By Elizabeth Willis
Finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry
American poet Elizabeth Willis has written an electrifying physique of labor spanning greater than two decades. With a wild and inquisitive lyricism, Willis—“one of the main notable poets of her generation” (Susan Howe)—draws us into difficult styles of notion and feeling. The intimate and civic handle of those poems is laced with subterranean affinities between painters, botanists, politicians, witches and agitators. Coursing via this paintings is the readability and resistance of a global that asks the poem to upward push to this, to talk its fury.
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Extra resources for Alive: New and Selected Poems
We’d go hand in hand, we’d pass through, we’d pass. No one could touch her. I could— 27 three constructions 1: Snow Maiden The meteoric night is behind you, the moth-speckled canvas lasts as long as your eyes are closed. Whirling universe, edged with laser precision. Branches plated with clinquant—blossom or berry, silversparked. Fuzzy data in the ﬁeld: digitalized, planted. Your bundled shoulders and basket ﬁlled with lilies, your one offering. Scarf icecaked, wind-roused. Turn into what is surely cold, stone-quiet.
We weren’t as fearful of mass destruction then— unknown debris in space, or atoms contained and hurled against each other in a cyclotron. There were duckand-cover methods, shelters for meltdown, mountains to store waste as it decays, half-lives spent and the notorious two-headed monsters created. For entertainment the neighborhood kids hit one another with water balloons. Some blond boys 24 pair up and pelt an auburn girl— A radio crackles feverishly. Carpenter bees whine in the porch wood. She’ll grow a thick skin.
Large numbers and an iron-penny taste in her mouth. We slept too easily in the wooden-lacquered house to notice. Humidity made the siding bloat and shrink—hot days, cool evenings. Cracks ﬁlled in with putty so the hornets wouldn’t nest. All the ﬂowers drew them. I took the stinger out myself, cleaned up after the dog did its duty in the neighbor’s yard. She was pissing herself in bed, would soak the sheets, change, stay wired listening to the buzz of things. No one mentioned it. I was too young and always hearing things anyway—the talkings-to I received.
Alive: New and Selected Poems by Elizabeth Willis
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