About this poet

Sandra Alcosser was born in Washington, D.C., on February 3, 1944, and she grew up in South Bend, Indiana. She received her B.A. from Purdue University in 1972 and an M.F.A. from the University of Montana in 1982, where she studied with Richard Hugo. She is the author of The Blue Vein (Brighton Press, 2005); A Woman Hit by a Meteor (2001); Except by Nature (Graywolf Press, 1998), which received the Academy's 1998 James Laughlin Award and was selected by Eamon Grennan for the 1997 National Poetry Series; Sleeping Inside the Glacier, a collaboration with artist Michele Burgess (1997); and A Fish to Feed All Hunger (1993), which was selected by James Tate to be the Associated Writing Programs Award Series winner in poetry. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, Paris Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, and theYale Review.

Alcosser's honors include a Montana Artist Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, a Pushcart Prize, a San Diego Artist Fellowship, and a Writer's Voice New Voices of the West Award. Formerly the director of Central Park's Poets-in-the-Park program in New York City, Alcosser started the M.F.A. program in creative writing at San Diego State University. She is currently a professor of poetry, fiction, and feminist poetics at San Diego State University and has taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Montana, and Louisiana State University. Alcosser divides her time between San Diego and Florence, Montana.

Selected Bibliography

Poetry

The Blue Vein (2005)
A Woman Hit by a Meteor (2001)
Glyphs (2001)
Except By Nature (1998)
Sleeping Inside the Glacier (1997)
A Fish to Feed All Hunger (1986)

Hats

Sandra Alcosser, 1944

Auntie lies in the rest home with a feeding tube and a bedpan, she weighs nothing, she fidgets and shakes, and all I can see are her knotted hands and the carbon facets of her eyes, she was famous for her pies and her kindness to neighbors, but if it is true that every hat exhibits a drama the psyche wishes it could perform, what was my aunt saying all the years of my childhood when she squeezed into cars with those too tall hats, those pineapples and colored cockades, my aunt who told me I should travel slowly or I would see too much before I died, wore spires and steeples, tulled toques. The velvet inkpots of Schiaparelli, the mousseline de soie of Lilly Daché have disappeared into the world, leaving behind one flesh-colored box, Worth stenciled on the top, a coral velvet cloche inside with matching veil and drawstring bag, and what am I to make of these Dolores del Rio size 4 black satin wedgies with constellations of spangles on the bridge. Before she climbed into the white boat of the nursing home and sailed away--talking every day to family in heaven, calling them through the sprinkling system--my aunt said she was pushing her cart through the grocery when she saw young girls at the end of an aisle pointing at her, her dowager's hump, her familial tremors. Auntie, who claimed that ninety pounds was her fighting weight, carried her head high, hooded, turbaned, jeweled, her neck straight under pounds of roots and vegetables that shimmied when she walked. Surely this is not the place of women in our world, that when we are old and curled like crustaceans, young girls will laugh at us, point their fingers, run as fast as they can in the opposite direction.

From Except By Nature published by Graywolf Press, 1998. Copyright © 1998 by Sandra Alcosser. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Sandra Alcosser

Sandra Alcosser

Sandra Alcosser was born in Washington, D.C., in 1944, and she grew

by this poet

poem
Some days he'd rub two pegs together
until they made a greasy hum
like rain, the sound of moles
grawing the dirt's grain, the song
soils sing before a quake,
and the red bodies would hang
above the ground in a kind of confusion
or ecstasy. They would writhe.

The farmer showed me
the way worms made love
in
poem
Winter again and we want
the same nocturnal rocking,
watching cedar spit
and sketch its leafy flames,
our rooms steamy with garlic
and greasy harvest stew.
Outside frosted windows--
claw marks on yellow pine,

Venus wobbling in the sky,
the whole valley a glare of ice.
We gather in the kitchen
to make jam from
poem
Friday night I entered a dark corridor
rode to the upper floors with men who filled
the stainless elevator with their smell.

Did you ever make a crystal garden, pour salt
into water, keep pouring until nothing more dissolved?
A landscape will bloom in that saturation.

My daddy's body shop floats to the surface