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

First Snow

How easy for snow to turn to ice, for snow

   to disappear the light from the ragged


frame of chestnut trees around the warehouse

      by what’s left of wild chicory, scraped


sculptures, weeping dogbane. Hunger borders

      this land, while snow turns all to immigrants,


snow salts the embankment, where turtles wash ashore,

      literally hundreds of them, frozen hard


like grenades of tear gas thrown across

      a barbwire fence. But who of their free


will would ever want to climb that fence

      to live here, who would pray each night


for grace, hoping to pass through the darkened veil

      of [  ], to bear witness to smokestacks,


wild champion, knapweed? Who’d loiter around cricks

      glistening with oil, which, once gone,


will, like death, at last, democratize

      us all? On potato sacks in the snowcapped,


abandoned warehouse, there huddle and sit

      the soiled refugees, bereft, cow-eyed,


picking dirt off their scalps, their shelled soles.

      Among them, wordless, is my mother,


and nestled on her lap is I, in love with the light

      of the first snow of my life, so awed


and doubtful still of what lengths the frost wills

      to go, and what shape it will then take—





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:





Literary Devices:


an exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person (typically one who is dead or absent) or thing (typically one that is personified)


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic