poem index


Lynn Emanuel

1949- , Mt. Kisco , NY , United States
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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.


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)

by this poet


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



Even when it’s become a piece of furniture
upholstered in the stiff brocade of rigor mortis,
a corpse blistered with acids into a tapestry,
poked full of holes by bullets, and blurred
by miles of roads, they find it.
They find the body because
there is no where it can go, there



I’ve never longed for the annulments of Heaven,
nor for Hell, that orgy of repenting,
but have wanted the loneliness of this
slender room and bed, the cool neatness
of being dead: to be reduced, cleaned out,
a manageable mess, nothing left but knobs
and buttons, the skull an