57 Octaves Below Middle C by Kevin “Mc” McIlvoy

The following is an excerpt from Kevin “Mc” McIlvoy’s new book, 57 Octaves Below Middle C,                   available at Four Way Books:




“At dusk, as always, Bender sang to us”

At dusk, as always, Bender sang to our congregation, silver
hair greasing her blouse, tin on the toes of her boots.
When we were grade-school children, she and I liked duct
tape. We liked it like you could never believe. Our favorite
thing to steal from the corner store was that silver coil. The
way it ripped across, how it stretched over. It gripped!
She stood on the white twenty-gallon empty drum, her boot
heels burning the plastic, her tempo uneven. We were a
communion of over a dozen church-bums who loved her
and were frightened by her hawk-at- the-tree- crown and
hawk-on- the-glide shoulders and head, her wings at her
sides, her hands palms out, fingers curled up.
Bender and I once duct-taped a picture of our father, who
was dying in the Simic State Penitentiary hospital, to a globe
sent by our Aunt Horror. On the globe our father clung to
the deep South. He spun fast without flying off. When the
globe slowed down, his head did a half-turn on his neck,
then a turn back by half that. We tore the thing apart, duct-
taped the entire planet, kicked it anywhere we wanted.
Dented part of Asia, most of Antarctica. Had to re-tape. [read more here]

Community Digest

Faculty News & Updates

Alan Williamson and his wife, Jeanne Foster, translators, have The Living Theatre: Selected Poems of Bianca Tarozzi, available now from BOA Editions.


Jeremy Gavron’s new novel, Felix Culpa, will be released in the UK in February. Read an excerpt here.

Alumni News & Updates

A poem by Dilruba Ahmed (poetry, ’09), “The Song in Which it Resides” will appear in Ploughshares in January.

Patrick Donnelly (poetry ’03) is the recipient of a 2018 Amy Clampitt Residency Award, which will include a stipend and a six-month stay during 2018 at Clampitt’s former residence in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Robert Oldshue (fiction ’05) has won the New Letters Prize for Fiction 2017 for his story “Thomas.”

Winner of the 2016 Backwaters Prize, Stunt Heart by Mary Jo Thompson (poetry, ’09) has recently been released by The Backwaters Press.


Susan Okie (poetry, ’14) and Kerrin McCadden (poetry, ’14) have new poems in the new Winter issue of Prairie Schooner.  Susan’s poem is titled, “In Great Village,” and Kerrin’s two poems are “When My Brother Dies” and “Killeter Forest: Father McLaughlin’s Well.”


Susan Okie (poetry, ’14)

Kerrin McCadden (poetry, ’14)



from Cockaigne by Matthew Olzmann (poetry, ’09)

A prose piece by Matthew Olzmann (poetry, ’09) appears in Virginia Quarterly Review Online:
from Cockaigne
It was actually a good year, the year before the downfall, a surprisingly good year in our little town. It was a year of bread on the table, a year with a new IPA in our glasses, a year with friends who visited with great frequency. There was laughter, that year, and uncontaminated water flowed from every faucet. In general, our children were kind, that year, to the animals they found in the forests, and I held your hand as we walked through the park. … continue reading here.

Two Poems by Paul Otremba

Two poems by Paul Otremba appear in The Account:

The New Republic of California

I was not remembering the Republic—the cooked egg expertly peeled and split,
a more perfect union toppled by a hair—because that was love they split.

It’s a problem with the math, being told to pick points on a map, then to imagine
your body in towns you’ll never visit, the distance constantly split.

On this side, a landscape of prisons, pox, slumping extractions of minerals;
on that side, prayer groups and quarterly projections, so hardly a good split.

. . . continue reading here.

“The Art of Suspension: The Poetry of Marianne Boruch” by Shari Wagner

photo by Will Dunlap

Poet Marianne Boruch appears as a special feature in Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner’s Through the Sycamores:

The Art of Suspension: The Poetry of Marianne Boruch

There’s so much to admire in a Marianne Boruch poem–where to start? I love the surprising metaphors; the complexity of ideas; the enjambment of lines that leave me slightly off kilter and in suspense; the intimate relationship between sound, sense, and form.  Maybe what I love most is Marianne’s passion for the act of seeing, for surveying the world–up close, from a distance, or in the wings. She raises the camera, the binoculars or the stereopticon. In one poem she notes how her son peers at the “enormous eye” of a horse, and in another she adopts the perspective of a hundred-year-old cadaver, head wrapped in towels, who views her own dismemberment.  She ventures into the eagle-eyed perch of a virtual bombardier, one who hones in through the remote sensing device of a drone. In Marianne’s poems, the act of looking has many dimensions, including the ethical.

The importance of seeing is reinforced here by the poet’s original watercolors (artwork never before exhibited). . . . continue reading here.