Archive for July, 2015

CR and Poetry Daily

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Poetry Daily is once again featuring some of our content. Today’s poem: Benjamin S. Grossberg’s “McGuire’s Twenty-Five Minutes” from our newly released summer number.


Song of “Sefiros”

Monday, July 20th, 2015

At last we can present the recording of our “art song” offering based on Jakob Stein’s poem “Sefiros” (both published in our Winter 2015 issue). Contributor and musician Claudia Monpere offers her informed and sensitive response to playing Ellen Ruth Harrison’s score.

Claudia Monpere: I love the fusion of music and poetry, but I’ve never been involved in a collaboration of the two arts. After reading the winter 2015 issue of The Cincinnati Review, I sit at the piano and play Ellen Ruth Harrison’s score of Jakob Stein’s poem “Sefiros.” Oh, what a haunting and lovely composition of a deeply moving poem. Since the parts for both violin and soprano are in the treble clef, I experiment, playing the soprano part an octave higher, then trying the violin section an octave lower. I experiment further, sometimes singing the words, other times reading them silently as I play.

The key of A minor is perfect for this elegy, and the music enhances the poem’s emotional intensity. Holocaust images of fire, bones, and ash are juxtaposed with private loss. As my left hand plays the frequent sequences of triplets, the keys accumulate waterfalls of grief. There are no full chords in this piece. Instead, there are double-stops which heighten the mournful quality. I play slowly, very slowly—“In every abandoned chamber of names charred limbs & leaves read by black flame”—until the tempo quickens and the music turns discordant: “bone-known and written in skeletal verse.”

Stein’s language is replete with consonance and assonance. Harrison’s score lingers on some words and phrases, intensifying the music in the language. With those searing final images: “black plume, bottomless chasm, blazing gate,” my right hand strikes the high A hard—forte—a tied note holding on, gripping through another waterfall triplet,falling downward while the left hand fades—pianissimo. Then the final double-stop of D and A, a long tie, echoes of loss, eons of loss. Silence.


Lingering with 11.2

Friday, July 17th, 2015

LingeringDon Peteroy: In Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, the narrator says “So it goes” 106 times. It’s a sigh; it conveys melancholy, and always appears after something—animate or inanimate—moves on. Similarly, throughout Stephen King’s series The Dark Tower, the narrators and characters say “The world has moved on” too many times for me to count.

Here at Cincinnati Review, though 12.1 is now available, our world has not . . . yet . . . moved on. Back issues of CR 11.2 are still available for order, and we have some wonderful comments from contributors in that issue, discussing their pieces, their struggles, their inspirations. The three writers below attest to what can be done when the world insists it must move on.

Dan Bellm: In the days and weeks after my mother’s death in 2010, at the end of a very long good-bye, her very long passage through Alzheimer’s disease, there was practically nothing at all that I could bear reading, and I am a constant reader. Certainly not any kind of poetry of “consolation.” You might say by chance I ended up pulling Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North off a shelf, that great prose-and-poem account of a long journey on foot in seventh century Japan that had nothing and everything to do with my present experience and state of mind. I can’t entirely say, but something of its air of peace and acceptance, of transience and eternity, stayed with me. My notebook started filling up with fairly bad attempts at haiku, brief gestures that almost never cohered. This was somehow all right. Eventually I stayed with nothing of that “form” except for what is probably its least important element, the syllables, the tercet of five and seven and five. For a good long while, until it ended, this became the way I thought and wrote; it gave me a vessel in which to address, remember, and try to evoke my mother. As many writers before me have said, I found freedom in the constraint. The two pieces in Cincinnati Review both come near the end of the book-length elegy for my mother that is also called Deep Well, entirely written in this syllabic form.


Katherine Karlin: Like many readers, I was deeply affected by David Sedaris’s account of the suicide of his sister, Tiffany.  The debates that ensued afterwards—was Sedaris displaying an appropriate sense of grief? Was he sufficiently honoring the deceased?—discounted an inevitable premise: this was David’s story, not Tiffany’s. He never presumed to represent her voice, nor should he. Still, I was unnerved by her silence and began to explore through fictive imagination (the only way I know how) what it might be like to nurse a dogged mental illness when you come from an accomplished, hyper-verbal family. In my story, Honey is tragic not only because her mind works in reflexive circuits she can’t escape but also because, like all suicides, she cedes the last word of her own narrative.


Claudia Monpere: “The Now” is part of a manuscript called Person in Water about my husband’s suicide. I wrote fiercely in a notebook for about a year after his death, never complete poems but questions, images, rants, summaries of his last days, disembodied lines that much later entered some poems. I wrote “The Now” a few years after his death, trying to create the intensity of that week when I had trouble breathing and the days were a rush of family and police flooding my house and memories and images clashing with one another. I worried that my dad would fall in the rain on the path to my front door, remembered paintings in an art gallery on a trip when my husband was stable and happy, felt terror for my children’s future, obsessed about the cause of his suicide. I struggled with the poem’s form, but once I figured it out, the lines came fairly quickly

Oops—We Did It Again

Friday, July 17th, 2015
Deadline_ExtensionFor the second year in a row, our weakness for slackers has won the day. Yes, we are extending the entry period for the 2015 Robert and Adele Schiff Awards by one week. Submissions will now close on Wednesday, July 22, at 11:59 p.m. EST. One poem and one prose piece (fiction or creative nonfiction) will be chosen for publication in our 2016 prize issue, and the two winners will each receive $1,000.

Contest—Last Week to Enter!

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
Only one week left to submit to The Cincinnati Review’s 2015 Robert and Adele Schiff Awards in Poetry and Prose. One poem and one prose piece (fiction or creative nonfiction) will be chosen for publication in our 2016 prize issue, and the two winners will each receive $1,000.


The entry fee of $20 includes a year-long subscription (two issues), and submissions will be accepted until midnight EST on July 15. All entries will be considered for publication. Please submit up to 8 pages of poetry or 40 pages of prose per entry. All entries should be submitted through our online submission manager.