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About this poet

Born on June 19, 1950, in Chicago, Marianne Boruch earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and her MFA from the University of Massachusetts, where she studied with James Tate. She is the author of eight books of poems, including Cadaver, Speak (Copper Canyon Press, 2014); The Book of Hours (Copper Canyon Press, 2011), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Grace, Fallen from (Wesleyan University Press, 2010); and Poems: New and Selected (Oberlin College Press, 2004).

Exploring the essential in the mundane and everyday, Boruch’s poems are known for their precision, calm attention, and careful reserve. Poet David Young writes that Boruch isn’t “flamboyant or flashy, armored in theory or swimming with a school. Her poems eschew the need for stylistic eccentricity or surface mannerisms. They are contained, steady, and exceptionally precise. They build toward blazing insights with the utmost honesty and care."

An essayist as well as a poet, Boruch has also published two critical works, In the Blue Pharmacy (Trinity University Press, 2005) and Poetry’s Old Air (University of Michigan Press, 1995), as well as a memoir, The Glimpse Traveler (Indiana University Press, 2011).

Boruch has earned fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

She has taught at Tunghai University in Taiwan and the University of Maine at Farmington. In 1987, she developed the creative writing MFA program at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, serving as its first director until 2005, and she remains on the faculty today. Since 1988, she has also taught semi-regularly in the low-residency MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. She lives in West Lafayette, Indiana.


Bibliography

Poetry

Cadaver, Speak (Copper Canyon Press, 2014)
The Book of Hours (Copper Canyon Press, 2011)
Grace, Fallen from (Wesleyan University Press, 2010)
Poems: New and Selected (Oberlin College Press, 2004)
A Stick that Breaks and Breaks (Oberlin College Press, 1997)
Moss Burning (Oberlin College Press, 1995)
Descendant (Wesleyan University Press, 1989)
View from the Gazebo (Wesleyan University Press, 1985)

Nonfiction

The Glimpse Traveler (Indiana University Press, 2011)
In the Blue Pharmacy (Trinity University Press, 2005)
Poetry’s Old Air (University of Michigan Press, 1995)

Still Life

Marianne Boruch, 1950

Someone arranged them in 1620.
Someone found the rare lemon and paid
a lot and neighbored it next 
to the plain pear, the plain
apple of the lost garden, the glass
of wine, set down mid-sip—
don’t drink it, someone said, it’s for
the painting.  And the rabbit skull—
whose idea was that?  There had been
a pistol but someone was told, no,
put that away, into the box with a key
though the key had been
misplaced now for a year.  The artist
wanted light too, for the shadows. 
So the table had to be moved. Somewhere
I dreamt the diary entry
on this, reading the impossible
Dutch quite well, thank you, and I can
translate it here, someone writing
it is spring, after all, and Herr Muller
wants a window of it in the painting, almost
a line of poetry, I thought even then,
in the dream, impressed 
with that "spring after all," that 
"window of it" especially, how sweet
and to the point it came over
into English with no effort at all
as I slept through the night. It was heavy,
that table. Two workers were called
from the east meadow to lift
and grunt and carry it
across the room, just those
few yards.  Of course one of them
exaggerated the pain in his shoulder. 
Not the older, the younger man. 
No good reason
to cry out like that.  But this
was art. And he did, something
sharp and in the air that 
one time. All of them turning then,
however slightly. And there he was, 
eyes closed, not much 
more than a boy, before 
the talk of beauty
started up again.

From Grace, Fallen From by Marianne Boruch. Copyright © 2008 by Marianne Boruch. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

From Grace, Fallen From by Marianne Boruch. Copyright © 2008 by Marianne Boruch. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Marianne Boruch

Marianne Boruch

Born on June 19, 1950, in Chicago, Marianne Boruch earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and her MFA from the University of Massachusetts, where she studied with James Tate. She is the author of eight books of poems, including Cadaver, Speak (Copper Canyon Press, 2014); The Book of Hours (Copper Canyon Press, 2011), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Grace, Fallen from (Wesleyan University Press, 2010); and Poems: New and Selected (Oberlin College Press, 2004).

by this poet

poem
Everyone should have a little fugue, she says,
the young conductor 
taking her younger charges through
the saddest of pieces, almost a dirge
written for unholy times, and no, 
not for money.
                Ready? she tells them, measuring out 
each line for cello, viola, violin.
It will sound to you
not quite
poem
Because the body really 
is Mars, is Earth or Venus or the saddest downsized
Pluto, can be booked, bound, mapped then.
Or rendered like something off the bone, fat just under 
the animal skin, to lard, 
cheaper, quicker than butter, like stillness
belies restlessness, like every yes
was or will be not,
poem

                                   —in memory


Eventually one dreams the real thing.

The cave as it was, what we paid to straddle
one skinny box-turned-seat down the middle, narrow boat
made special for the state park, the wet, the tricky

passing into rock