dorothea lasky

10

Joni Murphy | Double Teenage

Ghérasim Luca | The Passive Vampire

Alice Notley | Phoebe Light

Our Bodies, Ourselves

Nina Auerbach | Woman and the Demon

Dayna Tortorici on Elena Ferrante

Foreword by Wayne Koestenbaum | Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick | Between Men

Elaine Kahn | Women in Public

Anne Carson | Men In The Off Hours

Dorothea Lasky | Two Doors To Hell | Black Life

I say I want to save the world but really
I want to write poems all day
I want to rise, write poems, go to sleep,
Write poems in my sleep
Make my dreams poems
Make my body a poem with beautiful clothes
I want my face to be a poem
I have just learned how to apply
Eyeliner to the corners of my eyes to make them appear wide
There is a romantic abandon in me always
I want to feel the dread for others
I can feel it through song
Only through song am I able to sum up so many words into a few
Like when he said I am no good
I am no good
Goodness is not the point anymore
Holding on to things
Now that’s the point
—  Dorothea Lasky, from “Ars Poetica” in Black Life

Poetry is Not a Project,
by Dorothea Lasky

Nowadays, poetry critics and scholars often refer to an entire body of work by one poet as a “project,” but I don’t think poems work that way. I think poems come from the earth and work through the mind from the ground up. I think poems are living things that grow from the earth into the brain, tather than things that are planted within the earth by the brain. I think a poet intuits a poem.

When people talk about poetry as a project, they suggest that the road through a poem is a single line. When really the road through a poem is a series of lines, like a constellation, all interconnected. Poems take place in the realm of chance, where the self and the universal combine.

Naming your intentions is great for some things, but not for poetry. Projects are bad for poetry…I think the notion of a poetic project may actually be very toxic to poetry.

It’s hard enough to create a poem. If he is destined to be a great poet, he will never know what his project really was, no matter what he says it is, was, or what he might imagine it could be. Which is to say that a poem, as a thing, resists being talked about linearly in its very nonlinearity.

What differentiates a great poet from a not-great one is the capacity to exist in that uncertain space, where the grand external world (which means anything and everything) folds into the intense internal world of the individual.

8

Index of First Lines | Emily Dickinson: The Complete Poems

June Jordan | Roman Poem Number Five

Nina Auerbach | Daphne du Maurier, Haunted Heiress

Shirley Jackson | The Haunting of Hill House

Dorothea Lasky | Two Doors To Hell | Black Life

Shirley Jackson | The Haunting of Hill House

June Jordan | November

670 | Emily Dickinson: The Complete Poems

Men never love me, oh what’s the use
To have that love that I never get
Except all at once
I would like to snuff out all my thoughts
I would like to wear one long bracelet as long as my arm
No one ever reads a bracelet
I would be so secret in my hiding
No one would hear me laugh and say ‘Oh I love your laugh’
O what do they know of laughter
Those bitter women who secretly beat my father
On a long dark trellis on the rocks in the morning
They swarm the ocean with their deceit
And even the gods have had enough of them
Those things that made me 
I was never made 
From things I cannot be
I never run 
From things I have not become
I will never swim
On a lake in the winter with frogs
Those frogs are my enemies
They croak out revenge to all who will listen
O they croak out fire, but no one ever listens
—  “Bracelet,” Dorothea Lasky
I say I want to save the world but really
I want to write poems all day
I want to rise, write poems, go to sleep.
Write poems in my sleep
Make my dreams poems
Make my body a poem with beautiful clothes
I want my face to be a poem
I have just learned to apply
Eyeliner to the corners of my eyes to make them appear wide
There is romantic abandon in me always
I want to feel the dread for others
I only feel it through song
Only through song am I able to sum up so many words into a few
Like when he said I am no good
I am no good
Goodness is not the point anymore
Holding on to things
Now thats the point
—  “Ars Poetica” Dorothea Lasky