Highlighted by Black Ocean
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Meet Our April Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: Elisa Gabbert 

Highlighted by Black Ocean

Elisa Gabbert is a poet and essayist and the author of three collections: L’Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems (Black Ocean, 2016), The Self Unstable (Black Ocean, 2013), and The French Exit (Birds LLC, 2010). The Self Unstable was chosen by the New Yorker as one of the best books of 2013. Elisa’s work has appeared in the New Yorker, Boston Review, Pacific Standard, Guernica, The Awl, Electric Literature, the Harvard Review, Threepenny Review, Real Life, Catapult, Jubilat, Diagram, and many other venues. She lives in Denver. Learn more at elisagabbert.com.
Poetic Profession   

"To me, poetry is a way of thinking and a way of documenting thinking. I feel the same way about my other favorite form, the essay, but they are two different modes of thinking. I find the essay to be inherently generative, cumulative, and expansive—start writing in prose and you can then build out from any point in a sentence or paragraph by adding more tangents, asides, backstory, and context. Poetry gives more attention and space to each thought—in a sense, the line is the perfect unit for an idea. In my favorite lines of poetry, the language and the meaning are inextricable; the language is the thinking. "

[from L’Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems]

There are certain points in time,
I have found in my life,
that everyone remembers.

It is not just me.
This was one of those points.

We had crossed into 
November. I spoke 
of my desire. I said desire

but I meant longing.
Desire is despair
with sex mixed in.

A crossing of levels.
We drew overlapping circles 
on the inside cover

of a paperback novel:
the new & the interesting.
A narrow eye.

After dinner: dessert,
and then another drink,
then I touch myself

if I can’t fall asleep:
always the need 
for some final pleasure. 

I lose all interest in sex;
it is not intellectual.

I wonder if hares 
are bored all the time 
and terrified of death. 


Black Ocean is an award-winning independent publisher based out of Boston, with satellites in Detroit and Chicago. From early silent films to early punk rock, Black Ocean brings together a spectrum of influences to produce books of exceptional quality and content. In conjunction with our book releases we manifest our aesthetic in celebrations around the country. We believe in the fissures art can create in consciousness when, even if just for a moment, we experience a more vital way of operating in the world—and through that moment then seek out more extreme and enlightened modes of existence. We believe in the freedom we find through enlightened modes of existence, and we are committed to promoting artists we firmly believe in by sharing our enthusiasm for their work with a global audience.

Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry. Each month we shine the spotlight on a poet affiliated with, and nominated by, one of our poetry partners.

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