About this poet

Born on January 25, 1952, Alice Fulton was raised in Troy, New York. Her books of poetry include: Cascade Experiment: Selected Poems (W.W. Norton & Co., 2004); Felt (2001), which was awarded the 2002 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress. Felt also was selected by the Los Angeles Times as one of the Best Books of 2001 and as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Her other books include Sensual Math (1995); Powers Of Congress (1990, Sarabande Books reissue 2001); Palladium (University of Illinois, 1982), winner of the 1985 National Poetry Series and the 1987 Society of Midland Authors Award; and Dance Script With Electric Ballerina (1982, University of Illinois reissue 1996), winner of The 1982 Associated Writing Programs Award. A collection of prose, Feeling as a Foreign Language: The Good Strangeness of Poetry, was published by Graywolf Press in 1999. Her work has been included in five editions of The Best American Poetry series and in the The Best of the Best American Poetry, 1988-1997.

Her work has been adapted several times for musical and theatrical productions. Anthony Cornicello's ...turns and turns into the night, a setting of four poems from Sensual Math, premiered at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, February 2001. The 2003 World Premiere of Enid Sutherland's complete setting of "Give: A Sequence Reimagining Daphne & Apollo" took place at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan. William Bolcom's setting of "How To Swing Those Obbligatos Around" was first performed  by Marilyn Horne at Carnegie Hall's Centennial Celebration. Turbulence: A Romance, a song cycle with music by William Bolcom and words by Alice Fulton, debuted at the Walker Art Center in 1997.

She has received fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, The Michigan Society of Fellows, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She is currently the Ann S. Bowers Professor of English at Cornell University.

About Face

Alice Fulton, 1952
Because life's too short to blush,
I keep my blood tucked in.
I won't be mortified
by what I drive or the flaccid
vivacity of my last dinner party.
I take my cue from statues posing only
in their shoulder pads of snow: all January
you can see them working on their granite tans.

That I woke at an ungainly hour,
stripped of the merchandise that clothed me,
distilled to pure suchness,
means not enough to anyone for me
to confess.  I do not suffer
from the excess of taste
that spells embarrassment:
mothers who find their kids unseemly
in their condom earrings,
girls cringing to think
they could be frumpish as their mothers.
Though the late nonerotic Elvis
in his studded gut of jumpsuit
made everybody squeamish, I admit.
Rule one: the King must not elicit pity.

Was the audience afraid of being tainted
--this might rub off on me--
or were they--surrendering--
what a femme word--feeling
solicitous--glimpsing their fragility
in his reversible purples
and unwholesome goldish chains?

At least embarrassment is not an imitation.
It's intimacy for beginners,
the orgasm no one cares to fake.
I almost admire it.  I almost wrote despise.

From Sensual Math, by Alice Fulton, published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 1995 by Alice Fulton. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

From Sensual Math, by Alice Fulton, published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. Copyright © 1995 by Alice Fulton. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Alice Fulton

Alice Fulton

Born in 1952, Alice Fulton was raised in Troy, New York, her book Felt was awarded the 2002 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress

by this poet

poem

Many see a flutterby when they look into this

omniscience I see as a skinniness too densely drawn
or a mystery unhinged by its own symmetry, a twinning
I think of as a listener that thinks along
with me, fused in a tweed, a red herring-
bone weave in the dazzling darkness
and