poem index


Katrina Roberts

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Katrina Roberts
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Katrina Roberts received her AB from Harvard University, where she studied with Seamus Heaney, and her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she studied with Jorie Graham.

She is the author of four books of poetry: Underdog (University of Washington Press, 2011); Friendly Fire (Lost Horse Press, 2008), selected by Robin Becker as the winner of the 2007 Idaho Prize in Poetry; The Quick (University of Washington Press, 2005); and How Late Desire Looks (Gibbs-Smith, 1997), winner of the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize.

In her review of The Quick, Lia Purpura writes, “Katrina Roberts is a poet of wise abundance, spending it all, saving nothing, whose words I trust to mine and mind their ever-generative sources.”

Roberts has received grants from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the St. Botolph Society, and was named Theodor Morrison Poetry Scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She has taught at Boston University, the College of the Holy Cross, Harvard University Extension School, the Institute for Writing & Thinking at Bard College, Keene State College, the Northwest Writers Institute at Lewis & Clark College, and the University of Iowa. She is currently the Mina Schwabacher Professor of English/Creative Writing and Humanities at Whitman College, where she also directs the Visiting Writers Reading Series. Roberts, with her husband, co-owns and operates a winery and distillery in Washington State. She lives in Walla Walla, Washington.


Underdog (University of Washington Press, 2011)
Friendly Fire (Lost Horse Press, 2008)
The Quick (University of Washington Press, 2005)
How Late Desire Looks (Gibbs-Smith, 1997)

by this poet


A man walks into a 
museum in Paris, the Museum
of Natural History, to saw
a tusk off an elephant-
skeleton centuries-older than  
he’ll ever be, becoming

in those early morning hours  
part of a derelict and
inglorious human history,
while swallows darn


If “truth is a fire,” as Klimt scrawled on a sketch for his
painting Nuda Veritas, “and to speak truth means to shine and
to burn,” then I’m a spent firework, blown-open, hollow, grime-
smeared and left for a wandering child—to pick from
hardened sand, or to wash out to sea. I’m so



Not nostalgia but the bluer salt of longing, not sentiment but the smutted sky raining bitter sediment, not our winding blunder down into that wound, not the ash-riddled grotto nor the blood-orange blown-open

Not the mineral rash’s voice dubbed across the final unspooling reel,