Fear of Prose

Someone, as you might be. Somewhere, as there often is. And the world shuttering into place, with bars of light on our faces, before screeching to a halt like a metro car. Breath. The air is warm or cold. Then time—smoke curls back into the nostrils. A minute tightens then expands to a minute. Noises are. The feeling returns that something must happen. Already there are so many words, so many ways to end badly. Someone is walking down an alley. Will they live? And now another’s thoughts, which are our thoughts but more. A gun seen on the first page must go off by the last. Seasons will. Violets. The sound of a room of people holding their breath. Where does a person go without a fate, when they are free to wander the earth like smoke? Answer: I go to the bar and stay until no story walks out with me. A segue like dancing: walking that leads nowhere. Meanwhile—


Brian Sneeden is the author of the poetry collection Last City (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2018). A 2018 PEN/Heim recipient, his poems and translations have appeared in AsymptoteBeloit Poetry JournalHarvard ReviewTriQuarterlyPrairie SchoonerVirginia Quarterly Review, and other publications, and translations of his poems have been published in international magazines in Greek, Italian, Albanian, and Serbian. His translation of Phoebe Giannisi’s poetry collection, Homerica (World Poetry Books, 2017) was selected by Anne Carson as a favorite book of 2017 in The Paris Review. Brian received his MFA from the University of Virginia, where he held a Poe/Faulkner Fellowship in creative writing and served as poetry editor for Meridian. He is the senior editor of New Poetry in Translation.

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