Open for Submissions


North of Oxford is open for submissions of poetry, book reviews and essays. We are currently reading for 2023. Please feel free to send for consideration of publication. Follow the guidelines on our about page:


Three Poems by Douglas Cole

Desire returns, madness of the outcast
in the colonies, among the corridors,
library books like stone terminal weight,
like a monk praying inside his bones.
Scholar with dust on his glasses
squinting into the small type
dark little hollow of the card catalogue,
thumb smudges on the paper,
reluctant clutch stain of dead hands.
Robert Fludd put it all together
under one grand mosaic of philosophy.
I understand it while I write it out,
keep smelling the plague years
after I leave the building.
Skull mask and lovely flesh-marble scrolls,
heartache falling like an eyelash,
one shot free, lifting a head from hell-bent
geometries of an enfant terrible architect,
now a ghost wandering streets he dreamed.
The Specter of Brocken at Shady Grove
Stuck in the Takoma station,
flies and mosquitoes, crickets buzzing,
moth vain punching at a platform lamp,
nothing moving nothing.
The train that arrives has no destination,
no better reason to get on with reflections,
underground spiderweb machinations,
mist gathering at the cavemouth,
dreamers of gardens riding home in darkness,
station lights, eyes and layered faces,
flickering tunnels and black-out terminals,
and we awake at the bottom of wells
up which we rise into the night sky.
The Library
Reading room statues of the great eyes
that see nothing, books shuffled out
on conveyor belts, pneumatic tubes
coughing up rolled papers in triplicate.
Where is the poet laureate?
Where is the ghost in the institution?
Shades come and sit beside you
as you pour over pages yellow with age
in the nerve center, brain of the nation,
and it’s all here and just out of reach.
Douglas Cole has published six collections of poetry and the novel, The White Field, winner of the American Fiction Award. He is a regular contributor to Mythaxis, an online journal. He lives and teaches in Seattle, Washington. His website is .

After my First Heart Fluctuation by Stephen Page

After my First Heart Fluctuation
The day after my first heart fluctuation
My mother came to visit me.
While we ate pasta and cottage cheese,
She began to cough on the ground pepper
She had liberally sprinkled on top of her food.
My mind went back thirty years,
To when my grandfather,
Who was babysitting my sisters and me,
Began to cough from pepper upon steak,
A cough that turned into a red-faced choking,
As he clutched the railing of the stairway
That led away from the kitchen an emptied into
                        The basement.
As I walked with my mother through Central Park,
And she rambled on about this cousin and that aunt,
I closely watched her facial expressions,
                        And noticed each flutter in her step.
Stephen Page is part Native American. He was born in Detroit. He holds degrees from Palomar College, Columbia University, and Bennington College. He has 4 books of poetry published. He loves his wife, long walks through woodlands, nature, solitude, peace, meditating, spontaneous road trips, motorcycles, smashing cell phones with hammers, dog-earing pages in books, and making noise with his electric bass. Most recently, he has had several flash fictions, a short story, and dozens of poems published. Check out his blog to read them:

The Game by Matthew Ussia

The Game
Late spring day at the friar’s cemetery
I walked down to see old friends
from my college days buried
in rows of identical graves
brothers in Christ who all failed
to get me to follow them in faith
Perhaps I was their token nontheist
friend for keeping piety honest or
thought they were playing a long game
confident of my long walk towards salvation
Father Tom always told me
doubt is just a natural phase
These bodies who never knew
the sanctuary of other bodies
lay under my feet, victory uncertain
what final thoughts at the end
of lives dedicated to opening a door
that turned out to be a wall
An ending of absolute despair
before the relief of dreamless sleep
the rest of my life knowing
it’s only a matter of time before
the big reveal of which one of us was wrong
Matthew Ussia is a professor, editor, podcaster, thereminist, writer, softcore punk, social media burnout, and all-around sentient organic matter.  His first book of poetry The Red Glass Cat, was published in 2021.   His writings have appeared in Mister Rogers and Philosophy, Winedrunk Sidewalk, Future Humans in Fiction and Film, North of Oxford, Trailer Park Quarterly, Anti-Heroin Chic, and The Open Mic of the Air Podcast among others. He lives in Pittsburgh.   More info can be found at


Happy Hour at the All-Souls Lounge by Dennis Daly

all souls
Happy Hour at the All-Souls Lounge 
Vivid sparks shoot out everywhere,
The ethereal smithy slams
Down his fundamental hammer
As I sip my jar of whiskey
And nod to that sweat-veiled forger
Of well-oiled Damascus steel,
A quickening sword telecast.
Moving toward me, the barkeep smirks
Then smiles his all-knowing welcome.
I’m early and unrepentant.
From spatial mist others drift in,
Fired metal moved aside with tongs.
A hilt with pommel now fashioned
While draft beers or iced drinks are poured,
Pockets sapped of greenbacks and coins.
Some talk on tomorrow’s subjects,
Some keep their peace, their weighted hearts
Self-contained, losing harsh detail.
The fine file and whetstone applied
To blade’s edge, creation’s prelude.
Dennis Daly has published nine books of poetry and poetic translations. He has written reviews for literary journals and newspapers. A new book entitled Odd Man Out has been accepted by Madhat Press and is due out by fall 2023. Please see his blogsite at

North of Oxford Presents An Autumn Poetry Reading

chase logo

October 22nd – North of Oxford Presents, An Autumn Poetry Reading @ Chase’s Hop Shop, 7235 Rising Sun Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19111. The shop is located a few blocks from the Ryers Train Station and along the Route 18 Septa Bus Line. The reading will be held from 2am to 4pm and an open mic will follow time permitting. Hosted by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri.

Thaddeus Rutkowski

Thaddeus Rutkowski is the author of seven books, most recently Tricks of Light, a poetry collection. He teaches at Medgar Evers College and received a fiction writing fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

amy_barone_4Amy Barone’s new poetry collection, Defying Extinction, will be published by Broadstone Books in 2022. New York Quarterly Books published her collection, We Became Summer, in 2018. She wrote chapbooks Kamikaze Dance (Finishing Line Press) and Views from the Driveway (Foothills Publishing.) Barone’s poetry has appeared in Local Knowledge, New Verse News, Paterson Literary Review, Sensitive Skin, and Standpoint (UK), among other publications. She belongs to the Poetry Society of America and the brevitas online poetry community. From Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, she lives in New York City.

Peter headshot (2) (1)Peter Baroth, writer, artist, and musician, is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and Temple Law School. His novel is Long Green (iUniverse) and his book of poetry, Lost Autographs (Moonstone Press). He has been published in Philadelphia Poets, Red Fez, Schuylkill Valley Journal, Apiary, Legal Studies Forum, and elsewhere. He won the 2009 Amy Tritsch Needle Award, a 2016 Petracca Family Award, was a finalist for the Joie de Vivre book prize, has been nominated for Best of the Net, and is on Philadelphia Stories’ editorial board. He lives in Media, PA with poet and professor Courtney Bambrick.

Todd, JCJ.C. Todd’s books include Beyond Repair, (2021) a special selection for the Able Muse Press Book Award, and The Damages of Morning (Moonstone Press, 2018), a finalist for the 2019 Eric Hoffer Award.. Winner of the 2016 Rita Dove Poetry Prize, with fellowships from the Pew Foundation and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, she was a winner in the 2021 National Poetry Competition of the Poetry Society of the United Kingdom. Poems and interviews have appeared in Baltimore Review, Oxford Review, The Night Heron Barks, and The Paris Review. She will read in the Fall Poetry Festival in Lithuania in September.

Dave-Worrell-238x300Dave Worrell is the author of We Who Were Bound and Close to Home featuring paintings by Catherine Kuzma. Dave’s poems have appeared in Slant, Canary, Heroin Chic, Shot Glass Journal, Referential Magazine, Wild River Review, and elsewhere. He has performed his music-backed poems at Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia and The Cornelia Street Café in New York. He began writing poetry toward the end of his 30-plus year law career, has taught writing at area community colleges and business law to undergraduates at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business.

evanEvan Anders brews coffee for mass consumption in Philadelphia. His poems have appeared in North Dakota Quarterly, California Quarterly, decomp journal, Chicago Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. He is a retired stay-at-home dad who thinks Bob Dylan was best in the eighties.


d pan ii

Our Host: Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

Diane Sahms-Guarnieri is a Philadelphia Poet. Five collections of her poetry have been published, most recently, Covid 19 2020 – A Poetic Journal released by Moonstone Press in 2021. Diane’s poems have been widely published in the small and electronic press. She is the poetry editor of North of Oxford. Her website is: On YouTube:



Aerial Concave Without Cloud by Sueyeun Juliette Lee


By Greg Bem

the invisible latent image
the nature
the time
the amount of agitation

(page 41)

Sueyeun Juliette Lee’s latest book, Aerial Concave Without Cloud, is a flash of brightness amidst and understanding of brightnesses, a meditation on light while immersed in light. It is a book that was composed while exploring the short and long days in Iceland, Norway, and Wyoming. It is a book that moves forward with Lee’s consistent commitments to a living awareness, and phenomenological and ontological understandings of the self and the systems within and beyond the self.

It is a book of poetry that, when unpacked, feels alive, and dependent upon the infinite number of circumstances provided by the reader and their reading form. And yet it is consequentially personal, a book that reads wholly and wholesomely of being and of being unique and of being alone. Lee’s splicing of study, reflection, and explication cycle into a lively poetics both awake and propulsive.

I began my inquiry into light, simply: can I decipher a similar capacity to translate and speak the light with my living human body?

And by doing so, can I relinquish the intensities of an inherited orphan grief?

(page 77)

Lee’s intentions are provided in small, elusive bits and pieces. The “inquiry into light” is one of both knowledge and experience, often inseparable. The text carries us along, as Lee exhibits situation and the process of revelation. Far from dramatic, these epiphanies lend us the exquisite and mysterious analogous to Lee’s settings. To be dreaming beneath the aurora borealis, to be seeking the textures of light within the arctic: a sense of extremes is muted by a calm determination.

The poet’s abstract work, strongly centered in the early moments of the collection, is heartily energized through its sprawling forms. What I appreciate between the snippets of prose and the small slices of poetry is the robust push and pull of certainty and sequence; Lee’s forms are pleasantly natural, hardly forced or constrained. Other times the narrative takes over, leaving behind form to paint a deep portrait of emotional vulnerability, as seen below:

The high ice cliffs around the village loomed over us, even in this small shelter.

I didn’t know how to proceed.
This isolation. It devours.

(page 99)

Often the artist’s explorations into the world are strongly removed from the resultant output. Lee challenges this norm by bringing the experience of “retreat” and “exploration” into the text directly. Just as the name implies, Aerial Concave Without Cloud is thus a book that extends beyond its core themes, offering a meta navigation of those project experiences.

Lee embeds these engagements fluidly. That the poet’s world was shifted, shaped, scraped, and reassembled by way of these travels. Through extreme climates and environments, Lee finds a new home and structure for her research and her creativity.

When I think of breaks in a chain, my mind can’t also help but turn to wonder at continuities, at streaming extensions that failed to break. My imagination turns to light.

(page 88)

Like her previous work, Lee’s latest collection speaks volumes in its entirety. It is the latest advance through a lifelong personal journey. And while it fits snugly alongside her multimedia and poetry of the past, this book also, by way of its focus on light and immersion, evokes a sense of awakening. And yet despite the epiphanies and the discoveries, and the abstract wonder that binds them together, Aerial Concave Without Cloud is but one additional step forward. It is a liminal work and feels hyper realistic as a result. It invites us to think about Lee’s future, and what body of work we will read our way through next.

You can find the book here:

Greg Bem is a poet and librarian living on unceded Duwamish territory, specifically Seattle, Washington. He writes book reviews for Rain Taxi, Yellow Rabbits, and more. His current literary efforts mostly concern water and often include elements of video. Learn more at

Sad Havoc Among the Birds and Nobel Rot by D.S. Maolalai

By John Zheng
D. S. Maolalai is a Dublin-based Irish poet. Sad Havoc Among the Birds and Nobel Rot are his second and third books of poetry, published respectively in 2019 and 2022 by Turas Press in Ireland. Sad Havoc Among the Birds is a collection of free-verse poems, many having short lines heavily enjambed; some irregular lines moving from short to long. It is rich with visual comparisons pleasing to the eye. In “Low tide,” the poet visualizes the sea as “a visible line / like a glint / on the edge / of a coin;” in “Preparing to go out,” he compares the loose jacket flaps to “the thin arms on a scarecrow;” and in “A bottle of wine for the rockpool,” he imagines the summer sun through the working of sight, touch, taste, and smell:
it was a weekend
into summer
and the sun had sloshed over like a bowl full of soup,
hot and
sticky and
making everyone smell of
Observation is characteristic of Maolalai’s poetry, showing a peculiar way of looking at things, people, and places. Many poems are imagistic. “A bowl of oranges” describes a way of using imagination against loneliness as well as for creative expression:
with you away
I sleep a lot
and not often alone.
my bedroom is a bowl of oranges;
sweet flesh, sticky
and slowly being revealed
as peeled layers
pile up,
dropped on the floor,
fresh vitamins and easy sustenance,
good on the side
with tequila.
Like “A bowl of oranges,” Maolalai’s poems shine with the influence of imagism or are in the steps of William Carlos Williams and Frank O’Hara in the use of short lines and personal tone. They are sketches with fresh images that present a moment, a person, and a place and by avoidance of pompous adjectives or big ideas. In “Lobster,” the poet first draws two mugs that are stained tannin-black, then he adds his friend Jack who stirs tea in his lifeguard’s shack. The view quickly shifts to the sand where imagination is on wings for the comparison of the two images (waves and trucks): “waves crash / like two-tonne trucks / on a highway.” The next image—wind—creates an effect not just auditory through its whistle but visual and tactile, as described below:
and the wind
comes over the dune
with a whistle
and a hand
that would mess up your haircut.
In a way, these images with the use of synesthesia enrich the aesthetic appreciation of the poem. The second stanza of “Lobster” focuses on Jack’s suggestion when he and the first-person narrator drink tea: to get drunk in town the next day or to pick up food for the barbecue, but the narrator’s indecision or hesitation to go for a drink is like the tea sipped, “hot and brown / and thick as bricks.” Instead, he likes to stay on the beach to continue his observation: someone walking a dog and “poking the seaweed with a stick” to look for the lost treasure. Then he shifts his eyes to birds that “pick their way / over the wet sand / shiny as glass / hunting lugworms” and to the sky that “hangs low / and milky grey / and sandy.” In the end, he shifts the view back to the milk offered by his friend, which “has sand in it,” the meaning of which seems as ambiguous as the title of the poem. Maybe that’s why poetry is challenging and open to interpretation.
Moreover, the poem titled “Colette,” though an epitome of Colette’s life and writing, seems to mirror Maolalai’s attitude about poetry writing. These two lines especially reflect his attitude: ‘she was just describing people she had met / instead of bothering to make a story.” However, “My friend, the writer” is a poem carrying an ironic tone and a sense of humor. In the beginning, the first-person speaker says:
he told me
he’d decided
to be a writer
so he’d started smoking cigarettes again,
unfiltered American Spirits,
and he told me he was drinking a bottle of wine each night now
Maolalai’s poetry shows a way of poetry writing he has found: giving attention to plain things, common people, and daily life that can easily slip the notice, as shown in “What are you waiting for?” which tells in a boring tone about the bus and train to take to work, the short walk from the bus stop, the café, the street sounds like empty music, the dinner to cook, and the tea to make. All these routines recur every day and every week, showing boredom with life, so the speaker sighs at the end:
on a clear night you can see the whole of next week
and it’s not just bright lights
that people shut their eyes against.
It is interesting that the poem titled “The answer” in Maolalai’s third poetry collection, Noble Rot, seems to function like an answer to the boring life described in “What are you waiting for?” and we still hear the same desperate tone:
it’s the job
and home
and the job again.
we move in crowds, flowing
like tides against shorelines.
every day
another day
and I am tired. I
am tired.
More or less, Noble Rot continues the style of Sad Havoc Among the Birds: no capital words except the pronoun I and a few proper nouns (some place names are lower-cased), smooth narration, rich use of figurative language, and fresh images, as in “Biting a penny,” “cars crumbled like coloured / handkerchiefs” and in “He’s cut down the last of the trees,” “the city lights glistened / like an over-moist cheese.” Yet, a poem that plays with fantastic imagination is “Sunflowers,” which associates lines of sunflowers to the movements of a ballet dancer:
graceful as a dancer
in the russian
ballet, they turn
in short loops,
moving joists,
taking weight,
holding weight
as a balance.
Like Sad Havoc Among the Birds, Noble Rot is also a collection of observations of daily life or plain things connected to places and people. Some poems are about traveling to other countries, and the views are impressionistic. For example, Dublin in “No skyline” offers only the horizon when seen from the coast at Kilbarrack, but in contrast, Toronto and New York leave an impression that the skylines there are like the “jagged, / key edged reliefs. then pulled sharply on the leash / and glanced downward.” In “Calgary,” the travelers “stopped at very fruit stand / in [their] wind around the mountains, / squeezing raspberries, / peeling oranges / and pausing by corners / to piss out / tomato juice.” Another poem, “Touching down in Istanbul,” has also an impressionistic touch. Maolalai paints Istanbul at sunrise:
                                the streets
tinting orange. the buildings waking up;
if they were flowers
the petals would be opening. we touch down,
landing for a moment, like a bee
on a hot day.
Maolalai’s Sad Havoc Among the Birds and Nobel Rot are two poetry books that increase immediacy to relate to the reader. The success of this connectedness lies in the poet’s eloquent narration, down-to-earth voice with no pretensions, and effort in using the language effectively and creatively. In short, they deserve reading.
John (Jianqing) Zheng’s publications include A Way of Looking, Conversations with Dana Gioia, and African American Haiku: Cultural Visions. He is the editor of the Journal of Ethnic American Literature. His forthcoming poetry collection is titled The Dog Years of Reeducation from Madville Publishing.

Casualty Reports  by Martha Collins

cas reports

By Charles Rammelkamp

Martha Collins’  new collection is dedicated to “the casualties of Covid-19; to the casualties of racism inflicted by the police and others in the United States and throughout the world.” The poems shine a light on the casual cruelties the powerful inflict upon the vulnerable, the exploitation, the inhumanity, the total lack of empathy.

The book is also dedicated to the memory of her father, William E. Collins, whose similar stories of exploitation in the coal industry are highlighted as part of the thematic thrust of Casualty Reports.

The tone is necessarily elegiac but the verse is written in a style that is at once allusive and expository, suggestive and explicit. Several poems in the final section, “And Also,” are indeed elegies for lost friends.  In fact, Casualty Reports is finally dedicated to Collins’ late friend, the peace activist/poet Lee Sharkey, whose collection I Will Not Name It Except to Say, which likewise addresses injustice and inhumanity, was published in 2021, after her death in October of the previous year.

Casualty Report is made up of five sections, two titled “Legacy,” which deal with coal – coal mining, coal miners and unions, pollution, propaganda – and two titled “Reports,” which focus on other injustices for which we have a collective accountability – racism, poverty, war, gun violence among them.

The first poem in the first Legacy section – the first poem in the collection – is called “In Illinois” and deals with her family’s history in the coal mining business, great-grandfather and grandfather dating back to 1871.
             My father whose mother kept   him out of the mines kept
             his father’s fathers oil lamp   kept his father’s carbine
              & safety lamps kept a box   of wicks-picks-globes kept
              his father’s 50-year union   pin his first aid pin his
              flashlight safe for use kept   manuals papers This lamp\
              was given all labeled This pin    was given kept it all it was
              his legacy labeled dated   1965 & signed & kept for me
Two poems later is “A History of American Coal Through the Lens of Illinois,” largely a prose description of organized labor – United Mine Workers of America – with a mention of Mother Jones, and the largest private-sector coal company in the world, the Peabody Coal Company. Subsequent poems – “Du Quoin,” “Herrin,” “Virden” – highlight the brutal massacres of miners in parts of southern Illinois, union members and Blacks. Poems like “Store” and “Model Miners (2005)” allude to Merle Travis’ celebrated country song, “Sixteen Tons” (famously covered by Tennessee Ernie Ford) about the virtual slavery of the miners to the coal companies for which they worked (“Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go / I owe my soul to the company store”).
Collins does for coal mining what Herman Melville did for whaling in Moby-Dick, an exhaustive overview and close examination of its history and its global implications, from “A History,” which cites references to coal in the Oxford English Dictionary from as far back as 1387, to “Types of Coal Mines,” which include coal picked up from the surface, to mines going deeper and deeper, more intricate and elaborate, to the controversial practice of mountaintop removal mining, which devastates the landscape, turning lush forests into barren moonscapes. “Burning” focuses on the poisons and pollution.
            the mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen
            oxides from burning coal that fill
            our air & fall upon us as acid rain—
            the selenium, arsenic, lead from coal
            ash stored in coal ash ponds that leak
            & spill & pollute our waters—
            but most of all the carbon dioxide
            released by burning that captures
            heat that warms our air & melts
            our glaciers, lifts our seas & warms
            them, dries our land & fuels fires,
            strengthens rainfalls & hurricanes….
The previously mentioned “Model Miners (2005)” is a poetic transcript of a propaganda piece General Electric made to depict coal miners as sexy Marlboro men and women, who are concerned about the environment and global warming. The advertising clip can be seen here –
The poems in the two “Reports” sections concentrate on other forms of worldwide injustices. The five-part poem, “Lamentations,” modeled, Collins tells us in an endnote, after the Biblical Book of Lamentations, was written in response to an interdisciplinary project about guns and gun violence. The first part begins:
            America   more guns   more   than us
            Bullets   bullets   bullets   bullets   more
            Children in school   boy in park   no sorrow
The subsequent parts allude to Trayvon Martin, mass shootings in locations across America (El Paso, Dayton, Midland Odessa), hate crimes and gang violence. It ends, part five, echoing Lamentations, with a call to remember the dead:
            Remember our people killed by guns
                                                                                    we have more guns than people

.             Remember our 100 people killed each day

                                                                                                      the shot and injured
            Remember our 1000 killed each year by police….
“For Gaza” is a poem about the shabby treatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli government. “Blue” is a poem that refers to the Vietnamese monks who set themselves on fire in protest in the 1960’s. The poem, “Like Her Body the World” sums up our inherent responsibility in the whole mess. Collins writes:
            we are part of the body we forgot
            we thought we lived outside like a brain in a jar
            we thought we were pure like thought nothing to lose
            but we are losing too we are losing parts.


The poems in the final section are more personal, saying goodbye to different friends who have passed on. Casualty Reports is a devastating indictment of our time, of our species, of our less than honorable stewardship of the earth.

You can find the book here: Casualty Reports – University of Pittsburgh Press

Charles Rammelkamp is Prose Editor for Brick House Books in Baltimore and Reviews Editor for The Adirondack Review. His most recent releases are Sparring Partners from Mooonstone Press, Ugler Lee from Kelsay Books and Catastroika from Apprentice House.