The Academy of American Poets invited twelve guest editors to each curate a month of poems in 2020. In this short Q&A, Dana Levin, the Poem-a-Day Guest Editor for March discusses her curatorial approach and her own creative work.
Poets.org: How did you approach curating Poem-a-Day?
Dana Levin: I started where I always start when reading poems: wanting to be moved by strong feeling, even (sometimes especially!) disturbing or confounding ones; wanting to follow the movements of an idiosyncratic mind; hoping to encounter the pleasures of craft; and wanting to be surprised.
As the submissions started coming in and I started to make choices, I began to see my collecting disturbances as points of coordination, locations on a particular grid of Space-Time. Time: the month of March as a turning point in the cyclic round, from winter to spring—winter and springtime of mind, as well as place. And Space: I recently left Northern New Mexico—the 1-25 corridor of Santa Fe-Taos-Albuquerque—after nineteen years and cast my lot with Saint Louis. Both of these places have incredibly vibrant poetry scenes, and are centers for teaching and learning the art of writing. Over half of the March poets currently live or spent formative time in either place, and there are many more I wish I could have included! Thank you, Academy, for offering me—and so many—a field for reading adventures.
Poets.org: If you could direct readers to one poem in our collection at Poets.org that you haven’t curated, what would it be and why?
DL: Crisscross, by Arthur Sze. Sze is a long time Santa Fean, an influential teacher, and one of the necessary chroniclers of our age. "Crisscross," like all of Arthur’s poems, tracks the surprising movements of an attentive, idiosyncratic mind getting located in time and space, on eternity’s grid.
Poets.org: What are you working on now in your writing, teaching, or publishing life?
DL: Excellent question, as I type this amongst the stacks of the Just Begun and Still Unfinished, the Doubtful, the How, the Maybe. Prose and poems. Heavy ambivalence and questing. No book on the horizon! It’s orbiting some distant planet, beyond telescopic range.