September 2, 2010The Arsenal Building, Central ParkNew York, NYFrom the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

Born on March 27, 1978, in St. Louis, Missouri, Dorothea Lasky received her BA from Washington University. She continued her studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she received her MFA. She has also earned a masters degree in arts and education from Harvard University and a PhD in creativity and education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Lasky is the author of three books of poetry: Thunderbird (Wave Books, 2012); Black Life (Wave Books, 2010); and AWE (Wave Books, 2007). She has also authored numerous chapbooks and pamphlets, including The Blue Teratorn (YesYes Books, 2012); Matter: A Picturebook (Argos Books, 2010); Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010); and Art (H_NGM_N Books, 2005). She is also coeditor of Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry (McSweeney’s, 2013).

"In lines that remind me of the way William Carlos Williams insisted that only the imagination gives us access to reality,” Poet Julia Bloch writes, “Lasky's poems evoke a practice of living, as bloody and awful and lovely as living can ever be."

In 2013, Lasky was named a Bagley Wright Lecturer at Harvard University. She currently lives in New York City, where she is an assistant professor of poetry at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

 



Bibliography

Poetry

Thunderbird (Wave Books, 2012)
Black Life (Wave Books, 2010)
AWE (Wave Books, 2007)

 

Me and the Otters

Dorothea Lasky, 1978
Love makes you feel alive 
Johnny my animal you have no idea
How beautiful you are to me in the morning
When it is 5 a.m. and I am lonely
Everyone is dying around me
I eat spinach bread to keep my sanity, I am
Like Lisa in the mental unit with my father
I am Muriel who throws tables
I play blackjack with the clowns
Oh yes I do all that for a salad
Your black hair is better than a piece of fate
I find in the sky when I am looking
45,000 miles above the earth
For things that make it all worthwhile
I do this for you but you will never know
How dear you are to me
You chop leaves in your house in New York City
Dream of glamorous women and even too they are great
No one will ever love you like I do that is certain
Because I know the inside of your face
Is a solid block of coal and then it too 
Something that is warm like warm snow
I hold the insides of you in my palm
And they are warm snow, melting even
With the flurries glutted out of the morning
When I get on the plane the stewardess tells me to let loose 
My heart, the man next to me was the same man as last week
Whoever those postmodernists are that say
There is no universal have never spent any time with an animal
I have played tennis with so many animals
I can't count the times I have let them win
Their snouts that were wet with health
Dripping in the sun, then we went and took a swim
Just me and the otters, I held them so close
I felt the bump of ghosts as I held them.
There is no poem that will bring back the dead
There is no poem that I could ever say that will
Arise the dead in their slumber, their faces gone
There is no poem or song I could sing to you
That would make me seem more beautiful
If there were such songs I would sing them
O they would hear me singing from here until dawn

From Black Life by Dorothea Lasky. Copyright © 2010 by Dorothea Lasky. Used by permission of Wave Books. All rights reserved.

Dorothea Lasky

Dorothea Lasky

Born on March 27, 1978, in St. Louis, Missouri, Dorothea Lasky received her B.A. from Washington University

by this poet

poem

 

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poem
To be the name uttered, but not to have the burden to be
To be the name said, but not heard
To not breathe anymore, to be the thing
To be the thing being breathed
To not be about to die, to be already dead
To not have to disappoint
To not have the burden of being late
Or punctual
To not eat, to not have to eat
poem

 

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