In 'The Cosmic Purr' Classical Poet Startlingly Captures Contemporary Life

Determined to bring the magic of poetry to life for a broader and younger audience, Poet and Classics PhD Aaron Poochigian has written a new book, The Cosmic Purr.

Poetry is sometimes thought of as a specialized taste, especially classical poetry. Determined to bring the magic of poetry to life for a broader and younger audience, Poet and Classics PhD Aaron Poochigian has written a new book, The Cosmic Purr. In it, he offers modern poetry with a classical influence for a contemporary audience. He accomplishes his worthy goal of making poetry not just palatable but delicious to a larger and less academic audience by showing us today's world, including the contradictions inherent in modern life and love, in ways that stir, move and inspire us-which is what poetry is ideally intended to do.

The Cosmic Purr is divided into three sections: "Americana" deals with his experience as an outsider in the Midwest, "A Place in France" reveals his ongoing struggles writing love poetry for a contemporary audience no longer comfortable with sentimentality and "The Light at Troy" which exhibits Poochigian's vivid re-imaginings of the classical world.

Noted poets David Mason, Timothy Murphy and Alan Sullivan's mentoring have enabled Poochigian to achieve an original style that interweaves modern verse with ancient poetic tradition. His writings also include translations of the Greek poet Sappho.

As New York Times bestselling author Charles Martin said, "Poochigian has learned how to imagine the audience of his poem not only within it but actually interacting with the speaker. The reader will notice how many of the poems use the first person plural and address a nameless "you"..... In a time when many poets do not appear to be talking to anyone at all, Poochigian's direct address is more than refreshing."

Here are just two poems from The Cosmic Purr, which is available on

His website is Aaron Poochigian

After Bar

When their friends had dissolved in that festival air,
they were each, it emerged, what the other had got.
Like a nod and a shrug, like the wings of a dare,
there was harmony. Logic was why the hell not?

So they strolled, and Manhattan itself had a hand in
escorting them, holding mechanical doors.
The express train jostled about with abandon;
the lift in an instant surmounted the floors.

If the pad was a horror of crumbling plaster,
the dimmer respectfully whisked it from sight,
and the windows were pictures some pointillist master
had stippled with infinite twinges of light.

It was city they reached for-a hustler, a sequined
seductress, a compound of money and musk,
an extravagant mood, a perpetual weekend,
a fantasy turned on at dusk.

The Problem of Evil

A sharp-shinned hawk has clenched a perch
some yards shy of the weeping birch
from which your handmade birdhouse dangles.
The devil when it comes to angles,
he looks out for his interests.

Chickadees sporting flashy bibs
have blown in from abroad, their nibs
black blurs erasing the buffet.
Thanks in the key of fee-bee-bay
kicks up their caps and puffs their breasts.

You there sunning on the stoop
start at the shadow of a swoop.
The party scatters, minus one,
and Oh my God what have you done?
You built that house to serve its guests.


Aaron Poochigian was born in 1973. He attended Moorhead State University from 1991 to 1996 where he studied under the poets Tim Murphy, Dave Mason and Alan Sullivan. He entered graduate school for Classics in 1997 at the University of Minnesota. After traveling and doing research in Greece on fellowship from 2003 to 2004, he earned a Ph.D. in Classics in 2006, and now lives and writes in New York City. His translations, with introduction and notes, of Sappho's poems andfragments were published by Penguin Classics in 2009.

His translations of Aeschylus, Aratus and Apollonius of Rhodes appeared in the Norton Anthology of Greek Literature in Translation in the spring of 2009, and Johns Hopkins University Press published his edition of Aratus' astronomical poem, The Phaenomena, with his introduction and notes, in the spring of 2010. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Arion, The Dark Horse, Poetry and Smartish Pace.

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