All Things Diode


Paula Cisewski is the author of three books of poetry, The Threatened Everything (Burnside Review Books), Ghost Fargo (selected by Franz Wright for the Nightboat Poetry Prize), Upon Arrival (Black Ocean), and the lyric prose chapbook Misplaced Sinister (Red Bird Chapbooks). She lives in Minneapolis.

“I’m afraid / that there’s a prison / at the heart of everything.” In quitter, Paula Cisewski quits everything except doubt, the kind of cavernously honest doubt that philosophers crave and that the American Project will need to forge as its lodestone if this planet is to continue. Only someone doing it (Poetry) right could ask, “how can I / possibly be / doing this right,” illuminating the difficult path with humility and care. For what but “an earnest / straining to hear / will return the here / to the here.” quitter slips into the labyrinth for its dark heart, for its beastliness, but it escapes with something far greater: light. “Whatever light there is, that’s what it’s time for.” This is a book about labor and refusal. We the people, more than ever, need poets like Paula to walk and work the labyrinth for us, to refuse easy answers and bring back seeds of resistance. I am so grateful for this timely, intimate, and incandescent book.

Chris Martin, author of The Falling Down Dance, Becoming Weather and American Music


Paula Cisewski’s latest book is full of labyrinths and scavengers, blossoms and bus commutes, Shakespeare and Chopin and Bowie and Hüsker Dü. Reading it is like commiserating over the end of the world with your smartest friend, only to realize, after a night of dark humor and etudes, that you’re just at the halfway point. There is so much more, even as our bodies tether us to so much of the same. Cisewski makes every bit of it beautiful.”

Kate Harding, author of Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—And What We Can Do About It

Vandana Khanna, The Goddess Monologues

Vandana Khanna's first collection, Train to Agra, won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize and her second collection, Afternoon Masala, was the co-winner of the 2014 Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in the New England Review, The Missouri Review, 32 Poems and Prairie Schooner as well as the anthologies Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation and Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry.

Poems from The Goddess Monologues

Vandana Khanna’s work reminds me why we read poetry. These poems in the voices of Hindu goddesses speak with authority and clarity to what it means to be human, to our desires and our disappointments, to the multiple deaths and rebirths we experience in a lifetime. Blas Falconer __________________ The imaginative language and elegant lines found in the poems of The Goddess Monologues propel the reader to carefully and fully examine their own thumping hearts. Behind these beautiful and tightly controlled personas, Khanna deftly steers us through a rich landscape where the voiceless can finally be heard “…raw and rustling like sugar cane,” and where the night fills “with the tight snap of bow, the hollow whistle of arrows on fire.” Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Congratulations to Diode Editions author Kai Carlson-Wee. His first full-length collection, Rail, is now available for pre-order from BOA Editions.

Pre-Order Rail

Set against a landscape of rail yards and skate parks, Kai Carlson-Wee’s debut collection captures a spiritual journey of wanderlust, depression, brotherhood, and survival. These poems—a “verse novella” in documentary form—build momentum as they travel across the stark landscapes of the American West: hopping trains through dusty prairie towns, swapping stories with mystics and outlaws, skirting the edges of mountains and ridges, heading ever westward to find meaning in the remnants of a ruined Romantic ideal. Part cowboy poet, part prophet, Carlson-Wee finds beauty in the grit and kinship among strangers along the road.

From "Where the Feeling Deserts Us"

I pull up the blanket to cover my bare arms. Cool air filled with the pressures of falling dew. This is the best I can give for a reason—the metal accepts you, whoever you are. The train you are riding will only go forward. The straight line is perfectly clear.


“Rail is a lovely book, strong and inspired.” —Robert Bly

“This is a wholly unique and powerful collection of poems. The sense of purpose puts one in mind of Whitman’s ‘Song of the Open Road.’ Encounters with fellow vagabonds recalls the tramp-poetry of Vachel Lindsay. But the darker need to search for meaning in the American plains and points farther west—a vastness forlorn and almost unknowable—belongs to the particular vision of this poet. His journey through our national ambiguity discovers a flicker in our roots, a spark popping from obscurity that rises into the heavens. The lived experience behind these deft and subtle poems seems necessary, and reiterates the fact that resilience is not only a feature of the American character, it is a recurring tenet of American art.” —Maurice Manning

“Brotherly love, a sense of displacement and lost time, and the deep care that reminds us of our humanity, form the heart of this book. These poems are a scavengers guide, a survivalist manifesto, a reminder of the way our daily experiences can fuel and forge our faith. A hauntingly beautiful and unusual debut.” —Dorianne Laux

“Equal parts dithyramb and lament, the great American bardic tradition celebrates lonesome wandering even as it hungers for enduring communion. Kai Carlson-Wee is a worthy inheritor of its dusty mantle, worn by Whitman and Kerouac before him, and Rail is a moving testament to the territories of freight trains, Minnesota roads, dumpster diving, and brotherhood. ‘The road goes on. With or without us.’ Yes, but how much better to have this unforgettable music to guide the way.” —Campbell McGrath