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About this poet

In 1951, James Galvin was born in Chicago and was raised in northern Colorado. He earned a BA from Antioch College in 1974 and an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1977.

He has published several collections of poetry, including As Is (Copper Canyon, 2009); X: Poems (2003); Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997 (1997), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Lethal Frequencies (1995); Elements (1988); God's Mistress (1984), which was selected for the National Poetry Series by Marvin Bell; and Imaginary Timber (1980).

Galvin is also the author of the critically acclaimed prose book, The Meadow (1992) and a novel, Fencing the Sky (Henry Holt, 1999).

His honors include a "Discovery"/The Nation award, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Galvin lives in Laramie, Wyoming, where he has worked as a rancher part of each year all his life, and in Iowa City, where he is a member of the permanent faculty of the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop.

Blue or Green

James Galvin, 1951
We don't belong to each other.
		          We belong together.
	                                                                  Some poems 
belong together to prove the intentionality of subatomic particles.
                                     
Some poems eat with scissors.
                                                     Some poems are like kissing a 
porcupine. 
                   God, by the way, is disappointed in some of your recent 
choices.
               Some poems swoop.
                                                   When she said my eyes were 
definitely blue, I said, How can you see that in the dark?
				      How can
you not? she said, and that was like some poems.
                                                                                  Some poems are 
blinded three times.
                                   Some poems go like death before dishonor.
	                                                                     
Some poems go like the time she brought cherries to the movies; 
later a heedless picnic in her bed.
		                 Never revered I crumbs so
highly.
            Some poems have perfect posture, as if hanging by 
filaments from the sky. 
                                        Those poems walk like dancers, 
noiselessly.
                      All poems are love poems.  
                                                                   Some poems are better off 
dead.
           Right now I want something I don't believe in.

From As Is by James Galvin. Copyright © 2009 by James Galvin. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

From As Is by James Galvin. Copyright © 2009 by James Galvin. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

James Galvin

James Galvin

The author of several collections of poetry, James Galvin's book Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997 was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

by this poet

poem
A pinup of Rita Hayworth was taped
To the bomb that fell on Hiroshima.
The Avant-garde makes me weep with boredom.
Horses are wishes, especially dark ones.

That's why twitches and fences.
That's why switches and spurs.
That's why the idiom of betrayal.
They forgive us.

Their windswayed manes and tails,
poem
                                                       Past
fences the first sheepmen cast across the land, processions
of cringing pitch or cedar posts pulling into the vanishing
point like fretboards carrying barbed melodies, windharp
narratives, songs of place, I'm thinking of the long cowboy
ballads
poem
 
1
Somewhere between a bird's nest and a solar system - whom did
the story use to fashion the crown of thorns, and did it prick
them?
     Whom did the story use for judgement?
                                          Whom for betrayal?

The slender silver filament of drool