For this issue on “The Academy,” entrants reflected the Words- worthian notion that poetry emerges from a meditative space, from “emotion recollected in tranquility,” to reference the preface of Lyrical Ballads from 1802. With perspective gained from the
passing of years, poets expressed understanding only distance grants:
the legacy of a particular professor; the value of an academic path,
despite obstacles; the gift of wonder, of discovery, in learning.
Sarah Horner’s winning submission, “Would You Lie with Me
and Just Forget,” speaks with a more urgent voice: the present pain
and ongoing desire to change recent events, while recognizing the impossibility of doing so.
In an afterword, Horner, who graduated college last spring, writes
that this poem came after a fellow student’s suicide, triggered perhaps
by the “stress culture” of that competitive environment (and after pupils at another school took their own lives too). The poem, through its
relentless syntactic structure as a single unanswered question, and
through its imagery recalling childhood — family minivan, melted
crayons, sidewalk drawings — embodies the speaker’s wrenching
awareness of the tragedy. The poem also confronts the guilt of those
mourning “for what we should have noticed,” for “the permanence /
of our decisions” that no amount of alcohol can erase. Horner ad-dresses memories and obliviousness alike.
For those who romanticize college, this poem serves as a reminder
that without the privilege of nostalgia that “world and time” give, students can be unbearably weighted by academic pressures plus existential anxiety. Finally, the unanswered question is: What should we notice on campuses, here, now?
— Sandra Meek, poetry editor
Sarah Horner attends The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
She earned a B.S. in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University, her Phi
Kappa Phi chapter, last May. The suicides of a sophomore classmate
in December 2012 and of four pupils at University of Pennsylvania
(two undergraduates and two graduate students) in 12 subsequent
months prompted this poem. For Horner, it reflects “the initial sense
of responsibility” the communities felt in the aftermath, she explained
in a note. “Hopefully, we can rid students of the stigma of asking for help,” Horner added.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandra Meek (Colorado State University) will publish her fifth
book of poetry, An Ecology of Elsewhere, in fall 2015 with Persea
Books. Meek also edited the anthology Deep Travel: Contemporary
American Poets Abroad (Ninebark Press, 2007). Recipient of a National
Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship in poetry and twice
named Georgia Author of the Year, Meek is a cofounding editor of
Ninebark, director of the Georgia Poetry Circuit, and Dana Professor of
English, Rhetoric and Writing at Berry College.
Attention, poets: The poetry contest is open to active Society members,
published or unpublished. Submissions — one per entrant per issue — should
be up to 40 lines long and must reflect the theme of the edition. One original,
previously unpublished poem is selected for the printed version. Runners-up
may appear online. The next contest will be for the summer 2015 edition,
theme of “Questions.” Entry deadline is midnight, Feb. 1, 2015, only by
email at email@example.com. For complete rules and details, go online
the world and time
and how the sun at its death
will burn us all and we will melt
together like crayons
in the backseat of a minivan
and how we are young
only once and how our concrete
gestures caused him to fly
ten stories to the pavement
and how we didn’t cry for him
but for what we should have noticed
and the permanence
of our decisions
and the amount of alcohol
we drank and the memories
we couldn’t kill enough
brain cells to erase cleanly
like sidewalk drawings
and the summer without rain
or clouds and the sweat
dripping from the ends of noses
we used to water the lilies.
By Sarah Horner
Would You Lie with Me and Just Forget
The Spontaneous, and
Deliberate, Overflow of