The scope of grief is unimaginable. So is the scope of joy. Our first task is to pay attention, but Annie Dillard reminds us it doesn’t end there: our work is also to try to tip the balance.
CM Burroughs’s poems invite intersubjective understanding, even “so much empathy,” while also insisting on the speaker’s self-ownership, the space between self and other. They interrogate mastery and also resist it; the collection is rife with rich ambiguities.
Ross Gay’s book-length poem suggests that within the horror show of objectified Black pain and the not-finished history of stolen Black bodies, the answer is a community that holds each other with care and beholds in Black lives not just suffering but life, dignity, complexity—and joy.
I’ve long found personal resonance in Adrienne Rich’s description of the struggle to be home with young children while also seeking to do intellectual and creative work. What I didn’t expect in rereading her 1976 classic was how uncannily similar her descriptions of the mid-century institution of motherhood would