Jake Russell Biography


Jake Russell Biography

Jake Russell


Jake Russell has had the privilege of learning how to listen for poetry through Albert Goldbarth, Sam Taylor, Mary Ruefle, Noah Trammell and Joey Lemon.


Jake Russell, ISSUES 

July/August 2015 Issue, BOAAT



To Galway Kinnell


To Galway Kinnell

To Galway Kinnell





To Galway Kinnell,


I wrote you this summer and oi ’ad a ’eck of a toime
penciling letters on notebook paper. Because I was
lonely. Unsuccessful poems dreaming of being
myth. Trying to say something to the cosmos.
The way you did in Sheffield Ghazal 4,
the first poem in which I, a new poet, felt a conflict
within: homesickness and wanderlust, or maybe
two aspects of death: extinction, which we fear, and
flowing away into the universe. Looking
at an earth we once fashioned to be enormous.
Being struck by its fragility. I wanted to say
Thank you. So I sent the letter.

Which was returned a month later, unopened,
a single handwritten word on the envelope:
UNDELIVERABLE. Mr. Kinnell, you passed away
before I could thank you. Before I could thank you for
your words, which touched me like a spirit answering
the prayer of a man who wants whatever what is is;
like a lonely man making songs out of whatever

it is that keeps us from heaven; like a song suggesting
that every time an author dies, a word should pass
from being. But I hadn’t known, reading your poem,
what I know now. That I should’ve remained silent.
And I hadn’t known, when I first wrote you a letter
while you were still alive, what I know now.

That my words should’ve carried a sense of urgency.
Mr. Kinnell, I’m afraid I wasted an opportunity
to be a writer. And so this letter has been lost
in a post office, undeliverable, a prayer
sent back to the ear unheard. If it’s all the same, though,
I’d like to suggest a word we remove for you.
I choose transience, the quality of passing before a vision
in a brief time. I believe that word fits the best.