In-Depth Look: Alysia Harris – “Death Poem”
Appreciating poetry is often about patience: sitting with a poem, meditating on it, and re-reading it multiple times. With spoken word, we don’t always get a chance to do that. This series is about taking that chance, and diving a little deeper into some of the new poems going up on Button.
“Become dust with me, my love, insignificant and everywhere.”
Write-up by Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre
I always appreciate poems that take something big and universal, something that we all already “understand” on an intellectual level, and challenge us to see that something in a new way. Death, for example, is everywhere, every day, something we all have to deal with in one way or another. Because of its universality, certain tropes and motifs have sprouted up around the concept of death– the grim reaper, tombstones, caskets, skeletons, mausoleums, etc.
This poem doesn’t just repeat those tropes, but it also doesn’t completely ignore them; its imagery walks that line between what is familiar and what is new. So yes, there are skulls in the poem, but there are also “sprouts of curious grass shooting from our eye sockets.” That shift– evident in the imagery as well as the deeper issues explored in the poem– creates space for us to rethink our understanding of death. How does a conversation about death intersect with a conversation about love? What can we learn by juxtaposing the two concepts? Perhaps in doing so, we can gain a greater understanding of both, even when they’re so often held up as opposites. This poem challenges that framework in a memorable and powerful way.
Find more from Alysia Harris here.
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