100th Volume Retrospective: Poem by Tory Dent

The Columbia Review printed this work by Tory Dent while she was studying at Barnard College. She later published three volumes of poetry and received numerous awards and honors, such as the James Laughlin Award in 1999 for HIV, Mon Amour, which described her struggle with the disease. Dent passed away in 2005.


by Tory Dent

This is your debut

if you are dressed right


When vacationing on palm islands

one usually finds another

of interest.

I hope you are making cheer-

she writes-

I know that being of good cheer

is hardly possible

for most of us wits,

but the only thing to do

is contrive it.

False pretensions and vanity

have the redeeming virtues

of something approaching credibility,

and if you can fool yourself

you’re on the right path.

He leans back in black tie

on the chaise longue outside—

“some people show evil

as a great racehorse shows breeding.”

Un chat

qui a une personnalité distingue

choisit de faire ce qu’il veut faire.

Il chassera dans les champs

de la campagne—

ses yeux peuvent percer l’obscurité.

“This is what sentimentality can lead to;

one should leave moments alone.”

from Vol. 58 (1978)