Poet Sandra Lim says, "a challenge for every writer, I imagine, is to understand that real exploration involves real risk.
"It can be scary and exhilarating even to discover unexpected aspects of one’s own sensibility in writing a poem," Lim is quoted in a Poetry Foundation profile.
Lim is a Guggenheim Fellow, professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and author of three poetry collections: The Curious Thing (W W. Norton, 2021); The Wilderness (W. W. Norton, 2014); and Loveliest Grotesque (Kore Press, 2006).
Lim was born in Seoul, Korea, grew up in California, and now lives in Cambridge, MA. She earned a BA from Stanford University, a PhD from the University of California Berkeley, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Lim is also the recipient of the 2023 Jackson Poetry Prize, which honors an American poet of exceptional talent. Final selection was made by a panel of poets, Joy Harjo, Carl Phillips, and John Yau, each a past recipient of the prize. Her honors and awards include fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Getty Research Institute and a Pushcart Prize.
By Sandra Lim
Whenever I feel loss or lack, I imagine
The wind roaming outside of my childhood’s lair
—as I am a child again, with my red knapsack
bouncing lightly on my back—
Beckoning me to run to it, into its slurry white expanse . . .
And in my heart, I am already on my way
To some thrilling future
Which is not yet weak and diluted with a lonely pain.
There, I am someone who wishes to be
An exception and I am. A third and ringing note
Edges the banal alternatives of
Yes, and No. A lyric possibility rises
Everywhere and at once, a thousand roses—allusive, corrosive.
Think how much you must change. Even more than you dare.
[Photo credit: Young Suh, Poetry Foundation]