April is National Poetry Month and L. J. Sysko’s new book, The Daughter of Man, is “poetry for people who think they hate poetry or at least find it unapproachable,” the Delaware author says.
The title was inspired by René Magritte’s painting The Son of Man, which shows a plain, gray-suited figure whose face is obscured by an apple. The work was meant to show a faceless industrial-era man. Sysko describes the book as a feminist retort, asking, “If that’s what happens to men in our society, what happens to women?”
The collection includes “M.I.L.F.,” a poem conveying the book’s vibe with the title alone, which received an honorable mention in the Tor House 2023 Prize for Poetry. Praised by such authors as Ross Gay, Alan Michael Parker and Lee Upton, the book uses the heroine’s journey to trace a woman’s life cycle from maiden to crone, with the addition of the maven stage, wherein the poem “M.I.L.F.” resides.
Sysko, who serves as director of executive communications at Delaware State University, was appointed to the Delaware Arts Council by Gov. John Carney in 2021 and received an Emerging Artist Fellowship and an Artist Opportunity Grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts. For The Daughter of Man’s book cover, she collaborated with local artists, including painter Chloe McEldowney, photographer Kirstie Donohue and makeup artist Tonia Patterson.
“The entire process was an empowering joy,” she says.
Learn more about L.J. Sysko and the new poetry collection by visiting her website.
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