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About this poet

Born in New York, New York in 1976, Meghan O'Rourke received a BA from Yale University and an MFA from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. She began her literary career as an editorial assistant at The New Yorker, where she also worked as a fiction/nonfiction editor from 2000-2002.

O'Rourke is the author of three collections of poetry: Sun in Days (W. W. Norton, 2017), Once (W. W. Norton, 2011), and Halflife (W.W. Norton, 2007), which was a finalist for Britain's Forward First Book Prize. She is also the author of the memoir The Long Goodbye (Riverhead Books, 2011).

Of her work, poet and New York Times reviewer Joel Brouwer writes, "O'Rourke makes room for many fields of memory in these poems, but locks many others away, often by employing a bemused, detached tone reminiscent of the famously reticent Elizabeth Bishop."

Formerly the poetry editor of the Paris Review and the literary editor of Slate Magazine, she is also a widely published critic and has contributed to The New York Times Book Review and the New Yorker. She received the 2005 Union League and Civic Arts Foundation Award from the Poetry Foundation, two Pushcart Prizes, the May Sarton Poetry Prize from the Academy of Arts and Science, and is the recipient of a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and Marfa, Texas.


Bibliography

Poetry
Sun in Days (W. W. Norton, 2017)
Once (W. W. Norton, 2011)
Halflife (W.W. Norton, 2007)

Prose
The Long Goodbye (Riverhead Books, 2011)

Ophelia to the Court

My shoes are unpolished, my words smudged.
I come to you undressed (the lord, he whispers
Smut; that man, he whispers such). I bend
My thoughts, I submit, but a bird 
Keeps flying from my mind, it slippers
My feet and sings—barren world, 
I have been a little minx in it, not at all
Domestic, not at all clean, not at all blinking
At my lies. First he thought he had a wife, then 
(of course) he thought he had a whore. All
I wanted (if I may speak for myself) was: more.
If only one of you had said, I hold 
Your craven breaking soul, I see the pieces,
I feel them in my hands, idle silver, idle gold...
You see I cannot speak without telling what I am.
I disobey the death you gave me, love.
If you must be, then be not with me.

Copyright © 2010 by Meghan O'Rourke. Used by permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 by Meghan O'Rourke. Used by permission of the author.

Meghan O'Rourke

Meghan O'Rourke

Born in New York in 1976, Meghan O'Rourke's first book of poetry, Halflife, was a finalist for Britain's Forward First Book Prize

by this poet

poem

Never, never, never, never, never.
—King Lear

Even now I can’t grasp “nothing” or “never.”
They’re unholdable, unglobable, no map to nothing.
Never? Never ever again to see you?
An error, I aver. You’re never nothing,
because nothing’s not a thing.
I know death is

poem
We had a drink and got in bed.
That’s when the boat in my mouth set sail,
my fingers drifting in the shallows of your buzz cut.
And in the sound of your eye 
a skiff coasted—boarding it
I found all the bric-a-brac of your attic gloom,
the knives from that other island trip, 
the poison suckleroot lifted from God
poem

What you did wasn’t so bad.
You stood in a small room, waiting for the sun.
At least you told yourself that.
I know it was small,
but there was something, a kind of pulped lemon,
at the low edge of the sky.

No, you’re right, it was terrible.
Terrible to live without love
in