Published in issue #31 of Rattle (Summer 2009), an issue edited by Toi Derricotte and Terrance Hayes, Olzmann’s poem provides a fabulous exemplar for discussing voice, tone, structure – particularly at the sentence level, pacing, revealing details, and the unexpected. And it’s flat out delightful. Listen to the opening lines:
Here’s what I’ve got, the reasons why our marriage
might work: Because you wear pink but write poems
about bullets and gravestones. Because you yell
at your keys when you lose them, and laugh,
loudly, at your own jokes. Because you can hold a pistol,
gut a pig. Because you memorize songs, even commercials
from thirty years back and sing them when vacuuming.
If you can see your students nodding or smiling, share this link with them, or better yet, share it with a teacher who will use it in class – a new spin on the Valentine assignment, perhaps. If you like his work, check out “Regret” from Rattle issue #25 (Summer 2006). If the form of "Regret" intrigues you or your students, also read "from" by A. Van Jordan, one of three poems of his posted on the Reading Between A and B web site.