Highlighted by The Poetry Center at Smith College
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Meet our October Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight: Amy Dryansky

Highlighted by Massachusetts Center for the Book

Amy Dryansky’s newest poetry collection, Grass Whistle, was released in 2013 by Salmon Poetry and received the Massachusetts Book Award. Her first book, How I Got Lost So Close To Home, was published by Alice James and individual poems have appeared in a variety of anthologies and journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, The New England Review and Orion. Dryansky’s received honors/awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference.  She’s also a former Associate at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center at Mt. Holyoke College, where she looked at the impact of motherhood on the work of women poets.  She currently works in the Program for Culture, Brain & Development at Hampshire College.  
Poetic Profession "I’m interested in the space between knowing and not knowing, the space between trust and doubt. I’m trying to say what can’t be said or trying to know what can’t be said, and yet, I resist knowing, I distrust knowing, I distrust my poems when they feel too sure, when they feel overly crafted, exhibit a kind of smugness. I worry about endings that feel like endings, I distrust certainty, which is not to say I don’t want you to believe me, I do want you to believe me, but I want you to understand that I don’t know any more than you know, and that we’re most likely trying to get to some shared place of knowing, that universality, the place where poetry’s intuitive leaps make their own kind of sense, because we’re stepping into the gap, building a bridge with our experience, our unconscious and our breath. I want my poems always to have room in them, I want them to be alive." -Amy Dryansky


Innumerable robins, dandelions
gone over to perfect
overexposures poised for release        an iron bridge
spanning a steep-sided river, shadows
falling sideways through the cables:
no climbing, no jumping, no rappelling
at any time       the roadside
an uninterrupted stream of ripening
timothy, bird noise and cow
their brown and white arrangement, their undisguised
inquiry as we pass      breaking up space
like the barbed wire’s staccato
of uprights and horizontals     a flimsy boundary
when you consider
what we’re made of                and that somebody
—despite the brand new barn’s
acknowledged comforts and the farmer
checking for gaps
hawkweed, celandine and buttercup
might mask—
somebody       might change their mind
something        could break
and how would we know with all of this
blooming         this temporary
rise and fall and light rain softening our edges?

This poem was originally published in Orion.

The Massachusetts Center for the Book is the Commonwealth affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. We work with the national center and within the network of state-center affiliates that operate in every state in the Union as well as in the District of Columbia to promote "books, reading, literacy, and libraries" at the national and local levels. MCB sponsors programming throughout the Commonwealth that will expand our circle of readers and that will deepen our understanding of and appreciation for the past, present, and future of the book and of the book arts in Massachusetts. In all of our work, we emphasize the central role libraries play in civic and cultural life.

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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