Archive Editor's Note

Newness: Editor’s Discussion, January 2023

Banner of the January 2023 Editor's Discussion post

Dear Readers,

Happy New Year to you! January is a time when we think of “resolutions” for the new year, so I invite you to join me in a resolution to imagine and encounter new concepts through new lenses in 2023, beginning with the poetry you read.

New literature can open people to the spirit of personal improvement and constructive change. Sometimes what we read helps us to become better versions of ourselves. At other times, we need a deep dive into pathos to understand our positions and those of others. I hope you find variety and inspiration in your reading explorations in 2023, including among the selections for the Poem of the Day newsletter. 

As we imagine newness for ourselves, let’s also wish for and act in the interest of hope and the lessening of difficulty for others. Poet Ilya Kaminsky’s Instagram recently foregrounded the bombardments on Odesa and Ukraine’s lack of power, water, electricity, and heat due to Russia’s ceaseless attacks. The situation in Ukraine and many other ongoing humanitarian crises are reminders of the continued pain in the world and of the need for action. Let’s continue to work for all people struggling for their rights, for independence, and for equality.

I found inspiring words while choosing the poems for January: 

  • Chinese Female Kung-Fu Superheroes” by Chúc Mỹ Tuệ (Teresa Mei Chuc) is a new favorite because of its imagination of human heroics. The female superheroes of this poem hold opportunity and multiplicity: they wear colorful dresses and “do not care about Barbies. … They aren’t/ impressed; they do not want a boring life.” These heroes risk their lives, never give up, save cities, and dangle and sparkle at the same time.
  • Elizabeth Willis’s poem “In Strength Sweetness” imagines multiplicity through unlikely pairings, such as “in the seed / a sun” or “in the fist / a question.” As featured in the new collection “Alliterative Verse / Avant-Garde” by Eric Weiskott, the poem’s linking virgules, as he identifies them, serve as punctuation linking contradictions in new imaginaries.

New poems and new collections add voices and perspectives to the ever-growing archive, opening the door to those who have not previously been included or broadly represented in the canon. Poems give voice to complication, contradiction, and difficulty while providing hope for change. Through imagining and acting on the imaginary, poetry can help make an existence to live in, thrive in, and appreciate differently. As W.S. Merwin says in “Thanks,” the Poem of the Dayfor World Religion Day (January 15),

with nobody listening we are saying thank you

thank you we are saying and waving

dark though it is

Though it may be dark, I hope you find new things to dream about and celebrate among these words and other words yet to come.

For power and peace,

Robert Eric Shoemaker

Originally Published: January 16th, 2023

Dr. Robert Eric Shoemaker is the Digital Archive Editor at the Poetry Foundation. Eric is an interdisciplinary poet, artist, and scholar. He holds a Ph.D. in Humanities from the University of Louisville and an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. He...