Tuesday (Grumpy) Musings

Here is the fall poem of the week. This will be the last one, and then I’m going to start moving into winter…


In every room. encircled by a name-
less Southern boy from Yale,
There was my younger sister singing a Fellini theme
And making phone calls
While the rest of us kept moving her discarded boots
Or sat and drank. Outside, in twenty-
nine degrees, a stray cat
Grazed our driveway,
Seeking waste. It scratched the pail.
There were no other sounds.
Yet on and on the preparation of that vast consoling meal
Edged toward the stove. My mother
Had the skewers in her hands.
I watched her tucking skin
As though she missed her young, while bits of onion
Misted snow over the pronged death.

Louise Glück
Today has been a killer day. I stayed up too late last night watching some low budget horror movie on AMC. I think it was called Return to the House on Haunted Hill or something equally terrible. As a result of staying up too late, I went to bed late and woke up too early, and that has resulted in me being cranky throughout most of the morning. I started to recover during my creative writing class, which I love. Today we talked about Carolyn Forché and Maxine Kumin. I have them reading The Things They Carried for next week and then we’re moving into poetry.


Tuesday Musings

Just received this in my email:
New York, September 2—Louise Glück has been selected as the recipient of the 2008 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. The $100,000 prize recognizes outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry. Brigit Pegeen Kelly has been selected as the recipient of the 2008 Academy Fellowship, which is awarded once a year to a poet for distinguished poetic achievement and provides a stipend of $25,000. The Academy’s Board of Chancellors, a body of fourteen eminent poets, selects the Wallace Stevens Award and Academy Fellowship recipients.
Of Louise Glück’s work, Academy Chancellor Robert Pinsky said:

Louise sometimes uses language so plain it can almost seem like someone is speaking to you spontaneously—but it’s always intensely distinguished…There’s always a surprise in Louise’s writing; in every turn, every sentence, every line, something goes somewhere a little different, or very different, from where you thought it would.

Louise Gluck was born in New York City in 1943 and grew up on Long Island. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Averno (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006), The Seven Ages (Ecco, 2001), Vita Nova (1999), Meadowlands (1996), The Wild Iris (1992), Ararat (1990), and The Triumph of Achilles (1985). She has also published a collection of essays, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry (1994).
Her many honors include the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, and the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry. In 2003, she was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States by the Library of Congress. She currently is a writer-in-residence at Yale University, and she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
About writing poetry, Louise Glück wrote:

The world is complete without us. Intolerable fact. To which the poet responds by rebelling, wanting to prove otherwise… The poet lives in chronic dispute with fact, and an astonishment occurs: another fact is created, like a new element, in partial contradiction of the intolerable.

Brigit Pegeen Kelly was born in Palo Alto, California, in 1951. She is the author of The Orchard (BOA Editions, 2004), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and the National Book Circle Critics Award in Poetry; Song (1995), which was the 1994 Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets; and To The Place of Trumpets (Yale University Press, 1988), which was selected by James Merrill for the Yale Series of Younger Poets.
About Kelly’s work, Academy Chancellor Carl Phillips said:

In the course of her three books, Brigit Kelly has shaped a poetry and vision that demand to be taken on their own terms—which is to say, there’s an originality that is everywhere unmistakable. Her sentences shuttle steadily back and forth to produce a tapestry-like meditation that throws into arresting—often disturbing—relief a world that lies “beyond the report of beauty,” where cruelty and sweetness are easily, perhaps necessarily, confusable for one another, a world whose topography is at once mythic, recognizable, and utterly Kelly’s own.

Kelly’s additional honors include a “Discovery”/The Nation Award, the Cecil Hemley Award from the Poetry Society of America, a Pushcart Prize, the Theodore Roethke Prize from Poetry Northwest, and a Whiting Writers Award. Kelly, who has taught for many years primarily at the University of Illinois, has also taught at the University of California at Irvine, Purdue University, and Warren Wilson College. In 2002 the University of Illinois presented her with two awards for excellence in teaching.
Louise Glück and Brigit Pegeen Kelly will be participating in the Poets Forum (November 6-8 in New York City) where they will read from their work at the Poets Awards Ceremony. Louise Glück will also be part of panel discussions on contemporary poetry presented by the Academy of American Poets. For more information, please visit
I really admire Kelly and Gluck, so I’m very pleased they received these awards. I would love to go to NYC to hear them read, but alas I’m a poor poet/professor. I wonder what it would be like to have unlimited funds where I could go to any workshop, panel, lecture, or retreat I wanted to go to…one can dream. Speaking of conferences, early registration for AWP is coming up in October. Three cheers for the windy city!
I enjoyed my class this afternoon. We discussed the art of observation and how it can be useful in all types of writing. I used the famous excerpt about the old tom cat from Annie Dillard’s A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek when I talked about sensory detail. They thought it was gross and talked about it for 20 minutes. I loved it.