Stephanie Burt’s You Could Still Be Fine

Stephanie Burt mixtape image

When I was asked for a mixtape I thought – wait, it’s tempting to make an actual mixtape instead, of music, as in a shareable music playlist, because I use music as background, not just foreground – it’s playing in my head when I do most of the things that I do except writing poems. And then I realized that I have some poems playing in my head this year anyway, and I could organize them into a mixtape that you could use too. The argument of the mixtape, if it has an argument, is maybe “you don’t have to fix everything all at once”.

Stephanie Burt’s reviews appear in The Poetry Review 107:3 and 106:2.

1. Monica Youn, ‘Interrogation of the Hanged Man’

Start serious.

2. Patience Agbabi, ‘Josephine Baker Finds Herself’

Did you find yourself? Did you find your double?

3. Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The Rhodora’

The flower makes the bird look worse, but the bird pursues the flower anyway.

4. Hera Lindsay Bird, ‘Having Already Walked Out on Everyone I Ever Said I Loved’

If the old rules won’t let you tell anybody who you are, the problem’s not you; it’s the rules.

5. Angie Estes, ‘True Confessions’

And I haven’t even seen Gilda.

6. Terrance Hayes, ‘The Blue Terrance’

This is not where I come from. It is an unsurpassable model if you want to write about wherever you come from, wherever you have come from.

7. James Merrill, ‘Mirror’

“You embrace a whole world without once caring / To set it in order. That takes thought.” Also the rhymes.

8. James K. Baxter, ‘Letter from the Mountains’

How does it feel to have a vocation?

9. George Herbert, ‘The Flower’

The best case I know (in some of the best-made stanzas) for belief, or suspension of disbelief, in a personal God. Also a good case for trying to get enough sleep.

10. Elizabeth Bishop, ‘Poem’ (‘About the size of an old-style dollar bill’)

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(Life may require familiarity with other lives, sorry again.)

11. Chen Chen, ‘Friendship’

Because it’s best to end with something sweet and awkward, “not / going to bed at / bedtime”.

Stephanie BurtStephanie (until recently Stephen) Burt’s recent books are The Poem Is You (Harvard University Press, 2016) and Advice from the Lights (Graywolf, 2017).