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About this poet

Katie Peterson was born in Menlo Park, California, in 1974. She received a BA from Stanford University and a PhD from Harvard University, where she received the Howard Mumford Jones Prize for her dissertation on Emily Dickinson.

She is the author of The Accounts (University of Chicago Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 Rilke Prize from the University of North Texas; Permission (New Issues, 2013); and This One Tree (New Issues, 2006), winner of the 2005 New Issues Poetry Prize. She is also the editor of Robert Lowell’s New Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017).

Of her work, August Kleinzahler writes, “It is a poetry of search, chiefly for completion or wholeness, amidst the world of forms and various weathers.”

Peterson is the recipient of fellowships from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, among others. She has previously taught at Deep Springs College, Bennington College, and Tufts University. She currently teaches at the University of California–Davis and lives in Woodland, California.


Bibliography

The Accounts (University of Chicago Press, 2013
Permission (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2013)
This One Tree (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2006)

At the Very Beginning

When I named you I was on the verge
of a discovery, I was accumulating

data, my condition was that of a person
sitting late at night in a yellowing kitchen

over steeping tea mumbling
as his wife remotely does the laundry.

My condition was that of a mathematician
who cannot put the names to colors,

who, confusing speaking and addition,
identifies with confidence the rain

soaked broad trunked redwood tree (whose
scent releases all of winter) saying as he passes one

From This One Tree by Katie Peterson. © 2006 reprinted by permission of New Issues Poetry & Prose.

From This One Tree by Katie Peterson. © 2006 reprinted by permission of New Issues Poetry & Prose.

Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson is the author of The Accounts (University of Chicago Press, 2013). She lives in Woodland, California.

by this poet

poem
I remembered what it was like,
knowing what you want to eat and then making it,
forgetting about the ending in the middle,
looking at the ocean for 
a long time without restlessness,
or with restlessness not inhabiting the joints,
sitting Indian style on a porch
overlooking that water, smooth like good cake
poem

A picnic in the sequoias, light
filtered into planes, and the canopy
cut through. Fire raged in that place
one month ago. Since I’d been there,
I’d have to see it burning.
Nature of events to brush
against us like the leaves
of aspens brush against each
other in a grove full

2
poem

I am enlightened, a man
says after dinner, and he doesn’t
mean what you think
he means, he means he’s a product
of the Enlightenment, he’s talking
over his pain in the abyss
inside his gum, it’s called
an abscess (we actually call it
that, he’s taken painkillers,
he’s

2