Robin Coste Lewis


Robin Coste Lewis is the poet laureate of Los Angeles. In 2015, her debut poetry collection, Voyage of the Sable Venus (Knopf) won the National Book Award in poetry––the first time a poetry debut by an African-American had ever won the prize in the National Book Foundation’s history, and the first time any debut had won the award since 1974. Critics called the collection “A masterpiece…” “Surpassing imagination, maturity, and aesthetic dazzle…” “remarkable hopefulness…in the face of what would make most rage and/or collapse…” “formally polished, emotionally raw, and wholly exquisite.” Voyage of the Sable Venus was also a finalist for LA Times Book Prize, the Hurston-Wright Award, and the California Book Award. The Paris Review, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Buzz Feed, and Entropy Magazine all named Voyage one of the best poetry collections of the year. Flavorwire named the collection one of the 10 must-read books about art. And Literary Hub named Voyage one of the “Most Important Books of the Last Twenty Years.” Lewis’s writing has appeared in various journals and anthologies, such as Time Magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Transition, and Best American Poetry. In 2018, MoMA commissioned both Lewis and Kevin Young to write a series of poems to accompany Robert Rauschenberg’s drawings in Thirty-Four Illustrations of Dante’s Inferno (MoMA, 2018). Lewis is currently at work on two new collections, To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness and Prosthetic, both of which are forthcoming from Knopf. Source


Last summer, two discrete young snakes left their skin

on my small porch, two mornings in a row. Being


postmodern now, I pretended as if I did not see

them, nor understand what I knew to be circling


inside me. Instead, every hour I told my son

to stop with his incessant back-chat. I peeled


a banana. And cursed God—His arrogance,

His gall—to still expect our devotion


after creating love. And mosquitoes. I showed

my son the papery dead skins so he could


know, too, what it feels like when something shows up

at your door—twice—telling you what you already know.





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Literary Devices:

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem