Noel Sloboda’s Comments

As a teacher of literature, I spend a great deal of time stressing the importance of objectivity. But in “History of Invention,” I explore some of the ways in which we make what we read about ourselves. The inspiration for “Underneath” was less abstract. The poem was generated while I was repairing my roof. Atop my house, I was struck by the flimsiness of the materials that make us feel safe at home. “Near a Pennsylvania Landfill” was conceived during my commute. Garbage trucks often clog the roads where I live, and this naturally informs one’s perspective. “Clearing” is also about perspective. My home is surrounded by very old, very large trees, and they seem delightful or terrifying, depending upon how one looks at them. “Reeducation” returns to school, to the classroom, a space that is frequently disorienting. No matter how focused, no matter how accomplished, teachers are always susceptible to memories of their time as students. When they experience double vision, the results can be harmful and inspiring, sometimes both at once.

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