Contributor Spotlight: Aaron Novick

“(Sonnet variant),” “Ephemera,” and “So priketh hem Nature in hir corages” by Aaron Novick appeared in Issue 24 and can be read here.

We’d love to hear more about “Sonnet variant.”

William Carlos Williams rejected ideas that were not tied to concrete things; I reject concrete things that are not tied to some idea. “Sonnet variant” goes a step further and asks whether one can make an impossible idea concrete. The philosopher Jan Westerhoff, in his excellent Nāgārjuna’s Madhyamaka, illustrates a key point using the impossibility of silent thunder: “There was no silent thunder present before it began to roar…” Out of sheer defiance, more than anything, I decided to see if I couldn’t capture the experience of hearing that silent thunder.

What was the most difficult part of this poem?

Unsurprisingly, given what I said above, I am especially liable to veer into the abstract, overexplaining and insufficiently trusting images to speak for themselves. An earlier version of “Sonnet variant”, for instance, had “streams / with paradox” where it now has “streams / with solid fog”.

Recommend a book for us which was published within the last decade.

I’ll choose Lindsay Lerman’s I’m From Nowhere, published in 2019. Lerman’s book follows a widow, Claire, as she deals with the aftermath of her husband’s death. The book has too many virtues to mention them all here, but one especially struck me. Lerman handles climate change with a deft, light touch, letting it work in the background, showing how it contours Claire’s life, how Claire has adapted herself to a future that terrifies us, but which to her is simply… reality.

If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be? Why?

I’ve a bad habit of only starting to read contemporary poets after they have died. Combined with my habit (which I am less certain is bad) of primarily reading the work of long-dead authors, there aren’t so many choices for me here. So I’ll say Andrew Szilvasy, a wonderful young poet with whom I’ve had a beer before. I would very much enjoy doing so again.

What are you working on now? What’s next?

The Equalizing Jokebook, my first book of poems, is more or less ready to go, though its exact shape continues to shift. Rounding that into its final form and finding a home for it is the big project for now. Meanwhile, I continue to write new poems, for whatever comes after.

Our thanks to Aaron for taking the time to answer a few questions and share his work. Read Aaron’s poems “(Sonnet variant),” “Ephemera,” and “So priketh hem Nature in hir corages” here:


Aaron Novick is an assistant professor of philosophy at Purdue University. His poetry has appeared in Notre Dame Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Dunes Review, and elsewhere.