National Poetry Month: Staff Selections | The Sun Magazine
Featured Selections

National Poetry Month:
Staff Selections

April 1, 2019

For National Poetry Month, we invited Sun staff to share poems from the magazine. (Don’t miss our contributor selections here.)

Long Distance: England
Ellery Akers   |   January 2008

I love the interplay in “Long Distance: England” between civilization and the natural world, and what that suggests about human motives. Technologies like the telephone and the Internet wouldn’t exist without the people who build them (and the resources we exploit to do so), but the reason we build these tools is to connect with other people. For all the magic of speaking to someone across continents, there is still a kind of distance, a displacement that may not be entirely overcome. And filling that distance is all the thriving world. — David Mahaffey

Praise Song for the Day
Elizabeth Alexander   |   
December 2018

I vividly remember listening to this poem being read by the author at Obama’s inauguration. I was inspired by Alexander’s ability to capture the energy and promise of that historical moment. The “sharp sparkle” in the January air points to the struggle that precedes victory. As I reread this poem now, in light of all that has transpired since, I am reminded of the power of hope. — Rebecca Lanning

A Note on Vocabulary in the Cardiometabolic Field
Brian Doyle   |   
February 2010

I love Brian Doyle’s description of how every crisis or challenge seems an insurmountable mountain that promises green valleys beyond. And each time we somehow make it over, and each time there’s another mountain. — Andrew Snee

Becoming a Horse
Ross Gay   |   
July 2012

What is it like to become someone or something else? To really immerse the self into another and leave the burden of self behind? For me this poem blurs that boundary between self and creature, between self and self. To drop your tools, your defenses, and your ego allows you to realize the beauty of being, to consider all creatures as one. It’s a gorgeous poem and a lasting lesson. — Colleen Donfield

Truant
Margaret Hasse   |   June 2017

Margaret Hasse’s words beautifully conjure the spontaneity of youth, the vividness of a budding springtime, and the lesson that sometimes breaking the rules shapes who we are in a positive way. The poignant last line honors how so much of what we learn about the world and about ourselves comes from being in nature rather than in the classroom. And isn’t the world always more alive with your love by your side? — Rachel Elliott

Abuelita
Steve Kowit   |   March 2015

The issue of The Sun in which Steve Kowit’s “Abuelita” appeared went to press the same day I asked my wife to marry me. I won’t exaggerate and say Kowit’s poem is the reason I proposed, but I will say his lines bounced around my head for hours that day: “The others, chatting & laughing, pay her no mind as she sways there, eyes shut, / barefoot, lost in that old dream.” And I’ll say, too, that something still catches in the back of my throat every time I read the poem’s final line. — Derek Askey

The Cat
Danusha Laméris   |   May 2017

Poetry really comes alive when read out loud, so I looked forward to hearing Danusha read as part of our AWP 2019 event. She’s a talented poet and I'm a fan of her work. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to attend after all, but her mentor, Ellen Bass, stepped in to take her place. She read “The Cat” in honor of Danusha, and it was devastating and beautiful. It felt like she was with us in spirit. — Molly House

Love Shack
Alison Luterman   |   March 2011

Alison Luterman’s fiery “Love Shack” is an ode to passion, that high-velocity “road of flesh, road of blood” that can take humans to some strange places. This poem demands to have its way with you, thrusting its memories of the past into the present until you surrender. — Carol Ann Fitzgerald

In My Good Death
Dalia Shevin   |   October 2010

I’m not a religious person, but “In My Good Death” leaves me longing for an afterlife in which I’m reunited with the beloved dogs I’ve been lucky enough to have shared time with in this life. It gets me every time I read it. — Holly McKinney

Judges
Hope Wabuke   |   June 2018

Hope Wabuke’s urgent, driving language sweeps us into “Judges.” The gulf of understanding between the father and his children feels both inevitable and tragically unintended, and the father’s bewildered closing questions land like a punch. — Nancy Holochwost

Detroit as Barn
Crystal Williams   |   February 2011

Crystal Williams’s poem “Detroit As Barn” is both joyful and melancholy. The joy for me comes from its many surprises — not just the odd title and unexpected images but also the way the poem resurrects what has been lost. Read it out loud to fully appreciate the poet’s sly, twisting path from the short, biting lines of the first stanza to the expansive, almost-uplifting conclusion. The tension of what is gone, gone, gone becomes alleviated by a memory of what was good — and that dynamic makes everything more complicated. — Carol Ann Fitzgerald

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