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because you’re psychic
no one else could understand me
the way you

do and

I say
Drink Me

I say it to you silently
but it calls forth in me

the water for you
the water you asked for


Shall I tell you, then, how it is?—
There came a cloven gleam
Like a tongue of darkened flame
To flicker in me.

And so I seem
To have you still the same
In one world with me.

In the flicker of a flower,
In a worm that is blind, yet strives,
In a


A gift is a risk. Let roses be the prodrome.
It’s like it dropped a gold and a silver

ring with its name on it
in my brain. That was the gift

before the storm. It sent you a stumbling
block. Just scribble yes or no

on the form. Now every time the doorbell


Archival Images

In 1955, Sylvia Plath, who was then a student at Smith College, typed up a group of poems on onion skin paper and mailed them to the Academy of American Poets in New York City to be considered for one of its College Poetry Prizes. Founded in 1934, the Academy has recognized young poets for much of its history, and today awards more than 200 prizes to poets in undergraduate programs across the U.S.

Plath's poems won. Uplifted and inspired by the recognition, she wrote a letter to thank the donor, Mr. Harrison Eudy, who had endowed the prize in memory of his mother, an aspiring poet herself. "After this fruitful year," Plath wrote to Eudy, "I know that writing poetry will always be the richest, most rewarding part of a full maturing life."

During the next seven years staff at the Academy of American Poets and Plath remained in contact as her poetry life quickly blossomed. In 1961, Elizabeth Kray, the Director of the Academy at the time, invited Plath

Schools & Movements

The dominant figure in modern poetry from the 1920s through the middle of the century, in part because of his stature as a critic and publisher, was the poet T. S. Eliot. In his landmark essay, "Tradition and the Individual Talent," (1919) Eliot defined poetry as an escape from emotion and personality—a definition that subsequent American poets have alternately embraced, argued with, and denounced in such a vigorous fashion that it may be useful to consider it as a linchpin of modernism.

True poetry, according to the poet and critic John Crowe Ransom, "only wants to see the world, to see it better." Poetry, he believed, is a superior form of knowledge which gives us the fullness of human experience, not just the facts and abstractions that suffice for knowledge in a scientific age. Ransom was the leading light of the Fugitives, a group of Southern Agrarian poets and critics formed at Vanderbilt University in the 1920s, who were distinctly at odds with northern

Debates & Manifestos

We read poems because they change us, and our reasons for writing them hover around that same fact. A poem, a good poem, speaks to and from a place that belongs to us—that elusive pitch of being some might call the soul, the psyche, the sub- or unconscious. We believe it’s there because we feel it working, but we’re powerless to tell it when, or how, or even why to work. Surely, as poets, most of us have discovered ways of "letting go" enough to embolden whatever it is that sends words and questions and inklings out from that space. And the best readers know that that place is where poems go when they hit us hard, teach us, reach home.

The Spanish poet, Federico García Lorca, named the keeper of that space the duende—daemon, hobgoblin, mischief maker, guardian of "the mystery, the roots fastened in the mire that we all know and all ignore." Unlike the Muse or Angel, which exist beyond or above the poet, the duende sleeps deep within the poet, and asks to be awakened and