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About this poet

Born in Suffern, New York on September 9, 1942, Linda Gregg grew up in Marin County, California. She received her BA and MA from San Francisco State University.

Her first book of poems, Too Bright to See, was published in 1981. Since then, she has published several collections of poetry, including: All of It Singing (Graywolf Press, 2008), the 2009 recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and winner of the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award; In the Middle Distance (2006); Things and Flesh (1999); Chosen by the Lion (1994); The Sacraments of Desire (1991); Alma (1985); and Eight Poems (1982).

About Gregg's work, the poet W. S. Merwin has said, "I have loved Linda Gregg's poems since I first read them. They are original in the way that really matters: they speak clearly of their source. They are inseparable from the surprising, unrolling, eventful, pure current of their language, and they convey at once the pain of individual loss, a steady and utterly personal radiance."

Gregg's honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Whiting Writer's Award, as well as multiple Pushcart Prizes. She was the 2003 winner of the Sara Teasdale Award and the 2006 PEN/Voelcker Award winner for Poetry.

She has taught at the University of Iowa, Columbia University, and the University of California at Berkeley. She currently lives in New York and teaches at Princeton University.

Let Birds

Linda Gregg, 1942
Eight deer on the slope
in the summer morning mist.
The night sky blue.
Me like a mare let out to pasture.
The Tao does not console me. 
I was given the Way 
in the milk of childhood. 
Breathing it waking and sleeping.
But now there is no amazing smell
of sperm on my thighs,
no spreading it on my stomach
to show pleasure. 
I will never give up longing. 
I will let my hair stay long. 
The rain proclaims these trees,
the trees tell of the sun.
Let birds, let birds.
Let leaf be passion.
Let jaw, let teeth, let tongue be
between us. Let joy.
Let entering. Let rage and calm join.
Let quail come.
Let winter impress you. Let spring. 
Allow the ocean to wake in you.
Let the mare in the field
in the summer morning mist
make you whinny. Make you come 
to the fence and whinny. Let birds.

From All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems by Linda Gregg. Copyright © 2009 by Linda Gregg. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.

From All of It Singing: New and Selected Poems by Linda Gregg. Copyright © 2009 by Linda Gregg. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.

Linda Gregg

Linda Gregg

The author of several collections of poetry, Linda Gregg's collection All of It Singing was the recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

by this poet

poem
We could have been mistaken for a married couple
riding on the train from Manhattan to Chicago
that last time we were together. I remember
looking out the window and praising the beauty
of the ordinary: the in-between places, the world
with its back turned to us, the small neglected
stations of our history. I
poem
When death comes, we take off our clothes
and gather everything we left behind:
what is dark, broken, touched with shame.
When Death demands we give an accounting,
naked we present our lives in bundles.
See how much these weigh, we tell him,
refusing to deny what we have lived.
Everything that is touched by
poem
When I say transparency, I don't mean seeing through. 
I mean the way a symbol is made when an X is drawn over O.
As the world moves when it is named. In the sense 
of truth by consciousness, which we translate as opposites.
The space we breathe is also called distance.
Presence gives. Absence allows and calls,