Try Poetry: More Sure + A. Light Zachary

As a young child A. Light Zachary’s father used to share poetry with them from the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Romantics, Dickinson, and Atwood. Today Zachary shares with us their poem ‘Overwrite’ from their debut collection More Sure (Arsenal Pulp Press).


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Interview with A. Light Zachary

When was the moment that you decided you wanted to write poetry? Describe it for our readers. Was it reading another poem? Was it listening to a poet read? Was it something different entirely?

My father began sharing poems with me when I was an infant learning to read/listen: ancient Greeks and Romans, the Romantics, Dickinson, Atwood. I was encouraged to mimic them as child painters are encouraged to visit museums with sketchbooks. Because of this, my understanding of language has always been shaped by the sense of intention inherent to poetry.

If you had to pitch your featured poem to someone who had never read poetry before, how would you do so? What kinds of things do you think the new-to-poetry reader might find fascinating about it? What could you share about the poem’s writing process?

A. Light Zachary: It was inspired by someone I knew who was once abused to the edge of suicide. As a survivor in the present day, she reclaims agency by engaging in BDSM, often consensually roleplaying abuse similar to what she once survived. She finds this healing and fulfilling, which is fascinating to me. And I thought of the bravery in deciding not to kill oneself when that might feel like the easiest thing to do—deciding to “make the best of this life”, rather than trying one’s luck in the next. The first draft of this poem took an hour to write, and filled four pages; over three or four years, I pruned everything away except for these eight lines. Many writers fail to understand where their poems actually begin and end, so I am careful to take my time.

What’s a poetry collection or individual poem that you’d recommend to anyone looking to get into poetry?

A. Light Zachary: The most impactful poems are short enough to be read (aloud?) and understood within a single breath. Consider the shortest poems by Lucille Clifton and W.S. Merwin, or haiku by Bashō, or the child’s tiger poem which blew up on Twitter—all of these make precise choices about what is necessary to communicate a feeling.


Do not kiss, but bite apart the scar.
Let it heal anew—

like a bone that must be broken worse
to grow back right;

unlike how I decide to make the best of this life,
rather than reset and try again.

Give me the power to allow you power over me.The power to allow you, or anyone, back in.

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A. Light Zachary is a writer and artist; a former Lambda Literary Fellow; an editor of The Ex-Puritan. Also an autistic and non-binary human being, Light lives between Toronto and New Brunswick. More Sure is their first book of poems.

Remember, if you purchase a copy of More Sure 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!)