Hiding Places (new poem)

Hiding Places

Diana Senechal

Everyone who knows you knows
your downhill slope: your poetry reading
in the wind, pages flying, you not knowing
your own poems, so after a few vain dashes
after the leaves, you cut it short, sorrying
sheepishly like so many other times, yet
we told you it was great, because it really
was: those three minutes or so when you
seized a form and vice versa, the bright
brief grip of eyes, words, and wind.
We believe in those three minutes, even now
that they have pared themselves down
to two and a half—even there we glean
a holy poverty in what must be the worst
torque of despair: watching yourself flee from
your own soul, unable to chase yourself
through that elusive tube. “We,” I say,
but the crowds have dwindled as well,
down to the few wild-haired ones you long
ago wrote off as old hat. So you leave
us behind and slink into cooler throngs,
who have no clue how this will all fly
apart and where no one expects you
to be gifted or even good. Smoky blue air,
comfort of nobodyness. I saw you there
one evening—finding solace there too—
and left you alone, didn’t even tap my feet
in time with yours, waited until you had gone
and come from the bar before buying
my next beer, because, illusion or not,
it is the sense of something in common
that swells up in me like a psalm, so that I
too have leaves slipping from me, I too
chase them on a lark, then call it off,
stop still, and let the praise hail down
on me, pelting my pate. It’s a good feeling,
and if it wounds, I slink away to my den.
Praised, you sang, praised be the hiding places.

Image: Imprint Piano, by Kelsey Hochstatter.

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  1. Loved this.


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  • “Setting Poetry to Music,” 2022 ALSCW Conference, Yale University

  • Always Different



    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In April 2022, Deep Vellum published her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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