Advent Poetry Calendar – Day 9 – “Letters to a Young Poet”
“Letters To A Young Poet” by Lisa Sewell
Submitted by Lisa Sewell
When it was announced that we would be doing a poetry advent calendar, Becky Whidden, at that time (2014) an Access Services Specialist at Falvey, suggested that we ask Lisa Sewell, PhD, if she would like to submit one of her poems from her upcoming book Impossible Object, for which Dr. Sewell had been awarded the first annual Tenth Gate Prize. The Tenth Gate Prize consists of $1,000 and publication by the Word Works. The prize will be given annually for a poetry collection by a U.S. poet who has published two or more books.
Dr. Sewell is an associate professor of English, director of programming for Gender and Women’s Studies at Villanova, and an active participant in many of Falvey Memorial Library’s events throughout the year. When we reached out to her, she very kindly provided us with not only a poem for our Advent calendar but also the description of her book provided below.
“The poems in Impossible Object trace the experience of the self as reader, treating books as formative, a central part of life — as important to the construction of identity and memory as events or experiences. The poems interact with a wide range of books, from Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods to Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, investigating the formation of the lyric self in relationship to reading along several trajectories: as an event, as the background to world events, and as the background to significant events in my own life.”
If you’re interested in other works by Dr. Sewell you can view Falvey’s current holdings here.
“Letters to a Young Poet”
by Lisa Sewell
Out of our arguments with ourselves, what is lost
in translation is news that stays news, a small (or large)
machine made of words that makes nothing
happen, comes nearer to vital truth than history
and must go in fear, be as new as foam, as old
as the rock, have something in it that is barbaric
vast and wild, a way of taking life by the throat.
And out of this turning within, out of this immersion
in your own world, as if the top of my head were taken off
for lack of what is found there or in the journal
of a sea animal living on land wanting to fly in the sky
in the best words, in the best order, put things before
his eyes: imaginary gardens with real toads that spring
from genuine feeling that the mind is dangerous
and my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me—
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