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.
Hosts Andrew Grossman and Kate Sadoff present an excerpt from the play “Splits/kin,” co-authored by Milia Ayache and Amina Hassan, followed by a conversation with the authors.
They talk about their process of collaboration, the influence of fairy tales and founding myths, and the global love affair between fathers and their television sets.
The excerpt from the play is performed by Leslie Sainz and Andrew Grossman. “Splits/kin” was originally published in NER 43.2 (summer 2022) as part of the international feature on Lebanese writers.
Helene Achanzar reads her poem “Chicago,” followed by a conversation with podcast host Tejas Srinivasan about poetic structure, the meaning of “work,” paintings by Robert Ryman, and more.
Lu Mila and Michelle Marquez read two works of short fiction by Cuban authors Anna Lidia Vega Serova and Jorge Enrique Lage, both translated by Jennifer Shyue.
Podcast host Madison Middleton interviews Shyue, who talks about how she fell in love with translation and details some of the pleasures and perils of this exacting and creative work.
“Portrait of My Mother-in-Law with Subsequent Touch-Ups” by Anna Lidia Vega Serova and “Selections from Vultureffect” by Jorge Enrique Lage were originally published in NER 42.1, in spring 2021, as part of the “Cuban Literature Today” feature. Episode hosted, edited, and produced by Madison Middleton ‘22.5.
Jesse Lee Kercheval reads her essay “Crash,” followed by a conversation with Rebecca Amen.
The short essay interrogates the author’s memory of a shocking car accident that took place more than 50 years ago. In the interview, Kercheval further explores the nature of memory, essay writing in general, and her work as a translator of Uruguayan poetry.
“Crash” was originally published in NER 42.2 (summer 2021). This episode was produced by Rebecca Amen, Middlebury College class of 2022.
Michael McGriff reads an excerpt from his poem “Questions for the Interrogation,” followed by an interview with Yardena Carmi.
Their conversation explores the poem’s tribute to rural Oregon and Pablo Neruda, the limitations of memory and language, and Michael’s work as a translator.
“From Questions for the Interrogation” was originally published in NER 42.1. Episode hosted and produced by Yardena Carmi, Middlebury College class of 2023.
Celeste Levy reads the poem “Offered as Suddenly a Forest” by Zach Linge.
The reading is followed by a conversation between Celeste and Zach, who talk about the poem from both the reader’s and the writer’s points of view. They explore the origins of the poem’s images, writing during the pandemic, and the shades of truth that poetry can reveal.
Madison Middleton reads from the short story “Suffering in Motion” by McKenna Marsden, followed by a conversation between reader and writer.
In this story, Hannah comes up against the limits of gender and of their own training regimen while preparing for the Boston Marathon. Madison and McKenna talk about the story from both the reader’s and the writer’s points of view, touching on the power of running and what it means to be nonbinary.
“Suffering in Motion” was originally published in NER in spring 2020. Episode hosted by Carolyn Kuebler, Editor of NER.
What can love mean?
An essay and a poem from recent issues of NER explore forms of love that exist outside the traditional bounds of romance and family.
Jessie van Eerden’s essay “A Story of Mary and Martha Taking in a Foster Girl,” from NER 40.3, is read by Francis Price ’21 and followed by an interview with the author. Next, Nimaya Lemal ’21.5 reads “Columbine and Rue,” a poem by John Freeman from NER 41.1.
This episode was produced and hosted by Courtney Wright, a Religion, Philosophy, and the Environment major in Middlebury’s class of 2021.5.
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.