Bits of Night

July 03, 2013

Photo courtesy Kerem Yucel

One of the privileges of being U.S. Poet Laureate was to choose two poets each year to receive a $10,000 fellowship, funded by the Witter Bynner Foundation. Joseph Stroud, who lives in California, was one of my choices. This poem is representative of his clear-eyed, imaginative poetry. [Introduction by Ted Kooser.]

Night in Day

The night never wants to end, to give itself over   
to light. So it traps itself in things: obsidian, crows.   
Even on summer solstice, the day of light’s great   
triumph, where fields of sunflowers guzzle in the sun—   
we break open the watermelon and spit out   
black seeds, bits of night glistening on the grass.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2009 by Joseph Stroud, and reprinted from his recent book of poems, “Of This World: New and Selected Poems 1966-2006,” Copper Canyon Press, 2009, by permission of the author and publisher. Introduction copyright © 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

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