blackbirdonline journalSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3

Introduction and Table of Contents

spacer Jesse Lee Kercheval


A Correspondence with Jesse Lee Kercheval
   Conducted by Danielle Kotrla


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In writer and translator Jesse Lee Kercheval’s interview with Blackbird lead pagebuilder, Danielle Kotrla, she says: “Putting down my personal subjects, my ego, and to act as the conduit for another poet’s voice is one of the joys of translating. Translating many poets is like being able to play an orchestra’s worth of instruments instead of just one cello.” Kercheval has been a contributor to Blackbird for a number of years since her initial appearance in v11n2. In this issue, her poems “Xylophone” and “Zephyr” appear alongside a nonfiction essay, “Sharp,” and an email correspondence. Her sixth collection of poems, I Want to Tell You, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in January 2023. Memory Rewritten, a collection of poems Kercheval translated from the Uruguayan poet Mariella Nigro was published in April of 2023.

Kercheval’s work often confronts existential and linguistic concerns, asking what communication means and how it inevitably fails while also creating intimacy. In “Xylophone,” she writes:

Christmas Day, a boy who was briefly my nephew-in-law stands on the beach in the cold salt wind and cries, Why was I born? And, in my memory at least, his parents laughed. Maybe I did too.

Kercheval’s work is attentive to the sound of language and the structure of meaning in words. Her poetry and prose is often witty, humorous, and profound.

Please enjoy her work featured in this issue of Blackbird and consider reading Kercheval’s other projects.  end