Poetic License: Steve Luttrell

Katelynn Ouellette


Neeli Cherkovski writes that “Steve Luttrell tailors life down to essential and luminous moments that celebrate our humanity.” Explain how the poems in this collection (Plumb Line) illustrate the truth of this comment. Be sure to cite specific poems in your response.

Steve Luttrell’s Plumb Line is a collection of poems filled with profound revelations concerning humanity in its simplicity and following contentment. While he writes sparingly, Luttrell’s poems offer honest accounts of his own true appreciation for humanity which can be specifically explained in his poem “Eyes and All,” where he exhibits the first of many creations in Plumb Line dedicated to his partner, Catherine:



are made magic

in my re-

flection in your


in the first light

of day


     As humans driven by primal and reproduction-driven bodies, we are at the same time lucky to experience deep and connecting emotions towards other human beings (or multiple human beings) in our short lives. We tie floss-thin knots around these entities we cannot help but latch ourselves on to and, in Luttrell’s case, express our incredulous appreciation for. Luttrell’s “Mornings/are made magic” because he can see his own reflection in the eyes of the woman he loves as the sun rises. Epistemological reasons as to why the sun will again rise tomorrow are rather irrelevant after witnessing accounts of such pure and centering bliss that we may find in another human being during our lives.

     While Luttrell excels in revealing the more intimate testimonials of his life in Plumb Line, he also divulges a wider variety of his “celebration of humanity” in poems such as “The House:”


        a place to live

        make a life

        continue as they say




        a history of rooms


        the house

        their house

        for now



        come in

        sit down


    The hospitality Luttrell evidently finds in the last stanza of this poem (above) contributes to this “celebration” in that there will always be people willing to open their hearts and homes to others as an immediate impulse rooted in their own welcoming human nature. Though the “house” in this poem may be figurative, the invitation to feel welcome in terms of a physical body containing history and openness exceeds palpability. “Welcome/come in/sit down” exemplifies a “luminous moment” of another one of the necessary components of humanity and the love that can be felt between people.  

    Steve Luttrell’s poem “The Song” illustrates Cherkovski’s description of Plumb Line as a “truth (to) celebrate our humanity:”


        Who knows

        the size of forever

       or which day

        may be the last day.




        to know it is

        as it was, always


        timeless and

        without measure.

    In this poem, Luttrell reveals gratitude for his existence. “To know it is/As it was, always” refers to the reflection of being in the past and in the present as a sort of centering purpose of life. His poem “The Neighborhood” contributes to this theme: “all that’s been/lost is time” referring to the idea that we are not missing anything from our lives except for what has already happened in them. Time is clearly not a guarantee in life, it is a privilege. It is enough, for Steve Luttrell, to be aware of this sense of belonging, “on this street/with its houses” and despite everything “here/tonight.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s