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About this poet

Prageeta Sharma was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1972, shortly after her parents emigrated from India in 1969. She attended Simon’s Rock College of Bard for her undergraduate studies and received an MFA in poetry from Brown University in 1995 and an MA in media studies from The New School in 2002.

She is the author of four poetry collections: Undergloom (Fence Books, 2013); Infamous Landscapes (Fence Books, 2007); The Opening Question (Fence Books, 2004), winner of the 2004 Fence Modern Poets Prize; and Bliss to Fill (Subpress Collective, 2000).

About her work, poet Lisa Jarnot says, "Prageeta Sharma’s poems are as ever imbued with a crafty playfulness by which the appearances of the I, the you, and the we transcend tricks of the trade. Sharma cultivates mindscapes, scrutinizing the self in the midst of blooming and shifting guaranteed to exhilarate the reader."

Sharma received a 2010 Howard Foundation Grant and has taught in the creative writing program at The New School in New York City and in the Individualized BA program at Goddard College in Vermont. Sharma is currently a professor and director of the creative writing program at the University of Montana in Missoula, where she lives.


Undergloom (Fence Books, 2013)
Infamous Landscapes (Fence Books, 2007)
The Opening Question (Fence Books, 2004)
Bliss to Fill (Subpress Collective, 2000)

What Happened at the Service?

The forest service team came to my house to give me a thin-leafed tree,
and to say you can have something, if you wish.
You can have this native tree, a skinny branch, a skinny leaf
with bareness between the leaves.  
A shrub like me? Here is my bark-being underneath.

The freight service team came to my office to give me a vermilion boxcar,
and to say you can have something if you wish.
Why is there no train service? No Amtrak? No russet cargo of folk,
no poets to embrace because our hands all unclasped in response 
to the peptic ulcer of too much fanfare, 
woods with austere engravings—plumed-pen-etched-words, 
severe sentences with accusations—then interjections—
poets all alone floating skyward.

I have found the writing on the wall to be formidable—no patois,
no interesting resilience—I don’t care for leaf rot 
nor figures who do their own dance. 
They find frozen ground menacing—they found me menacing—
even when they say in unison you can have something, if you wish.

It was not I who shoveled the shore and fixed it to another place.
I didn’t find the pallor remarkable nor did I steal it.
I did however try to emulate it—pale-face looked feasible.
I thought I could have something but this was untrue.   
I didn’t take your sun. 
I didn’t take your eyes.

I’ve been trying to salvage the bitter roots that came my way, 
the tincture inside watery and unctuous—
maybe the residue is sweet. 
Or look to the river with its over-determined gurgles 
in the vicinity, 
small cascades immersed in scenery. 

All will sound false to you but I can hear my real voice attempting speech—
but you happened to me—you ghosted your way through me,
you shrubbed me, not the other way around. 
I know these things. 
I have been down here, not up there—
I don’t believe in powers that be,
but can see how the world looks up there. 
How it knights itself with the grandiose—the majestic snow
of simulated faces, the whiteness that surrounds me,
and the quiet that follows.

Copyright © 2010 by Prageeta Sharma. Used by permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 by Prageeta Sharma. Used by permission of the author.

Prageeta Sharma

Prageeta Sharma

Prageeta Sharma is the author of Undergloom (Fence Books, 2013); Infamous Landscapes (Fence Books, 2007); The Opening Question (Fence Books, 2004), winner of the 2004 Fence Modern Poets Prize; and Bliss to Fill (Subpress Collective, 2000).

by this poet


for Mike, July 2016

        After Dale’s sudden cancer,    
                                                   his body wasting swiftly to death,
        I didn’t believe in love or beauty,                          or my ability
                    to write poems.

All this noisy commotion isolated a fairly
small universe of nothing special.
I had faced the assistant to the incumbent, 
his failed face of poetry bottomless 
with self-pride and a satisfaction that fed his wolf. 
And he was a wolf
and when I scoffed at him 
with some penetration I could see the clamor 
of his
Clatter into the window this late night.  
We were flabbergasted, tired
of the newly-minted drunks and meth-kids
with squeals for fists.

We live downtown, 
exposed to the alley. 

Nothing dangerous, and we were not alarmed. 
But still, every sound turns us into pins on points,

a sleep