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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)

Song For the Spirit of Natalie Going

Susan Wheeler, 1955

qui s'est refugie
ton futur en moi
—Stéphane Mallarme, "A Tomb for Anatole"

Small bundle of bones, small bundle of fingers, of plumpness, of heart,
predicate, prescient, standing and wobblings, lit up in the joy,
lachrymose GA, your bundle oh KA, the unfolding begun of the start,
of the toys, of witnessing, silly, the eyes startled and up, re-
enveloped now and fresh with the art, chordate, devoted, 
sunk in dreaming of wisps and startled awake — This is morning.
This is daddy. This is the number eight — spacey, resplendent,
in seersucker bib, overalled, astonished, in dazzling fix
on the small crawling lights in their spaceship of night and the
plug and the cord and the big one's delight, pausing,
mezzed by mobile HEH HEH and again, stinging the shopkeepers,
the monkeyish mouth, knees, child knees — need to have the child
here—absence—knees fall—and falling, a dream, a final
singsong UH HAH in the starkest of suns, the heat now a blanket
now a song of your soul—Such a sharp love there is! Such a loud
love there beats! Such a filled hole you leave, in the dusk in the room,
in the wobbling hours of what has refuged, your future in me.

Natalie Joy Hertel-Voisine, 1994-1995

From Assorted Poems by Susan Wheeler. Copyright © 2009 by Susan Wheeler. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC, www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved.

From Assorted Poems by Susan Wheeler. Copyright © 2009 by Susan Wheeler. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC, www.fsgbooks.com. All rights reserved.

Susan Wheeler

Susan Wheeler

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

by this poet

poem
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,
poem
Green is the false nettle
and green is its bloom
and few are the tenders
you pull from your room,

fewest are the cinders
that fall from your fire,
the many times I wait at
the sparking of desire,

and full yearned, unsated
you adopt a green regret,
unfaithed a slopping kettle
you in my love, beset.
poem
Child in the thick of yearning. Doll carted and pushed 
like child. The aisles purport opportunities — 

looking up, the women's chins, the straight rows 
of peas and pretzels, Fizzies' foils, hermetic 

boxes no one knows. I'll get it! What thing therein 
— bendy straws, powder blue pack Blackjack gum