By Brian Swann Brian Swann
I read that in this famous person’s poems “she searches
for signs of what lies beneath and beyond the self.”
Which seemed to me pointless, as if you wouldn’t know

whether to paint with egg tempera or eat it. At eighteen,
I came across Tolstoy’s “What is Art?” where he said
an artist is different from other people because instead

of eating an apple he paints it. Even then I thought why
can’t he paint it and then eat it, the way at eight, the war
just over, I stood shoeless in line in the snowy playground

where one of the kids was handing out something that turned out
to be small pieces of orange peel, something exotic we’d never
seen before which I smelled, nibbled, and finally ate for this poem.

Source: Poetry (November 2010).


This poem originally appeared in the November 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2010


Poet, critic, and translator Brian Swann earned a BA and an MA from Queens’ College, Cambridge, and a PhD from Princeton University. His collections of poetry include Autumn Road (2005), which won the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry; Snow House (2006), winner of the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Poetry Prize; and In Late Light (2013).
In addition to poetry, Swann has authored numerous collections of fiction, . . .

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Poems by Brian Swann

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Tercet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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