Author: Lesley Wheeler

  • She carries me

    In the Belly As a woman carries an insect, unconscious of the sign it shapes with diplomatic footfalls across her skin, she carries me. As a lake lifts the sky’s image, all burnished admiration, or proffers a crushed cup, a leaf, a rainbow slick of grease. As your network of neurochemicals and electricity carries, through […]

  • Easy poetry

    Easy poetry

    “Excitement comes from being lazy and fun loving. O’Hara worked hard, but he also took it easy. His Collected Poems are a manifesto of the high aesthetic rewards that accrue from a life—albeit a tragically abbreviated life—of taking easiness as the gold standard. Like Warhol’s professed love of easy art (or art that was easy to make), O’Hara’s […]

  • New year, old places

    New year, old places

    I crossed the invisible border into 2023 while in India. The occasion: my son’s close college friend, Rish, is from Bengaluru and wanted to show us the country. The Christmas break worked well for this bunch of students and teachers; the only other break we have in common would be summer, when heat is extreme. […]

  • Poetry in 2022 (work & joy & religion)

    Poetry in 2022 (work & joy & religion)

    It’s become a private tradition to read poetry in this wintry span of time between the end of one academic term and the beginning of the next. I think it’s because poetry helps me center myself, dial down stress, and look away from my inbox. I’m definitely hit at the end of the calendar year […]

  • H.D., tarot, & occluded vistas

    H.D., tarot, & occluded vistas

    Above is the first card of the Mountain Dream Tarot created by Bea Nettles in 1975–the Fool, a card of fortunate beginnings and free spirits. I don’t think ANYONE has ever described me as a “free spirit.” But the digitized images of this deck were a lucky chance find as I was doing on online […]

  • Haunted Matisse & packing light

    Haunted Matisse & packing light

    On the Friday after Thanksgiving, we visited the “Matisse in the 1930s” exhibit in the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts, and there was plenty NOT to like. So many odalisques! The images that stayed with me in a more positive way did so because the way they reflected process struck me as appealingly uncanny. The […]

  • Word-feast

    Word-feast

    If you have some quiet hours this week, I hope you’ll read the amazing poems in the new issue of Shenandoah. Hot-flashing in your Thanksgiving kitchen? Ann Hudson has you covered. Missing green horizons? Look at Oliver de la Paz’s Diaspora Sonnets. Craving something funny-dark? See Kelli Russell Agodon and Julie Marie Wade. Want a […]

  • Book birthday and other shenanigans

    Happy 6-month birthday, little book. Thanks to all the friends who sent and posted these baby and launch portraits, and to the reviewers, personal-note-writers, and quiet book-buyers. I feel guilty that chairing my department has slowed down my promotion efforts, so as always, if you have suggestions for events or other ways of getting the […]

  • Five year writing plan for the witches’ new year

    Five year writing plan for the witches’ new year

    As Department Head, I’ve been reading colleagues’ Five Year Plans, which oddly enough are due around Halloween or Samhain (or however you think about this spooky midpoint between the fall equinox and winter solstice). I have an official Five Year Plan myself–I’m halfway through that cycle–but maybe it’s time for a weirder one. I’m a […]

  • Reading T. S. Eliot’s tarot cards

    I was talking to my British and Irish poetry class about the “wicked pack of cards” Madame Sosostris wields in “The Waste Land” when one person said, “There should be a Modernist Poets tarot deck.” My brain exploded: H. D. as The Star, Pound as The Emperor, Sassoon as the Nine of Wands, maybe Yeats […]