My Poetry Corner April 2022 features the poem “March is March” from the debut poetry collection Brute (Graywolf Press, 2019) by American poet Emily Skaja. Born and raised next to a cemetery in rural Illinois, Skaja earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Purdue University (Indiana) and a PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Cincinnati (Ohio) where she also earned a certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is an Assistant Professor in the MFA program at the University of Memphis, Tennessee, where she resides.
Winner of the 2018 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, Brute is largely autobiographical and took five years to write, beginning in 2012. The poems deal with grief, partner violence, transformation, break-ups, and voicelessness. The poet also examines her role in a situation of abuse, control, and obsession.
The book’s title is “used pejoratively to describe the abusive behavior of the men in the book,” Skaja told Ross Nervig during their 2019 conversation for The Adroit Journal, “but it is also a word the speaker uses critically against herself, in examining the way she responded to violence with violence.” She added that the book explores “the way that women are set up to be victims of patriarchal, violent behavior while at the same time using those same tactics to defend themselves.”Continue reading