Yesterday’s News: A Crossword Poem™

Emily Carr

The crossword poem™ is an experiment in coincidence and the quotidian.

My goals with this experiment are six-fold:

  1. to redesign lyric ways of knowing the world with the user’s [non-poet’s] experience in mind;
  2. to craft a poetic form in which the reader actually, actively participates in the making of meaning, choosing her/his own reading experience;
  3. to re-envision literature as an interaction that happens between author and audience (as opposed to literature as a pre-conceived object the audience, simply, consumes);
  4. to redefine the kinds of knowledge that are privileged in the crossword format;
  5. to explore the possibility of literature as game; and
  6. to catalyze collaboration on the threshold of (un)continuity, where the edges of disciplines (poetry and computer science) meet.

The crossword poem™ is a space in which the scientific can spark the lyric and vice versa, the lyric can spark the scientific; in which the real can activate the fabulous and the fabulous can activate the real; a space where wonder and knowing, intuition and intellect, can be in good company; and a space that creates space, that makes space for leaps of the mind and the imagination.

Inside the crossword, language turns in spectacular and unexpected ways as the words in the answer grid connect, like right-angled snakes, shedding their skin and slipping on new selves.

Consciousness connects to fortune and the elaborate system of status. Innuendo to death and the only enduring legacy of our species. Sentimentality to the wind and a reverse fountain of youth.

Donna Haraway and Miles Davis swap some DNA, go their separate ways; Rikki Ducornet sashays through some Sigmund Freud; Bernardi and Bouillier exchange sideways glances, keep walking into separate futures, like strangers on a Parisian street.

Like a jazz solo: both improvised and rehearsed, spontaneous and choreographed, belonging not to the either, or but to the yes, and.

As an innovative feminist poet, I am interested in the alchemy of feeling and solving, process and provocation, how the self articulates and performs itself in a poem, how selves come together to articulate and perform themselves in the space the poem creates, perhaps solely for this purpose.

These are the kinds of opportunities experiment affords.

About the Artist

Emily Carr writes murder mysteries that turn into love poems that are sometimes (by her McSweeney’s editors, for example) called divorce poems. After she got an MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, she took a doctorate in ecopoetics at the University of Calgary. These days, she’s Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at New College of Florida. Her newest book, whosoever has let a minotaur enter them, or a sonnet—, is available from McSweeney’s. It inspired a beer of the same name, now available at the Ale Apothecary. Emily’s first collection of short prose, Name Your Bird Without A Gun: A Tarot Romance, is forthcoming from Spork in 2020. Visit Emily online at