Listen to the poem read by the author:
Image: by Lesly Juarez, licensed under CC 2.0.
“Grateful Criss Cross” began as a poetry prompt by Professor Ben Lerner. What you see here is the final product of a series of linear poems layered atop one another. The first poem written consists of horizontal and vertical lines that intersect at right angles, forming squares. The second poem written consists of diagonal lines that intersect at obtuse angles, forming the shape of very wide diamonds or corset lacing. These two poems put together, the grateful cross and the grateful criss, compose “Grateful Criss Cross.” What was initially meant to be a simple poem about gratitude became a matrix of gratitude, and proved to be challenging to perform. In preparation for reading this poem to a live audience, I had to pre-record half of it and play the recording exactly when I began speaking to make sure that the recorded lines and spoken lines were timed to intersect where they intersect in the visual poem. To do this correctly, pacing is important.