In “The Fishwife’s Tale,” Judith Small wondrously reimagines the subject line of a spam email to explore the themes of the folklore of the sea, femininity within the context of toxic masculinity, and the supernatural/ fantastic in the question mark. “why/ not why not why not/ over my / dripping, glistening hands” the speaker of the poem is asked, through the adept visual placement of the line on the page.
Judith Small is the author of Second Tongue (Brighthorse Books, 2019), a sequence of poems growing out of her experience as an interpreter for asylum seekers. Awarded the Brighthorse Prize in Poetry, Second Tongue was also a finalist for the FIELD Poetry Prize, the Georgia Poetry Prize and the Idaho Prize for Poetry. Small’s poetry and prose have appeared in The New Yorker, FIELD, Epiphany, Feminist Studies, Poetry Northwest, New Letters and elsewhere. She lives in Berkeley, California.