Contributor Spotlight: Rose Strode

“The Youngest Uncle,” a poem by Rose Strode, appeared in Issue 12 and can be read here.

What was difficult about writing this poem?

“The Youngest Uncle” was difficult to write because it’s about a family member who died young. But even when the writing was painful, it was a relief to try to recall my uncle in such detail. Isn’t that strange? Why is that? Writer Lynda Barry notices that there is something about an image that is “alive”, and which subsequently makes us as readers feel more alive when we involve ourselves with these details. So I suppose, in a way, I feel as if my loved ones are alive again when I write of them. (Walt Whitman: “They are alive and well somewhere …”) In writing this poem I felt both the pain of separation and the joy of togetherness: proof, to my mind at least, that being a poet is the best job in the world.   

Recommend us a book published within the last decade

I really love Ross Gay’s Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude.

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

Drinking with Ross would be fun. Also, “Catalogue” would be terrific to read out loud while drunk: “Bellow forth!” and, “Hear ye, hear ye!” would go well with a nice cold Hefeweizen.

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

Right now I’m working on a collection of poems examining negative space. That sounds pretentious, so I should add: I didn’t decide to do it. One day I just looked down at all the poems I’ve written over the last year and thought: “Huh. Looky there, all those poems are about negative space. How the hell did that happen?” Sometimes that space is necessary and beautiful — such as the spaces between starlings maneuvering in a gigantic flock. Other times that space is the space of obliteration: such as the way certain populations become “invisible” to those who possess most of society’s privilege. In “Two Days” and “Uncle”, the negative space is the space in my life where a loved person is no longer – yet it is not an empty space. Writing those poems was like digging a well: hard work, but making space for cool water to rise up.

Our thanks to Rose for taking the time to answer a few questions and share her work. Read her poetry here:


Rose Strode has published only one other poem, which appeared earlier this year in Poet Lore. Her personal essays have appeared in print in such journals as The Gettysburg Review, Little Patuxent Review, and the Delmarva Review. Rose is the recipient of the “Undiscovered Voices” fellowship at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland.