Mar/Apr 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 2 Why We Chose ItApril 4, 2022 |

Why We Chose It: “Human Resources” by Ryann Stevenson

“Human Resources,” by Ryann Stevenson, appears in the Mar/Apr 2022 issue of the Kenyon Review. In her poems, Ryann Stevenson has expanded the lyric to include the world of tech bros, bots, and artificial intelligence. The requisite poetic malaise of the Romantic wanderer is, in her work, a malaise born of our moment: the disorienting (often dreamlike) space of Big Tech, where the line between what is real and what is artificial is constantly blurring, where we are avatars as much as we are bodies, where we never quite know if there’s a human being on the other side. I’m making the poems sound like sociological studies, but they’re not. Stevenson’s work is darkly funny, deployed in a sort of deadpan style—a sort of flattening of language that makes the absurdities, the outsized ambitions, and the self-seriousness of the Tech World even more laughable and more troubling. When the poet opens “Human Resources” with a speaker who claims to be working with a female bo

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Richie Hofmann is the author of Second Empire (Alice James Books, 2015), winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award. A 2012 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellow, he is currently a doctoral student at Emory University.

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