our winter 2020 intern, also spoke briefly to Tricia Allen, of the Ilsley Public Library in downtown Middlebury, about the power of poetry.
What makes a good poem?
What makes a good story?
Listen to Dean Rader (“Troubled by Thoughts . . .” and “Once Again in Thought…”), Kathy Fagan (“Dahlia”), and Trey Moody (“A Story About Death”) read their memorable work from NER 40.4, bringing us owls and children, fathers and sons, death, dogs, and more. Middlebury College intern Susan Deutsch hosts the episode, and connects with local readers and librarians Renee Ursitti and Tricia Allen as well.
Hosted by Rahat Huda and Leila Markosian, Episode 8 of the New England Review podcast features the poem “Lark” by Corey Marks and the story “Indoor Animals” by Noah Bogdonoff.
“Lark” was originally published in New England Review 39.3 (2018), and is read here by Katie Marshall.
“Indoor Animals” was originally published in New England Review 39.4 (2018), and is read by Zachary Varricchione.
Episode 7, hosted by NER interns Rahat Huda and Leila Markosian, features two memoirs steeped in childhood, from NER Out Loud’s Vermont Writers Series.
Episode 6, hosted and edited by Jeremy Navarro, is part of NER Out Loud’s Vermont Writers Series.
This episode features Jay Parini reading his short autobiographical piece, “A Beer with Borges” (NER 39.1) and Genevieve Plunkett reading her O. Henry Award–winning story, “Something for a Young Woman” (NER 36.3).
Episode 5, hosted and edited by Juliette Luini, is the first in NER Out Loud’s Vermont Writers Series.
This episode features poet Didi Jackson reading her poems published by NER—”The Burning Bush” (NER 39.1) and “Brancusi’s Bird in Space” (NER Digital)—along with several poems from her forthcoming collection, Moon Jar (2020).
Episode 4 presents two short stories, exploring female identities and experiences, by Emily Geminder and Alla Gorbunova, translated from the Russian by Elina Alter. Hosted by Megan Job and read by students from Oratory Now. Edited by Hannah McKenzie and Juliette Luini.
Hosted by Megan Job, this episode presents a poem and a story, both using form and language to illustrate the contemporary condition. Read by students from the Middlebury Theatre Department and Oratory Now. Edited by NER intern Tess Weitzner.
Hosted by Kylie Winger, this episode showcases poems by three well-known and much-loved American poets. Read by students from the Middlebury Theatre Department and Oratory Now. Edited by NER intern Juliette Luini.
• “Sweet” by Bob Hicok (NER 37.1), read by Pele Voncujovi
• “Obit—Memory,” “Obit—Music,” and “Obit—Grief” by Victoria Chang (NER 38.3), read by Katie Mayopoulos
• “I Shot a Frog I Shot a Bird” (NER 36.1) by C. K. Williams, read by Will Koch
Two recent pieces from NER that converge on the themes of art and destruction. Edited and hosted by Juliette Luini; directed by Sam Tompkins Martin; read by students from the Middlebury Theatre Department and Oratory Now.
Special thanks to Dana Yeaton and Oratory Now for their support in the creation and production of these podcasts.