In 2021, the Academy of American Poets invited twelve poets to each curate a month of poems. In this short Q&A, Rachel Eliza Griffiths discusses her curatorial approach and her own creative work.

Read a shortened transcript of the interview: How did you approach curating Poem-a-Day?

Rachel Eliza Griffiths: I hoped to gather poems eclectically, resisting any particular “school” of voice. Concentrating on the energies of wonder, delight, urgency, and intimacy, I hoped to sense how such complicated spaces and experiences are often inseparable from craft and risk. It would be foolish for me to say I knew exactly what I was doing. While thinking of myself as a curator, I felt deliberate about this gathering of poems. And, as a fellow poet, I’m very lucky, to praise and to share the work of my peers. If you could direct readers to one poem in our collection at that you haven’t curated, what would it be and why?

REG: Natalie Diaz’s poem “Grief Work” holds a profound question, which is nearly like a mirror for me, that I keep close: “Why not now go toward the things I love?” Who are you reading right now?

REG: I’m returning to the complete stories of Clarice Lispector. This may be the umpteenth time that I’m also rereading Jack Whitten: Notes from the Woodshed, which is extraordinary. I’m also revisiting so many of the brilliant and gorgeous stories of the late Randall Kenan and the powerful poetry of the divine force of nature that will always belong to Diane di Prima. I really wish spring was here already so that I could carry Donika Kelly’s new collection, The Renunciations, everywhere with me.

I’m anticipating the new forthcoming novel of Gayl Jones, and the YA novel Chlorine Sky by my beautiful poet-sister, Mahogany L. Browne. When my bookishness needs a break and I feel like hollering, I listen to a few pages of the audiobook for The Meaning of Mariah Carey. What are you working on now in your writing, teaching, or publishing life?

REG: Currently, I’m in the editing phase of my first novel, which will be published by Random House.

Read Poem-a-Day.

Back to Guest Editors for 2021.