From Poetry Magazine

A Playlist for the May 2018 Issue

For our May 2018 playlist, we asked contributor D.A. Powell to curate a selection of music for us. You can read about his approach to creating the playlist below. Click here to open the playlist in your Spotify app.

Because it exercises so many muscles all at once, poetry feels like a dance party, one whose rhythms and repetitions spark intense connections between sound and meaning, the “blue light” of Matthew Dickman’s bluebells “ringing through / the green grass” or the sounds of love and fear rhymed off each other in Hanif Abdurraqib’s “For the Dogs Who Barked at Me on the Sidewalks in Connecticut,” the difference “a matter of pitch.” What I hear the poems in this issue saying over and over is “take me” and “don’t stop.” “Take me” as a poem: take these gifts of music and imagination; carry them with you; be transported; accept the breath unspooling in Noah Baldino’s “Passing” “to form each impossible / bud,” and the tempo of, in Jenny Xie’s words, the “easy gait of hours: a way into—or through—the dry winds.” And “don’t stop” as a directive: as Philip Good and Bernadette Mayer write, “you’ve got another thing coming.” The dance takes many forms and weaves its continuities into one long thread, always resisting the easy peace of closure. 

I chose a number of songs with “take me” themes and a number of songs with “don’t stop” as well. The call and response of these two principles could make a series of opening and closing gestures, but I didn’t want the simple rhythm of couplets, so I added other subjects that echo throughout the poems in this issue: love, life, energy, power, and mercy. The result is a kind of assemblage of found bits into a love poem for all these poets, both privately (“Keep It Confidential”) and publicly (“The Clapping Song”) celebrating the energy, ingenuity, and spirit of my fellow travelers in the all-night disco of Poetry.

Originally Published: May 4th, 2018

Born in Albany, Georgia, D. A. Powell earned an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea, (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic. Lunch was a...