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Reading “How to Stay Sorry” by Geffrey Davis



Poetry Lunch S5E7

Reading “How to Stay Sorry” by Geffrey Davis from One Wild Word Away, published by BOA Editions just last week!


I love how this poem allows for so many different relationships to the storm, to a storm. Starting and ending with it being you; but in between allowing it to be around you, behind you, in love, marching, calling, staring… this makes me think about all the different ways I relate to anger, and old hurt. How I carry them. How they are related. How I let them be and how I don’t. All the work I do to corral and control things I can’t of course control.

The question tucked in toward the end, “how do our hands make a safety?” feels like a little key to me, a secret almost, an opening. Like if I could answer that I could get free of the storm that is me, or is inside me. And I think that’s the crux of this poem — there’s a feeling of trying to get away, or else understand, or else work with the storm, which has to be outside of you in order to do. And that work feels possible; in fact I think the poem itself does a lot of it. But it ends where it begins, with something so big it can’t be grappled with.

“Sometimes you are the storm.”

Indeed. Thank you Geffrey.


Related print

This broadside Self-Portrait as a Dead Black Boy is from Geffrey's earlier book Night Angler, BOA Editions Ltd. I saw him read the entirety of the poem at an AWP offsite event in 2019 and was immediately taken with his heart, his presence, and his deep attentiveness to language. We met briefly in the bookfair when I made a point to pick up his book the next day, and later reading it, I was struck again by the last part of the poem on the page, which refers to writing it out, and immediately I pictured a print of that section of the poem actually in the poet's handwriting. I asked Geffrey to write out the poem and send to me, which I then scanned and had a polymer plate made... an experiment that worked really well. It didn't feel right to print his signature so I handset the title and his name instead in small caps, using them to visually frame the big hurt and heart that spills out of the poem.
Links to purchase
Get the print here: Self-Portrait as a Dead Black Boy and the books here: One Wild Word Away and Night Angler.