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Rob Casper Presents a Poem by Yona Harvey

Since May 3, Rob Casper, editor of jubilat, has selected work from his pages to post for us on Sundays. Starting next week, we will be showcasing the taste of William Waltz, editor of Conduit.
Thank you, Rob, for illustrating ways that poets continue to invent the world. And welcome, William.
-- DL

For this post, my last for the Best American Poetry blog, I decided to do something new: feature a poem we've accepted for jubilat so recently that it isn't even yet slated for an issue! When I heard my dear friend Yona Harvey read this poem some months ago, I knew we had to have it for the magazine. The deftness with which it unspools its extended metaphor (and the final twist of personification), coupled with its brilliant use of repetition both to rev up and slow down the poem, really wowed me. I also loved its tone, which reminds me of Yona: quietly direct, honest, powerful. But most of all I was thrilled to see how in "Hurricane" Yona reframed an age-old dilemma: how parents let their children rush head-first into a dangerous, even catastrophic, world. It seems like an almost impossible subject to make new, and yet Yona does it so well I have to believe poetry can and will reinvent the world.
-- Rob Casper


Four tickets left, I let her go --
Firstborn into a hurricane.

I thought she escaped
The floodwaters. No -- but her

Head is empty of the drowned
For now -- though she took

Her first breath below sea level.

Ahhh       awe      &       aw
Mama, let me go -- she speaks

What every smart child knows --
To get grown you unlatch

Your hands from the grown

& up & up & up & up
She turns—latched in the seat

Of a hurricane. You let
Your girl what? You let

Your girl what?

I did so she do I did
so she do so --

Girl, you can ride

A hurricane & she do
& she do & she do & she do

She do make my river

An ocean. Memorial,
Baptist, Protestant birth -- my girl

Walked away from a hurricane.

& she do & she do & she do & she do
She do take my hand a while longer.

The haunts in my pocket

I’ll keep to a hum: Katrina was
a woman I knew. When you were

an infant she rained on you & she
do & she do & she do & she do

-– Yona Harvey

May 31, 2015

May 26, 2015

May 17, 2015

May 11, 2015

May 03, 2015

July 19, 2009

July 05, 2009

June 28, 2009

June 21, 2009

June 14, 2009

June 07, 2009

May 31, 2009

May 24, 2009

May 17, 2009

May 10, 2009

May 03, 2009

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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