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About this poet

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1969, Cate Marvin was raised as the only child of a C.I.A. intelligence analyst and an editor for the Crime Prevention Council. After graduating from Marlboro College, she received an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston and an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She went on to earn her PhD in English and comparative literature from the University of Cincinnati.

Marvin's first book, World's Tallest Disaster (Sarabande Books, 2001), won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry. Her second collection, Fragment of the Head of a Queen, was published by Sarabande Books in 2007. She also co-edited Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century (Sarabande Books, 2006).

A review of Marvin's work in Publishers Weekly referred to her as a "postmodern Plath," noting: "Marvin can make you laugh at crying and cry at laughing, yet few works so rife with satire ever took the human condition more seriously...Even at its most composed, it flashes with temper, merging the metaphysical and the dramatic, and arriving at unpredictable resolutions."

In addition to the Kathryn A. Morton Prize, Marvin's honors include the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Whiting Award, and a NYFA Gregory Millard Fellowship. She teaches at the College of Staten Island in New York.

Why I Am Afraid of Turning the Page

Cate Marvin, 1969
Spokes, spooks: your tinsel hair weaves the wheel
that streams through my dreams of battle. Another
apocalypse, and your weird blondeness cycling in
and out of the march: down in a bunker, we hunker,
can hear the boots from miles off clop. We tend to
our flowers in the meantime. And in the meantime, 
a daughter is born. She begins as a mere inch, lost
in the folds of a sheet; it's horror to lose her before
she's yet born. Night nurses embody the darkness.
Only your brain remains, floating in a jar that sits 
in a lab far off, some place away, and terribly far.
Your skull no longer exists, its ash has been lifted
to wind from a mountain's top by brothers, friends. 
I am no friend. According to them. Accordion, the
child pulls its witching wind between its opposite
handles: the lungs of the thing grieve, and that is
its noise. She writhes the floor in tantrum. When
you climbed the sides of the house spider-wise to
let yourself in, unlocked the front door, let me in
to climb up into your attic the last time I saw you
that infected cat rubbed its face against my hand.
Wanting to keep it. No, you said. We are friends.
I wear my green jacket with the furred hood. You 
pushed me against chain-length. Today is the day 
that the planet circles the night we began. A child 
is born. Night nurses coagulate her glassed-in crib.
Your organs, distant, still float the darkness of jars.

Copyright © 2011 by Cate Marvin. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2011 by Cate Marvin. Used with permission of the author.

Cate Marvin

Cate Marvin

Marvin's first book, World's Tallest Disaster (Sarabande Books, 2001), won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry

by this poet

poem

Dead girls don't go the dying route to get known.
You’ll find us anonymous still, splayed in Buicks,
carried swaying like calves, our dead hefts swung
from ankles, wrists, hooked by hands and handed
over to strangers slippery as blackout. Slammed
down, the mud on our dress is black as her

poem
You think I like to stand all day, all night,
all any kind of light, to be subject only
to wind? You are right. If seasons undo
me, you are my season. And you are the light
making off with its reflection as my stainless
steel fins spin.

		On lawns, on lawns we stand,
we windmills make a statement. We turn air,
poem
Here's my head, in a dank corner of the yard.
I lied it off and so off it rolled.
It wasn't unbelieving that caused it
To drop off my neck and lull down a slope.
Perhaps it had a mind of its own, wanted
to leave me for a little while.

Or it was scared and detached itself
from the stalk of my neck as a lizard's