Emily Fragos, Winter 2009-10 Contributor

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Emily Fragos’s poems have appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The Paris Review, and numerous other journals. She is the author of Little Savage (Grove Press) and a new book of poems, The Juggler’s Hands, which is forthcoming. Fragos teaches poetry at NYU and Columbia.

Two of Fragos’s poems, “Muses” and “Hostage,” were published in the Winter 2009-10 edition of Ploughshares, guest edited by Tony Hoagland. View the Winter 2009-10 issue.

Excerpt from “Hostage”:

God is in the dogs
The one who turns in circles, the one
With bloody scabs, the one who wears a huge collar

Excerpt from “Muses”:

Servers swipe their dark, perspired hair from their faces and wonder
Who is speaking, who is near and what in the world is forever.

After the jump, Fragos describes the inspiration behind these poems.


I once worked as a waitress when I was in college. It was exhausting and I was terrible at it and depressed the whole time. In my poem “Muses,” I just wanted to give those ice-cream parlor waitresses a break. I just wanted good fortune to smile on those unsuspecting girls. The poem deepened from there.


As a volunteer at my local ASPCA, I know the stories of the shelter dogs I care for. It would be heartbreaking and too much if not for the generous people who rescue and adopt them. I wanted to say something about shelter dogs when I read about a human hostage in South America. He said that he had been treated “worse than a dog.” The abandoned and the suffering–animal and human–merged in “Hostage.”