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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
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
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
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