poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Academy Audio ArchiveRecorded October 8, 1991at the French Institute Alliance Francaise

About this poet

Born in Suffern, New York on September 9, 1942, Linda Gregg grew up in Marin County, California. She received her BA and MA from San Francisco State University.

Her first book of poems, Too Bright to See, was published in 1981. Since then, she has published several collections of poetry, including: All of It Singing (Graywolf Press, 2008), the 2009 recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and winner of the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award; In the Middle Distance (2006); Things and Flesh (1999); Chosen by the Lion (1994); The Sacraments of Desire (1991); Alma (1985); and Eight Poems (1982).

About Gregg's work, the poet W. S. Merwin has said, "I have loved Linda Gregg's poems since I first read them. They are original in the way that really matters: they speak clearly of their source. They are inseparable from the surprising, unrolling, eventful, pure current of their language, and they convey at once the pain of individual loss, a steady and utterly personal radiance."

Gregg's honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Whiting Writer's Award, as well as multiple Pushcart Prizes. She was the 2003 winner of the Sara Teasdale Award and the 2006 PEN/Voelcker Award winner for Poetry.

She has taught at the University of Iowa, Columbia University, and the University of California at Berkeley. She currently lives in New York and teaches at Princeton University.

Chosen by the Lion

Linda Gregg, 1942
I am the one chosen by the lion at sundown
and dragged back from the shining water.
Yanked back to bushes and torn open, blood
blazing at the throat and breast of me.
Taken as meat. Devoured as spirit by spirit.
The others will return quickly to drink again
peacefully, but for me now there is only faith.
Only the fact that the tall windows I lived
with were left uncovered halfway up.
And the silence of those days I lived there
which were marked by your arrivals like 
stations on a long journey. You write to say
you love me and lie awake in stillness
to avoid the pain. I remember looking
at you from within at the last moment,
with faith like a gift handkerchief, delicate
and almost fragile. This is the final thing.
Purity and faith, power and blood. Is there
nothing to see? Not memory even of forgetting?
Only the body eating the body? What of faith
when it meets death, being when it is hard
to account for? The nipples you bit
and the body you possessed lie buried in you.
My faith shines as the moon in the darkness
on water, as the sky in the day. Does it hover
in the air around you? Does it come like
a flower in your groin? Or is it like before
when you were alone and about to fall asleep
saying out loud in the darkness, "Linda,"
and hearing me answer immediately, "Yes!"

From All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems by Linda Gregg. Copyright © 2009 by Linda Gregg. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.

From All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems by Linda Gregg. Copyright © 2009 by Linda Gregg. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.

Linda Gregg

Linda Gregg

The author of several collections of poetry, Linda Gregg's collection All of It Singing was the recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

by this poet

poem
Eight deer on the slope
in the summer morning mist.
The night sky blue.
Me like a mare let out to pasture.
The Tao does not console me. 
I was given the Way 
in the milk of childhood. 
Breathing it waking and sleeping.
But now there is no amazing smell
of sperm on my thighs,
no spreading it on my stomach
to show
poem
Very long ago when the exquisite celadon bowl
that was the mikado's favorite cup got broken,
no one in Japan had the skill and courage
to mend it. So the pieces were taken back
to China with a plea to the emperor
that it be repaired. When the bowl returned, 
it was held together with heavy iron staples.
The