Poetry News

Sandra Simonds on Elective Affinities

By Harriet Staff


New content from poet Sandra Simonds is up on Carlos Soto Roman's Elective Affinities! Here she lists poets with whom she feels an affinity (it does go on, and includes Anne Boyer, Will Alexander, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Celan, Sylvia Plath, Joshua Clover, Brandon Brown, Jasper Bernes, Josef Kaplan, Charles Baudelaire, Bob Kaufman, Langston Hughes, Anne Sexton, Jean Toomer, Chris Nealon, Harryette Mullen, Alice Notley, Cathy Wagner, and David Lau, among others); a statement of poetics, and a sample poem. We're glad to bear with her:


I have very high expectations for poems so please bear with me. I tend to like poems with energy, emotion, imagination, vivacity, humor, and speed. I’m not into slow poetry. On top of all of that, I also like poems that use a strong voice to engage with the complexities of the political, historical, cultural, and social. The poems I read that give me the most pleasure have an overwhelming desire to see some sort of utopic horizon—poems that could write our future even though, given our current conditions as wage-laborers, this may be impossible. I like poems that set fire to the world we have now—those poems give me joy!—I also like it when poems are not self-satisfied—I like poems that try really hard—I like poems that are puzzles that I cannot solve. I like poems that are full of secret codes. I like poems that are begging to be heard. I like poems that don’t care about me as a reader. I like it when poets try and fail. I like poems that never got permission from anyone to be written. I like failure. I like how Rimbaud is a kind of apocalyptic thinker. The impossible gives me pleasure. Anything worth anything in a poem is totally impossible.

Read it all here.

Originally Published: December 17th, 2013