We pass a lighthouse and you tell me the legend—
a seer, an emperor, his daughter, the snakebite;
the tower he built to keep her at the edge of the sea—
when an old woman passes us on the ferry,
sniffs us twice, You are in love, I smelled it!
and last night on the island, over fresh fish
and a pitcher of ice-cloudy raki, I asked how
many words for love in your language:
We are excited to announce that the Pushcart Prize’s contributing editors have nominated eight pieces from The Common‘s 2020 publications, in print and online! The Pushcart Prize celebrates outstanding works of literature produced by small-press writers; each of these nominations are exceptional works of art that take fresh and memorable perspectives on the modern sense of place. Congratulations to our amazing contributors!
Tara Skurtu is an American poet and writer, writing coach, and public speaker. She speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about “Offering,” her poem from Issue 19 of The Common magazine. “Offering,” and many more of Skurtu’s poems, are set in Bucharest, Romania, where the poet has lived for several years. Skurtu discusses the inspiration and process behind the poem, her thoughts on teaching creative writing, and her time studying with poet Louise Glück. This conversation also includes the story behind the International Poetry Circle, an online poetry-reading initiative Skurtu started on Twitter in the early days of the pandemic.
I’m here on the patio, no appetite,
drinking a salty margarita. I feel
my liver, ignore it like last night’s
glass of water. I’m tired of writing
you down when I should be writing
poems about place. Dusk hits beyond
the man playing the red accordion
on the corner, and the strays of Iași
bark out a score backed by dissonant
frequencies of the evening bells.
This morning I took a walk and found
a noseless man pumping gypsy love songs
on his accordion. I stared into the holes
of his face and thought about the girl
with the green ribbon around her neck.
Had you read the story backwards,
we might not have lost our heads.
It’s late. What time is it?
I ask a poet who isn’t you. There’s time enough, he says.
Tara Skurtu teaches Creative Writing at Boston University, where she received a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship and an Academy of American Poets Prize.