Sam Sax

Sam Sax is a queer, Jewish writer and educator. Their most recent book of poems is Pig (Simon & Schuster, 2023) which Publishers Weekly called, “Vivid, sensuous, and gorgeous.” They’re the author of Madness, winner of the National Poetry Series, and Bury It, winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. Sax's first novel, Yr Dead, will be published by McSweeney’s in August 2024. 

A two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion, they have poems published in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Poetry Magazine, Granta, and elsewhere. Sam has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, Yaddo, Lambda Lit, and MacDowell, and currently serves as an ITALIC Lecturer at Stanford University.

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James Dean with Pig

       Dennis Stock, “Life” magazine

even without the image you can see it.
dean, black booted, bedroom-eyed
hair coiffed into its iconic pompadour.
he holds a hat turned up to the sky.
sty littered with corn husks. big animal
standing beside him. i’ve never seen
his films but know his shape. his name
performs the work of looking.
this photo taken on a trip back home
to the family farm in indy. what life
might have been had he not sought
the spotlight. [ the apocrypha
i love best, about his affair with brando.
sub & dominus. god & pig.
they met on a set. dean so loved him
he held him up like a father
& brando did what he wanted, put out
cigarettes on the boy, used a belt. ]
this photo’s taken in 1955 & it’s unclear
whether he carries the terror & pleasure
to come or if it’s waiting somewhere
beyond the lens. if he returned
to the farm knowing or if he returned
to the farm known. now both are dead—
one leaves behind films, the other only
meat & children, who perhaps
you, dear reader, have eaten
& in that eating
took pleasure.
--from Poetry, 2023 (