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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), winner of the 2016 Lenore Marshall Poetry PrizeNoose and Hook (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010); Then, Suddenly (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999), which was awarded the Eric Matthieu King Award from the Academy of American Poets; The Dig (University of Illinois Press, 1992), which was selected by Gerald Stern for the National Poetry Series; and Hotel Fiesta (University of Georgia Press, 1984).

About The Nerve of It: Poems New and Selected, Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize judges Amy Gerstler, Reginald Gibbons, and Kimiko Hahn wrote: “Every poem in Lynn Emanuel’s The Nerve of It brims with unfailing invention and virtuoso wordcraft. This volume of new and selected poems is a beautifully integrated whole, the arc of a life: heady, bold, vivid, sexy, intensely envisioned, metaphorically brilliant. The Nerve of It is a witty and courageous body of work.

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."

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


Bibliography

The Nerve of It: Poems New and Selected (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)
Noose and Hook (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010)
Then, Suddenly— (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999)
The Dig (University of Illinois Press, 1992)
Hotel Fiesta (University of Georgia Press, 1984)
 

Inventing Father In Las Vegas

If I could see nothing but the smoke
From the tip of his cigar, I would know everything
About the years before the war.
If his face were halved by shadow I would know
This was a street where an EATS sign trembled
And a Greek served coffee black as a dog's eye.
If I could see nothing but his wrist I would know
About the slot machine and I could reconstruct
The weak chin and ruin of his youth, the summer
My father was a gypsy with oiled hair sleeping
In a Murphy bed and practicing clairvoyance.
I could fill his vast Packard with showgirls
And keep him forever among the difficult buttons
Of the bodice, among the rustling of their names,
Miss Christina, Miss Lorraine.
I could put his money in my pocket
and wearing memory's black fedora
With the condoms hidden in the hatband
The damp cigar between my teeth,
I could become the young man who always got sentimental
About London especially in Las Vegas with its single bridge­-
So ridiculously tender--leaning across the river
To watch the starlight's soft explosions.
If I could trace the two veins that crossed
His temple, I would know what drove him
To this godforsaken place, I would keep him forever
Remote from war--like the come-hither tip of his lit cigar
Or the harvest moon, that gold planet, remote and pure
  American.

From Hotel Fiesta by Lynn Emanuel, published by the University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 1984. Used with permission.

From Hotel Fiesta by Lynn Emanuel, published by the University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 1984. Used with permission.

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

poem

 

Love is boring and passé, all that old baggage,
the bloody bric-a-brac, the bad, the gothic,
retrograde, obscurantist hum and drum of it
needs to be swept away. So, night after night,
we sit in the dark of the Roxy beside grandmothers
with their shanks tied up in the tourniquets

poem
After I've goosed up the fire in the stove with Starter Logg 
so that it burns like fire on amphetamines; after it's imprisoned, 
screaming and thrashing, behind the stove door; after I've 
listened to the dead composers and watched the brown-plus-gray 
deer compose into Cubism the trees whose name I don'
poem

I love its smallness: as though our whole town
were a picture postcard and our feelings
were on vacation: ourselves in mini-
ature, shopping at tiny sales, buying
the newspapers—small and pale and square
as sugar cubes—at the fragile, little curb.
The way the streetlight is really a