Nick Laird is a poet, novelist, and former litigator. He teaches at NYU and is Professor of Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre in Belfast. His fourth collection of poetry, Feel Free, was published in the US last year. (May 2020)
The New York Review is publishing dispatches from around the world documenting the coronavirus outbreak. Read the full series, and listen to writers reading their contributions, at nybooks.com/pandemic. —The Editors OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, March 17—By Thursday afternoon, downtown San Francisco, already void of tourists, had turned ghostlier still.
The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem: From Baudelaire to Anne Carson
edited and with an introduction by Jeremy Noel-Tod
Like the honest politician or the reality TV star, the prose poem is an oxymoron. Charles Simic, a brilliant practitioner of the form, says that it’s “the result of two contradictory impulses, prose and poetry, and therefore cannot exist, but it does. It is the sole instance we have of squaring the circle.” In a new anthology, Jeremy Noel-Tod pulls together two-hundred-odd of these square circles from a span of nearly two centuries.
Heather Cass White’s New Collected Poems of Marianne Moore is no small event in American poetry: it is the first edition of Moore’s work that actually is what it says it is. Moore expelled poems from her history, and substantially and continually revised many of those she permitted to remain.
A running series of brief dispatches by New York Review writers documenting the coronavirus outbreak with regular updates from around the world, including Michael Greenberg in Brooklyn, Raquel Salas Rivera in San Juan, Aida Alami in Paris, Rahmane Idrissa in Niamey, Verlyn Klinkenborg in East Chatham, Tolu Ogunlesi in Lagos, Merve Emre in Oxford, Yasmine El Rashidi in Cairo, Keija Parssinen in Granville, E. Tammy Kim in Brooklyn, Adam Foulds in Toronto, Tom Bachtell in Chicago, Ivan Sršen in Zagreb, Sue Halpern in Ripton, Michael S. Roth in Middletown, Ben Mauk in Penang, Martin Filler in Southampton, Eula Biss in Evanston, Richard Ford in East Boothbay, George Weld in Brooklyn, Nilanjana Roy in New Delhi, Ursula Lindsey in Amman, Zoë Schlanger in Brooklyn, Dominique Eddé in Beirut, Lucy McKeon in Brooklyn, Yiyun Li in Princeton, Caitlin L. Chandler in Berlin, Nick Laird in Kerhonkson, Alma Guillermoprieto in Bogotá, Lucy Jakub in Northampton, Rachael Bedard in Brooklyn, Hari Kunzru in Brooklyn, Minae Mizumura in Tokyo, Jenny Uglow in Keswick, Sylvia Poggioli in Rome, and more.
If I dream, it invariably takes the form of being hunted by men with guns—in a house, in a forest, on a street. Sometimes these dreams end with me being shot, sometimes with me stabbing someone. I only ever stab someone, even though, growing up, we had a gun, illegally, in the house—a double-barreled shotgun that my father kept beneath his bed and that we’d use occasionally for shooting rabbits. In my dreams I never see the face of the man I’m stabbing. I’ve had these dreams all my adult life. Maybe they’re common among people like me, maybe they’re not. By “people like me” I mean people who grew up in Ulster, who from our earliest moments were wary, were used to watching everything for some sign, however small, that things were not quite right.