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About this poet

Poet Sally Van Doren was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She is a graduate of Phillips Academy and Princeton University and received an MFA from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Van Doren was awarded the 2007 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets for her first collection of poems, Sex at Noon Taxes, selected by August Kleinzahler, which was published in spring of 2008 by Louisiana State University Press. She is also the author of Promise (LSU Press, 2017), which features one of her drawings on the cover, and Possessive (LSU Press, 2012).

About her work, Kleinzahler wrote: "There are no dead moments, no fill: even the conjunctions, prepositions and assorted connectives carry a charge. The language is alive. The movement of language is alive. The mind at work here is at all points quick, full of play and bite."

She was a semi-finalist in the 2006 "Discovery"/The Nation Poetry Contest. Her poem, "The Sense Series," was the text for a multimedia performance at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.

Van Doren has taught creative writing in the St. Louis Public Schools and at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, and she curates the Sunday Poetry Workshops for the St. Louis Poetry Center.  She divides her time between St. Louis and Cornwall, Connecticut.

Bibliography

Promise (Louisiana State University Press, 2017)
Possessive (Louisiana State University Press, 2012)
Sex at Noon Taxes (Louisiana State University Press, 2007)

Call Us

Let's use our nicknames
When we apply for this next job
Even though it's past our bedtime
And our current paycheck
 
Can't shut up the muse
Who mewls at the dinner table
Begging for a crust of bread
To sate the nightly terrors.
 
For they come, don't they,
Leaving empty spaces numbers
Are supposed to fill. Buddy
And Chip loaded their coffers
 
Before the hard freeze.
The ice burns our tongues
As we swallow prosperity
One parched drop at a time.

Copyright © 2012 by Sally Van Doren. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2012 by Sally Van Doren. Used with permission of the author.

Sally Van Doren

Sally Van Doren

Poet Sally Van Doren was the recipient of the 2007 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets

by this poet

poem
Or

Every morning I let it all go.
Then it starts coming back,
sometimes blurred, sometimes
stuttering, sometimes suspended
on a linear dartboard that
I try to impale myself upon.
Even when the skylight is leaking,
I look for the peephole
that will ensnare my vision
of

poem
I chart the psyche,
observing how I 
force myself to speak
to you, imagining that
together we might
transform a life.  

Why this need
to document change,
to reverse a mood, 
to carry forward the time
when magnolias bloom?

Let’s follow the itinerant we
up and over the jonquil's back,
treading on its spilled
poem

Here I am with all my flaws
seeking form and shelter.

I blanche at the notion
of violence, but it’s coming

after us, closing in like a
superstition I can’t shake.

If I acquiesce to your harsh
future you must promise me

one thing. Where we go we will
find our youth