Author: Lesley Wheeler

  • Fairy monster godmother gets the chair

    Yesterday, at a NeMLA panel called “Hybrid, Feminist, & Collaborative,” the writer and artist Mary-Kim Arnold talked about “feeling like a hybrid” as a child born in Korea then adopted into a New York family. Explore her whole amazing website if you have time, but here’s one piece that literally stitches image to text in […]

  • Reading Warsan Shire during a Russian invasion

    From Warsan Shire’s brand-new book Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head, a stanza from a poem called “Assimilation”: The refugee’s heart has six chambers.In the first is your mother’s unpacked suitcase.In the second, your father cries into his hands.The third room is an immigration office,your severed legs in the fourth,in the […]

  • On the threshold of Poetry’s Possible Worlds

    I started this blog in March 2011, during a Fulbright fellowship in Wellington, New Zealand, as an intellectual diary during one of my life’s biggest adventures. My forthcoming book, Poetry’s Possible Worlds, is in many ways this blog’s culmination. I’ve always read to survive my life, and in the blog, then called “The Cave, The […]

  • Pretending the house is clean

    It’s my mother’s birthday tomorrow, February 7th, so I spent some time this morning looking at photos. She always looked happy holding a baby–that’s me, beginning the lifelong practice of talking with my hands–although I really like the one, too, of the mid-60s records spread out on the floor. The classroom pictured above is one […]

  • Mind of winter (not)

    For me, midwinter is a time of introversion. I’m three weeks into my university’s winter term, so I’m planning and leading discussions and meetings constantly, but they’re usually based on study and solitary thinking–not extroverted stuff, even though there’s a social, performative aspect to the work. The class based on NEW reading and thinking is […]

  • Literary sources and afterlives

    “Extended Release,” now in Guernica, is one of those poems that came to me in a rush, the kind that writers sometimes refer to as a gift, in that it arrives in near-final shape. I jotted in a dim living room during my mother’s last weeks, when she was in and out of hospitals and […]

  • The work + worry equations of winter 2022

    The great thing about the first week of this year: I dedicated a substantial chunk to poetry. I discovered that although I’d revised older work, I hadn’t drafted a new poem AT ALL since summer 2021. That’s really rare for me. I tend to throw down drafts during spare hours and come back to them […]

  • Sacrifices, gifts, and a year in reading

    Fairies and gods haunted my last post, to which I have a couple of addenda: first, an English cousin spotted my story about my mother and her father propitiating the fairies with sweets and, bless him, he brought a matchbox full of sugar to Sefton Park in Liverpool and left it in Fairies Glen, pictured […]

  • Weird tree-person looking east

    I love the turning of the year toward light at the winter solstice. It makes up a bit for winter looming ahead. This year was tough for everybody, it seems; as Eric Tran said when he visited to give a poetry reading here, we spent the pandemic borrowing energy from the future, and now we […]

  • Shenandoah, #DisConIII, biobreaks

    During the last few weeks, I spent 20+ hours reading and ranking national student Fulbright applications in Creative Writing so I could meet with two other jurists and wrangle amicably over the best ones to send up the decision chain. It was interesting work but EXHAUSTING and very hard to accomplish at such a busy […]