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In honor of National Poetry Month, Lifetime Learning is featuring poems written by esteemed faculty during April. This excerpt from the book Hothead: A Poem is written by Stephen Cushman, Robert C. Taylor Professor of English in the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Below is a synopsis of Cushman’s new book:

Hothead is a haibun-patterned, book-length declamation in which no topic is off limits―Buddha, Jesus, Lincoln, America, global warming, eros, mental illness, the natural world, technology, the aging body. Cushman’s poetry shows us how to live in a world in which it is difficult to balance “the place where light and dark meet.” With an outmoded laptop named Patience as his daily consort, the speaker navigates through themes of love, politics, and belief. “There’s got to be someone,” Cushman writes, “exploring the way,” and the speaker of Hothead steps in to fill those shoes with intelligence, endurance, moxie, and humility.


                                 Purchase this book and others by UVA faculty at the UVA Bookstore.



Poetry’s persistent, like roaches and ticks,
intestinal parasites, can’t kill it off, try to control it it builds up resistance,
next thing you know, it’s there at the wedding, the birthday, the funeral,
it’s passed mouth to mouth, a beneficent flu, you think it’s not true,
try a poor country without any colonies, fellowships, stipends,
children recite it, it shows up on banners, in Managua’s main lobby,
Sandino airport, two giant paintings, Sandino, Darío, poets are heroes
where schools lack notebooks, say what you will, it’ll outlast you,
the trends and the fashions that seem to affect it, predict its end soon,
its final demise as another dead language, these myths it will turn on, devour,
spit out, dropping small bones and fur in its scat, five thousand years,
it preys on indifference, nothing has stopped it, no new machine
or repressive regime, bring on the irritant, the rash will erupt,
in street or in cell, café or library, it doesn’t need champions,
interpreters, critics, feeding off it, not vice versa, so why have poetics,
that’s how this started, can’t one have poems without all the comments,
same as one likes a roll in the hay, for crying out loud, don’t talk it to death,
just lie there and shine . . . .