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Poetry

Poetry Sunday: “Recuerdo,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay

By Rebecca Foust
Sometimes, all a poem does or aspires to do is capture a moment. The moment can be large or small, one of emotion, inspiration, revelation, or just any ordinary experience that means something to the poet. In “Recuerdo,” it is a night of pleasure and (I assume) passion between two young lovers.
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Poetry

Poetry Sunday: “Kettle,” by Phillis Levin

By Rebecca Foust
“Kettle” is a brief lyric capturing a specific moment in time—that second when the water boils and is about to be poured into a teapot. The first couplet takes place in the present and comes as a vivid image, doing what poetry does best: makes us see an everyday occurrence with fresh eyes.
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Poetry

Poetry Sunday: “The Path,” by Anna Yin

By Rebecca Foust
A poem can be powerful and remain elusive and mysterious at the same time. In fact, many would argue that less accessible poems are more powerful than transparent ones. In this case, “The Path” is a mysterious poem, but one that also tells a clear story.
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Poetry

Poetry Sunday: “The Role of Elegy,” by Mary Jo Bang

By Rebecca Foust
As with most successful poems about personal grief, this one dwells less on the particulars of this speaker’s loss than on something more universal: the nature of suffering and the utter inability of our carefully compiled rituals to dispel it. And also of the inevitable human impulse still to try.
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Poetry

Poetry Sunday: “Migrant Earth,” by Deema Shehabi

By Rebecca Foust
Left explicitly unsaid but everywhere in the poem is the speaker’s terrible grief for her loss and also perhaps a roil of sorrow, regret, and even anger about what her mother had to endure during her life. That these emotions are hinted at but not stated is part of the power of “Migrant Earth.”
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Poetry

Poetry Sunday: “Sieve,” by April Ossmann

By Rebecca Foust
“Sieve” begins, as all good poems should, with an attention-grabbing first line, “Young men seem all edges,” and then ups the interest ante with two delightful and apt similes, “shoulders like shelves” and my favorite, “bellies like slides / to the most obvious / of pleasures.” That’s a sly, possibly punning allusion to sex, of course, and one I haven’t seen before but that feels just right.
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Poetry

Poetry Sunday: “The Way Back,” by Francine Sterle

By Susan Cohen
Francine Sterle’s “The Way Back” enchanted me from the first time I read it. First, her lush lyricism. Then, the poem’s payoff, an ending that is emotional without being the least bit sentimental. What draws me back again and again, though, is the way she controls breath on the page.
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