Kimberly Andrews How to Get into a Poem

(Standing Stone Creek, Pa.)

[A startling observation about the nature of human life]
or [A concrete description of trout]
[Backstory, alluding to an individuating experience]
or [Personal background, like “I have a weird relationship
to rural America”]
[Imagery only loosely related to backstory/background]
or [Tropical fruits if part of you is tropical]
[Some intellectual discourse on the word “part”]
or [Agonized associative thinking about the nature
of something politically urgent, like colorism]
[A return to the opening vignette so folks stay on track,
like “is it possible that a suburban mixed kid actually
has nothing at all to claim, not the trout, not the breadfruit”]
[A direction, e.g. “towards”]
or [A time e.g. “now” or “after”]
[A prepositional or noun phrase if grammatically necessary]
[A turn, which should also be startling, as in oh
this is what the poem is really about]
or [Imagery that achieves roughly this purpose, like that of
the properties of brackish water,
or the length and nature of brackish days]

Kimberly Quiogue Andrews is a poet, critic, essayist, and Pennsylvanian. She is also the author of BETWEEN, winner of the 2017 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Prize from Finishing Line Press. A two-time Academy of American Poets prize winner and a Pushcart nominee, her recent work in various genres appears or is forthcoming in Rambutan Literary, The Shallow Ends, The Recluse, the Los Angeles Review of Books, ASAP/J, Textual Practice, and other venues. She lives in Maryland and teaches at Washington College.