Scaffolding is a sequence of eighty-two sonnets written over the course of a year, dated and arranged in roughly chronological order, and vividly reflecting life in New York City. In this, her third book of poetry, Eléna Rivera uses the English sonnet as a scaffold to explore daily events, observations, conversations, thoughts, words, and memories—and to reflect on the work of earlier poets and the relationship between life and literature.
Guided by formal and syllabic constraints, the poems become in part an exploration of how form affects content and how other poets have approached the sonnet. The poems, which are very attentive to rhythm and sound, are often in conversation with historical, philosophical, artistic, and literary sources. But at the same time they engage directly with the present moment. Like the construction scaffolding that year after year goes up around buildings all over New York, these poems build on one another and change the way we see what was there before.
Eléna Rivera is a poet and translator. She is the author of The Perforated Map and Unknowne Land, and her poems have appeared in the Nation, Denver Quarterly, the New York Times, and many other publications. Her translation of Bernard Noël's The Rest of the Voyage won the Robert Fagles Translation Prize. She was born in Mexico City, spent her childhood in Paris, and now lives in New York City.