by Elizabeth Metzger



Let me confess to having taken the easy way in. My mind first went to the noun (where we sleep), then to the verb (“to sleep with”). Yours may have too, but the more time you spend with this remarkable book, the more you might come to think of planting, tending, picking. A bed of roses—or indeed, no bed of roses. Elizabeth Metzger’s poems act as both repositories and engines of mystery, of “secrets other secrets / have rubbed away,” yet their mysteriousness never feels coy. There’s a difference between hiding information and asserting control over how it’s revealed. “I stayed off-center,” she writes, and to me this has always seemed like one of the better places from which to view things, but hers is furthermore a poetry that recognizes, as Gertrude Stein put it, “there is no use in a center.” Among Metzger’s many gifts is her ability to describe complicated positions simply, facing down the conundrums of language and perspective to devastating effect: “The children left me. / You say they came.”

—from the Judge’s Citation by Mark Bibbins

Published: November 2021
Format: paperback

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ISBN: 978-1-946482-60-0 Category: Tag:

These poems are fiercely built, like an ark which has touched the bedrock of our human ardour. Bed is superb work.—Ishion Hutchinson, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

“Sit on the grass, look up at the sky, and then read this brilliant book now.” —Elizabeth A.I. Powell, author of Atomizer

Bed… has more teeth, performing a kind of bait and switch as it dispenses with broad categories of affect in favor of this astonishing power of tearing apart and then putting back together again…”

—Ben Tripp, Heavy Feather Review

The poems of Bed ‘use language to get beyond language’ through deliberate lyricism and idiosyncratic spirituality. Metzger, by ‘flipping open the dictionary of myself,’ generates a private lexicon to crack open the painful devotions of love and grief.”

—Clare Lilliston, Full Stop



The poems in Bed, many written during prolonged bed rest, examine how life’s interruptions—illness or new motherhood, loss or lust—can lead us to intimate revelations with others and with our selves. We spend much of our lives in bed—it is a border, a boundary, a haven, and a trap—and the poems in Bed confront and question the very limits of body and mind. In dream and waking, in sickness and sex, in marriage and birth, in grief and death, the bed is a space that can either mark time or transcend it, a place of perpetual becoming and reinvention. Here is a body trying to remember pleasure amidst the material of suffering, a language trying to keep up with a love that begins before speech. The bed in Bed is often an absent center—a missing mind—around which intimacy must dance. Maybe it is the wanted child. Maybe it is the mourned self. Maybe it is your mind these poems must be tucked into to be kept or come alive.

“Bed… has more teeth, performing a kind of bait and switch as it dispenses with broad categories of affect in favor of this astonishing power of tearing apart and then putting back together again…” — Ben Tripp, Heavy Feather Review

Elizabeth Metzger
Elizabeth Metzger photo by Yvette Roman

Elizabeth Metzger is the author of The Spirit Papers, winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry, and the chapbook The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry Magazine, American Poetry Review, The Nation, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day. Her prose has appeared in ConjunctionsLiterary Hub, Guernica, and Boston Review. She is a poetry editor at The Los Angeles Review of Books.

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Weight 0.19 lbs
Dimensions 5.5 × 8.5 in

Click here to download a suite of curricular resources for BED, designed by Faith Earl.

Metzger Bed Lesson Plans


Click here to download a lesson plan on Poetry & Questions, designed by Sean Cho Ayres.

Lesson on Bed