The Artist’s Vision by Jeffrey Ethan Lee


Recently, I heard the results of The Fifth Annual James Hearst Poetry Prize sponsored by the North American Review (573 Entrants 2,583 Poems). I was a finalist with one poem, which is below. I did not think the judge Billy Collins was going to pick my poem as the winner, to be perfectly honest, because the poem I sent wasn’t really up his alley, so to speak. I was glad to make the finalist group though because that means they will publish this poem. I have always liked this poem despite the fact that it is “difficult.”

I’m going to do an unusual thing and actually say how this poem was created. It began like, jesuschrist (!) more than twenty years ago. Yeah, it was 1984, and I was staying at a friend’s house due to being somewhat temporarily destitute (okay, okay, I was homeless for a while after I was a literally starving artist in a real third-floor garret with bullet holes in the windows, blah blah blah. It may sound romantic, but it really was mostly ugly and nasty. Stuff that makes you prone to anti-social habits and rots your teeth, etc.) Continue reading