April 9: Vera Pavlova's "A Remedy for Insomnia"

This poem is #66 in the hundred poems that make up If There Is Something To Desire, the first collection in English by the stunning Russian poet Vera Pavlova—stunning because of what she can do in under ten lines, sometimes under five. Her work is translated by her husband, Steven Seymour. Pavlova rarely titles her poems—this one is an exception—and her book is the first in the history of Knopf’s poetry list to show an entire poem on the front jacket. (Follow the link below to get a printable broadside of that jacket, designed by Knopf’s Peter Mendelsund with hand-lettering by the illustrator Leanne Shapton.)

A Remedy for Insomnia

Not sheep coming down the hills,
not cracks on the ceiling—
count the ones you loved,
the former tenants of dreams
who would keep you awake,
once meant the world to you,
rocked you in their arms,
those who loved you . . .
You will fall asleep, by dawn, in tears.

Download the broadside of Vera’s jacket

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Visit Vera online at verapavlova.us

Learn more about If There is Something to Desire