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May 13, 2008 The Academy Offices From the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

In 1967, Karen Volkman was born in Miami, Florida. She was educated at New College, Syracuse University, and the University of Houston.

She is the author of Nomina (BOA Editions, 2008); Spar (University of Iowa Press, 2002), winner of the James Laughlin Award and the Iowa Poetry Prize, and Crash’s Law, which was selected for the National Poetry Series by Heather McHugh.

She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Society of America, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Akademie Schloss Solitude.

She teaches in the MFA writing program at the University of Montana in Missoula.

A Light Says Why

Karen Volkman
   A light says why. From all the poor prying. Again we attain a more 
regal posture--small bird accompanying slips between our whim. 
Where will we flicker, loose as two feathers from a wren's back? Gone, 
do not brood for all the hands that miss you. They hardly hold. Don't 
wait, one who thought a dark eye could save you, like night with its black 
paws curled and gone to sleep. There are only two names to remember, 
Loss and Pleasure, crossed in this field like no man's borrowed light. Call 
the far-sighted foxes to the launching. Call the small deer scattered in 
the back brush, swift as flit. Contingency has arms and hands and wasted 
faces. And a body, shrunk and scurvy, built to burn.

From Spar by Karen Volkman, published by the University of Iowa Press. Copyright © 2002 by Karen Volkman. All rights reserved.

From Spar by Karen Volkman, published by the University of Iowa Press. Copyright © 2002 by Karen Volkman. All rights reserved.

Karen Volkman

Karen Volkman

Poet Karen Volkman was the recipient of the James Laughlin Award and the Iowa Poetry Prize

by this poet

poem
Laughing below, the unimagined room
in unimagined mouths, a turning mood
speaking itself the way a fulling should
overspilling into something's dome,

some moment's edging over into bloom.
What is a happening but conscious cloud
seeking its edge in a wound or word
pellucidity describing term

as boundary, body,
poem

 

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poem

Labor as a tulip
arrays its flame, nu
form, as the bulb-star,
interred, divines its ore

surging the gulf
rooting it into
appalled memento
pulsing will.

Leaf-blades score the heap.
Other wounds—penetralia—
other worlds, cries, far.