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About this poet

Robin Becker was born in 1951 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She earned a BA and MA from Boston University and taught for seventeen years at the Massacusetts Institute of Technology.

She is the author of Tiger Heron (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014); Domain of Perfect Affection (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2006); The Horse Fair (2000); All-American Girl (1996), which won the 1996 Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry; Giacometti's Dog (1990); Backtalk (1982); and Personal Effects (1977).

About her work, Stephen Dunn has said: "Robin Becker achieves what may be one of the early twenty first century’s most difficult accomplishments—to write a credible poetry of affirmation. In the doing, she doesn't pretty up the world. Rather, she finds language that embraces our dualities, our many-selved presences, regularly demonstrating her kind of perfect affection."

Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications such as American Poetry Review, the Boston Globe, Gettysburg Review, and Ploughshares. Her honors include the 1997 Virginia Faulkner Prize for Excellence in Writing from Prairie Schooner magazine and fellowships from the Mary Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

In addition to serving as Poetry Editor for The Women's Review of Books, Becker writes a column for the WRB on poetry and the poetry scene called "Field Notes." She is a Professor of English and Women's Studies at Pennsylvania State University.

Great Sleeps I Have Known

Robin Becker
Once in a cradle in Norway folded
like Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir
as a ship in full sail transported the dead to Valhalla

Once on a mountain in Taos after making love
in my thirties the decade of turquoise and silver

After your brother walked into the Atlantic
to scatter your mothers ashes his khakis soaked
to the knees his shirtsleeves blowing

At the top of the cottage in a thunderstorm
once or twice each summer covetous of my solitude

Immediately following lunch
against circadian rhythms, once
in a bunk bed in a dormitory in the White Mountains

Once in a hollow tree in Wyoming
A snow squall blew in the guide said  tie up your horses

The last night in the Katmandu guest house
where I saw a bird fly from a monk's mouth
a consolidated sleep of East and West

Once on a horsehair mattress two feet thick
I woke up singing
as in the apocryphal story of my birth
at Temple University Hospital

On the mesa with the burrowing owls
on the mesa with the prairie dogs

Willing to be lucky
I ran the perimeter road in my sleep
entrained to the cycles of light and dark
Sometimes my dead sister visited my dreams

Once on the beach in New Jersey
after the turtles deposited their eggs
before my parents grew old, nocturnal

From Domain of Perfect Affection © 2006. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

From Domain of Perfect Affection © 2006. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Robin Becker

Robin Becker

Robin Becker was born in 1951 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She earned a

by this poet

poem
Shot with arrows and left for dead,
against the angel's leg, Sebastian sinks.
In time, he'll become the patron

saint of athletes and bookbinders.
But for now, who wouldn't want to be
delivered into the sculpted arms

of this seraph, his heavenly
shoulders and biceps?
The artist understood the swoon

of doctrine
poem

Give me, again, the fairy tale grotto
with the portico-vaulting overhead.
Let me walk beneath the canted columns
of Gaudí’s rookery, spiral
along his crenelated Jerusalem
of broken tiles, crazy shields.
Yes, it’s hot as hell and full
of tourists at the double helix,
but the

poem
My father tells the story of his life

and he repeats The most important thing:
          to love your work.
I always loved my work. I was a lucky man.

This man who makes up half of who I am,
         this blusterer
who tricked the rich, outsmarting smarter men,

gave up his Army life insurance plan