Caroline Crumpacker holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing from Brown University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia University's School of the Arts. She has published poetry and reviews in Seneca Review, Boston Review, American Letters and Commentary, Chicago Review, Provincetown Arts and the Poetry Project Newsletter. She is Poetry Editor of Fence magazine, a literary biannual, and a contributing editor to the French/American online magazine Double Change. Crumpacker is also an experienced administrator who has worked as Director of Government Relations for the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, as Deputy Director of Government and Foundation Underwriting for Channel Thirteen/WNET, and, most recently, as Managing Director of the Poetry Society of America. Her academic work has included chairing a panel on female publishers and delivering a paper at a conference held at Barnard College on "Lyric to Language: Contemporary Innovative Women Poets."
The Uses of Distortion
(appendix to the forgotten ) See character see costume see ambassador conjugate of toreador: Country of origin see that night I fell in love (wrong man). Race and ethnicity see mauve suite for women. see my boss is the mouth of god. I went to another country as an ambassador, she begins, and there I read the newspapers. There was something so lovely about the reportage. All the reason. He counters when I first came to your country (challenging her) I was in love with the perfection of your apples. It seems a lewd thing to say but she knows he has contempt for the perfection of form. Press conference. Press harder. She awakens from her gray jacket ( ). She can't help but feel the air of her bourgeois life thickening like a locket. This day beginning now ( ) in this morning and the life to which it is bound. She is holding up the finger of an illiterate woman in triumph. He says release that finger I want to use it. Here begins the next bracketing of their encounter. She has already decided that her own life that thing she wears around is nothing. I would give it to you. He says I spend hours in the supermarket. She says I have no idea how to shop. He would press that finger onto paper and call it meditations. The official press release does not. Press instead ensnare. The Saint of the hand. The men here are terrible lovers, she says. where I come from they are not lovers but disciples. Their fixation on women's bodies is a form of disassociation, he says. She has already decided that nothing could mean more to her than serving the greater design. She says There is every reason to be optimistic. As a painter, he is understood to be inarticulate. Can she imagine herself really IN a country ( )? The closet of mauve and blue suits. The belief that she can not be naked. Her face an illumination of her non-nakedness. Her face a clothing advertisement. She wears it well. She says I congratulate the women of this region. He says Aren't you of this region? She says It's like a dark room where you talk to everyone deeply but without seeing them. Good Friday. Her hand in yours. She says Everything we do makes us safer. He says I painted you naked. Here a hell of sorts enters. Hers. His. That of the (nation).
Copyright © 2008 by Caroline Crumpacker. Originally published in American Poetry Review. Used by permission of the author.