On loss, loss writing, and our forms for living

Illustration by Alfred Concanen from ‘Broadstone Hall, and other poems’ (1875) by William Edward Windus, via the British Library.

I tasked myself with saying one or two things I know about grief and loss and why so many people feel the compulsion to write through them. As an essential motivation for writing, especially poetry, loss events appear to make us both speechless and verbose. I’ve been there, I keep being there. I’ve written a “grief book” a few times now and frankly, I can’t say I find that its product is catharsis or repair. Irritatingly circular, I’d describe it instead — a marathon in a six-inch arena.


A Polish-ish poet on translating a Polish poet

Painting by Grzegorz Wróblewski. Image courtesy of the artist.

Autthor note: Jacket2 has our permission to publish these poems. The original publisher has gone out of business so the rights have reverted back to the author. In turn he has granted me full permission to translate and publish the prose poems of his book Android i anegdota, which translates to An Android and an Anecdote. The working English title is Mr. Z— Peter Burzyński

‘We’ the people

Collective lyric self in twenty-first-century poetry

“Either as poets or as readers, we now realize we are entangled, even when we don’t know what do to with this realization, nor what to call it.” Photo of red bryony tendrils intertwined by hedera.baltica via Wikimedia Commons.

1. First-person otherness

Running the risk of asking the most naïve-sounding question in lyric poetry, what do we make of a contemporary poem in English written in the first person? Whether the first person is singular or plural, how does that choice impact our relationship with the speaker in the poem? And has that relationship changed in the twenty-first century, or is it dictated by our inheritance of modernist ideas and the way they have framed our understanding of the lyric self?

'An escape from daily pronouns'

S. Brook Corfman’s journal poems and the domestic life of queer gender

Sliver from a pallasite meteorite from Fukang (Xinjiang, China). Image via Wikimedia Commons.

If the self in everyday life is like a jar without a lid, exposed and vulnerable to impacts, tipping over and spilling out, then S. Brook Corfman’s 2020 book My Daily Actions, or The Meteorites, a record of the self in everyday life, endeavors to hold that vessel carefully and watch it overflow: “I traced myself in peppermint oil, for protection. During the storm, each room filled with water, a jar always brimming. An escape from daily pronouns.

'devising of depe renewall'

Caroline Bergvall’s transhistorical translation

Caroline Bergvall at her Kelly Writers House Fellows reading, March 28, 2022. Photo by Kelly Writers House staff.

The Oxford English Dictionary offers eighteen senses for defining translation.