Kyle McCord

Eight Young Poets You Should Be Reading

The American poetry landscape is full of talented up-and-coming poets.  I hear droves of them at AWP and read them on the pages of the journals I peruse.  That's a wonderful thing.  But it also means that it's tricky to know who's really imperative to consider.  I've sketched out a list of some of the people I believe one would be remiss to go without reading.  But these are just to name a few  My apologies to so many others who I would love to include.  You're still the best, and you know it.

Traci Brimhall

Traci just read for our reading series here in Des Moines, and I'm happy to say I'm still fielding compliments.  It's not common to find narrative poems that can discuss darkness, love, and the body without getting mired in abstraction.  Traci's poem do it though, and they do it with a combination of grace and cutting austerity that is eye-catching.

Sean Bishop

A former editor of Gulf Coast at the University of Houston and Ruth Lily Fellow, Sean Bishop produces work that is so sonically attentive you may forget there's a story at all.  His poems are often strikingly humanistic and politically edgy with a propensity for verbal wit.

Anna Journey

While I'm on the subject of Houston graduates, Anna Journey is another writer that program should be proud to claim.  Anna's book has gotten more ink on its behalf, but perhaps not as much as it deserves.  Her poems are tonally untamable meditations that impart to the reader a sensory experience that few other writers could deliver as ably.

Emily Toder

Emily's poems made be harder to find, but they're well worth the hunt.  Part Lewis Carroll, part Roberto Juarroz, her poems are at once comical and mystical.  Additionally, Emily's skill with shaping anaphora to fit a contemporary context is truly remarkable.

Zachary Schomburg

If you haven't, put one of Zach's books on your reading list for an introductory creative writing course and get a reaction before you tell me how wrong I am.  Zach's imaginative landscapes inspire younger writers with the possibility of what poetry can convey and what the writer can choose to leave behind in putting pen to paper.

Danny Khalastchi

Besides running a killer press, Danny writes some intensive imaginings and re-imaginings of the body and its place in politics.  A new set of poems that I got the pleasure of hearing excerpts of this fall follows the tale of one man struggling with Judaism, masculinity, and a rabbi gone wild.  I'm on the edge of my seat to see who's going to pick up this bombshell of a second book.

Joe Hall

Though Joe's work is featured on the same press as Zachary, his poems are cut from a different mold.  Joe's first book is a travelogue written in sensational visual detail.  The book is spliced with excerpts from the journals of the dead explorer Antonio Pigafetta to add an extra twist.

Kristina Marie Darling

Because Kristina is so committed to supporting small press publications, one could easily overlook her in considering the range of rising stats, but that would be a shame.  Kristina's work takes on a variety of forms: prose, erasures, and, most intriguing, footnotes.  Her poems evoke the foggy margins of a love story with a confidence of voice that's truly unmistakable


Wendy XuKyle McCord's bookGalley of the Beloved in Torment was the winner of the 2008 Orphic Prize and was released by Dream Horse Press in the spring.  He has work forthcoming or published from Boston Review, Columbia: a Journal of Art and Literature, Cream City Review, Gulf Coast, Painted Bride Quarterly and elsewhere.  He's worked for The Beloit Poetry Journal, jubilat, and The Nation.