Lucie Brock-Broido
(USA, 1956)   
Lucie Brock-Broido

In an interview with Carol Maso for BOMB magazine in 1995, Lucie Brock-Broido says that her “theory is that a poem is troubled into its making. It’s not a thing that blooms; it’s a thing that wounds.” This theory bears itself out in her collections, A Hunger (1988), The Master Letters (1995), Trouble in Mind (2004), and Stay, Illusion (2013), which often explore obsessions and anxieties (of influence, ritual, mortality, and modernity), and which use whatever is available to create vivid, sometimes disorienting, portraits of mind. In a review of Trouble in Mind for the New York Times, Maureen N. McLane describes Brock-Broido as always seeming “to approach her life as an allegorical one: alchemized . . . into poetry.”

Wistful, woke most every afternoon
                                In the green rooms of the Abandonarium.
                                                Beautiful cage, asylum in.
Reckless urges to climb celestial trellises that may or may not
                                 Have been there.
So few wild raspberries, they were countable,
                                 Triaged out by hand.
Ten-thousand-count Egyptian cotton sheets. Intimacy with others,
                                 Sateen. Extreme hyacinth as evidence.
Her single subject the idea that every single thing she loves
                                 Will (perhaps tomorrow) die.
(from ‘Extreme Wisteria’)

Her poetry is also marked by its shifting syntax and diction, and the ability to sound entirely original while at the same time paying homage to her influences – themselves often the touchstones of her poems, as with Emily Dickinson and Wallace Stevens. In a Q&A with the editors of Poetry magazine, Brock-Broido muses on her influences: “I think we’re all in conversation on the page with that which came before us, or even during us. We inherit whatever canon we’re in the midst of, a great collective influenza . . . What I mean to say is that, in my own work, often, I may have been with Dickinson, but she was not with me.”
And to the curious I say, Don’t be naïve.
The soul, like a trinket, is a she.
I lay down in the tweed of one man that first frost night.
I did not like the wool of  him.
(from ‘Currying the Fallow-Colored Horse’)

Lucie Brock-Broido was born in Pittsburgh, was educated at Johns Hopkins and Columbia universities, and has taught at Bennington, Princeton, Harvard (where she was a Briggs-Copeland poet), and Columbia. She is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as awards from the American Poetry Review and the Academy of American Arts and Letters.



Stay, Illusion, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 2013
Trouble in Mind, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 2004
The Master Letters, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 1995
A Hunger, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 1988


BOMB magazine, interview with Lucie Brock-Broido, ‘ The Rebirth of a Suicidal Genius’: Lucie Brock-Broido on the poet Thomas James, Poem of the Day: ‘ Extreme Wisteria’ (audio), Poem of the Day: ‘ Father, in Drawer’ (audio)
Poetry magazine Q&A with Lucie Brock-Broido on her poems ‘Father, in Drawer’ and ‘Extreme Wisteria’
Poetry magazine podcast, ‘ Healing by Mistake’: Poems from Richard Kenney, Eliza Griswold, Lucie Brock-Broido, Atsuro Riley, and Mary Karr (audio)



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