Quote

Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

—Mary Oliver, from “Wild Geese”

It’s been a stressful, difficult week, and to learn of Mary Oliver’s passing is so crushing. Hers were among the first poetry books I found as a high schooler, wandering the local library, starting to seek out poems on my own. Out of need. Today, I need these words of hers again.

Grateful also to Brandon Taylor for a beautiful essay on why this poem matters, “How Mary Oliver Helped Me to Breathe Again.”

& I’m thinking of, I’m breathing in, I’m saying out loud this line of Oliver’s (from “Don’t Hesitate”), as well:

Joy is not made to be a crumb.

New poems in Foglifter

i tap on the window of feeling
unseen & the window
refuses to personify me

—from “four short essays personifying…”

Many and most queer thanks to Luiza Flynn-Goodlett and everyone at Foglifter for assembling this amazing new issue. My contributor copies arrived recently and I’m so glad to have three new poems in this issue, alongside beautiful work by Kristin Chang, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Mai C. Doan, and others.

The second image here is the beginning of one of my poems, “four short essays personifying a future in which white supremacy has ended.” (Yes, my obsession with long sentence titles is only growing.)

Read the rest of that poem here.

And get the full issue here.

Poem-a-Day in 2019

Thanks to Emily Polson for a shoutout in an article over on Book Riot, about the new Guest Editors for Poem-a-Day in 2019.

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The Poem-a-Day series played a vital role in helping me overcome my fear of contemporary poetry, so I recommend it to anyone who’s interested in exploring the genre but doesn’t know where to start. These daily poems introduced me to some of the poets who became a vital part of my love affair with contemporary poetry, including Hieu Minh Nguyen, Kaveh Akbar, Danez Smith, Safia Elhillo, Ada Limón, Chen Chen, and others […] Reading these individual poems led me to their full collections, and now contemporary poetry makes up 20% of the books I read.

—Emily Polson

So glad for this series on Poets.org and how it’s creating more and more voracious poetry readers. I’m also glad for this democratization of the selection process for Poem-a-Day—we need more people picking, more pickers of poems, more perspectives and tastes and delights. Read Polson’s full piece here.

And: read about the dozen Guest Editors for 2019, including TC Tolbert, Clint Smith, Victoria Chang, Paisley Rekdal, Samiya Bashir, Oliver de la Paz, and Sherwin Bitsui.