the louderARTS Project

Kathleen Graber

Kathleen Graber's first collection Correspondence was the winner of the 2005 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize.   She will be a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University during the upcoming academic year.   She has also received fellowship support from the Rona Jaffe Foundation and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.   New poems are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, The Literary Review, and The Georgia Review.   She lives in Wildwood, New Jersey with her husband and dog.

"This is a   poetry of meditative embrace, which both repairs and celebrates the often chaotic nature of life.   Her long lines and slow cadences lend a devotional feel to poems in which the hidden and forgotten are returned to the lyric realm of consciousness.   She would hold everything and clarify everything she holds."                                                                                                  -Bob Hicok

"Kathleen Graber's remarkable debut volume practices a poetic version of what surveyors call "triangulation;" by mapping points in the landscape and drawing lines between them, it's possible to identify where one stands or at least to point toward what lies within the space identified by these lines of interchange....   Correspondence is a fresh accomplishment, swift with feeling and intelligence, the work of a restless critical mind mapping its way toward a means to bear the weight of love. "       
-Mark Doty

"In these poems, it's the way in which correspondences slip and fail to correspond that generates the beauty and deeply felt intelligence of the whole: "I want it all. Every broken brick: / if not the fruit, the flower, if not this, the rind, whatever it is / that's left over." Here, it is the struggle with incongruity that binds each assemblage together."
-Boston Review

Pastoral

All winter I watched the cat in the butcher's window.

And now that the weather has turned & the door

to New Khan Meats stands open, I catch the whine

of the electric saw, the slap of the cleaver.

But because the white-coated workers stand

always with their backs to the street, I never have to see

what's being done. To keep ourselves together,

we learn to keep ourselves apart. Etched in the ancient tomb

of the Queen of Ur is the image of Capra prisca, a ram

caught in a thicket. We read the breed from the peculiar spiral

of its horns. The indifferent gray cat, loyal only

to the tough scraps from the master's block, slips out,

past two crates of mangoes, into the warm air of the stoop.

Last week, a man opened the battered back gate of an idling van

& swung three flayed goats°Xeven the heads were bare°X

across his shoulder, then stepped inside. The flesh

was neither pink nor bloodied, but a dry, articulate bank

of dark muscle & pale ribbons of fat. Imagine the first

spring, the fine, violet flank of night descending.

 



Between Laurelton and Locust Manor

The houses turn from the tracks & play instead,
nose to nose with their identical neighbors,
                                                                       the same old games:
who will blink first, guess what Iím hiding behind my back. How long
have they held the mower, the buried bone, the hubcap
in their yards? Someoneís saving seven busted up rowboats
a long way from the sea. Isnít this art, this careful arrangement of what is
useless?
                 The way a Painting without Mercy emerges
on broken plates. Even if there were water, a flood, nothing here
would float. Even from the train, we can tell a story
about the epiphanic suffering
                                                    of saints, even from here we can see the split
wood, the violent gray gash in the bow, give them namesóLucy,
Patron of Hide and Seek, Sophia, Martyr
of the Twenty Questions.

                                          And this is where we stop, waiting
for the signal from the station. Itís a tired trope, a bright February.
Iíve lost something
                                 Iíll never find. This is about black & white television,
about Ed Sullivan in earnest conversation with Topo Gigio,
acting as though he didnít know there was a script,
a human hand inside. I donít want to suggest
the assemblagistís religion of junk because maybe
                                                                                  itís simpler,
the explanation for whatís collecting
                                                             beyond the fenceó
an ancient urge that rises up from the base of the skull & ferries us
to the harvest of whatever we can. But I spy a red rowboat on sawhorses
in the morning of every day. Somebody come tell me
thatís not a kind of faith.
                                         Somebody say thatís not the kind of sign
we should expect from a god.



© Kathleen Graber



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