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Pick of the Week

Toi Derricotte: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch]

Toi Derricotte. Photo by Ted Rosenberg   web



















Toi Derricotte. Photo by Ted Rosenberg





Good morning, fat chair.  Your frame is slight-

Ly askew, your wooden bones tilt, but padded

With foam & polka dotted, you seem sprite-


Ly, good-natured.  I’ve known a chair to rise

Out of a night’s darkness & provide a ride

For me, above the furry carpeting, defy-


Ing gravity.  Even one cock-eyed, cheap,

Can be a tilted ship climb-

Ing waves of mourning.  Whatever light


Shines through this morning’s slatted blinds—

Smoky with undelivered rain—I’ve turned aside

To praise my last-legged you, for (like Jessye


Norman’s lungs) your soul breathes blithe

Operatic air, & your polka dots climb

Atmospheric strophes like poems I memorized


In school.  Do not go gentle, fat chair.  What we write

About we are, so you are me, plumped with an extra

Twenty pounds, a bear, lumbering. But, in a poem, we

Dance with a relic of imagination &, by imagination, live.


Toi Derricotte is the recipient of the 2021 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, for outstanding artistic achievement in the art of poetry over a poet’s career, and the 2020 Frost Medal from Poetry Society of America for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry.  Her sixth collection of poetry, “I” New and Selected Poems, was published in 2019 and shortlisted for the 2019 National Book Award.  Other books of poetry include The Undertaker’s Daughter, Tender, Captivity, Natural Birth, and The Empress of the Death House.  Her literary memoir,The Black Notebooks,won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. With Cornelius Eady, Derricotte co-founded the Cave Canem Foundation in 1996. She is Professor Emerita from University of Pittsburgh and a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.


Susan F. Campbell  Armchair  color pencil drawing  1987  web                                                      Susan F. Campbell, Armchair, color pencil drawing, 1987 

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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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