'We don't remember our birth, when a mother dies, it's gone'

Victoria Chang has an uncanny capacity to contain, in the compact machine of a well-honed poem, so much emotion and meaning. She explores such a core element of what connects us as human beings — the capacity to remember and to forget. 'Homecoming' proposes, convincingly, that our earliest memories are likely owned by our mothers, and their deaths end an elemental story inside of us. 

 

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American Life in Poetry

'You scuff, as you obey'

There is, of course, no hidden chapter in the “Good Book” that explores sandalled Jesus’s fashion rules, but Cornelius Eady in ‘Easter Shoes’ is being funny and deadly serious. The poem takes him back to childhood, to the pains of conformity and the forced obedience of being “dressed”, “encased” and...

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American Life in Poetry

'It's your turn, it's always your turn, the night says'

Rachel Eliza Griffiths has written poems and composed photographs in response to the loss of her mother. She has always been fascinated by the exchange between birth and death that characterises their...

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American Life in Poetry

'Bringing drought when instead we should have deluge'

There is a posture that poets sometimes take, that of the prophet speaking predictions into the world, or simply proclaiming what is happening in the moment. More often than not, the role is reluctant...

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American Life in Poetry

'My seven siblings and I sheltered ourselves inside these labyrinths'

In Heather Cahoon’s poem ‘Shelter’ she manages, with simplicity and the use of deftly selected detail, to capture the mood of childhood delights that, in the manner of such things, always seem on the ...

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American Life In Poetry

'Like dust their lives so small compared to ours'

Roxane Beth Johnson’s elegy to her father is striking for the tender and intimate details that constitute the memory of him, especially his shirts, which become almost talismans for her to explore ide...

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American Life in Poetry

'Home be this small silence you curl into anywhere you go'

Nowhere in her poem, 'Self-Portrait with Impending War', does Lauren K Alleyne mention a war, but the rumours of war and the disquiet of the world seem to haunt this “self-portrait” in which the self ...

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American Life in Poetry

'One perfect stitch after another perfect stitch'

'Mend' is a poem of great intimacy. L Renée remembers her mother as the mender of garments, and as someone who had a life of rich experiences before the poet was born. This moment of separation descri...

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American Life in Poetry

'It was the eve of war but they didn't know'

War, impending war and exile forced by war, are increasing preoccupations in the work of Ladan Osman — not so much the wars, but the damage that they do to everyday people who are trying to live in th...

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American Life in Poetry

'A tiny magical man makes me an offer'

This poem captures one of the peculiar, private deals that we sometimes make in a world that seems to be marching on, completely out of our control. Some might call it a prayer, or a spell, or a stran...

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American Life in Poetry

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