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February 1, 2008AWP Conference, Hilton Hotel, New York City From the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

Mark Jarman was born in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, on June 5, 1952. He earned a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1974 and an MFA from the University of Iowa in 1976. He has published numerous collections of poetry, including Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems (Sarabande Books, 2011); Epistles (Sarabande Books, 2007); To the Green Man (Sarabande Books, 2004); Unholy Sonnets (Story Line Press, 2000); Questions for Ecclesiastes (Story Line Press, 1997), which won the 1998 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Iris (Story Line Press, 1992); The Black Riviera (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), which won the 1991 Poets' Prize; Far and Away (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1985); The Rote Walker (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1981); and North Sea (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1978).

Jarman served as Elector for the American Poets’ Corner at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine form 2009-2012. During the 1980s, he and Robert McDowell founded, edited, and published the Reaper, a magazine that helped established the movements of New Narrative and New Formalism. Selections from the magazine were published in book form as the Reaper Essays (Story Line Press, 1996). Jarman has published two collections of essays: Body and Soul (University of Michigan Press, 2002) and the Secret of Poetry (Story Line Press, 2001). He is also coeditor with David Mason of Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism (Story Line Press, 1996).

The poet Edward Hirsch described Jarman's poetry as "God-haunted. [Jarman] writes as an unorthodox but essentially Christian poet who embraces paradox and treats contradiction, to use Simone Weil's phrase, as a lever for transcendence."

Jarman's awards include a Joseph Henry Jackson Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 2011, he received the Balcones Poetry Prize for Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems. He is Centennial Professor of English at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife, the soprano Amy Jarman.




Bibliography

Poetry

Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems (Sarabande Books, 2011)
Epistles (Sarabande Books, 2007)
To the Green Man (Sarabande Books, 2004)
Unholy Sonnets (Story Line Press, 2000)
Questions for Ecclesiastes (Story Line Press, 1997)
Iris (Story Line Press, 1992)
The Black Riviera (Story Line Press, 1990)
Far and Away (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1985)
The Rote Walker (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1981)
North Sea (Cleveland State University Press, 1978)

Prose

Body and Soul (University of Michigan Press, 2002)
The Secret of Poetry (Story Line Press, 2001)
Rebel Angels: 25 Poets of the New Formalism, coedited with David Mason (Story Line Press, 1996)
The Reaper Essays, coedited with Robert McDowell (Story Line Press, 1996)


The Supremes

Mark Jarman, 1952
In Ball's Market after surfing till noon,
We stand in wet trunks, shivering,
As icing dissolves off our sweet rolls
Inside the heat-blued counter oven,
When they appear on his portable TV,
Riding a float of chiffon as frothy
As the peeling curl of a wave.
The parade m. c. talks up their hits
And their new houses outside of Detroit,
And old Ball clicks his tongue.
Gloved up to their elbows, their hands raised
Toward us palm out, they sing,
"Stop! In the Name of Love," and don't stop,
But slip into the lower foreground.

Every day of a summer can turn,
From one moment, into a single day.
I saw Diana Ross in her first film
Play a brief scene by the Pacific--
And that was the summer it brought back.
Mornings we paddled out, the waves
Would be little more than embellishments--
Lathework and spun glass,
Gray-green with cold, but flawless.
When the sun burned through the light fog,
They would warm and swell,
Wind-scaled and ragged,
And radios up and down the beach
Would burst on with her voice.

She must remember that summer
Somewhat differently.  And so must the two
Who sang with her in long matching gowns,
Standing a step back on her left and right,
As the camera tracked them
Into our eyes in Ball's Market.
But what could we know, tanned white boys,
Wiping sugar and salt from our mouths,
And leaning forward to feel their song?
Not much, except to feel it
Ravel us up like a wave
In the silk of white water,
Simply, sweetly, repeatedly,
And just as quickly let go.

We didn't stop either, which is how
We vanished, too, parting like spray--
Ball's Market, my friends and I.
Dredgers ruined the waves,
Those continuous dawn perfections,
And Ball sold high to the high rises
Cresting over them.  His flight out of L.A.,
Heading for Vegas, would have banked
Above the wavering lines of surf.
He may have seen them.  I have,
Leaving again for points north and east,
Glancing down as the plane turns.
From that height they still look frail and frozen,
Full of simple sweetness and repetition.

From Far and Away, published by Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1985. Copyright © 1985 by Mark Jarman. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

From Far and Away, published by Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1985. Copyright © 1985 by Mark Jarman. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Mark Jarman

Mark Jarman

Poet Mark Jarman won the 1998 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and has authored many collections of poetry.

by this poet

poem
Tall blades of tufted grasses, keep on flowing.
Towhees like good ideas, keep on flowing.		

Pooled water, black in shadow, green in sunshine,	
With wild olives bending down to drink,

Those figures coming daily to the bridge
To look at their two shadows on your surface,

Keep them returning, keep them coming
poem
The wave breaks
And I'm carried into it.
This is hell, I know,
Yet my father laughs,
Chest-deep, proving I'm wrong.
We're safely rooted,
Rocked on his toes.

Nothing irked him more
Than asking, "What is there
Beyond death?"
His theory once was
That love greets you,
And the loveless
Don't know what to say.
poem
Is nothing real but when I was fifteen,
Going on sixteen, like a corny song?
I see myself so clearly then, and painfully--
Knees bleeding through my usher's uniform
Behind the candy counter in the theater
After a morning's surfing; paddling frantically
To top the brisk outsiders coming to wreck me,
Trundle me