“Thank U” by Alanis Morissette


I wrote a letter to Alanis Morissette in the spring of 1999 – handwritten, double-spaced, my last name and page number (there were multiple pages) in the upper right corner of every notebook sheet. I had a lot of questions. Holed up in a suburban basement and right at the line beyond which everything irrevocably complicates, I clung to Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie like a cryptograph for what was to come; I needed Alanis to write me back with the code. But this album was already teaching me plenty: enjambment before I knew it had a name; the confessional mode before I was told to fear it; the power in taking a vowel sound and running every other vowel through it like a sword. In the years since, songs like “Thank U” continue to open themselves up to me. Put the song’s outro – the fade-out under Alanis’s wail of imperfect self – on repeat. I’m still riding that voice into whatever’s next.

-Emily Grise

egEmily Grise is a native Kentuckian living and working in St. Louis, Missouri. She serves as Associate Publicist for Copper Canyon Press and Associate Poetry Editor for WomenArts Quarterly Journal. Her poetry has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Limestone, carte blanche, New Delta Review, and others. She got Alanis Morissette’s mailing address out of a YM magazine.

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