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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); 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.


Lynn Emanuel, 1949

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 table
lamp where now we sit and where real
night, (which is very tall and black and
at our backs), where for a moment
the night is forced to bend down and look
through these tiny windows, forced to come
closer and put its hand on our shoulder
and stoop over the book to read the fine print.

Copyright © 2012 by Lynn Emanuel. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2012 by Lynn Emanuel. Used with permission of the author.

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

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
It's early morning. This is the "before,"
the world hanging around in its wrapper,
blowzy, frumpy, doing nothing: my 
neighbors, hitching themselves to the roles
of the unhappily married, trundle their three
mastiffs down the street. I am writing this
book of poems. My name is Lynn Emanuel.
I am wearing a
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'