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About this poet

Mary Ruefle was born in Pennsylvania in 1952. Her father was a military officer, and she spent her early life traveling throughout the United States and Europe. She graduated from Bennington College in 1974 with a degree in literature.

Ruefle has published many books of poetry, including My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016); Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013); A Little White Shadow (2006), an art book of “erasures," a variation on found poetry; The Adamant (1989), winner of the 1988 Iowa Poetry Prize; and Memling’s Veil (University of Alabama Press, 1982).

She is also the author of a book of collected lectures, Madness, Rack, and Honey (Wave Books, 2012); a book of prose, The Most of It (Wave Books, 2008); and a comic book, Go Home and Go To Bed (Pilot Books/Orange Table Comics, 2007).

About Ruefle’s poems, the poet Tony Hoagland has said, “Her work combines the spiritual desperation of Dickinson with the rhetorical virtuosity of Wallace Stevens. The result (for those with ears to hear) is a poetry at once ornate and intense; linguistically marvelous, yes, but also as visceral as anything you are likely to encounter.”

Ruefle is the recipient of numerous honors, including an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Whiting Award. She lives in Bennington, Vermont, and teaches in the MFA program at Vermont College.



Bibliography

Poetry
My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016)
Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013)
Selected Poems (Wave Books, 2010)
Indeed I Was Pleased with the World (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2007)
A Little White Shadow (Wave Books, 2006)
Tristimania (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 2003)
Among the Musk Ox People (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2002)
Apparition Hill (CavanKerry Press, 2001)
Post Meridian (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2000)
Cold Pluto (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1996)
The Adamant (University of Iowa Press, 1989)
Life Without Speaking (University of Alabama Press, 1987)
Memling’s Veil (University of Alabama Press, 1982)

Prose
On Imagination (Sarabande Books, 2017)
Madness, Rack, and Honey (Wave Books, 2012)
The Most of It (Wave Books, 2008)

Please Read

Once upon a time there was a bird, my God.
—Clarice Lispector

I am the yellow finch that came to her feeder an hour before she died. I was the last living thing she saw, so my responsibility was great. Yet all I did was eat. Through eight long months of winter the black oiled sunflower seeds had gone untouched—not a single one of my kind or any other kind had approached them. It was too much work. Even if we’d had the strength—which we did not, half-starved as we were—we were not in the mood to crack anything. On the morning of the twenty-second of April she took them away and refilled the feeding tube with sunflower hearts—sheeny niblets whose hard outer husk had been stripped away by some faraway, intricate machine. She went back inside and waited. From my branch I could see her do the things she liked to do—she picked up a towel from off the floor, she filled out a card stopping the mail, she boiled water, she stared into space. She saw me coming. Her face flickered with, if not exactly joy, the ordinary wellspring of life. It’s true there was a sheet of glass between us. But I could see the seeds of her eyes and the upturned corners of her mouth. I ate a heart. I turned my head. She looked at me as if I were the last living thing on earth. And as I was, I kept on eating.

From My Private Property. Copyright © 2016 by Mary Ruefle. Reprinted with permission of the author and Wave Books.

From My Private Property. Copyright © 2016 by Mary Ruefle. Reprinted with permission of the author and Wave Books.

Mary Ruefle

Mary Ruefle

The poet Mary Ruefle is the author of many books of poetry, including My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016) and Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013).

by this poet

poem

Ann Galbraith
loves Barry Soyers.

Please pray for Lucius Fenn
who suffers greatly whilst shaking hands.

Bonny Polton
loves a pug named Cowl.

Please pray for Olina Korsk
who holds the record for missing fingers.

Leon Bendrix loves Odelia Jonson
poem
I begin
to talk to violets.
Tears fall into my soup
and I drink them. 
Sooner or later
everyone donates something. 
I carry wood, stone, and 
hay in my head. 
The eyes of the violets
grow very wide. 
At the end of the day
I reglue the broken foot
of the china shepherd
who has put up with me.
Next door, in the
poem

I am going to die.
No such thought has ever occurred to me
since the beginning of my exclusive time
in air, when God, having made my mind,
first began to wrap it, slowly and continuously,
in strips of linen soaked in a special admixture
of rosewater, chicken fat, and pinecones