Read + Write Poetry: 20 April 2022


Read a Poem

A Common Quail
By Mary Biddinger

I was a hideous church. I did not even

need to try. My empathy and my apathy

squared off opposite blocks of Western

Avenue, or maybe they were two sides

of a really dull coin. I wanted rituals so

I could hate them. Went to movies just

so I could exit the emergency door into

pure bleached afternoon light. What use

was an apron if nothing was simmering

to catastrophe? Boots damp in the toes,

wet ends of hair, renegade noodle arcs

that slam their oils across blank checks.

I was a common quail that wanted to be

cute, but was actually hunted for food.

When I was a child I wanted nothing

else than to close the night like a door.

A Common Quail by Mary Biddinger from Department of Elegy. Black Lawrence Press. Copyright 2022. Used by permission of the author.

About the Author

Mary Biddinger’s new poetry collection is Department of Elegy (Black Lawrence Press, 2022). In addition to being published in her new book, this poem, “The Common Quail” was published as a beautiful broadside in 2019 by Kalamazoo Book Arts Center. Her poems have recently appeared in Bennington Review, Crazyhorse, Couplet Poetry, and Thrush Poetry Journal, among others. Her flash fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Always Crashing, DIAGRAM, Gone Lawn, On the Seawall, and West Trestle Review. She teaches at the University of Akron and in the NEOMFA program, and edits the Akron Series in Poetry for the University of Akron Press.

Write a Poem

After John Clare’s I Am, write a 6-line stanza where lines 1 and 3 begin “I am,” and line 6 begins “And yet I am.” It need not rhyme, but if you’d like the challenge, rhyme ababab.

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