Poem: Brute Energy – The New York Occasions
Final yr, as we approached the 200th beginning yr of the poet Walt Whitman, Pleasure Harjo — now the poet laureate of the USA — chosen Emily Skaja’s “Brute” to win the Walt Whitman Award, an annual prize celebrating a poet’s first ebook publication. In “Brute,” Skaja conjures the searing historical past of a jagged relationship, then mixes a tonic for it: photos, elegies and invocations that allow the speaker reinvent her human energy. The poem “Brute Strength” is stuffed with shock and surprise (“Let me look at her,” she says of her previous self) — the voice of a resilient spirit waking from trauma, discovering power and intention in scrumptious language. Chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye
By Emily Skaja
Soldier for a misplaced trigger, brute, mute girl
written out of my very own story, I’ve been making an attempt
to solid a searchlight over swamp-woods & parasitic ash
again to my starting, that girlhood —
kite-wisp clouded by gun salutes & blackbirds
tearing out from underneath the hickories
all these superb August mornings so momentary
so gold-ringed by heat-haze & the place is that witch lady
unafraid of something, flea-spangled little yard rat, runt
of no litter, queen, lady who wouldn’t let a boy hit her,
lady refusing to be It in tag, pulling that fox conceal
heavy round her like a flag? Let me take a look at her.
Inform her on my honor, I’ll set the marriage costume on hearth
once I’m good & prepared or she will be able to bury me in it.
Naomi Shihab Nye is the 2019-21 Younger Folks’s Poet Laureate of the Poetry Basis in Chicago. Emily Skaja grew up in rural Illinois, obtained a Ph.D. from the College of Cincinnati and has revealed broadly, together with in “Best New Poets.” She lives in Memphis.
Illustration by R.O. Blechman