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Emily Leithauser - Winner, Able Muse Book Award, 2015

Emily Leithauser
Emily Leithauser


2015 Able Muse Book Award
for her poetry manuscript
The Borrowed World

Selected by final judge, Peter Campion

Coming soon from Able Muse Press - Spring/Summer 2016

(the contest finalists and honorable mentions are listed here)



Emily Leithauser’s poetry and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Measure, Southwest Review, New Ohio Review, Unsplendid, Literary Imagination, Blackbird, Able Muse, and Iron Horse Literary Review, among other journals. She is a Ph.D. student in English at Emory University, where she is also a Visiting Lecturer in the Creative Writing Program. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


Sample poems from Emily Leithauser's The Borrowed World



                for G.L, author of The Dinosaur Dilemma

All eloquently labeled once—objects
find ways to tease you now in vague dreams.
And you wander, docile, speechless, through the room

to your soft chair, where, for now it seems
you know you wrote the book you’d like to hear
me read aloud. Words you love. Not themes.

“The dilemma is what to do
with fossils found on someone
else’s property.

In the yellow weeds, two boys
dig up the looser bones
of a blackened dinosaur.”

I’m your ventriloquist, or I’m white noise,
but something budges language at your core:
my borrowed sounds your rediscovered toys.

    (previously published in The Raintown Review)


The Leopard

                         after Borges

At dawn, the leopard watches the firmament
dissolve in sunlight through his cage’s bars;
he’s fresh from dreams of tearing flesh, the scent
of deer still on his paws. A carnivore’s
nightmare: instead of reddened fields, a cell’s
dull iron; of opened ribcages, walls.

If even Dante’s waltz can’t sidestep fate,
or trick the jailor, then art itself reveals
no door. The leopard roars at the stanza’s gate,

claws the corners, scrapes the floor, and steels
himself for solitude. We read our curse
between the lines, vaguely recalling meals

devoured in the wild. No words will quite coerce
these bars to bend, or move the universe.

    (previously published in Sewanee Theological Review)


Pagoda Cinema


Brought over from the former Orient,
this pagoda’s become a movie theater now:
a grainy Western preview dubbed in French;
a blue-lit Latin love story (expanses
of pixilated flesh tattooed with sub-
titles, the unclaimed skin and sighs quite real . . .

except a fly keeps knocking at the screen,
adding beauty marks to ingénues,
or dots of poison to the famous glass
of milk in Suspicion, or to arrows shot
by Robin Hood across a studio;
and, drifting into someone’s platinum curls,
and dizzy from the film-distorted faces,
or from the speed of now-dead Fred Astaire,
the insect loses us and we forget
again what is and isn’t here).

    (previously published in Measure)


Boston Arboretum


            A baby hawk—
the nib of its beak pink—
picks at rabbit gut.
            Ribboned innards,

            dropped in flight,
lie further down the path;
I wipe my shoes on grass.
            The only sounds:

            the pluck on strings
of tripe, the ragged catch
of air in someone's throat.
            (Watch how the bird

            screens its prey
with a wing, and leaves the fur
alone, dear, and abstains
            from opening

            the cooling back.)
Even now your throat's
a thrill; your body's still
            unknown to me.

    (previously published in Unsplendid)


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