Big Loves: Alison Titus on Lucie Brock-Broido

Today’s guest blogger is Alison Titus, author of Sum of Every Lost Ship.

Lucie Brock-Broido!

The first time I read Lucie Brock-Broido’s poems, I wanted to set up permanent camp in a railroad car in some field, mid-Nebraska, and keep watch on the weather for the rest of my life. The wide swathes of wheat, the tremendous clouds: here was the physical and mental geography of course I wanted, was waiting for, the quarries and the orchid hours. The Kingdom of After My Own Heart; the whales. I read A Hunger and thought it was a map. Then I read The Master Letters, a book with a preamble, a book full of epistles evoking the devices and diction of Emily Dickinson’s sequestered voice—arresting and mysterious, summoning elliptical correspondences and confessions to Master, to Dear Sir, to My most courteous lord. {In closing: I send a message by a Mouth that cannot speak.} Then I read Trouble in Mind, and the world got stranger and fuller and lovelier: the antique and the tabloid at once. The vocabulary that veered from baroque to casual, handing over an ermine pelt and a sorcerer alongside aspirin. This is true of all three books, and I loved this overlap of old-fashioned and modern, the space that formed between these modes of experience and what got contained there. At some point I started to overuse the word coveting. A few years passed, and then I was in grad school in Vermont. One afternoon, I was looking through thesis projects in the English office and found an interview a student had conducted with Lucie Brock-Broido, transcribed as a final paper, and I stole it, temporarily, I took it out of the little records room without permission and walked around with it in my bag for a couple days, thinking I could photocopy it when no one was watching (it was so long) but too nervous to even read the whole thing before I put it back. I stole it so I could be closer to whatever that energy was that I wanted to align myself with so exactly. I loved, and still love, how her poems range in impulse, how they address and move from scholarly and historical narrative to popular culture – all of it made relevant and sharp. As if her books curate a world that exists outside of time, complicating the archaic and brand new in a way that feels essential to describing the world we know, with all its regular or spectacular things.


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