Lucia Perillo (2010)

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In this O.B. Hardison Poetry Series reading, Lucia Perillo commemorates the birthday of Emily Dickinson. Lucia Perillo is introduced by the Poetry Society of America Director Alice Quinn, who also moderated the conversation. The event is co-sponsored with The Poetry Society of America.

Lucia Perillo

Lucia Perillo's searing honesty, wit, and gracious talent makes reading her poems not only entertaining but also enlightening. Perillo has published five books of poetry, most recently Inseminating the Elephant, which was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize, and Luck is Luck, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was included in the New York Public Library’s “Books to Remember” for 2005. A book of her essays, I’ve Heard the Vultures Singing, was published in 2008. A former MacArthur fellow, she lives in Olympia, Washington.

Reviews and Excerpts

—“I have two words for anyone who wants to know why people turn to poetry in times of need: Lucia Perillo. She’s the funniest poet writing today, which is saying a lot….” David Kirby, The New York Times Book Review


From "Rutter’s Field"


….the house was there,

then it was gone—

though the way its windows flexed then shattered

just before the roofbeam dropped

reappeared each time my eyes choked shut from smoke;

that’s how I knew my head was changing.

No longer was its dome full of empty space

through which things slipped like threadless neddles

then were gone. From here on,

things would stick.

The world had stepped inside me like a man whose boots

ring loudly on the floor—

this was memory. And soon I’d learn about his retinue:

shame and longing and regret.


From The Body Mutinies by Lucia Perillo © 1996 by Lucia Perillo, published by Purdue University Press. Used with permission of the author.


Listen to Lucia Perillo read her poem "The Second Slaughter."

Visit Lucia Perillo's official website

Watch Lucia Perillo read from her work at Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena, CA (March 2010).