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Mantis 13, Now Available! (Introduction to New Poems Below) - May 13, 2015

We here at Mantis: A Journal of Poetry, Criticism, and Translation has recently released out 13th issue. I’m as proud as ever to be Mantis‘s Poetry Editor and invite you to pick up a copy wherever you can. Our website is, as always, in need of a little TLC, but our journal itself is handsomely designed (thank you Josh Edwards) and expertly curated (than you, Virginia Ramos). Feel free to submit poems or purchase a copy at Below you’ll find my introduction to our New Poems.


Introduction to New Poems

Derek Mong

If 2014 was the hottest year on record, then the 20 poets in Mantis’s lucky, thirteenth issue took note. “Apples fall in the apple kingdom” writes Will Harris, a by-product perhaps of the “heat, like red paint thrown on me / in protest” (Natalie Shapero), and “the last fires” making “their way across an ochre expanse” (Doug Ramspeck). Harris splits his time between the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates; Shapero and Ramspeck both live in Ohio. Whether seen from the Middle East or the Midwest, this simmering world gives us pause. Or it compels us—as it does C.W. Emerson—to pray. He hopes that some shred of our species will “find its way into time’s pleats and waves.”

There is a strain of Eliotic desolation then running through these poems, though other, countervailing impulses as well. Stephen Massimilla, Randall Brown, and MJ Bender remind us—in rich, sonically acute language—why landscape matters. Joe Betz opens our selection with a “touchdown pass” tribute to marital love. Aaron Anstett asks us “how wet / earth smells where [we] live.” Keith Taylor responds by following the wind. The possible balms are as numerous as these poets’ professions. We’ve writers who are baristas, soldiers, psychologists, painters, librarians, philosophers, and profs.

For those interested in the poetic sequence—Mantis’s traditional strength—I would direct you to H. L. Hix, Benjamin Grossberg, and Monica Berlin. Hix is among the most prolific, formally inventive, and accomplished poets writing today, and in this excerpt from “Frequently Asked Questions” he tests Blanchot’s belief that “[e]very true question opens onto the whole of questions.” His touchstones? Two African writers and a French political scientist. His form? Distorted sonnets. Grossberg’s Elegies remain tragically, unremittingly closer to home. Monica Berlin practices apologizing in four rangy and remarkable poems. Her sin goes unspoken, but she is—like all the poets assembled here—stunned into “mouthing all the harshness of every damned & beautiful day.”

Derek Mong