Spotlight on Issue 37 / by Washington Square

Poetry Editor Linda Harris Dolan discusses two poems by Meghan O'Rourke

 

It wasn't difficult choosing Meghan O’Rourke’s “Taxonomy” and “Poem (Problem)” for Issue 37. In these two poems, O’Rourke expresses the same intellectual and emotional reckoning that first drew me to her memoir, The Long Goodbye.

Make a list of what

no one could take from you—

*

OK, it’s a short list—


So begins “Taxonomy.” The poem holds the fragments of a life post-loss. And it lives up to its name, creating a space where multiple registers are held. O’Rourke moves deftly from a straight-forward acquiescence, “It’s hard to see lessons here,” to vivid, emotive images: “years of gaudy in the grass, / lemonade and orange crush.” Her stunning linguistic texture and candid ruminations are each in service of the other. The voice gains both our investment and our trust. It’s intelligent, adept, and emotionally honest.

And as for “Poem (Problem)” I don’t think there’s anything I can say to do it justice. Just read it. In three lines, she says it all.

 

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