Not enough is written about machines. Not enough poetry, at least. In an era dominated by an engineering mindset—how can we most efficiently solve problem x?—poetry all too often retreats into pastoral modes. But Amaranth Borsuk’s poetry is different. In each of Borsuk’s three poems, readers will find a common fascination with machinery. Whether this fascination takes the form of a surreal and humorous dialogue between boat and water, a sudden lyrical evocation with the word “lockdown,” or five prose blocks exploring Homo sapiens’ claim to biomechanical fame (the opposable thumb, anyone?), machines haunt these poems. We don’t often think of the mechanical ghost inside the imagination: Borsuk’s work demands that we face the world of our creations and how this world has folded back into the very way that we think, live, and sing. After all, we derive the word “poet” from the Greek word for “maker,” and we are fortunate that Borsuk is a maker of such range and grace.
The Red Pen Project was a collaborative poetic evolution undertaken in Chicago during the AWP Conference, 2012. What began as William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 55" became an ongoing production of new poems. Participants replaced words, pasting over them with a piece of fresh paper and writing a new word in red pen. The final poem, "Bonkers 55" by Loretta Scodspear, reflects the combined poetics, aesthetics, humor, and politics of the participating writers. Here, we present both the beginning and ending poems as well as a photographic retrospective of the three day long evolution of the poem.