“Crush” by Richard Siken

The language in Crush is as frightening as it is tender. Driven by desire and not panic but the gesture right before “panic”, the book for me is what the color red would sound like if it had a voice.

“Dream Work” by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver granted me permission to look to the natural world for guidance, healing. Where I thought I lost my eyes for wonder, Oliver gifted me a new prism to see the world sharper again.

“Blessing The Boats” by Lucille Clifton

Anything I know about domesticity and writing about Black girlhood, Lucille Clifton taught me. I refer to her as my second mother (Audre Lorde, the first) for the way her work’s subtly yet brilliant precision.

“The Orchard” by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Brigit Pegeen Kelly is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Anything I understand about world building, mythos, the oracular, Kelly open the door for me to walk through.

“All Of It Singing” by Linda Gregg

Linda Gregg wrote poems that speak to the uncharted darkness of my interior I have yet to forge language for. She’s one of the few poets who understands my joy, my sorrow, but also the space in between when they create a union.

I.S. Jones is a queer American / Nigerian poet and music journalist. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Guernica, Washington Square Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Rumpus, The Offing, Shade Literary Arts, and elsewhere. She is an MFA candidate in Poetry at UW-Madison as well as the Inaugural 2019-2020 Kemper K. Knapp University Fellowship recipient..

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