poem index


Katie Peterson

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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.


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

by this poet


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

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

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