poem index

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

March 3, 2007AWP Conference, AtlantaFrom the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

Born on August 5, 1950, Linda Gregerson grew up in Illinois and received a BA from Oberlin College in 1971, an MA from Northwestern University, an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, and her PhD from Stanford University.

Her books of poetry include The Selvage (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012); Magnetic North (Houghton Mifflin, 2007); Waterborne (Houghton Mifflin, 2002), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep (1996), a finalist for both The Poet's Prize and the Lenore Marshall Award; and Fire in the Conservatory (1982).

She is also the author of literary criticism, including Negative Capability: Contemporary American Poetry (2001) and The Reformation of the Subject: Spenser, Milton, and the English Protestant Epic (1995).

About her work, the poet Rosanna Warren wrote, "Tender and harrowing, jagged, severely precise and floodlit with compassion, Linda Gregerson's poems break and mend poetic language as they break and mend the heart."

Her awards and honors include the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine, the Consuelo Ford Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Isabel MacCaffrey Award from the Spenser Society of America, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Pushcart Prize.

Gregerson teaches American poetry and Renaissance literature at the University of Michigan, where she also directs the MFA program in creative writing. She lives with her husband and two daughters.

Narrow Flame

Linda Gregerson, 1950
Dark still. Twelve degrees below freezing. 
            Tremor along
      the elegant, injured right front

leg of the gelding on the cross-ties. Kneeling 
            girl.
      The undersong of waters as she bathes

the leg in yet more cold. [tongue is broken] 
            [god to me]
      Her hair the color of winter wheat.

Reproduced with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © 2002 by Linda Gregerson. All rights reserved.

Reproduced with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. Copyright © 2002 by Linda Gregerson. All rights reserved.

Linda Gregerson

Linda Gregerson

Poet Linda Gregerson's book Waterborne won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize and her book The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Award

by this poet

poem
1

Choose any angle you like, she said,
the world is split in two. On one side, health

and dumb good luck (or money, which can pass
for both), and elsewhere . . . well,

they're eight days from the nearest town,
the parents are frightened, they think it's their fault,

the child isn't able to suck. A thing
so
poem
The fine fourth finger
of his fine right hand,

just slightly, when
he's tracking our path

on his iPhone or
repairing the clasp

on my watch I
will not think about

the myelin sheath.
Slight tremor only,

transient, so
the flaw in the

pavement must
have been my

mother's back.
poem
          1

The world's a world of trouble, your mother must
                    have told you
          that. Poison leaks into the basements

and tedium into the schools. The oak
                    is going the way
          of the elm in the upper Midwest—my cousin

earns a living by taking the dead ones