Kemi Alabi is a writer, performer and Black queerdo from the future. Their poetry and essays can be found in The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic, Catapult, Winter Tangerine, Apogee Journal, HEArt Online and elsewhere. As Editorial Manager for the nonprofit organization Forward Together, they lead Echoing Ida, a community of Black women and nonbinary writers. They live in Chicago.
Alana Folsom earned an MFA in poetry from Oregon State University, where she founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of 45th Parallel, OSU's literary magazine. Her work has been published in The Believer, Missouri Review, The Journal, Apogee, and others. Originally from Los Angeles, she currently lives in Boston with her cat, Birthday. Find her @axfolsom
Aidan Forster is a queer poet from upstate South Carolina. A Tin House Summer Scholar in poetry, his work has been honored by the Poetry Society of America, the Poetry Society of the United Kingdom, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and the National YoungArts Foundation, among others. His work appears in or is forthcoming from Best New Poets 2017, BOAAT, Columbia Poetry Review, Indiana Review, Muzzle, Ninth Letter, Pleiades, and Tin House, among others. His debut chapbook of poems, Exit Pastoral, was a finalist for the Vinyl 45s Chapbook Contest and is forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2018.
Stephanie Horvath is a poet who divides her time between Oregon and Southern California. She received her MFA from Indiana University, where she worked both as Associate Poetry Editor and Nonfiction Editor for Indiana Review, and she is currently a PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California
Kamal E. Kimball is a Cincinnati poet, member of the Cincinnati DIY Writers, as well as the Ohio Poetry Association. Her work has been published in Rattle, Hobart, One, Sundog Lit, Bone Parade, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Kaaterskill Basin Literary Journal, Califragile, and elsewhere. She works as a freelance grant writer, journalist, and creative writing instructor. More at kamalkimball.com
Brittany Rogers is a poet, mother, educator, and Hufflepuff Prefect. She is Co-Chief Editor for WusGood.black, a literary magazine that highlights urban writers. Brittany has work published in Vinyl Poetry and Prose, Freezeray Poetry, Gramma, and Tinderbox Poetry; she also has work forthcoming in The BreakBeat Poets: Black Girl Magic Anthology. Brittany is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and a fellow of VONA/ Voices and Pink Door Writing Retreat.When she’s not looking at poems, she’s decorating things with glitter and dying her hair colors black girls aren’t “supposed” to have.
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, raised in Essex County, New Jersey, author of Memories of an Old World (Wilde Press, 2016), and current finalist for the Atlantis Award for Poetry, Julio Cesar Villegas is the writer that your abuelos warned you about. His scriptures can be found in Subprimal Poetry Art, Into the Void Magazine, Memoir Mixtapes, Rigorous Mag, as well as within the heart of the abyss. Puerto Rico Se Levanta.
Born and raised in Chester, PA, Jameka Williams is a MFA candidate in poetry at Northwestern University. She earned her BA in Creative Writing from Eastern University in Philadelphia, PA. Her poetry has appeared in Prelude Magazine, Gigantic Sequins, Powder Keg Magazine, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her poem, “Yeezus’ Wife [when asked what do you actually do]” was nominated for a “Best of the Net 2017” and a Pushcart Prize by Muzzle Magazine. She resides in Chicago, IL.
We are looking for a handful of new first round poetry readers to help us keep up with our growing submission pool. Muzzle publishes two online issues a year and uses Submittable to manage submissions. Muzzle is 100% volunteer run. If you are interested in applying to work with our staff, please send a brief cover letter explaining your experience and interest and a 10-page poetry sample to email@example.com by Thursday, February 8th. Please put "Poetry Reader Application" in the email subject line. It's our goal to never be homogenous in taste; we are looking for readers who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and aesthetic traditions. The main considerations will be 1) poetry sample 2) reasons for wanting to volunteer with a literary magazine (particularly this one) and 3) literary citizenship. Some familiarity with Submittable is preferred. Bonus points if you are familiar with Weebly and might be willing to web edit a few poems per issue (but that is definitely not a key requirement).
-Stevie Edwards, Editor-in-Chief / Founder
We are excited to announce that this year's Pushcart Nominees are:
This year's nominees for Sundress's annual "Best of the Net" anthology are:
"LAPD Police Scanner Translation I: Pedestrian Incident" by Héctor Ramirez
"How to Find the Center of a Circle" by Tiana Clark
"On Contemplating Leaving My Children" by Jennifer Givhan
"Fourth of July and Trans on the Brooklyn Side" by Kayleb Rae Candrilli
"Johnny Hodges and Kalamata Olives" by Kaveh Akbar
"before i was born, my mother" by Willy Palomo
"Notes on My Wasp Wing Tattoo" by Cameron Awkward-Rich
"The Violence Question, Answered by a Goat: Or, Notes Toward a Discourse on Haunting through Poetry" by Jeanann Verlee
Also, shout out to last year's nominee, Jacqui Germain, for having her piece "Conjuring: A Lesson in Words and Ghosts" chosen by Bruce Bond for last year's Best of the Net.
We at Muzzle are feeling very lucky and excited to bring on a new group of Poetry Readers, Book Reviewers, and Copy Editors, as well as a Social Media Editor. We were rather overwhelmed by the response to our call for applications, and were only able to take on a small handful of the talented and necessary writers who applied. We're proud to be adding the talents of Raul Alvarez, Derrick Carr, Brionne Janae, Sarah Sgro, and Raena Shirali, Claudia Cortese, Irène Mathieu, Willy Palomo, Ellie White, George Abraham, and Shonté Daniels to our staff.
Raul Alvarez, Poetry Reader
Raul Alvarez is the author of There Was So Much Beautiful Left (Boost House) and holds an MFA from Columbia College Chicago. His work is has been published in Fourteen Hills, Inferior Planets, PANK, Fanzine, Pinwheel, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Seattle and works for Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
Derrick Carr, Poetry Reader
Derrick Carr is a poet and organizer in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he's lived since he was old enough to read. He co-founded Yale's slam team in 2010 while getting his degree in African-American Studies. He's co-edited the anthology Tandem as a staff member at The Lit Slam. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Oakland Review, Adroit, and here at Muzzle. You can keep up with him at tinyletter.com/whyderrick.
Brionne Janae, Poetry Reader
Brionne Janae is a California native, teaching artist, and poet living in Boston where she completed an MFA at Emerson College. Brionne was a recipient of the 2016 St. Botoloph Emering Artist award. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in jubilat, Boaat, Plume, Bayou Magazine, The Nashville Review, and Waxwing among others. And most importantly Brionne is a Cave Canem Fellow.
Sarah Sgro, Poetry Reader
Sarah Sgro currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi, where she serves as Poetry Editor for the Yalobusha Review and co-hosts the Broken English Reading Series. She is from New York and previously worked as an editorial assistant for Guernica. Her poetry appears in Tagvverk ,Muzzle, TYPO, glitterMOB, Horse Less Review, Deluge, and other journals. Her website is sarah-sgro.com.
Raena Shirali, Poetry Reader
Indian American poet and educator Raena Shirali is the author of GILT (YesYes Books, 2017). Her work has appeared in Boston Review, Ninth Letter, Tupelo Quarterly, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, and many more. Her honors include a 2016 Pushcart Prize and the 2014 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize, among others. She will be Bucknell University’s Philip Roth Resident this spring at the Stadler Center for Poetry.
Claudia Cortese, Book Reviewer
Claudia Cortese is a poet, essayist, and fiction writer. Her first book, WASP QUEEN (Black Lawrence Press, 2016), explores the privilege and pathology, the trauma and brattiness of suburban girlhood. Her work has appeared in Blackbird, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast Online, The Offing, and Sixth Finch, among others. The daughter of Neapolitan immigrants, Cortese grew up in Ohio and lives in New Jersey. She also lives at claudia-cortese.com.
Irène Mathieu, Book Reviewer
Irène Mathieu is a pediatrician and writer based in Philadelphia. She is the 2016 winner of the Bob Kaufman Book Prize and author of the poetry chapbook the galaxy of origins (dancing girl press, 2014) and book orogeny(Trembling Pillow Press, forthcoming). Her poetry, prose, and photography can be found in The Caribbean Writer, Muzzle Magazine, Los Angeles Review, Callaloo Journal, Jet Fuel Review, Lime Hawk, Big Lucks, and elsewhere. She has been a Fulbright scholar and a Callaloo Fellow, and her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Irène is a contributing author on the Global Health Hub blog and an editor for the humanities section of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. She holds a BA in International Relations from the College of William & Mary and MD from Vanderbilt University.
Willy Palomo, Book Reviewer
Willy Palomo learned poetry from the worlds of hip-hop and slam. In 2016, he was named the runner-up Latin@ Scholar at the Frost Place Conference on Poetry. He is currently working on his MFA in poetry and MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Indiana University, where he teaches Intro to Creative Writing and the Poetics of Rap. He runs the Bloomington Poetry Slam. His work can be found online on Vinyl, Acentos Review, HeArt Online, and elsewhere.
Ellie White, Social Media Editor
Ellie White holds a BA in English from The Ohio State University, and an MFA from Old Dominion University. She writes poetry and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Antiphon Poetry Magazine, Harpur Palate, Tincture, and several other journals. Ellie’s chapbook, Requiem for a Doll, was released by ELJ Publications in June 2015. She currently lives near some big rocks and trees outside Charlottesville, Virginia.
George Abraham, Copy Editor
George Abraham is a Palestinian-American poet attending Swarthmore College. He competed in the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (placing 2nd out of 68 international teams), the National Poetry Slam, and the Individual World Poetry Slam. A 2016 Brooklyn Poets Fellow, his work was featured as part of the Brooklyn Poet of the Week spotlight series. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Thrush, Emerge Literary Journal, Riwayya, Crab Fat Magazine, Yellow Chair Review, the Shade Journal, Black Napkin Press, APIARY, and more. He hopes to continue bringing awareness to Palestinian human rights and socio-economic struggles through art. More work and contact info can be found at his artist website: http://gabrahampoet.wixsite.com/gabrahampoet
Shonté Daniels, Copy Editor
Shonté Daniels is a young poet and games journalist from New Jersey. She is currently an editorial associate at Rewire. Shonté's games criticism has appeared in places such as Deorbital, Kill Screen, and Motherboard, and her poetry has been on Apogee, The Rectangle, and Phoebe. Follow Shonté on Twitter @JohnnyxH or visit her website at Shonte-Daniels.com.
We are so excited to share our new logo from poet and web developer Meghann Plunkett!!
Q&A with Meghann Plunkett
*Questions from Stevie Edwards, Editor-in-Chief
SE: I know you primarily through your work as a poet, but you also have a background as a web developer. Do you see any interplay between your interests and talents in poetry and coding?
MP: I’d say that I see a connection between writing code and editing poetry for sure. I was a poet long before I was introduced to web development and one of the first things I became delighted by was the notion that code could become more “elegant” by being reworked or reorganized. This made me literally clap my hands and spin around. I feel this is what happens when we edit our poems or stories into the most effective shape we can. And the editing process is never over. I love the idea that these two very different disciplines are constantly striving, chiseling and reaching for elegance.
SE: You recently moved from NYC for an MFA program in the great metropolis of Carbondale, IL. Could you tell me a little bit about your decision to pursue an MFA and how you’re finding the experience?
MP: Haha. Yes, it’s certainly been a change. I think I always knew that I was interested in pursuing an MFA at some point in my life, but I wanted to be in the world first. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence I had almost every job imaginable. I worked as a shop girl at the Plaza Hotel, I waited tables, I house sat, pet sat, baby sat and for a time I boomed sound for a terrible reality television show called “Street Court,” which was like Judge Judy except “in the street” ..literally. After learning web development and finding a stable job, I realized how much I missed being able to dedicate my mind and life to poetry. That was the turning point and I knew it was time.
I am just ending my first year and so far, I couldn't be happier. My cohort is filled with talented, kind and motivated people. My professors, Judy Jordan and Allison Joseph are beams of motivation and wise insight. Being in an MFA is special. It creates an environment that allows poetry to be the most important thing. When does that ever happen?
SE: You recently had an article published in Luna Luna Magazine about—and I hope this isn’t an over-generalization—people who publicly advocate for supporting women in abusive relationships but aren’t advocates for women they encounter in their daily lives. In this article you suggest we ask ourselves “how we each have helped cycles of abuse by doing nothing, by doubting the victim and shying away.” Do you think this challenge to victim-blaming shows up in your poetry at all?
MP: I’d say that is a good summary of my intentions for this article, yes. I’d say that I have been shifting my life and my work to really focus on female issues in general, and victim blaming is certainly a part of that. I have a lot of current work that is not out in the world yet that deals with these issues. I’m interested in looking at these issues, victim blaming for example, and studying the process from external to internal. This isn’t in the Luna Luna article, but victim blaming begins from an external source and can often result in an internal dialogue with yourself. It is easy to become your own oppressor in this way. This concept is fascinating and heartbreaking to me. It’s scary too, to look at my own internal landscape and ask myself how much of this was told to me? How much of that so I keep telling myself.
SE: I know this is a huge and not easily answerable question, but do you have any thoughts on how to disrupt the seeming complacency toward sexism within the poetry community?
MP: This is hard. I just thought about it and I hate my answer because it places a lot of the action and the fixing mostly on women. But I think that the only way to eradicate sexism and harassment in any community is to not stay silent. The more we talk, the more awareness spreads. Often when I stayed silent in the past it was because I assumed I was alone and that these actions from a certain person were personal problems. What I have learned is that if there is a source of hate being directed at you, it is also being directed at others. When I realized this, I started to see the problem as systemic and get angry. Speaking out is the most commonplace super power I have encountered. It is magic. Oh and also, you don’t have to be a victim to speak up. Men see it all the time too. Say something.
SE: Do you have any favorite recent feminist poetry reads?
MP: I’m not sure how these women might feel to have this label put on them, but it is my opinion that every female poet with a strong political voice is a feminist poet. There are so many of them, how to narrow them down? I’ll just list those whose name begin with the letter A:
Aja-Monet is just one of my favorite activist and women in general. Aimee Baker has a long poem about women who have been abducted. Ada Limon’s newest book Bright Dead Things. Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poem about C-Sections. Ansel Elkin’s book Blue Yodel. Angel Nafis and her book Black Girl Mansion.
SE: What was the last poem that really moved you?
MP: Ansel Elkin’s "Reverse: A Lynching" from her book Blue Yodel. So Powerful.
SE: How long have you been writing poetry. What sparked your interest?
MP: I’m not sure. I remember writing autobiographies for my teddy bears as a kid. But, I don’t think I really started writing until college. Matthea Harvey and Jeffrey McDaniel opened my eyes to what poetry was and could be.
SE: So, let’s say you sit down with a computer or with a notebook or etch-a-sketch or whatever it is use for writing and poems and nothing comes out. What do you do?
MP: I usually end up cleaning. Monotonous things often help me get into a creative space. I might be able to visually see how prolific I am by gauging how dirty my house is.
SE: Are there any TV shows you’ve recently binged watched?
MP: Jessica Jones. Dear Lord.
SE: Favorite treat?
MP: Pickles. Ice cream. Ramen.
SE: Favorite thing to read that isn't poetry?
MP: I’ve been reading a lot of Neil Gaiman as of late. So, magical short stories?
Note: Meghann's poems "Adolescence" and "Long Distance Larceny" appeared in our Winter 2014 issue, and more about her work as both a web developer and a poet can be found on her website: meghannplunkett.com
Bettering American Poetry Nominations
Our nominees this year for Sundress's annual "Best of the Net" Anthology are:
1) “Conjuring: A Lesson in Words and Ghosts” by Jacqui Germain
2) “Dark Pairing” by Tarfia Faizullah
3) “The Forgetting Episodes” by Justin Phillip Reed
4) “Menace” by Joy Priest
5) “a question of rain.” by Jayson Smith
6) “Meditation on a Poem about Glass Embedded in the Scalp after a Car Accident” by Jeanann Verlee
We're continually humbled by the challenging and gorgeous work we get to publish at Muzzle. Nomination decisions are never easy, but they were especially difficult this year. Please join us in giving immense love and appreciation to these poets. We are doing our best to get their work out into the world because we believe that the world needs it. We hope that the good folks at Best of the Net will help with this important mission.