Claire Schwartz

What is poetry which does not save          Nations or people?          —Czeslaw Milosz          what is a country but the drawing of a line          —Safia Elhillo

What is a nation which does not save
poetry? What is a poem but the gathering
of lines? What is a line but people
waiting? What is waiting but satisfaction
suspended? What is a break but a suspension
of breath? What is breath when the body
is broken? What is a line break but hunger
with no mouth? What is a nation where
no one is hungry? What is hunger but people
wanting? What is a line but desire given form?
What is a people but a form of survival? What
is a form without an outside? What is a country
without an other? What is a poem but a gesture
of reaching? Can a poem save a nation? Can a poem
survive a nation? Can a poem survive a savior? Can
a poem feed a people? Can a body survive
a people? What do you call a body bent in labor? Who
is this poem working for? What is a poem that leaves
people hungry? What is a poem that leaves people
wanting? When wanting takes leave, where
is the question? How can a poem be
when there is no question?

Feature Date


Selected By

Share This Poem

Print This Poem

Claire Schwartz is a PhD candidate in African American Studies and American Studies at Yale. Her poetry has appeared in Apogee, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Massachusetts Review, and Prairie Schooner, and her essays, reviews, and interviews in The Iowa Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. A chapbook, bound, has recently been published by Button Poetry.

Bennington Review

Fall / Winter 2017

Bennington, Vermont

Bennington College

Michael Dumanis

Managing Editor
Katrina Turner

Bennington Review is a national biannual print journal of innovative, intelligent, and moving poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and film writing, housed at Bennington College.

Fifty years after its original founding and thirty years after its last issue, in 1985, Bennington Review has resumed publication, with poet Michael Dumanis as Editor.

We intend to reinforce the value of the bound print journal as an intimate, curated cultural space in which a reader can encounter and experience new work with a degree of immersion not wholly possible through other media. We hope to bring together writing that is as playful as it is probing, that simultaneously makes lasting intellectual and emotional connections with a reader. Bennington Review aims to contribute distinctive style and substance to the national literary conversation through publishing sharp, unexpected, original poetry and prose from a geographically broad and culturally rich spectrum of prominent, up-and-coming, and new voices.

Poetry Daily Depends on You

With your support, we make reading the best contemporary poetry a treasured daily experience. Consider a contribution today.