After Melissa

A beautiful project led by Andrea Bennett and conceived by Daniel Zomparelli, After You asks poets to begin a chain of dedicated work passing a new poem onward until the chain dies out organically. I began a chain by writing a poem inspired by/to/for/after Canadian author Melissa Bull, who now lives in England.

Melissa’s debut book of poems, Rue, was shortlisted for both the Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry and the Gerald Lampert Award and her translation of Nelly Arcan’s Burqa of Skin from French into English is skilled and riveting.

I wrote this for Melissa and now she will choose a poet somewhere to write to/for/about/after. The poem, “Mash”, is based on this:

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a fortune teller similar to the ones I made in elementary school. In the depths of an abysmal November 2016 it felt good to make something with my hands, to smell the crayons, to  use scissors, to play. The first eight lines of the poem are the fortunes written in the teller. The rest is a mash note to Melissa.

I mailed it to her in her new home. It got there quicker than the mail internally in Canada. It took five days to make it from Vancouver, BC to Norwich, England. Here’s where it landed:

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