“Fire in the Black Box” by Marianne Boruch

Poetry faculty member Marianne Boruch was recently featured in American Poetry Review. Read an excerpt and find a link to the full text below:

Fire in the Black Box

Halfway through the semester when asked how it was going, I liked to say “My Archangel got Covid” because it was funny, because it was tragic, because the whole idea had wings and mystery regardless. And the fact was, my Archangel was smart and tough. Really our archangel, no, the archangel: that qualifier kept morphing. In fact she—that particular archangel—did get Covid. And the battle of lyric vs. narrative kept on. Poetry vs. Theater. Inside vs. Out There. The individual and the great world. And why oh why this dilemma in the first place? And why that Black Box Theater, closer to a shroud or a crypt? Everything is time on the wheel, whatever.

Hold on. Because I wrote it down—


February 2022—Colby College, Waterville, Maine

—It’s the end of the planet I worry about, in poems for the page, in real time out of which poems come, in the unreal time of observe-to-imagine. Dream or not, solace or heartbreak. What happens if poems get reconsidered, dismembered then reassembled by the young, to be performed on stage? Destruction or evolution? If the poem blinks, is it still a poem? And if it’s your poem? As if that matters, past what’s immediate and short-lived like embarrassment.

Because experience gets staggeringly weird, starts personal to go haywire bigger, strange. Was has a way of turning into a wasn’t at all or never what we . . . But behind it all, this time—