Try Poetry: Dream of Me as Water + David Ly

Today’s Try Poetry poet is ReLit award finalist David Ly and his latest collection Dream of Me as Water (Palimpsest Press). David tells us about poetry as escape and shares the sinuous concrete poem “Eels” from the book.


Share It:

An Interview with Poet David Ly

All Lit Up: When was the moment that you decided you wanted to write poetry?David Ly: I think it was a gradual process for me wanting to write poetry. I had just finished my BA with one poetry course where I wrote what I thought poetry should / could be (i.e. poems filled with imagery that struck me and in simple language without sounding convoluted). By the time I got to grad school, I think I was so inundated with the course work that I needed an escape, so I picked up writing poetry again and around the time I finished my studies, I was able to put together my chapbook, Stubble Burn (Anstruther Press, 2018).ALU: If you had to pitch your featured poem to someone who had never read poetry before, how would you do so? DL: I would say that “Eels” could be an example of relying on one main poetic device (i.e. imagery) in a poem. This poem came about because I wanted to write something about eels, but did not quite know where to start. I spent days thinking about the creatures, and eventually just sat down writing how it felt thinking about them for so long: like they were pouring from my body. The shape of the poem was an idea I came up with to make it resemble the slithery body of an eel, further showing how ingrained they were in my mind and onto the page.ALU: What’s a poetry collection or individual poem that you’d recommend to anyone looking to get into poetry?DL: Summertime Swamp-Love by Patricia Young.


From David Ly’s collection Dream of Me as Water
              I get out of bed and cough
           eels into the bathroom sink
         Baby eels squirm out
       of bloodshot eyes
     I see eels when showering
    writhing in water
    that falls off my body
     Eels are caught in the cotton
      while I towel off
         Eels are stirred into tea
            I sip and my tongue is an eel
              Eels squirm down my throat
                 where they become words
                    I keep smashing
                       eels into the keyboard
                         to get them out of my mind
                           but I still feel them eeling
                            through the grooves of my brain
                             Like yesterday because yesterday
                              was an eel and my dream
                              a moray biting my hand
                             and pulling me into
                            its second set of eely jaws
“Eels” is excerpted from Dream of Me as Water by David Ly, copyright © 2022 by David Ly. Reprinted with the permission of Palimpsest Press.

* * *

David Ly
is the author of the poetry collections Mythical Man (shortlisted for the 2021 ReLit Poetry Award) and Dream of Me as Water. He is the poetry editor at This Magazine.Photo of David by Joy Gyamfi.

* * *

Thanks to David Ly for answering our questionnaire and sharing “Eels” with us for Try Poetry (Why Not?).Remember, if you purchase a copy of Dream of Me as Water or any of the other featured Try Poetry collections, you’ll receive a free digital sampler containing all of our featured poems. (Purchase from All Lit Up or from your local independent bookseller; send proof of payment to if you purchase from your local!)