Aria Aber


Aria Aber was raised in Germany. Her debut book Hard Damage won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and was published in September 2019. Her poems are forthcoming or have appeared in The New Yorker, New Republic, Kenyon Review, The Yale Review, Poem-A-Day, Narrative, Muzzle Magazine, Wasafiri and elsewhere. A graduate from the NYU MFA in Creative Writing, where she was the Writers in Public Schools Fellow, she holds awards and fellowships from Kundiman, Dickinson House, and the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. She is the recipient of a 2020 Whiting Award in Poetry and is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. She is at work on a novel and a second book of poems. Source

Excerpt from "America"

Day after day, I weep on the phone, saying  Even the classroom is a prison

          And still my father insists But it is good to become an American


And so I cement my semantics

I practice my pronunciations, I learn to say This country

         After saying I love


I rinse my aquiline face, wring my language for fear


I feared what had happened in your forest, the words that pursued the soft silk of spiders


The verbs were naturalize, charge, reside

The nouns were clematis, alien, hibiscus


America I arrived to inhabit the realm of  your language

         I came to worry your words


What you offered is a vintage apartment, an audience for poems

         Pills the color of dusk

         To swallow so as not to collapse when I read the poem about my uncle


The reading of  which I owe him, to everyone who antecedes me


America the scale says not thin enough


America my lawyer suggests to keep quiet about certain things

          About you and me


So I write in my notebook your name, I write Country of

Cowboys and Fame


America I have no cowboy

And I have no fame


All I gather is the scratching of ink against paper, the laugh of a skeptic


There are nights we hear something likened to fireworks lighting up the humid campus

And my students cheer, they laugh Welcome to America


Later in the empty corridor, the disembodied voice of my uncle


Saying        The classroom is not a prison

Saying        Go, go home now and so I go


Past vetiver and cedar, past eucalyptus declaring the shoreline


Until I shiver on the soft-stoned coast on which my father once lay

          And I proclaim what he did, I say This land is my  fate


America who am I becoming here with you

          If I wander the same as without you, barely visible amid your indigenous trees





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:





Poems of Place

Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic