It’s snowing again, and the world contracts, like my heel’s screws in the cold. The sky and ground reflect one another, white-gray, and the space between the two becomes more tangible, more intimate in the precipitation’s revelation of how far it has to go.
For so long, I’ve heard academic poets and readers disparage poems written to be spoken aloud, condemning them as less thoughtful, as noisy and navel-gazey, their craft less delicate and considered.
If the question is whether most Americans are reading poetry, the answer is—I won’t sugarcoat it or fudge the numbers—“no.” My mother doesn’t read poetry, unless it’s mine. Does yours?
My role on the uncollected was simple: as a third-year grad student in Virginia Commonwealth University’s MFA program, I was to go to the Levis Archives held at VCU’s Cabell Library and check old xeroxes against the holdings to make sure these were the last drafts of the poems.
Poems, for me, are the epitome of Dickinson’s capital-L Loneliness, that loneliness that accompanies and keeps one from feeling utterly alone, its shadow-shape, its cameo presence.
Can poetry, through its command of sound, represent physical spaces, objects, and movement? Can one describe something—a setting, a object, a person—and also synesthetically render it for the reader?
A few years ago, I spent a good hour on a medical table, swaddled in a pale blue paper sheet, supine in the shadow of a plastic surgeon who had had to numb my face with three full syringes of lidocaine.
A few years ago, a small university invited me on an MLA interview for a tenure-track assistant professor position teaching publishing and creative writing. The hiring committee assumed I would be attending the conference and so told me when and where to be.
I take the five students of my poetry micro-workshop outside to discuss Claudia Emerson’s latest collection Impossible Bottle. As we sit in the sun, bending over the brilliant bright book pages, a student points to the poem “Metastasis: Web” and volunteers to read it aloud before our analysis of
1. I didn’t start writing lyric essays until I found out I had cancer. The melanoma buried in my right cheek was at first missed, and then misdiagnosed in its severity. Clark’s stage IV, they told me. Likely in my lymph nodes, but they wouldn’t know until my third