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About this poet

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1940, Martha Ronk attended Wellesley College and earned a PhD from Yale University.

She is the author of several collections of poetry, including Ocular Proof (Omnidawn, 2016); Transfer of Qualities (Omnidawn, 2013); Partially Kept (Nightboat, 2012); Vertigo (Coffee House Press, 2007), which was selected by C. D. Wright as a part of the National Poetry Series; and Desire in LA (University of Georgia Press, 1990). She is also the author of two chapbooks.

In addition to poetry, she has written a collection of short stories, Glass Grapes: And Other Stories (BOA Editions, 2008); and an ironic memoir, Displeasures of the Table (Green Integer, 2001).

About Ronk's work, the poet Norma Cole says, "Ronk, in her 'looking for / the conjunction of the past and the present,' produces a poetry that questions the context of living, its arrangements, its decisions. Her sure-footed investigation is equaled by its prosody of progression/recursion in a particular lexicon of grace and elegance."

Ronk is the recipient of the 2005 PEN USA award in poetry, a MacArthur summer research grant, the Gertrude Stein Award, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. 

She has taught at Colorado University, Otis College of Art and Design and the Naropa University Summer Writing Program. She currently lives in Los Angeles and is a professor of English at Occidental College.


Bibliography

Poetry
Ocular Proof (Omnidawn, 2016)
Transfer of Qualities (Omnidawn, 2013)
Partially Kept (Nightboat, 2012)
Vertigo (Coffee House Press, 2007)
In a Landscape of Having to Repeat (Omnidawn, 2004)
Why/Why Not (University of California Press, 2003)
Recent Terrains (Johns Hopkins Press, 2000)
Eyetrouble (University of Georgia Press, 1998)
State of Mind (Sun & Moon Books, 1995)
Desert Geometries (Littoral Books, 1992)
Desire in LA (University of Georgia Press, 1990)

Prose
Glass Grapes: And Other Stories (BOA Editions, 2008)
Displeasures of the Table (Green Integer, 2001)

Take #2

Does staring into the black and white contours of a photo
enable a rapprochement with the unreality of one’s own life,
a way to see peculiarity as a back staircase in an old house in a city
so memorably far, dark but navigable, the stairs lacking undulation,
items strewn across a landscape, fixed and determined,
the borders of history and frame set and watching her feet going up and down,
counting the risers that are always 16 despite the deformations of dreams,
always scuffed and smelling of dust, the taste of a local architect
influenced by city regulations and his sense of propriety and then turning
the page to an image of the purported documents of an ordinary scene,
a few weeds wavering in the foreground and the jagged outlines against a sky,
a 7pm time of day, summer, a particular dry rush of air,
and a cutout of one’s own days called up, and the inability to get at
the unlocatable bereavement left on the stairs to be carried up when you go.

From Ocular Proof. Copyright © 2016 by Martha Ronk. Used with the permission of Omnidawn Publishing.

From Ocular Proof. Copyright © 2016 by Martha Ronk. Used with the permission of Omnidawn Publishing.

Martha Ronk

Martha Ronk

Born in 1940, Martha Ronk is the author of several collections of poetry, including Vertigo (Coffee House Press, 2007), which was selected by C. D. Wright as a part of the National Poetry Series.

by this poet

poem

Into this file must go the viewing of films so that characters leave one room
and enter another in which events happen to them in the dark.
History comes to a head in the time of the disaster that structures it.
It

poem
Silence isn’t stillness, agitation has me in its grip

remember reading       Greeks were like us

restless            underneath and again underneath

water wearing away               crevices          the itch

of canyons             skin I didn’t outgrow as

the doctor promised     burns hot and stinging
2
poem

The tree azalea overwhelms the evening with its scent,
defining everything and the endless fields.

Walking away, suddenly, it slices off and is gone.

The visible object blurs open in front of you,
the outline of a branch folds back into itself, then clarifies—just as you turn away—