It Shouldn't Have Been Beautiful harkens back to an early affinity for proverbs and riddles and the proto-poetry found in those forms. Taking on epic subjects—time and memory, metamorphosis and indeterminacy, the complicated nature of beauty, wordless states of being—each poem explores a bright, crisp, singular moment of awareness or shock or revelation. Purpura reminds us that short poems, never merely brief nor fragmentary, can transcend their size. Her poetic language is an instrument of a unique thinking that seeks to explain that nothing is just what it says.
Lia Purpura is the author of three collections of poems, The Brighter the Veil, Stone Sky Lifting, and King Baby, and three collections of essays, Increase, Rough Likeness, and On Looking, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is the recipient of Guggenheim, National Endowment for the Arts, and Fulbright Fellowships as well as three Pushcart prizes, among other honors. Her work appears frequently in The New Yorker, as well as in The Paris Review, Orion, Agni, Best American Essays and other publications. She is writer in residence at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.