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 remarkable poets of her generation” (Susan Howe)—draws us into problematic styles of inspiration and feeling. The intimate and civic deal with 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 an international that asks the poem to upward push to this, to talk its fury.
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Additional resources for Alive: New and Selected Poems
Who is really to blame that I wasted my words (so they said) describing fashion, but tell me how could I, without numbing the senses, forget to mention her sandals were gold lame and braided at the back! The moon is half full (or half gone) the moon is round, stone ground, a peasant loaf sweetened with golden corn, mealy and moist, a peasant loaf when divided, when devoured at the feast for which you arrive too late. Hunger makes even crumbs glow stars. In the dark the moon dazzles more than the sun as brilliantly as wishing (for which we feel less need) all night long Sappho I also sleep alone...
She stumbled through the house, blades cutting into hardwood floors, dreaming ice, dreaming popcorn, dreaming figure-eights. , flashlight in hand, peering out a window boarded up years before. She confessed to my mother it drove her mad. Years of sticking bone-handled knives between the jamb and their bedroom doors to keep them in. A lifetime of waking up to furniture rearranged, lampshades in the garden, the fridge emptied, her false teeth on the back porch. Said it was a good thing her husband's brothers never married, a blessing their weird genes were contained on a small sheep farm in Northern Wales.
Nothing comes out, not even the crumbly hiss of a murrh. She looks back at the house, at the nursery door still standing a little open. / should go back and shut it, she says to the man who is squeezing her shoulder with large possessive fingers. He doesn't answer but points with his other hand towards the road where she sees her mother getting into her small yellow car. She has on her big straw hat, the one she wears for picnics. Her father is already sitting in the passenger seat. He has taken off his glasses and is breathing on them, first one side then the other.
Alive: New and Selected Poems by Elizabeth Willis