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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.

Sonnet [Nothing was ever what it claimed to be,]

Karen Volkman
Nothing was ever what it claimed to be,
the earth, blue egg, in its seeping shell
dispensing damage like a hollow hell
inchling weeping for a minor sea

ticking its tidelets, x and y and z.
The blue beneficence we call and spell
and call blue heaven, the whiteblue well
of constant water, deepening a thee,

a thou and who, touching every what—
and in the or, a shudder in the cut—
and that you are, blue mirror, only stare

bluest blankness, whether in the where,
sheen that bleeds blue beauty we are taught
drowns and booms and vowels.  I will not.

From Nomina by Karen Volkman. Copyright © 2008 by Karen Volkman. Reprinted by permission of B.O.A. Editions. All rights reserved.

From Nomina by Karen Volkman. Copyright © 2008 by Karen Volkman. Reprinted by permission of B.O.A. Editions. 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
   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
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.

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,