Poem of the Week

curated by Meg Day, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke & Niki Herd

Brought to you occasionally, as a little something something to help get you through the week.


October 27, 2016 / Jillian Weise


The Villanelle Takes A Stand


I am so sick of reading poems by people
who must be bored in their homes
about soldiers with their legs blown off

and how sorry the people feel for them
and how awful America is and rotten.
I am so sick of reading poems by people

who have their civil rights and say, Yes,
I feel your pain
before they pull
a short night for a long poem about legs

blown into ditches and across streets
and under trees as the soldiers
come to Walter Reed to find a poem

in a magazine that reads You're
nothing now, Good as dead, What a pity
is your country
by a poet whose legs

are attached at the hip and knee
who is drinking chamomile tea.
I am so sick of reading these poems
by the patricians of poetry.



Copyright © Jillian Weise. This poem first appeared in Wordgathering.




Curator's notes


Meg Day

I talk a lot with my students about the responsibility of the poet. Together we question obligation & art, the stakes involved in choosing what to write about & when, & the way subject matter reveals privilege. I think it’s hard to find a poet that isn’t teaching you something; even crummy poems have something to say, to point out. But the best poets—& the most important ones, I’d argue—are those that help you unlearn. When I first started reading Jillian Weise, the candor & the humor in the work took me by surprise—who writes poems like this? (The better question: Who does it well?) I was in my MFA at the time & working hard to learn how to write poems that fit in. Reading Weise—& coming to know that voice, that wit, that unapologetic look of expectation only certain kinds of poems can cast upward from the page—demanded I unlearn any desire to be anything on the page that I couldn’t be in my lived reality. For the first time, it felt possible to write about things the canon didn’t cover. I don’t mean this to be one of those cliché “her poems taught me to love my self in all its difference” stories, but it’s not not that either. Weise’s work calls out the kinds of activism-in-the-home injustices I was calling out in my life but not in my work. Great poets labor on our behalf in this way, whether they know it or not. I love this poem because it’s quintessential Weise: smart, funny, & deeply serious. There’s no distraction in it; there’s no arrogant film to wipe away. That, & you just won’t find a better-paced poem than a Jillian Weise poem—nobody’s got timing like her.


Jillian Weise's recent collection, The Book of Goodbyes, won the 2013 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and the 2013 Isabella Gardner Award from BOA Editions. Her other books include The Amputee's Guide to Sex and the novel The Colony. Her essays have appeared in A Public Space, Drunken Boat, New York Times and Tin House. Her performance art, Tips for Writers by Tipsy Tullivan, animates routine ableism in order to derange it.
















































































































































: : :