Become a Member

We are a public forum committed to collective reasoning and the imagination of a more just world. Join today to help us keep the discussion of ideas free and open to everyone, and enjoy member benefits like our quarterly books.

Search Website
Reading List April 09, 2021

Poetry Collection: Empathy

The second in our series of reading lists to celebrate National Poetry Month.

Editor’s Note: This is the second collection in Boston Review’s series of poetry reading lists for National Poetry Month. You can read the others on belongingwomanhood, and award-winning poets

“We broke ourselves screaming, but there was no sound,” writes Kemi Alabi in their poem “Undelivered Message to the Sky: November 9, 2016.” Even with the Biden administration now in office, the election of Donald Trump in 2016 heralded a new era of thoughtlessness, violence, and isolation which still echoes today. The poets in this collection grapple with that isolation—the result of gendered and racialized violence—and the simultaneous and conflicting desire to reach out to the world.

In a collage of lines and lives, Nikki Wallschlaeger questions “American happiness,” and elsewhere Boston Review 2019 Poetry Contest finalist Hazem Fahmy listens to “the chorus of memory” and laments that which cannot be conveyed across distance.

The poets in this collection examine the imperfections of language and translation, exploring the many valences of empathy—where it succeeds and where it cannot.

—Meghana Mysore

Nikki Wallschlaeger Poetry
Nikki Wallschlaeger
Jacques Rancourt Boston Review Poetry
Jacques J. Rancourt
Tess Liem Poetry
Tess Liem
Meredith Stricker Poetry
Meredith Stricker
Craig Sullender Poetry
Craig Sullender
Brother when I die
my ashes go to your house.
Confusion where to scatter
is all I’ll leave.

Our weekly themed Reading Lists compile the best of Boston Review’s archive. Previews are delivered to members every Sunday. Become a member to receive them ahead of the crowd.

Boston Review is nonprofit and reader funded.

Contributions from readers enable us to provide a public space, free and open, for the discussion of ideas. Join this effort – become a supporting reader today.

Sign Up for Our
Newsletter

Vital reading on politics, literature, and more in your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter, Monthly Roundup, and event notifications.

Donate Today


Most Recent

Theorist Hil Malatino offers a compelling account of the persistent bad feelings with which trans people often struggle—but it comes with fashionable academic hang-ups that need to be reconsidered.

Jules Joanne Gleeson
Image of chicken in cage

The systems that harm animals go hand in hand with systems that harm humans. Combating them requires inter-species solidarity.

Alice Crary Lori Gruen

Its illegitimacy goes far beyond the war on drugs.

Stuart Schrader