August 26, 2013

Poems About the Body

What you wake into.
What you dance out of.
A body. 
The body.

A few weeks back, Facebook friends offered suggestions for poems about the body. Here is a variation of that list, in no particular order and with links to texts (always best to check online texts against the original source). Suggestions came from poetry lovers, teachers, editors, and authors, including Ada Limón, Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum, and Robert Pinsky. Enjoy~
("Nude, 1936," Edward Weston) 

"A Story about the Body" by Robert Hass
"homage to my hips" by Lucille Clifton 
"My Beloved" & "Breasts" by Charles Simic
"The Consolations of Sociobiology" by Bill Knott 
In Posse Review's "Poetry and the Body" issue by various 
"Embalming" by Scott Cairns
"[i like my body]" by e.e. cummings
"The Plan is the Body" by Robert Creeley text, but audio of Creeley reading here
"Catalyst" by A.R. Ammons
"Spring and All" by William Carlos Williams
"Passages 18: The Torso" by Robert Duncan 
"Ode to My Hands" by Tim Seibles  
"The Race" by Sharon Olds 
"History of My Body" by Marie-Elizabeth Mali text, but video of Mali reading here
"the floating poem, unnumbered" by Adrienne Rich 
"Sonnet XXVII" by Pablo Neruda 
"Hands" by Sarah Kay text, but video of Kay reading here
"First Poem for You" by Kim Addonizio
“Thirty Lines about the Fro” by Allison Joseph
“A Hand” by Jane Hirshfield
“Sean Penn Anti-Ode” by Dean Young
“The Routine Things Around the House” by Stephen Dunn
“Consider the Hand That Writes This Letter” by Aracelis Girmay
"New Heaven and Earth" by D. H. Lawrence
"Mummy of a Lady Named Jemutesonekh" by Thomas James 
"The Bladder" by David Keplinger 
"My Husband's Back" by Susan Minot
"Not the Furniture Game" by Simon Armitage
"The Connoisseuse of Slugs" by Sharon Olds
"Samurai Song" by Robert Pinsky 
"Strongly Scented Sonnet" by Rhoda Janzen 
"The Cleaving" by Li-Young Lee 
"Question" by May Swenson
"The Lovers" by Dorianne Laux
"Free Union (L'Union libre)" by André Breton 
"I Knew a Woman" by Theodore Roethke 
"The Language of the Brag" by Sharon Olds 
"I Sing the Body Electric, Especially When My Power's Out" by Andrea Gibson 
...or video of Gibson reading here
"The Body is Not an Apology" by Sonya Renee text, but video of Renee reading here
"How to Make Love to a Trans Person" by Gabe Moses
"In Celebration of My Uterus" by Anne Sexton 
"Hip-Hop Ghazal" by Patricia Smith 
"Anodyne" by Yusef Komunyakaa 
...or video of Komunyakaa reading here 

"Anything from..."
e.e. cummings
Beth Bachmann's Temper
Frank Bidart
Walt Whitman
Sharon Olds
David Keplinger's The Most Natural Thing
Stacey Waite's Butch Geography
Morgan Lucas Schuldt

Sally Rosen Kindred suggested Lisa Russ Spaar's "Hallowe'en," going so far as to type it out. (The poem appears nowhere online and Glass Town, Spaar's first collection, is out of print.) I've loved that poem for years, so thanks to Sally for the excuse to share it here:


On the night of skulled gourds,
of small, masked demons
begging at the door,
a man cradles his eldest daughter
in the family room. She's fourteen,
she's dying because she will not eat
anymore. The doorbell keeps ringing;
his wife gives the sweets away.
He rubs the scalp
through his girl's thin hair.
She sleeps. He does not know
what to do.
When the carved pumpkin
gutters in the windowglass,
his little son races through the room,
his black suit printed with bones
that glow in the dark.
His pillowsack bulges with candy,
and he yelps with joy.
The father wishes he were young.
He's afraid of the dream
she's burning back to,
his dream of her before her birth,
so pure, so perfect,
with no body to impede her light.

~Lisa Russ Spaar

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