First Leaf

Lia Purpura

That yellowwas a falling off,a fallfor once I sawcoming —it couldin its stillnessstill be turned from,it was notyet ferocious,its hold drew me,was a shiny switchplatein the otherwise dark,rash, ongoing green,a green so hungryfor light and air thatpart gave up,went alone,chose to leave,and by choosingembellishmentgot seen.

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Lia Purpura is the author of nine collections of essays, poems, and translations. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for On Looking (essays, Sarabande Books), her awards include Guggenheim, NEA, and Fulbright Fellowships, as well as four Pushcart Prizes, the Associated Writing Programs Award in Nonfiction, and others. Her work appears in The New Yorker, The New Republic, Orion, The Paris Review, The Georgia Review, Agni, Emergence, and elsewhere.

She lives in Baltimore, MD, where she is Writer in Residence at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She has taught in the Rainier Writing Workshop’s MFA program, at Breadloaf Writers Conference, The University of Iowa’s Nonfiction MFA program and at conferences, workshops, and graduate programs throughout the country. Her newest collection of poems is It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful (Penguin) and her latest collection of essays is All the Fierce Tethers, (Sarabande Books). 

"In this striking display of minimalist form and content, Purpura employs small and quiet moments to construct a philosophy that embraces the natural world as well as the ambiguities of language and meaning...with an eye for detail and a reverential approach to nature, Purpura deftly distills existential issues to their essence."
Publisher's Weekly

“These poems, simple and compact as seeds, yield pleasures as gigantic and wondrous as sunflowers.”
—Mary Ruefle

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