Friday, February 13, 2015

Poem of the Week: Ailish Hopper


Ways to be White in a Poem

Tension makes
a form resound

and so the many lines I am told
not to cross

Do not go out alone at night
Do not call attention to yourself

Closer to the color line
the more I am
            White girl


It is a while before
the other girls

correct me, gently. Good timbre needs
more air
          Shout out!

Muscles flex, quick-shift
          I stomp, impious

impervious, now

Do not dance suggestively
Hold a stranger’s eyes

That first day in the gym
I asked the row

Could I
about cheers

elbows sharp, foregrounded

feet, cloud-
Never of
A cheer

as the body 
went up
As if I were.        Were not

Branch creaking
Rope taut

And, maybe you, too---
whoever you are---reading this


Do not touch
Or eat

Their food
Do not drink

From the same cup
From Dark~Sky Society (Western Michigan University, 2014). Used with permission.

Ailish Hopper grew up in DC, and is the author of Dark~Sky Society (2014), selected by David St. John as runner up for the New Issues prize, and the chapbook Bird in the Head (2005), selected by Jean Valentine for the Center for Book Arts Prize. Individual poems have appeared in Agni, APR, Blackbird, Harvard Review Online, Ploughshares, Poetry, Tidal Basin Review, and other places. She has received support from the Baltimore Commission for the Arts and Humanities, the MacDowell Colony, Maryland State Arts Council, and Yaddo. Her essays on art and literature that deal with race have appeared in or are forthcoming in Boston Review, The Volta, and the anthology,A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race. She is currently at work on an essay about imagining the world after the reign of white supremacy. She teaches at Goucher College.


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