Poetry. Sara Nicholson's second collection, WHAT THE LYRIC IS, is a sharp, humorous, and poignant exploration of how the lyric in poetry both fits and fails us. Conversant with dead poets, but skeptical of their conceits, Nicholson mixes lightness with melancholy in poems with titles like "Dante in Arkansas": "My breath's been / Doomed to harmonize with fog." WHAT THE LYRIC IS turns the pastoral tradition upside down, ever careful to remind us of the price for all this reflection and merriment "Acorns are beautiful only to those / Who've never had to clean them up."
"Sara Nicholson's aim is 'true poems flee' says Emily Dickinson. You see what I did there, but, more importantly, if you read the poems herein you'll hear one of my favorite writers making extraordinary word-music. Hers is the lyric as unteachable moment. She sends and receives me." Graham Foust
"I love the gravely funny, imaginative poems of WHAT THE LYRIC IS. Nicholson deploys a provisional dream-logic in which all things are level with 'the goddamn oak' or 'the bladder-shaped stars' and any itinerant hope that there is a wisdom greater than 'I wanted to sing / so I stopped talking' must be laid aside or get dragged instead to the trash. Freely admitting of what they do not know, these poems act as nonpology to the world that will not read them and frank lyric to all who are bold and fortunate enough to enjoy them." Jae Choi"