Published on Academy of American Poets (

One First Try and then Another

Careful, a night set on edge 
the European tradition of virtuoso 
and the raw desire to articulate.
I pushed them both backward on the bed in the end
and each played on, one first 
try and then another.
Soft then on succession thought.

The instrument all torso is loved where are held 
fitting the flown down housemartin with a reed
or belying midway uncertainty
in tandem the hands, and acts adolescent.
A natural vaults a natural 
development, his farther back barn jacket 
American and strewn as if spare.

Thought soft the crescendo all along
saws, neither stroke inward or from the heart
except it begins unbecoming
building in roomy youth.
We have our no, libido, go.
Then all limbs arms and loudly I don't want to
play down the skillless touch. 


From Not Even Then by Brian Blanchfield. Copyright © 2004 by Brian Blanchfield. Reprinted by permission of the University of California Press. All rights reserved.


Brian Blanchfield

Brian Blanchfield was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1973, and raised in the central Piedmont. He earned a BA from the University of North Carolina and an MFA from Warren Wilson College.

Blanchfield is the author of A Several World (Nightboat Books, 2014), which received the 2014 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, given to recognize a superior second book of poetry by an American poet.

He is also the author of Not Even Then (University of California Press, 2004). His collection of essays, Onesheets, is forthcoming from Nightboat Books in 2015.

Laughlin Award judge C. S. Giscombe wrote about Blanchfield’s winning book:

Robert Herrick wrote, “Here we are all, by day; by night we’re hurl’d / By dreams, each one into a several world.”  Where Herrick’s several is implicitly separate, Brian Blanchfield’s book examines and contests commonality. That is, A Several World unsettles the world—all and several alike—by reading its associations and memberships and public languages with an unnerving exactingness. And, for all that, it’s a very finely-ranging travelogue, though not in the usual senses: “Consider the milieu durance,” Blanchfield invites as the book sets sail and then responds, in the next line, to his own invitation—“Way out there now.”

About A Several World, John Ashbery wrote, “The oneness of our physical and spiritual life has rarely been conveyed more accurately.”

Blanchfield has worked in the editorial department of Farrar, Straus and Giroux and has taught at Pratt Institute of Art, Otis College of Art and Design, and the University of Montana, where he was the 2008–2009 Richard Hugo Writer in Residence. He is a poetry editor of Fence and teaches poetry and nonfiction writing in the Honors College at the University of Arizona. He lives in Tucson.



A Several World (Nightboat Books, 2014)

Not Even Then (University of California Press, 2004)


Onesheets (Nightboat Books, 2015)

Date Published: 2004-01-01

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