poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Lynn Emanuel was born in Mt. Kisco, New York, on March 14, 1949. She has an MFA from the University of Iowa, an MA from City College of New York, and a BA from Bennington College.

She is the author of five books of poetry: The Nerve of It: Poems New and Selected (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015); Noose and Hook (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010); Then, Suddenly— (1999), which was awarded the Eric Matthieu King Award from the Academy of American Poets; The Dig (1992), which was selected by Gerald Stern for the National Poetry Series; and Hotel Fiesta (1984).

In his review of Noose and Hook, David St. John wrote: “I have long believed that Lynn Emanuel is one of the most innovative and subversive poets now writing in America. Her aesthetic and artistic choices consistently invoke a complex hybrid poetics that radically reimagines the shape of our poetic discourse."

Emanuel has taught at Bennington College, Vermont College, and Warren Wilson College, among others. Her honors include two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and a fellowship from the Ranieri Foundation. She is currently a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dream in Which I Meet Myself

Lynn Emanuel, 1949

Even the butter's a block of sleazy light. I see that first,
as though I am a dreary guest come to a dreary supper.
On her table, its scrubbed deal trim and lonely as a cot,
is food for one, and everything we've ever hated: a plate of pallid
grays and whites is succotash and chops are those dark shapes glaring up at us.
Are you going to eat this? I want to ask; she's at the stove dishing up,
wearing that apron black and stiff as burned bacon, reserved for maids and waitresses.
The dream tells us: She is still a servant. Even here.
So she has to clean our plate. It's horrible to watch.
She pokes the bits of stuff into her mouth. The roll's glued shut like a little box
with all that sticky butter. Is this all living gets you? The room, a gun stuck in your back?
Don't move, It says. She's at the bureau lining up bobby pins.
Worried and fed up I wander to the window
with its strict bang of blind. My eyes fidget and scratch.
And then I see myself: I am this dream's dog. I want out.

From Noose and Hook, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 2011 by Lynn Emanuel. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

From Noose and Hook, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Copyright © 2011 by Lynn Emanuel. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Lynn Emanuel

Lynn Emanuel

Born in Mt. Kisco, New York, in 1949, Lynn Emanuel is the author of several books of poetry, including Then, Suddenly— (1999), which was awarded the Eric Matthieu King Award from the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

     Jill's a good kid who's had some tough luck. But that's 
another story. It's a day when the smell of fish from Tib's hash 
house is so strong you could build a garage on it. We are sit-
ting in Izzy's where Carl has just built us a couple of solid 
highballs. He's okay, Carl is, if you don't count his
Right now as I am talking to you and as you are being talked 
to, without letup, it is becoming clear that gertrude stein has 
hijacked me and that this feeling that you are having now as 
you read this, that this is what it feels like to be inside 
gertrude stein. This is what it feels like to be a huge type--
I strolled through the neighborhood of beautiful houses
All of which I had written

Down the long dark street
Past the cemetery

Where all the tombstones
Had my small white face.

Over my shoulder burned the lamp
Of the moon.

The pages, in the wind, flew, were fluffed and ruffled
Like water by stones into a