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About this poet

Carol Muske-Dukes was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1945. She received her MS in 1970 from the State University of California at San Francisco.

Her most recent book of poems is Twin Cities (Penguin, 2011). Her previous collection, Sparrow (Random House, 2003) was a National Book Award finalist. Her other books of poetry include: Camouflage (University of Pittsburgh, 1975); Skylight (Doubleday, 1981); Wyndmere (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985); Applause (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989); Red Trousseau (Viking Press, 1993); and Octave Above Thunder (Penguin Books, 1997).

Her books of prose include two collections of essays: Women and Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 1997); Married to the Icepick Killer: a Poet in Hollywood (Random House, 2002); the novels Dear Digby (Viking Press, 1989); Saving St. Germ (Viking Press, 1993) Life after death: a novel (Random House, 2001) and her most recent book, Channeling Mark Twain (Random House, 2008).

Among her awards are the 1979 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award of the Poetry Society of America, a 1981 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, an Ingram-Merrill grant, a Witter/Bynner Award from the Library of Congress, and several Pushcart Prizes.

A regular writer for the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, and the Huffington Post, Muske-Dukes has also taught in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the University of California at Irvine, and the University of Virginia. She is the founding director of the PhD Program in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California.

She lives in Los Angeles, California, where she served as the state poet laureate from 2008 to 2011.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
Twin Cities (Penguin, 2011)
Sparrow (Random House, 2003)
Camouflage (University of Pittsburgh, 1975)
Skylight (Doubleday, 1981)
Wyndmere (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985)
Applause (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989)
Red Trousseau (Viking Press, 1993)
Octave Above Thunder (Penguin Books, 1997)

Prose
Channeling Mark Twain (Random House, 2008)
Life after death: a novel (Random House, 2001)
Saving St. Germ (Viking Press, 1993) 
Women and Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 1997)
Married to the Icepick Killer: a Poet in Hollywood (Random House, 2002)
Dear Digby (Viking Press, 1989)

Translation Class

—Rainer Maria Rilke, "Archaic Torso of Apollo"

The word’s augapfel
meaning eyeballs or “apple of the eye.”

But we only have the torso of a god here.
Apollo’s abs! Not, the poet writes, his

“unknowable” head. Not his unseen immortal gaze.

But a god might materialize within a sudden turn of phrase:
          those startled eyes,

arms and legs: sudden lamp-bright rays
               from inside the bruised translucence of stone.

Then a “proud manhood” flaring—don’t look away!
See, this god doesn’t lust after your little life—or care.
It is his own Apollonian god-ness insisting on itself,
handfuls of gems shaken over that chest, blinding

us. Blinking as each rendering slides its straitjacket
over him as he spins, rocketing back into monument.

Translation is about freeing ourselves from our selves:
That older voice, from the back.

Long ago Dresden, she sat, a kid in kitchen lamplight,
a decade after nonstop bombs obliterated each strasse:
                    homes, hospitals, museums, towers: rotating

beams. She cut open an apple with a pocketknife,
watching its heart break into a five-pointed star,
                                   that children then called augapfel.

Apple on a plate, Apollo’s petaled eye…
Searchlights rake each word’s perfect precedence.
There is nothing here that does not see you—

your word-history in ego’s funny destruction,
in linguist-selfies, a drone’s drone-sight. So follow Apollo now!
                              @ hashtag: You Must Change Your Life.

From Blue Rose by Carol Muske-Dukes, published by Penguin Poets, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2018 by Carol Muske-Dukes.

From Blue Rose by Carol Muske-Dukes, published by Penguin Poets, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2018 by Carol Muske-Dukes.

Carol Muske-Dukes

Carol Muske-Dukes

Carol Muske-Dukes was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1945. Her poetry collections include Twin Cities (Penguin, 2011) and Sparrow (Random House, 2003), a National Book Award finalist.

by this poet

poem

O the body’s much ballyhoo’d right to be born!
Aligning with her right to shine & die, a star!
They all know her name but not her age
A doctor our daughters shared, opined.

Her name, he said, was failure to
(Thrived onscreen, you’ve seen her.)
My

poem

Awake suddenly and afraid, I looked down from my
high window into the spinning prism of snow, past
the new flattened macadam to the white meadow below.

I watched the drifts cover the tall grass, where in
Summer, rabbits and whip-poor-wills hid from eager
slingshots and family-size plots

poem

He glides in on his single wing, after the signs go up. After
the truck leaves with the bunkbeds, grill, broken hall mirror.
After Scout is dropped off at the shelter. After the last look,

on the dying lawn. In the backyard, where the empty pool
stands open; he pops an ollie over the

collected in

collection
Whether it’s for National Translation Month in September or any time o...