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

Eduardo C. Corral: The world today is burning in so many ways. Daily, I shudder as I scroll through the news. Poetry is both an escape from and a return to the world—a poem can hold both terror and beauty. I sought out poets whose past work tunneled through all kinds of pain but also took the time to make visible the pleasures of being human. If you could direct readers to one poem in our collection at that you haven’t curated, what would it be and why?

ECC: Diane Seuss is one my favorite contemporary poets. Her work is deeply human, beautifully built. When I first read "[Things feel partial. My love for things is partial. Mikel on his last legs, covered]," I bawled. It’s a poem about friendship, the instinct to flee, the AIDS epidemic, and regret. The details are haunting and the language is expansive, intimate. I love this poem because it reminds me friendship is love that’s instructive: it can teach us how love ourselves in a world that’s indifferent. The speaker remembers “he held me and touched my upper lip.” Isn’t that beautiful? To be touched and to be held by a friend. To feel complete, not partial. What are you working on now in your writing, teaching, or publishing life?

ECC: I’m on deadline! I have until November of this year to finish work on my second collection of poems, titled Guillotine. I’m focusing on making the collection cohere in interesting and surprising ways, and on making individual poems shine a bit brighter. The feedback from Jeff Shotts has been immensely helpful in seeing the poems in a different light. 

Read Poem-a-Day.

Back to Guest Editors for 2019.