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POETRY Magazine Podcast: February 2016

Poetry Foundation   |   February 3, 2016    4:13 PM ET

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"The Obscure Lives of Poets"

In this monthly podcast, the editors go inside the pages of Poetry, talking to poets and critics, debating the issues, and sharing their poem selections with listeners. You can subscribe to the podcast here.

This month, the editors discuss new poems by CD Wright, Bernadette Mayer, Tyehimba Jess, and Phillis Levin.

Dale Edwin Sherrard, 1961-2015

Poetry Foundation   |   February 3, 2016    4:02 PM ET

by Prageeta Sharma

I am still mourning and still grieving.

Known for most of his life as Eddie and then as Dale for the last twenty-six years.

So he's both Eddie and Dale.

He used to joke to me that "Dale was trying to kill Eddie." Those were his witty, abstract, astute jokes. He loved joking and he loved psychoanalysis and introduced me to the work of psychoanalyst and poet Adam Phillips. Particularly to the book Terror and Experts, with erudite ideas that now help me: "mourning is immensely reassuring because it convinces us of something we might otherwise doubt; our attachment to others." I am exploring my attachment during this grieving process.

So I am now out a full year and am still very much in a complicated but life-changing grieving process, exploring the notions of narrative and attachment.

These are the facts: I lost my husband, composer and artist, Dale Edwin Sherrard on January 14, 2015 after his fight with esophageal cancer.

Read the full essay on the Poetry Foundation website.

The 27th Letter

Poetry Foundation   |   February 3, 2016    3:39 PM ET

by Mairead Small Staid

Poetry magazine's Editors' Blog occasionally features online exclusives. This installment comes from Mairead Small Staid. Past exclusives can be found here.

In the alphabet recited by nineteenth-century schoolchildren, it followed Z. And per se and, they would say, and per se and. A logogram masquerading as a letter, a letter that is also a word--like a and I and even o, but no--a letter that is only a word, the plainest word of all. A word we could do without, to be honest, if we had to. We don't have to, and thank the language gods for that.

&

"This isn't the whole story," wrote Larry Levis in "In the City of Light." "The fact is, I was still in love. / My father died, & I was still in love." There it is, that Levisian ampersand, if I can coin a term to mean curled like the vines he plucked grapes from in the San Joaquin Valley of his youth, tractor-wrought under the dusty sun. Soft as the spilled eyes of horses, while the words on either side kick like hooves. Two loops inseparable and yet trying to be closer still, trying to enter each other like lovers, trying to draw all around them into their maw, a black hole, gasping and cosmic. Two loops like the "handcuffs that join / Each wrist in something that is not prayer, although / It is as urgent."

Read the full essay on the Poetry Foundation website.

To Be Asked for a Kiss

Poetry Foundation   |   February 3, 2016    3:04 PM ET

by Jericho Brown

Suicide's Note by Langston Hughes

The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.



The desire to be dead and the desire not to be alive and the desire to kill oneself are three different desires.

The desire to die is not the desire to be dead. Anyone who has ever been in love knows this.

And though all of these desires seem--to those who have never had them--synonymous with the desire to run away, they are not the desire to run away. Any look at the recent statistics on gay teen suicide is proof of this.

I am, because I've been assigned to think in this way about this poem, trying to remember the last time I wanted to kill myself. I don't have to remember the last time I wanted to die because that would be as simple as remembering the last time I had sex without a condom.

When people ask me to examine a poem I love, they mean for me to dismantle the poem . . . to undress the one I love before them down to his linebreaks, his rhythms, his slick and sustained use of metaphor. They want to know why I love and how they should. They want love coming out of my mouth to be more mathematical than it is in their own lives.

Read the full essay on the Poetry Foundation website.

Celebrating Black History Month

Poetry Foundation   |   February 2, 2016    2:32 PM ET

Poems, articles, and podcasts that explore African American history and culture

POEMS

"Harlem" by Langston Hughes

"On Liberty and Slavery" by George Moses Horton

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" by James Weldon Johnson

"Praise Song for the Day" by Elizabeth Alexander

"I, Too" by Langston Hughes

"Frederick Douglass" by Robert Hayden

"Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou

See the full sampler of poems, articles, and podcasts on the Poetry Foundation website.

Tender Theory

Poetry Foundation   |   January 29, 2016   12:57 PM ET

by Anne Boyer

Los Angeles had been a place for an emergence of thinking about the relationship of illness to capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy, so it was a good thing that I was there. Johanna Hedva had given a talk about something called Sick Woman Theory not too long before I came to LA. In an October, 2015, interview, Hedva described Sick Woman Theory as:


a project trying to redefine "sickness" and its perceived binary opposite "wellness." Our concept of being sick comes from capitalism: A sick body is one that cannot work, cannot participate in society in terms of the capitalist notions of labor, value, and product. To "get better" is to be able to go back to work--but what if that condition is never true? What if working is what is making us sick? In SWT, I start from Judith Butler's new premise that the definition of a body is its vulnerability and reliance on infrastructures of support. In other words, to require care, to be sick, to be vulnerable, is not an aberration, but the norm. To be "well" is the oddity."

There was this feeling that a collective project of important thinking was coming together—by that force that feels like beneficial accident but is actually always the force of history—about the sick, pained, feminized body in current conditions—that body (our bodies) so often made sick by those current conditions.

Read the full article on the Poetry Foundation website.

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