Three Yaddo Poets Discover Hidden Comforts

April 6, 2020

A moment of stillness, a zing of recognition, a window opened on the soul— these are among the rewards of poetry, each of them sorely needed right now. Join us here for an occasional Yaddo series, curated by Soren Stockman.

Olena Kalytiak Davis Photo: Official UK Chapbook Chart

“Not This” by Olena Kalytiak Davis

Olena  Kalytiak Davis, “Not This” from The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems.  Copyright © 2014 by Olena  Kalytiak Davis.  Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press,

Weary of remembering quotidian days unappreciated in their time, and exhausted by the now unrecognizable scale of their freedom? Davis rejects such fantastical recollection, just as she rejects the divergent past — “I am not made of them and they / are through.” Rather, she values the “fevered few days” in which she felt transcendence. We recall the precious few from the unremarkable many. The dry hours of these lethargic days spent inside feel endless, but they are punctuated by heightened moments of respite: a conversation with an old friend, a favorite sandwich, any commiseration at all. — SS

Camille T. Dungy Photo: the Poetry Foundation

“There are these moments of permission” by Camille T. Dungy

Copyright © 2012 by Camille T. Dungy. Used with permission of the author.

It is daunting to be depended on in times of danger, and more so when one cannot guarantee safe passage. Dungy’s speaker occupies “the undrenched intervals” of air within rain through which someone else sleeps soundly, though she understands her protection is nothing more than the negative space of a storm, and not its ending. As “imperceptible” as that distinction may be, Dungy finds her “old self necessary” to imbue even a downpour with something familiar. — SS

Jana Prikryl Photo: Willy Somm

“Pillow” by Jana Prikryl

Jana Prikryl, “Pillow” from The After Party.  Copyright © 2016 by Jana Prikryl.  Used by permission of Tim Duggan Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.Source: The After Party (Tim Duggan Books, 2016)

Our pillows are portals to possibilities beyond what presently constrains us. Prikryl captures the immense personification of objects toward which those stuck at home easily drift, especially in the case of those objects that we touch, and with which we are physically intimate in times of solitude. Pillows on which we lay our breathing faces, from which we rise and to which we return, may serve as needed company. As much of interpersonal communication is stricken from the record, Prikryl’s deference to the “truffle(d)” wishes and “stateless” countenance of her bedroom itself brings the comfort of a wider living. — SS