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About this poet

Allison Joseph received a BA from Kenyon College and an MFA from Indiana University–Bloomington.

She is the author of several poetry collections, including Confessions of a Barefaced Woman (Red Hen Press, 2018); Worldly Pleasures (Word Press, 2004); and What Keeps Us Here (Ampersand, 1992), winner of the John C. Zacharis First Book Award.

Joseph has received fellowships and awards from the Illinois Arts Council. She teaches at and directs the Southern Illinois University–Carbondale MFA Program in Creative Writing, where she also serves as the editor-in-chief and poetry editor of Crab Orchard Review. She lives in Carbondale, Illinois.


Selected Bibliography

Confessions of a Barefaced Woman (Red Hen Press, 2018)
Worldly Pleasures (Word Press, 2004)
Imitation of Life (Carnegie Mellon Unviersity Press, 2003)
In Every Seam (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1997)
Soul Train (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1997)
What Keeps Us Here (Ampersand, 1992)

 

 

My Father's Kites

were crude assemblages of paper sacks and twine,
amalgams of pilfered string and whittled sticks,
twigs pulled straight from his garden, dry patch

of stony land before our house only he
could tend into beauty, thorny roses goaded
into color. How did he make those makeshift

diamonds rise, grab ahold of the wind to sail
into sky like nothing in our neighborhood
of dented cars and stolid brick houses could?

It wasn’t through faith or belief in otherworldly
grace, but rather a metaphor from moving
on a street where cars rusted up on blocks,

monstrously immobile, and planes, bound
for that world we could not see, roared
above our heads, our houses pawns

in a bigger flight path. How tricky the launch
into air, the wait for the right eddy to lift
our homemade contraption into the sullen

blue sky above us, our eyes stinging
with the glut of the sun. And the sad tangle
after flight, collapse of grocery bags

and broken branches, snaggle of string
I still cannot unfurl. Father, you left me
with this unsated need to find the most

delicately useful of breezes, to send
myself into the untenable, balance my weight
as if on paper wings, a flutter then fall,

a stutter back to earth, an elastic sense
of being and becoming forged in our front
yard, your hand over mine over balled string.

From My Father's Kites (Steel Toe Books, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Allison Joseph. Used with the permission of the author.

From My Father's Kites (Steel Toe Books, 2010). Copyright © 2010 by Allison Joseph. Used with the permission of the author.

Allison Joseph

Allison Joseph Confessions of a Barefaced Woman (Red Hen Press), which is forthcoming in 2018. She lives in Carbondale, Illinois.

by this poet

poem

The fro is homage, shrubbery, and revolt—all at once.
The fro and pick have a co-dependent relationship, so
many strands, snags, such snap and sizzle between
the two. The fro wants to sleep on a silk pillowcase,
abhorring the historical atrocity of cotton.
The fro guffaws at relaxers—how

poem

Oh how I wanted to be a dancer
those Saturday mornings in the
living room, neglecting chores

to gape at the whirling people
on our television: the shapely
and self-knowing brownskinned

women who dared stare straight
at the camera, the men strong,
athletically gifted as they

poem

I remember sitting on his bony lap,
fake beard slumping off his face,
his breath reeking sweetly of alcohol,
a scent I didn't yet know at five.
And I didn't know that Santa
was supposed to be fat, white, merry—
not shaky and thin like this
department store Santa who listened