January Reading List


Chapbook Poetry
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Emilia Phillips

$12 / 38pp / March 2019 / 978-1939728227

"The intimacy that Phillips forges with her readers allows for an exploration of the slipperiness of identity, particularly when it comes to gender and sexuality, as in 'Love ’Em and Leave ’Em Fast,' 'I / played father / in all games of house the doctor / who cut the baby out.' And, in 'Moonpie,' Phillips conjures the rich possibilities that exist beyond binaries, while recognizing the limitations of the physical: 'beyond / absolutes, everything / or nothing, neither / all nor none of what I am, her teeth got in the way.' After all, as she wonders in 'Ladyfingers,' 'wouldn’t god use / they for their pronouns / or none at all.'"

— Luiza Flynn-Goodlett for The Adroit Journal, 2019

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Rare Birds

Shelley Wong

$12 / February 2017 / 978-1939728135

"The girls of Rare Birds embody a space of defiance and admission, of strength and petals. In 'Courtship,' the poet writes, 'Don’t tell me what’s unbecoming / for a woman: I was raised / on magazines' Throughout, our speaker acknowledges the trends to which women adhere, even as they queer those trends. These characters remake womanhood using American trappings—fashion, pop culture and utterance, film noir. They remake loss with language. They remake our world as a jeweled mirror."

— Raena Shirali for West Branch, 2019


Full-Length Poetry
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Because Everything Is Terrible

Paul Guest

$18 / 108pp / March 2018 / 978-1939728234

"In Paul Guest’s fourth collection of poems, Because Everything Is Terrible, doom is never far away. It isn’t all rapturous, of course—mushroom cloud and debris—rather, it’s something that waits for you at the end of each day. Doom comes in small doses: Norway turns off its FM broadcast, a local doughnut shop closes after decades, your father hoses down his car after hitting a stray cat. This is the world in which we live, full of minor tragedies collected like change at the end of the day, pocketed or left on a nightstand. It’s ordinary and—in its own way—completely debilitating."

—Rob Shapiro, The Colorado Review, 2018


American Samizdat

Jehanne Dubrow

$18 / 68pp / March 2019 / 978-1939728289

"Interpersonal relations have been Dubrow’s forte and this book widens the lens with greater feelings — full thrust; shifting shapes — every phrase a surprise. Technology, its bombardment, our addiction and distaste, amplifying loneliness; leaders who refuse what’s human in us — these are the currents lifting the line, and turning our poverty into poetry."

— Grace Cavalieri, Washington Independent Review of Books, 2019


From Diode Poetry Journal 13.3

Diode Poetry Journal 13.3 is now live!

Follow the link below to the full issue.

"Xiang River Soliloquy"

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Emma Miao

Diode Poetry Journal 13.3

River hunting. The village creased in two.
Seduction: a red kind of mutation.

Stolen girl bending over the river, a patchwork
of scabs dotting her hip. Streets glint with fangs.

Wooden bucket, gashed open. Her hands blur
under the bridge, bubbled fingers reaching for mine.

"Aubade with the Bleeding Sky"

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Uma Dwivedi

Diode Poetry Journal 13.3

I scrape the night with my long nails
and the dark flakes off like paint. I am left
with the new day, in which my blood is half

wine and I am singing a song no one
knows the words to. It is morning, after all.
It is dawn and everyone I have wanted

is still underneath my fingernails, still stuck
between my teeth. I listen to my voicemails
as I stutter through the sunrise streets & it's you


From the Diode Archives

"Suppose You Were a Stingray"

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Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Diode Poetry Journal 4.1

Suppose You Were a Stingray

Your whole day was spent searching for a spicy cuttlefish snack. You were always the death of a party. Like a war god made of feathers.

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"While Riding an Elephant, I Think of Unicorns"

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Diode Poetry Journal 4.1

And when I daydream about unicorns, I can’t help/ but think of that little frog in the right hand corner/ of that famous medieval tapestry, “Unicorn// in Captivity.” That unicorn is fat and sassy—


More From Diode Poets

"The poems in Bring Now the Angels weave mourning with the erratic process of healing, skepticism with an unsteady attempt to regain faith."

— from Dilruba Ahmed, author

Below, read two poems from Dilruba Ahmed's Bring Now the Angels (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), previously published in Diode Poetry Journal.


Bring Now the Angels

Dilruba Ahmed

University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020

Dilruba Ahmed’s address in a poem feels so personal, one might look over one’s shoulder a few times to see if she is watching. The “you” feels intimate, personal, immediate. Perhaps the late and great Jane Mead would be another voice that felt so warm and close. The “I” is familiar, the “he” and “she” and “they” feel like the people in my own life. Where others might choose distance in order to address the painful decline of a parent, the difficulties of any life, Ahmed bends closer in, closer to the discomfort, to the wound, to the dying. I feel heard in these poems, seen and known. Ahmed has two of the greatest gifts of any poet—empathy and music, which is to say: song and heart.


— Kazim Ali

"Final Registry"

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Dilruba Ahmed

from Bring Now the Angels, first published in Diode Poetry Journal 9.2 as "Personal Effects"

Tattered voting ballot. Business card smudged
with coffee. Medicare card. Senior center
card. Senior shuttle ID. Power port card
with implant date, reference number,
doctor’s phone. Expired coupon for coffee.
Receipt for overdue book fine. Torn fortunes
pulled from hollow cookies. Photo
of next of kin. Pizza card, fully stamped,
tenth slice given free. Bonus shopper card.
Library cards from another county. Pharmacy
savings card. Library due dates. Dentist reminder
with calendar sticker. Jotted notes: items
for sale (“Coffee table in decent condition”).
Scuffed faculty ID, permit for parking.

"In The Longest Hour"

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Dilruba Ahmed

from Bring Now the Angels, first published in Diode Poetry Journal 9.2

In The Longest Hour

                              will Death
come, too, to you, to make children
of your peers, infants of superiors?
The too-short gown. The catheter.
The hourly scrutiny, phlegmatic lights
sterilizing everything.