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editor's note Halloween 2021

When besieged by doubt or depression, take a shower and change your clothes. ~ Donald Justice

Teaching the Ape to Write Poems 

by James Tate

They didn't have much trouble

teaching the ape to write poems:

first they strapped him into the chair,

then tied the pencil around his hand

(the paper had already been nailed down).

Then Dr. Bluespire leaned over his shoulder

and whispered into his ear:

"You look like a god sitting there.

Why don't you try writing something?"

coffee & bagels

This morning I had bagels and coffee with my old friend and teacher, Ken Rosen. We met 50 (!) years ago when Ken taught poetry at what is now the University of Southern Maine and I was a student [sic]. Today we covered grandchildren, the World Series, Thomas Mann, Goethe, music in poetry, the lack of music in poetry, Degas, Van Gogh, high school soccer, Mark Strand, Spoon River Anthology, a "Big Mama" sandwich, the mystery of Christology, the shock of finding out the Braves no longer play in Milwaukee, Hart Crane, and a wonderful joke about a mouse, a giraffe, and a lion.

Bagels were toasted and well-smeared, the coffee was golden (send me an email if you want Ken's recipe), and the craic was good! I left with a lot of ideas and a kind-of to-do list in my head.

And that's what I hope this issue of Hole In The Head does for you. Spend some time with your nose in these digital pages  and you'll find both trick and treat, costumes optional.

This, our 8th issue, marks the end of our second year. This time around it all came together without the last minute anguish, scrambling, loathing, and emergency emails to our tech person. I believe it's because I chose the cover - Tilly Woodward's "Kanis Painting" - before anything else and it, like a jar in Tennessee, made the rest of the work rise up around it. 

We've been lucky to have Tilly's paintings in past issues - particularly her collaboration with the poet Ralph Savarese - "Did We Make It?" in volume 2 number 2. That work was stunning and so I was happy when she agreed to have her painting on this cover. I can't keep my eyes off it. 

"Headlines" has been a regular Hole In The Head feature that also sets the tone for the issue. Past issues have featured reflections by Baron Wormser, Stuart Kestenbaum, a music video by Dave Mallett, and a fun poem by renaissance man, Lucas Cantor...but...but...not one woman's voice. I set out to quickly rectify that oversight. Luckily for all of us, Sheleen McElhinney, whose work appeared in the last issue, agreed to step in with the beautiful Portrait of Elinore, a poem about her mother.

our liturgical Year

Our calendar is odd.

One might expect a quarterly journal to release in January, April, July, and October - right? Orderly.

But no, this ain't called Hole In The Head Review for nothing - we do things differently here. For us it's Groundhog Day, May Day, The Feast of St. Peter in Chains (it's the best I could come up with for August 1), and All Saints Day. 

new work

Speaking of Sheleen, she has a new book out, Every Little Vanishing, which can be purchased from the publisher here: Every Little Vanishing - Write Bloody Publishing.

Lisa Zimmerman, who has three poems in this issue, has a wonderful new chapbook, Sainted, News Archives - Lisa Zimmerman (

Pamela Sumners, a regular Hole In The Head contributor, has a new book, Etiquette for a Pandemic. Visit


Mark your calendars!

On November 11 our friends, Ralph Savarese and Tilly Woodward, will be celebrating the release of their chapbook, "Did We Make It," which appeared in Volume 2 issue 2 of Hole In The Head. Did We Make It | Hole In The Head (

It's a stunning work and we are so happy they chose to share it with us!

You'll find a Zoom link here:

we get global

More than 15,000 unique views in our second year. We're hoping to expand to Antartica in 2022.

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thank you

As always, thank you to the entire staff here at Hole In The Headquarters: Tom Bruton, Bill Burtis, Jere DeWaters, Michael Hettich, Nancy Jean Hill, and Marilyn A. Johnson.

Special thanks to everyone who has thrown a buck or two into the tip jar. If you like what you see and hear, please support our work by contributing here: 

I'm now going to take a shower and change my clothes.

This hole thing will be back on Groundhog's Day 2022. Cheers!

got spotify? here's what I've been listening to: 

If you are in love with the infinite,
why grieve over earth washing away in the rain?

- Rumi

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