National Poetry Month Day 1: “To Find Stars In Another Language” by Elizabeth Bradfield

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Elizabeth Bradfield wrote the first poem we published here on The Rumpus, so I’m pleased to have her kick off this year’s National Poetry Month project. Elizabeth’s poem is more than just a written piece, however: it’s a collaboration between her and video artist Demet Taspinar. Here’s the video version of the poem, with the printed version below. Enjoy!

To Find Stars in Another Language

You do not know the story
yet, although its glister
is familiar. And the way its source
is dampened by the blanket of words
we make for it. Yes, you know
each word, but not all in constellation.

There was once…

To see these stars you must allow
the possibility of the epic. Sail
two days toward the white land surrounded
by a vast, cold moat. Birds
with mythic wings will assess you,
askance, with one of their pale,
cruel eyes. Be warned. They are not
your familiars. Their needs do not
correspond with yours.

Once, there was…

Then you arrive. And the stars, after all,
are not so unlike those that have tented
all your ordinary nights. They, too, are lonely.
They are lonely. They mutter and wrestle
in glistered conversations. You can’t know
if they’ll ever settle. Still, had you the right
time-lens, all stars would look like this, would
refuse the stories—archer, queen, dog—
that seem timeless.

There once was a boy who longed to become
There once was a girl who longed to become

Look. Squint. Let every distant light
escape from story’s snare and be

-Elizabeth Bradfield

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Elizabeth Bradfield is the author of two poetry collections: Approaching Ice and Interpretive Work. Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Orion, The Believer, Poetry and she has been awarded the Audre Lorde Prize and a Stegner Fellowship, among other honors. Founder and editor-in-chief of Broadsided Press, she lives on Cape Cod and works as a naturalist and teacher. She is the current Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University.

Demet Taspinar is a video artist and painter from Turkey, currently studying MA in Fine Art at New York University. She works as a ship medical doctor so sails around the world. Her favorite space as she calls home is Antarctica. Therefore most of her work base on Antarctica and nature human relation.


From time to time, The Rumpus publishes new poems. Check out this multimedia collection of poetry we've published. More from this author →