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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)

Prodigal

Copper and ginger, the plentiful
      mass of it bound, half loosed, and
            bound again in lavish

      disregard as though such heaping up
were a thing indifferent, surfeit from
            the table of the gods, who do

            not give a thought to fairness, no,
      who throw their bounty in a single
lap. The chipped enamel—blue—on her nails.

The lashes sticky with sunlight. You would
      swear she hadn’t a thought in her head
            except for her buttermilk waffle and

      its just proportion of jam. But while
she laughs and chews, half singing
            with the lyrics on the radio, half

            shrugging out of her bathrobe in the
      kitchen warmth, she doesn’t quite
complete the last part, one of the

sleeves—as though, you’d swear, she
      couldn’t be bothered—still covers
            her arm. Which means you do not

      see the cuts. Girls of an age—
fifteen for example—still bearing
             the traces of when-they-were-

            new, of when-the-breasts-had-not-
      been-thought-of, when-the-troublesome-
cleft-was-smooth, are anchored

on a faultline, it’s a wonder they
      survive at all. This ginger-haired
            darling isn’t one of my own, if

      own is ever the way to put it, but
I’ve known her since her heart could still
            be seen at work beneath

            the fontanelles. Her skin
      was almost otherworldly, touch
so silken it seemed another kind

of sight, a subtler
      boundary than obtains for all
            the rest of us, though ordinary

      mortals bear some remnant too,
consider the loved one’s fine-
            grained inner arm. And so

            it’s there, from wrist to
      elbow, that she cuts. She takes
her scissors to that perfect page, she’s good,

she isn’t stupid, she can see that we
      who are children of plenty have no
            excuse for suffering we

      should be ashamed and so she is
and so she has produced this many-
            layered hieroglyphic, channels
           
            raw, half healed, reopened
      before the healing gains momentum, she
has taken for her copy-text the very

cogs and wheels of time. And as for
      her other body, says the plainsong
            on the morning news, the hole

      in the ozone, the fish in the sea,
you were thinking what exactly? You
            were thinking a comfortable

            breakfast would help? I think
      I thought we’d deal with that tomorrow.
Then you’ll have to think again.

From Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976–2014 (Mariner Books, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Linda Gregerson. Used with permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

From Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976–2014 (Mariner Books, 2015). Copyright © 2015 by Linda Gregerson. Used with permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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

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
poem

As sometimes, in the gentler months, the sun
will return
                            before the rain has altogether
                                                       stopped and through

this lightest of curtains the curve of it shines
with a thousand