Josephine Yu Recommends...

“I read to be reminded of what poetry can do—especially on days when it feels like poetry makes nothing happen. I return to Anne Sexton to remind me of the first time a poem blew the top of my head off. I go back to Carolyn Forché, Eavan Boland, and Natasha Trethewey to remember how poetry can bear witness and protest, back to Robert Browning, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Rita Dove to remember how it tells people’s stories. I revisit Emily Dickinson and Jane Hirshfield and Kay Ryan for that riddle, meditation, shard that glints and cuts. I return to James Tate, Lucia Perillo, and D. A. Powell to be surprised again by poetry’s twisty logic—and then to Yusef Komunyakaa and Dylan Thomas and Barbara Hamby to rehear how poetry vibrates with its strange musics. I go back to Billy Collins and Stevie Smith and David Kirby to remember how poetry can delight and heart-scorch (sometimes all at once). I reread Ross Gay and Claudia Emerson and Robert Hass to remember how poetry can grieve or celebrate or praise, as needed (often all at once). After I read, I walk. I walk to shake my mind like a snow globe. Most days my husband walks with me, and we discuss what we’ve heard and read. I get a lot of ideas from NPR, BBC, field guides, encyclopedias of saints. The world is a catalogue of metaphors in waiting.”
—Josephine Yu, author of Prayer Book of the Anxious (Elixir Press, 2016)

Photo credit: Royal Yu