By Catherine Wright
To open this morning’s reading—“Love Poems no Matter What”—Pulitzer-winning poet Jericho Brown shares the poem “Prayer of the Backhanded,” his words wrapping around the humid air of Key West. As the roosters crow, and the sun peaks from behind the clouds, his language possesses an element of freedom, tangled with power, vulnerability, violence and tension. In his work, desire might be for a father’s love, a lover’s embrace, or justice for those who have lost their voice. With subjects spanning childhood, Janis Joplin, and the supposed suicide of men and women in police custody, Brown’s poetry is a reminder that poems are meant to be read aloud, to sink into your ears and your skin. From “Labor,” he reads, “The loneliest people have the earth to love.” As do we, gathered here in this island amphitheater around our great passion.
You can listen to Jericho Brown’s reading here.
Catherine Wright teaches in Charleston, West Virginia. When not writing, she explores the mountains she calls home.