Love Poem for People Who Hate Themselves: Reading Celan on Labor Day

by Christopher Kennedy

Beneath the veil of this whitewashed, sun-fucked sky, it’s hard to see. The dirty ragweed lays its yellow head on the parched grass. The neighbors carry their little bags of shit around the block. Bees circle the reddening bushes like helicopters in a distant, hopeless war. The birch tree’s black knobs blink like almond-shaped eyes. I narrow my mutant-blue eyes to decipher the words of a man who drowned on black milk. The word for death is death.

Christopher Kennedy is the author of four collections of poetry, Ennui Prophet (BOA Editions, Ltd., 2011), Encouragement for a Man Falling to His Death (BOA Editions, Ltd., 2007), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, Trouble with the Machine (Low Fidelity Press, 2003), and Nietzsche’s Horse (Mitki/Mitki Press, 2001).

He is one of the translators, along with Faisal Siddiqui and Mi Ditmar, of Light and Heavy Things: Selected Poems of Zeeshan Sahil, which will be published in June of this year by BOA Editions, Ltd. as part of the Lannan Foundation Translation Series.

Kennedy’s work has appeared in numerous print and on-line journals and magazines, including PloughsharesMcSweeney’sThe Threepenny ReviewMississippi ReviewTampa ReviewFourteen HillsDel Sol ReviewNew York TyrantThe Cream City Review, and Plume.

He is the recipient of poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as a poetry grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. One of the founding editors of the literary journal, 3rd Bed, he is an associate professor of English at Syracuse University where he directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing.

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