Poet's Choice: 'Content Is King' by Rebecca Wolff

By Rebecca Wolff
Sunday, August 30, 2009

This is the crypto title-poem of my new collection "The King," which in large part has to do with becoming a mother or otherwise encountering -- embracing -- objective reality. I've long been concerned, at times excruciatingly so, with the effort of moving from individual nothingness into communal language, and particularly into speech (check the penultimate line of the poem). In my young womanhood, I experienced an enduring existential paralysis that caused me to have great difficulty in producing spontaneous utterance. This wore off eventually, thank heaven, but even now poetry serves as a fulsome reprieve from any lingering sense of incapacity. In the compositional state one has a merciful conviction. Language arrives, and means. Here it even rhymes, and puns.

(Editor's note: To see this poem laid out correctly on paper or on your screen, click the Print button in the Toolbox.)

Content is King

I queen it


over emptiness.


I invent it, a surplus,

a bombast of nervous


encryption so the process

of blanking becomes


isometric -- Pilates.

I think of how clueless


and relentless-

ly depthless


my mother, nonetheless

she birthed and hers


is the aspect

and prospect


the matter

and subject





I find something to say.


The king is content.

Rebecca Wolff is the author of three books of poems, most recently "The King" (Norton, 2009), and the founder of the literary journal Fence.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company