2017 Award for New Poets: Love poem with a knife by Kara Jackson

When we envision emerging poets to support, Kara Jackson is it—”Love poem with a knife” was selected by guest judge Tyehimba Jess as second place and winner of the $300 prize. The power of language is so comfortably displayed in these couplets, the danger and bite of it—keep your eyes on Ms. Jackson because this is just the beginning.


Love poem with a knife

in talking about loving you, I consider murder. consider your pistol
of a mouth, jaw long and smoking. when I ask you how to be pretty for you,

you suggest murder. defend it. call a dead woman the least vain.
in talking about loving men, my mother suggests loving a knife

first. learn if sharpness can be a good father, if a blade can make kissy faces.
every woman wants a man, few want a good knife. I name my kitchen a love

war. look for you in the cutting drawer. look for you in my razor. make a romance
out of nicking. I have no secrets for first dates. just keeping chopping. put his edge

to your neck. he will let you bleed first (no,​ ​after​ ​you​). and this is why I leave
and come back. I know I’m a woman, by the way I take war. by the way I let weapons

give me children, even sliced and undone. by the way our love is pressing the wound.

Kara Jackson

Kara Jackson’s poetry explores the essence of invisibility, the authentic elements of language, and divine womanhood, along with its placement in the world. She was born in Oak Park, Illinois. As a young activist, she seeks to make women visible and end the violent language spoken between men and women around the world. She has received the Scholastic Art and Writing Award for her short story Nursery Rhymes, which won a silver medal at a national level. Jackson is a member of the Spoken Word club at Oak Park River Forest High school. She represented the school in the Louder Than a Bomb festival in 2016 and 2017. Her poem "Invocation" appeared in Rookie Magazine. She was one of the 85 commended poets of the Foyles Young Authors poetry competition.  Her work is to be featured in the forthcoming book by Kevin Coval.

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