vocalisms #36: Tess Gallagher


vocalisms is a regular feature that presents selected tracks from Voca, the Poetry Center's online audiovisual archive of more than 800 recorded readings, spanning from 1963 to today. 

Tess Gallagher faces to the left with her hand on her hip.

In the introduction to this poem, Tess Gallagher reminds us that poems don’t have to come from momentous, life-changing experiences: They can emerge from quiet, ordinary moments. Gallagher’s poem takes as its inspiration a nighttime walk to mail a letter, but that simple action radiates out across distance and memory: The lit kitchen of a millworker preparing for his shift enters the poem, as do “starry voices” speaking across time, remembered from Gallagher’s childhood. Poems like “Under Stars” work to enact the beauty and interconnectedness of everyday life, allowing small moments to become expansive.