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poet

Martha Ronk

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Martha Ronk
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Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1940, Martha Ronk attended Wellesley College and earned a PhD from Yale University.

She is the author of several collections of poetry, including Ocular Proof (Omnidawn, 2016); Transfer of Qualities (Omnidawn, 2013); Partially Kept (Nightboat, 2012); Vertigo (Coffee House Press, 2007), which was selected by C.D. Wright as a part of the National Poetry Series; and Desire in LA (University of Georgia Press, 1990). She is also the author of two chapbooks.

In addition to poetry, she has written a collection of short stories, Glass Grapes: And Other Stories (BOA Editions, 2008); and an ironic memoir, Displeasures of the Table (Green Integer, 2001).

About Ronk's work, the poet Norma Cole says, "Ronk, in her 'looking for/the conjunction of the past and the present,' produces a poetry that questions the context of living, its arrangements, its decisions. Her sure-footed investigation is equaled by its prosody of progression/recursion in a particular lexicon of grace and elegance."

Ronk is the recipient of the 2005 PEN USA award in poetry, a MacArthur summer Research Grant, the Gertrude Stein Award, and an NEA grant.

She has taught at Colorado University, Otis College of Art and Design and the Naropa University Summer Writing Program. She is currently living in Los Angeles and is a professor of English at Occidental College.

Bibliography

Poetry
Ocular Proof (Omnidawn, 2016)
Transfer of Qualities (Omnidawn, 2013)
Partially Kept (Nightboat, 2012)
Vertigo (Coffee House Press, 2007)
In a Landscape of Having to Repeat (Omnidawn, 2004)
Why/Why Not (University of California Press, 2003)
Recent Terrains (Johns Hopkins Press, 2000)
Eyetrouble (University of Georgia Press, 1998)
State of Mind (Sun & Moon Books, 1995)
Desert Geometries (Littoral Books, 1992)
Desire in LA (University of Georgia Press, 1990)

Prose
Glass Grapes: And Other Stories (BOA Editions, 2008)
Displeasures of the Table (Green Integer, 2001)

by this poet

poem

Does staring into the black and white contours of a photo
enable a rapprochement with the unreality of one’s own life,
a way to see peculiarity as a back staircase in an old house in a city
so memorably far, dark but navigable, the stairs lacking undulation,
items

poem

The tree azalea overwhelms the evening with its scent,
defining everything and the endless fields.

Walking away, suddenly, it slices off and is gone.

The visible object blurs open in front of you,
the outline of a branch folds back into itself, then clarifies—just as you turn away—

poem
Why knowing is a quality out of fashion and no one can decide to
but slips into it or ends up with a painting one has never
seen that quality of light before even before having seen it
in between pages of another book and not remembering who knows
or recognizing the questionable quality of light on her face
as