Spotlight #2: Elizabeth Robinson

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.

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Author Statement

What writing is changes all the time. I think often of Bernadette Mayer’s statement that “Writing is a necessity, and, when there is time, a luxury.”

But there is no time. So writing is a necessity of the interstices. A mortar that would will in the gaps, and then crumble away.

In that sense, poems become the mortar that glues together the structures we imagine, those that don’t quite exist. Speculative and evanescent cement.

Sans time, I want space. I want durable space, a place to live, a home. The poem refuses that.

The poem refuses what it can imagine. What it refuses it alters. What it imagines, by virtue of the act of imagination, changes.

I feel the language changing beneath and through me. I imagine time in the poem that could bring back the lives of C.D. Wright and Beth Murray and Colleen Lookingbill. I imagine space in the poem that houses the unhoused people with whom I work each day.

The poem is inevitable transit: from transit to transitory. If we see what is fleeting as a betrayal, the poem refuses to do so.

To do away with things


darkness initiate love —

as some lovers

turn out the light — what does

the beloved thing

do in its darkness, which

is to ask is darkness

a thing, is the act

of bodies conjoining

a thing, a verb a thing?

Things, they beset themselves

and must be given away, giving

away the punchline of

a wistful joke, bequeathing

memory to silence, tossing the clothes

to the floor.

Things are ambivalence, always

they practice themselves before

they run out of themselves. The

dissolution of presence being

presence’s surest marker. One

who loves it

removes it: yes,

the house, the garden,

the fruit trees, the quest,

the music of it, the image

of it, the

making of the made thing.

The less-visible

world is still visible

in its own darkness. It is not

the bird in the cage who

hovers near the mirror.

But it may turn away from meeting its own gaze.

A thing persevering

is indiscriminate of, or

to, itself, whether the

thing is an act, a seashell,

an object hidden at the base

of a tree, the thing professing

its attention to itself despite

all disappearance.

Eros and all disappearance

being their own stubborn


Whatever that darkness, one wanders in it.


to what it wants, to whom it

speaks when it speaks, not

lost but absorbed in the

darkness and given away

by it.

Elizabeth Robinson is the author of many books of poetry, most recently Three Novels (Omnidawn), Counterpart (Ahsahta) and Blue Heron (Center for Literary Publishing), as well as the chapbook Simplified Holy Passage (above/ground press). Her mixed genre book On Ghosts was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. She is the recipient of a 2016 Dora Maar House/Brown Foundation Fellowship.



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