poem index

May 16, 2009 McNally Jackson Booksellers, New York City From the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

Born on July 16, 1955, Susan Wheeler grew up in Minnesota and New England. She is the author of several books of poetry and the novel Record Palace (Graywolf, 2005).

Her first collection, Bag 'o' Diamonds (University of Georgia Press, 1993), was chosen by James Tate to receive the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America.

Her other collections are Smokes (Four Way Books, 1998), Source Codes (Salt, 2001), Ledger (Iowa, 2005), and Assorted Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009), which includes poems from her first four books, and Meme (University of Iowa Press, 2012),

Her poems have appeared in eight editions of the The Best American Poetry series, as well as The Paris Review, New American Writing, Talisman, The New Yorker and many other journals.

About her work, John Ashbery writes: "Susan Wheeler's narrative glamour finds occasions in unlikely places: hardware stores, Herodotus, Hollywood Squares, Flemish paintings, green stamps, and echoes of archaic and cyber speech. What at first seems cacophonous comes in the end to seem invested with a mournful dignity."

Wheeler's awards include the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Wheeler has taught at the University of Iowa, NYU, Rutgers, and Columbia University, and is currently on the creative writing faculty at Princeton University. She has lived in the New York area for twenty years.

A Selected Bibliography

Poetry


Bag 'o' Diamonds (University of Georgia Press, 1993)
Smokes (Four Way Books, 1998)
Source Codes (Salt, 2001)
Ledger (Iowa, 2005)
Assorted Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009)
Meme (University of Iowa Press, 2012)

Prose

Record Palace (Graywolf, 2005)

Roanoke and Wampumpeag

Susan Wheeler, 1955
Child, entering Ye Olde Trading Post, takes the pegs upon the walls 
For trees, fingers the beaded doll in buckskin dress, a moccasin, 

A square of maple sugar maple leaf, small imprint of a fingernail 
In its clear window. She wants the Minnesota charm in green, 

Six of ten thousand lakes in silver raised, Babe the Blue Ox and her 
Mate. REAL! CAN OF WORMS! a label states; another, on a bow 

And arrows stapled into cellophane: APACHE ARROWHEADS, 
AUTHENTIQUE. Dread of parents, parked, smoking, in the lot. 

Piecework of the quiet shade. Piecework of the whoosh of trees 
Blowing beyond log walls, adults murmuring over turquoise rings, 

Low radio, woman propped with The Making of a President 
Open in her hands. The child calculates the thieving odds, balks.
 
A brother, suddenly. Come ON. The dollar buys four old-tyme sticks, 
Swirled barber poles in green and brown, horehound-hard and stale, 

Each a member's of the family, their car on gravel moving out, trunk 
To traders and the totem pole, behind the ghastly, grinning cow. 

From Ledger by Susan Wheeler. Copyright © 2005 by Susan Wheeler. Reprinted with permission of the University of Iowa Press. All rights reserved.

Susan Wheeler

Susan Wheeler

Author Susan Wheeler has published several collections of poetry and a novel

by this poet

poem
Purse be full again, or else must I die. This is the wish 
the trees in hell’s seventh circle lacked, bark ripped by monstrous dogs,
bleeding from each wound. We see them languid there,
the lightened purse a demon drug. Less, less.

At the canal, the dog loops trees in a figure eight — 
a cacophony
poem
The perch was on the roof, and the puck was in the air. 
The diffident were driving, and the daunted didn't care. 
When I came out to search for you the lauded hit the breeze 
On detonated packages the bard had built to please. 

The century was breaking and the blame was on default, 
The smallest mammal
poem
The moon rose like a blooming flower. 
The tin in the hand clattered its charge. 
We walked by in the wavering hour, 
I looking away, you chattering hard. 

Met by luck, with like destinations, 
We startled again at what ended in pique. 
Strollers out, seeing us, had no notion; 
A car alarm cycled its querulous