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January 19, 2017


Max Ritvo

About This Poem


“‘Cachexia’ is a poem Max Ritvo wrote during the late stages of his nine-year fight with cancer (Ewing’s sarcoma). Cachexia is known more commonly as  ‘wasting of the body’ and is present in people with AIDS, cancer, and other diseases. Max noticed the shifts in his appetite and body despite his efforts to eat and maintain nutritional status. Max wrote ‘Cachexia’ just a few months before he died. It informs the reader about the inner world of a terminally ill young man.”
—Ariella Riva Ritvo


Max Ritvo is the author of  Four Reincarnations (Milkweed Editions, 2016). He was a teaching fellow at Columbia University and lived in Manhattan, New York. He died on August 23, 2016.


Photo credit: Ashley Woo

Poetry by Ritvo


Four Reincarnations

(Milkweed Editions, 2016)

"The Branches" by Jean Valentine


"Ephemeral Stream" by Elizabeth Willis


"Why Poetry Can Be Hard for Most People" by Dorothea Lasky




Launched during National Poetry Month in 2006, Poem-a-Day features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends. If you enjoy Poem-a-Day, please consider making a donation to help make it possible.