'My husband holds the cold stethoscope to my chest'

I must admit that I leave 'In Patient' still wondering, “Is she all right?”  I suspect that Erin Evans knows this, and what she wants to say is that this moment of humour, a distraction from the thing that is feared — a husband checking his wife’s heartbeat with a stethoscope — may, in the end, be far less important than the quirky observation.  Perhaps he is listening for the sound of a child’s p...

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American Life in Poetry

'I have stuffed the South’s nightlights in my mouth. Gala of fireflies'

Tennessee Hill’s South emerges in her poem as a character, a personage that haunts and possesses her with beauty and a certain disquiet. Her poem, 'Crater Heart', moves from fragmentary image to simile to metaphor in a seemingly disjointed fashion that, in the end, becomes a composition of arresting...

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American Life in Poetry

'He’s friendly they yell, 50 yards back'

The title of the poem, 'The Love Ridge Loop', is, no doubt, something of a joke, an exaggeration built on irony. After all, the poem is an ironic love poem, and, at the same time, an anti-dog poem. Bu...

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American Life in Poetry

'The mon tonight is closer to us'

Perhaps we are too close to the monumental moment in history to fully appreciate just how to approach it in poetry, but the poets are writing about this pandemic in the way that poets must — to find l...

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American Life in Poetry

'My father's seat empty, placemat bare'

This is an elegant elegy to a father who has passed, captured in the rituals that families create as a way to remember, to honour and even to celebrate. The extra place set at table before a feast of ...

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American Life in Poetry

'This sea: a Chevy engine revving high reminding me how everything’s design'

In 'Beachcomber Nocturne', Lupita Eyde-Tucker beautifully wrestles with the complex relationship that we sometimes have with nature, by first acknowledging that there is a strange colonising impulse b...

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American Life in Poetry

'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 ...

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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...

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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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