poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Jorie Graham was born in New York City and raised in Rome, Italy. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris before attending New York University as an undergraduate, where she studied filmmaking. She received an MFA in Poetry from the University of Iowa.
 
Graham is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently Fast: Poems (Ecco, 2017), From the New World: Poems 1976-2014 (Ecco, 2015), Place: New Poems (Ecco, 2012), Sea Change (Ecco, 2008), Never (Ecco, 2002), Swarm (Ecco, 2000), and The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 (Ecco, 1997), which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
 
About her work, James Longenbach writes in the New York Times: “For 30 years Jorie Graham has engaged the whole human contraption — intellectual, global, domestic, apocalyptic — rather than the narrow emotional slice of it most often reserved for poems. She thinks of the poet not as a recorder but as a constructor of experience. Like Rilke or Yeats, she imagines the hermetic poet as a public figure, someone who addresses the most urgent philosophical and political issues of the time simply by writing poems.”
 
Graham has been hailed by John Ashbery as "one of the finest poets writing today," and by James Tate as "a poet of staggering intelligence." Tate adds that "her poems are constantly on the attack. She assays nothing less than the whole body of our history, reshaping myth in ways that risk new knowledge, fresh understanding of all that we might hope to be."
 
Graham has also edited two anthologies: Earth Took of Earth: 100 Great Poems of the English Language (Ecco, 1996) and The Best American Poetry 1990 (Scribner, 1990). Her many honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003.
 
She has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University.

Selected Bibliography

Fast: Poems (Ecco, 2017)
From the New World: Poems 1976-2014 (Ecco, 2015)
Place: New Poems (Ecco, 2012)
Sea Change (2008)
Never (2002)
Swarm (2000)
The Errancy (1997)
The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994 (Ecco, 1995)
Materialism (1993)
Region of Unlikeness (1991)
The End of Beauty (Ecco, 1987)
Erosion (1983)
Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (Princeton University Press, 1980)

San Sepolcro

In this blue light
     I can take you there,
snow having made me
     a world of bone
seen through to.  This
     is my house,

my section of Etruscan
     wall, my neighbor's
lemontrees, and, just below
     the lower church,
the airplane factory.
     A rooster

crows all day from mist
     outside the walls.
There's milk on the air,
     ice on the oily
lemonskins.  How clean
     the mind is,

holy grave.  It is this girl
     by Piero
della Francesca, unbuttoning
     her blue dress,
her mantle of weather,
     to go into

labor.  Come, we can go in.
     It is before
the birth of god.  No one
     has risen yet
to the museums, to the assembly
     line--bodies

and wings--to the open air
     market.  This is
what the living do: go in.
     It's a long way.
And the dress keeps opening
     from eternity

to privacy, quickening.
     Inside, at the heart,
is tragedy, the present moment
     forever stillborn,
but going in, each breath
     is a button

coming undone, something terribly
     nimble-fingered
finding all of the stops.

From The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems, 1974-1994, by Jorie Graham, published by The Ecco Press. Copyright © 1995 by Jorie Graham. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

From The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems, 1974-1994, by Jorie Graham, published by The Ecco Press. Copyright © 1995 by Jorie Graham. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham was born in New York City on May 9, 1950, the daughter of a journalist and a sculptor.

by this poet

poem
I come back indoors at dusk-end. I come back into the room with

your now finished no-longer-aching no-longer-being

body in it, the candle beside you still lit—no other

light for now. I sit by it and look at it. Another in

from the one I was
poem
To bring back a time and place.
A feeling. As in "we are all in this
together." Or "the United States and her allies

fought for Freedom." To bring back.
The experience of killing and getting killed.
Get missed. Get hit. Sun—is it with us. Holiday,

are you with us on this beach today.
Hemisphere of one, my soul
poem
Sunbreak.  The sky opens its magazine.  If you look hard
                                                         it is a process of falling
                                                         and squinting—& you are in-
terrupted again and again by change, & crouchings out there
2