04 . 17 . 16 . 2

Laynie Browne

1. I stayed up later than my body2. Determined and strange3. Am I less cynical unbroken4. Unpaid labor frowns5. Invisible, redundant with womanhood6. So many of my pages part to places I’d rather not say7. As I write this curled in sheets on my side8. Like a vestigial comma9. Knees bent to a V10. Base of spine, sacred basin11. In a line from sacrum to skull12. Am I a less broken division of labor13. Biology was on my side14. I married biology and gave birth15. To write as a mother created matter16. My children learned to speak, multiplying my efforts17. A rope was put around my neck but I was not broken18. My back was vertical19. I carried only those I chose

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Laynie Browne is a poet, prose writer, teacher and editor. She is author of fourteen collections of poems and four books of fiction. Recent publications include Translation of the Lilies Back into Lists ( 2022, Wave Books) a book of poems, In Garments Worn by Lindens; a novel, Periodic Companions; and a book of short fiction, The Book of Moments. Her work has appeared in journals such as Conjunctions, A Public Space, New American Writing, The Brooklyn Rail, and in anthologies including The Ecopoetry Anthology (Trinity University Press), The Reality Street Book of Sonnets (Reality Street, UK), and Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (W.W. Norton). Her poetry has been translated into French, Spanish, Chinese, and Catalan. She co-edited the anthology I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women (Les Figues Press, 2013) and edited the anthology A Forest on Many Stems: Essays on The Poet’s Novel (Nightboat, 2020). Honors and awards include a Pew Fellowship, the National Poetry Series Award for her collection The Scented Fox (Wave Books, 2007), and the Contemporary Poetry Series Award for her collection Drawing of a Swan Before Memory (University of Georgia, 2005). She teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.

"It’s everybody’s biography, always 'not yet begun,' as well as the list of directions, questions, and observations for provoking an investigation into the interior of a life keenly attentive to the resonance of other lives. The reader recognizes herself as the I, the you, the character in a novel, someone missing, someone alive again— illuminated, self-conscious, caught in the act. Like CD Wright, whose work inspires the title, Laynie Browne is hilarious at a slant, provocative, and touching. Her language, which makes everything happen, has an incomparably swervy brilliance."
—Forrest Gander

"Though the poems are awash in the quotidian—buying gifts, planning travel, filling out forms, child care—they read like the textual record of a sensitive mind working through the 'thoughts surrounding' the daily demands that make up a life. Such thinking, for Browne, is tinged with an acute awareness of our inevitable mortality."
—Harriet Books, Poetry Foundation

"The experience of reading Translation of the Lilies Back into Lists was not unlike how Tender Buttons made me feel the first time I read it, or how Hejinian’s My Life makes me feel when I reread it. A sort of stuttering, obfuscated autobiographical narrative establishes itself in fits and starts as one makes one’s way through Translation, but I’d be hard pressed to summarize it. Nor would I want to; Translation is a marvelous book that is better experienced."
—Kevin O'Rourke, Michigan Quarterly Review

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