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Linda Gregerson: Dear Poet 2016

About this poet

Linda Gregerson was born on August 5, 1950, in Elgin, Illinois. She received a BA from Oberlin College in 1971, an MA from Northwestern University, an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, and her PhD from Stanford University.

Her books of poetry include Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976-2014 (Mariner Books, 2015); The Selvage (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012); Magnetic North (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007), a finalist for the National Book Award; Waterborne (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1996), a finalist for both The Poet’s Prize and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; and Fire in the Conservatory (Dragon Gate Press, 1982).

She is also the author of literary criticism, including Negative Capability: Contemporary American Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2001) and The Reformation of the Subject: Spenser, Milton, and the English Protestant Epic (Cambridge University Press, 1995).

About her work, the poet Rosanna Warren writes, "Tender and harrowing, jagged, severely precise and floodlit with compassion, Linda Gregerson's poems break and mend poetic language as they break and mend the heart."

Her awards and honors include the Levinson Prize from Poetry magazine, the Consuelo Ford Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Isabel MacCaffrey Award from the Spenser Society, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and a Pushcart Prize.

In 2015, Gregerson was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She teaches American poetry and Renaissance literature at the University of Michigan, where she also directs the MFA program in creative writing. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976-2014 (Mariner Books, 2015)
The Selvage (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012)
Magnetic North (Houghton Mifflin, 2007)
Waterborne (Houghton Mifflin, 2002)
The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep (Houghton Mifflin, 1996)
Fire in the Conservatory (Dragon Gate Press, 1982)

Prose

Negative Capability: Contemporary American Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2001)
The Reformation of the Subject: Spenser, Milton, and the English Protestant Epic (Cambridge University Press, 1995)

Heliotrope

(Olivier Theatre, South Bank)

I was his favorite, simply that.
                      And you can see

for yourself why it might have been so:
                     the lushest, least

likely to weary the eyes of all
                     the serried wavelengths.

Never obvious.
                     My bit

of the spectrum unstable somehow,
                     in a way that kept

bringing him back. Search
                     image

on your browser and you’ll see
                     what I mean.

I’ve never had the advantage of
                     sculptural

beauty, as the lily has, I haven’t
                     been able to boast

that stricture of line. That making-
                    no-mistakes. God

knows I’ve wished for it, beggars
                     can dream.

But no. Some neither-this-nor
                    that turns out to be

my sphere. Some manyness rather
                     than singular

perfection. Which I like to think
                     he thought about.

He made this place.
                     They named it

for him. And upholstered the seats
                     in heliotrope,

whose cluster of vowels and con-
                     sonants

he loved like my blue-going-violet-
                     with-touches-of-

gray. The vocal colors. Warm-up,
                     nightly, before

the play. So you see, they were
                     wrong, the ones

who called me unrequited. I
                     was in his throat,

among the folds and ridges and
                     beyond them to

the very dome upon whose curve
                     the heart resides.

Just think what it used to be then,
                     in the hour before

they’d let the rest of you in:
                     my many faces toward

the sun who spoke—no, sang—
                     my name.

Copyright © 2015 by Linda Gregerson. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Linda Gregerson. Used with permission of the author.

Linda Gregerson

Linda Gregerson

Linda Gregerson’s book Waterborne won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize, and her book The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. She currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem
Dark still. Twelve degrees below freezing. 
            Tremor along
      the elegant, injured right front

leg of the gelding on the cross-ties. Kneeling 
            girl.
      The undersong of waters as she bathes

the leg in yet more cold. [tongue is broken] 
            [god to me]
      Her hair the
2
poem

At the foot of the download anchored
                                             among
                                   the usual flotsam of ads,

this link: to plastics-express.com who for
                                             a fraction
                                   of the

2
poem
          1

The world's a world of trouble, your mother must
                    have told you
          that. Poison leaks into the basements

and tedium into the schools. The oak
                    is going the way
          of the elm in the upper Midwest—my cousin

earns a living by taking the dead ones