The Poetry Corner – 16 March 2021

[To read an introduction to this column, please see the first paragraph of the previous post here]


This week I will simply share two poems from one of my favorite contemporary poets, Solmaz Sharif. Much of her work can be found online, but these two poems feel similar to me and are both striking in many ways. Here they are below:




He, Too


Returning to the US, he asks

my occupation. Teacher.


What do you teach?



I hate poetry, the officer says,

I only like writing

where you can make an argument.


Anything he asks, I must answer.

This he likes, too.


I don’t tell him

he will be in a poem

where the argument will be




I place him here, puffy,

pink, ringed in plexi, pleased


with his own wit

and spittle. Saving the argument

I am let in


I am let in until








Lanat Abad / The Place of the Damned


this mangy plot where



by now

only mothers still come,


only mothers guard the nameless plots







and then sparingly







Peepholes burnt through the metal doors


of their solitary cells,







just large enough

for three fingers to curl out

for a lemon to pass through

for an ear to be held against

for one eye then the other

to regard the hallway

to regard the cell and inmate







peepholes without a lens


so when the guard comes to inspect me,

I inspect him.


Touch me, he said.







And through that opening




I did.

Eli Neumann

Eli is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan majoring in English literature and minoring in Chinese Language and Culture. His column The Poetry Corner showcases poetry from around the world to let people see the beautiful and important work poets are doing in our time.

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