The National Book Award committee put out its "long list" of annual poetry award candidates. Among them was Robin Coste Lewis’s The Voyage of the Sable Venus, recently reviewed in the New Yorker. She is currently a fellow in Poetry at USC, and is from the Compton neighborhood of L.A. She also has an MFA from NYU and a master’s degree in Sanskrit and religious literature from Harvard. And she has a longer list of nice fellowships, award, and teaching gigs, which is I suppose what we expect from a national book award finalist. But her name was new to me.
She uses both halves of her brain to write poems that speak from sound and logic, hence the anagram "lobes write sonic."
Here’s a piece with 2 dedications. I can’t date it precisely but it appears to be from the 2010s. Enjoy! -ed.
for and after Gwendolyn Brooks
for and after the Kitchenette Building
We meet – sometimes – between the dry hours,
Between clefts in the involuntary plan,
Refusing to think of rent or food – how
Civic the slick to satisfied from man.
And democratic. A Lucky Strike each, we
Sponge each other off, while what’s grayed
In and gray slinks ashamed down the drain.
No need to articulate great restraint,
No need to see each other’s mouth lip
The obvious. Giddy. Fingers garnished
With fumes of onions and garlic, I slip
Back into my shift then watch her hands – wordless –
Reattach her stockings to the martyred
Rubber moons wavering at her garter.