Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Utah, is one of the most rebellious poets I know. Whether it is her pop of hot pink hair or her poems turned sideways on the page—Bertram defies normalcy in smart, refreshing ways. Her poetry makes living our lives more interesting. In her book, “But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise,” she combines the largeness of the body with the finiteness of astronomy and vise versa. For example, in this first poem from her debut book, earth and space collide to waken sluggishly into a great, bright and glorious morning.

The Body Deformed by Tidal Forces 

Darkness still here, hunkered against the trees. 
Spring so uneasy this year. 
No matter morning’s boundary culling our bodies, 
another romantic passage assaults us! 
O limp future centered on this body! 
In the model solar system, planets suspend & twirl 
as if from a spider’s whirl. 
The quantum in backpedal, in decline, spring so un- 
gripping this year. Bored mouth. Bored fingers. 
The umpteenth day/night running like such— 
truly, truly—this troubling with physics!
Not still winter, not yet anything.

O thuggish awakening.
All planets but this one were named after gods.

Rebellious Women in Poetry (brought to you by rebellious women) is made possible by rebellious women. Reprinted from “But a Storm is Blowing from Paradise,” the recipient of the Red Hen Press 2010 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award, by permission of the author. Bertram has been a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference work-study scholar, a writer-in-residence at the Montana Artists’ Refuge, and is a Cave Canem alumna. The Introduction is by Susan Yount, publisher of Arsenic Lobster Poetry Journal and madam of the Chicago Poetry Bordello.

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