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INTERVIEWS & SPOTLIGHTS: AIMEE NEZHUKUMATAHIL

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of the New York Times best-selling illustrated collection of nature essays and Kirkus Prize finalist, WORLD OF WONDERS: IN PRAISE OF FIREFLIES, WHALE SHARKS, & OTHER ASTONISHMENTS (2020, Milkweed Editions), which was chosen as Barnes and Noble’s Book of the Year. She has four previous poetry collections: OCEANIC (Copper Canyon Press, 2018), LUCKY FISH (2011), AT THE DRIVE-IN VOLCANO (2007), and MIRACLE FRUIT (2003), the last three from Tupelo Press.  Her most recent chapbook is LACE & PYRITE, a collaboration of epistolary garden poems with the poet Ross Gay. Her writing appears twice in the Best American Poetry Series, The New York Times Magazine, ESPNPloughshares, American Poetry Review, and Tin House.

Honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pushcart Prize, a Mississippi Arts Council grant, and being named a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. In 2021, she became the first-ever poetry editor for SIERRA magazine, the story-telling arm of The Sierra Club. She is professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.

 

Read Aimee’s poem Invitation below, and register now for the 24PearlStreet Saturday Sprint The Edge of the Sea is a Strange & Beautiful Place: Hybrid Poems & Prose Experiments, Saturday, December 4, 2021

 

Invitation

Come in, come in. The water’s fine! You can’t get lost
here. Even if you want to hide behind a clutch
           of spiny oysters — I’ll find you. If you ever leave me

           at night, by boat, you’ll see the arrangement

of red-gold sun stars in a sea of milk. And though
it’s tempting to visit them — stay. I’ve been trained
          to gaze up all my life, no matter the rumble

          on earth, but I learned it’s okay to glance down

into the sea. So many lessons bubble up if you know
where to look. Clouds of plankton churning
           in open whale mouths might send you east

           and chewy urchins will slide you west. Squid know

how to be rich when you have ten empty arms.
Can you believe there are humans who don’t value
          the feel of a good bite and embrace at least once a day?

          Underneath you, narwhals spin upside down

while their singular tooth needles you
like a compass pointed towards home. If you dive
            deep enough where imperial volutes and hatchetfish

            swim, you will find all the colors humans have not yet

named, and wide caves of black coral and clamshell.
A giant squid finally let itself be captured
           in a photograph, and the paper nautilus ripple-flashes

           scarlet and two kinds of violet when it silvers you near.

Who knows what will happen next? And if you still want
to look up, I hope you see the dark sky as oceanic —
          boundless, limitless — like all the shades of blue in a glacier.

          Listen how this planet spins with so much fin, wing, and fur.

From Poetry (January 2017)

 

 

Register now for the 24PearlStreet Saturday Sprint The Edge of the Sea is a Strange & Beautiful Place: Hybrid Poems & Prose Experiments, Saturday, December 4, 2021

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