The Academy of American Poets invited twelve guest editors to each curate a month of poems in 2019. In this short Q&A, Paisley Rekdal, the Poem-a-Day Guest Editor for December 2019, discusses her curatorial approach and her own creative work. How did you approach curating Poem-a-Day for December?

Paisley Rekdal: I wanted to give readers a sense of the wide and diverse kinds of poems, and poets, in America. I wanted to make sure different regions and aesthetics were represented, and I also wanted to showcase poets at different stages of their careers. There are first-book poets here, and mid- to later career poets as well. If you could direct readers to one poem in our collection at that you haven’t curated, what would it be and why?

PR: This is an impossible question, largely because there are so many excellent poems in the collection, but I’ll settle on “Frost at Midnight,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, since it’s a perfect poem for the season, and also such a beautiful meditation on fatherhood and the transformative powers of the imagination. It also contains some of the best ending lines for a poem that I’ve ever read. What are you working on now in your writing, teaching, or publishing life?

PR: In this last year, I wrote a book-length poem about the transcontinental railroad, a critical book on cultural appropriation, a short opera libretto, half a book of critical essays on poetry and war, and I served as a guest editor for a poetry anthology. I am now working on vacation.

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