April is National Poetry Month. While this, of course, means that I am going through as many of my collections of poetry as I possibly can, this year comes with a note of somberness for me. One of my favorite poets, Lucie Brock-Broido, passed away last month.
Ms. Brock-Broido was the Director of Poetry in the Writing Division at Columbia University School of the Arts. Her work was often characterized by a violent concision, while also remaining fantastical. She herself referred to it as “feral.”
I am still new to contemporary poetry, but Brock-Broido was the poet who inspired my writing the most, both in how I look at a poem and how I structure my own. When I began to look up as much as I could about her after first coming to her poetry, I found her various rules for her poetry. There were things that appealed to me such as never going over a page, avoiding prose poetry (or to go ahead and get it out but cut it down to its essentials), and other things that did not such as only writing at the end of the year in one room of your house.
During that phase of research, I found out how to contact Ms. Brock-Broido, but never quite summoned the courage. I think this is something I will regret for some time. In order to make up for it, though, I’d like to share a few of my favorite poems of hers.
This was the first poem I read by Lucie Brock-Broido. If I’m being honest, I still have no idea what she is talking about exactly, but I’m in love with the sounds she uses, and the sharp couplets. For me, the poem just stood out on the page and I was captured by those sounds. So I’m including this poem for my own start to her poetry.
“Gamine” is the poem which really caught my attention once I started reading Lucie Brock-Broido’s work. The sounds are, of course, on point and make the couplets flow into each other. The narrative here really sticks out for me as well. A gamine is a girl with a mischievous charm, and from the poem, it is clear that she has aged in the poem and is facing death. Simple enough. But working in the word “unctuous” is a pretty outstanding feat too. The final image of a chestnut horse on fire continues to get me each time I read this.
“You Have Harnessed Yourself Ridiculously to This World”
This is currently my favorite poem by Lucie Brock-Broido. The images she goes through one after another with a brilliant soundscape. The look of the poem is a departure from the other two poems – all spread out over the page like that, and not really formed into couplets at all. The pauses the spaces create make for a forceful reading. She returns once again to an animal to finish the poem.