Hummingbird by a Flower

Throwback Thursday featuring Chelsea Wagenaar with "Errata" from issue 295.2

Chelsea Henderson's poem "Errata" won second place in the 2010 James Hearst Poetry Prize.

A note from the author: I wrote "Errata" the summer after my second year of college, a summer that was difficult and emotional in many ways.  I read Simic's "Errata"---which inspired my somewhat shameless take on his poem---and something about the emotional compression, the barely-muted desperation and longing, in his poem really struck me.  In writing "Errata," which I wrote in about 30 minutes, one of the fastest poems I've ever produced, I hoped to write a poem that was more of an emotional experience than a coherent narrative.  I've not written much like it since, but the poem remains an important turning point in my maturation as a writer, as well a great affirmation when it placed second in the James Hearst Prize that year.  My first book, Mercy Spurs the Bone (Anhinga, 2015), contains almost no poems written before 2012, but "Errata" is one of the few I never cut from the manuscript.  Something about the poem still seems an important articulation of my relationship to language, its possibilities, its rescuing



after Charles Simic

Instead of autumn read son
Instead of waiting read
woman lying on the floor
Since language cannot be undone
each time it says leaving read
Paris rain cascading
off blue umbrellas
If a word is illegible read
white herons dying in t the canal
If it ever says man
put a comma
When it says I
follow it with ached or lied
In the two places it says nervous
read pair of old suit pants
rip in the seam
In the three places
a word is crossed through
read my mother’s name
Lilli Lilli Lilli
And anywhere it says you
read darling the little foxes
are in the vineyards
our vineyards in bloom

Chelsea Wagenaar

Chelsea Wagenaar's first book of poems, Mercy Spurs the Bone, is the winner of the 2013 Philip Levine Prize and will be published in November 2014 by Anhinga Press.  She is currently a doctoral fellow at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX, where she lives with her husband Mark.  Recent acceptances and publications include The Southeast Review, Plume, The Journal, and Mid-American Review.

Illustrations by Vlad Alvarez: Vlad was born and raised in El Salvador, Central America. In 1992, he came to the U.S. and lived in Los Angeles before moving to Pennsylvania. He attended Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and graduated in 2005 with a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration.