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About this poet

Prageeta Sharma was born in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1972, shortly after her parents emigrated from India in 1969. She attended Simon’s Rock College of Bard for her undergraduate studies and received an M.F.A. in poetry from Brown University in 1995 and an M.A. in media studies from The New School in 2002.

She is the author of three collections of poetry, Infamous Landscapes (Fence Books, 2007); The Opening Question (Fence Books, 2004), winner of the 2004 Fence Modern Poets Prize; and Bliss to Fill (Subpress Collective, 2000).

Poet Lisa Jarnot has said, "Prageeta Sharma’s poems are as ever imbued with a crafty playfulness by which the appearances of the I, the you, and the we transcend tricks of the trade. Sharma cultivates mindscapes, scrutinizing the self in the midst of blooming and shifting guaranteed to exhilarate the reader."

She received a 2010 Howard Foundation Grant and has taught in the creative writing program at The New School in New York and in the Individualized BA program at Goddard College in Vermont. Sharma is currently an Associate Professor and Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Montana in Missoula.

What Happened at the Service?

Prageeta Sharma
The forest service team came to my house to give me a thin-leafed tree,
and to say you can have something, if you wish.
You can have this native tree, a skinny branch, a skinny leaf
with bareness between the leaves.  
A shrub like me? Here is my bark-being underneath.

The freight service team came to my office to give me a vermilion boxcar,
and to say you can have something if you wish.
Why is there no train service? No Amtrak? No russet cargo of folk,
no poets to embrace because our hands all unclasped in response 
to the peptic ulcer of too much fanfare, 
woods with austere engravings—plumed-pen-etched-words, 
severe sentences with accusations—then interjections—
poets all alone floating skyward.

I have found the writing on the wall to be formidable—no patois,
no interesting resilience—I don’t care for leaf rot 
nor figures who do their own dance. 
They find frozen ground menacing—they found me menacing—
even when they say in unison you can have something, if you wish.

It was not I who shoveled the shore and fixed it to another place.
I didn’t find the pallor remarkable nor did I steal it.
I did however try to emulate it—pale-face looked feasible.
I thought I could have something but this was untrue.   
I didn’t take your sun. 
I didn’t take your eyes.

I’ve been trying to salvage the bitter roots that came my way, 
the tincture inside watery and unctuous—
maybe the residue is sweet. 
Or look to the river with its over-determined gurgles 
in the vicinity, 
small cascades immersed in scenery. 

All will sound false to you but I can hear my real voice attempting speech—
but you happened to me—you ghosted your way through me,
you shrubbed me, not the other way around. 
I know these things. 
I have been down here, not up there—
I don’t believe in powers that be,
but can see how the world looks up there. 
How it knights itself with the grandiose—the majestic snow
of simulated faces, the whiteness that surrounds me,
and the quiet that follows.

Copyright © 2010 by Prageeta Sharma. Used by permission of the author.

Copyright © 2010 by Prageeta Sharma. Used by permission of the author.

Prageeta Sharma

Prageeta Sharma

Prageeta Sharma was born in Framingham, Massachusetts in 1972, shortly after her parents emigrated from India in 1969. She attended Simon’s Rock College of Bard for her undergraduate studies and received an M.F.A. in poetry from Brown University in 1995 and an M.A. in media studies from The New School in 2002.

She is the author of three collections of poetry, Infamous Landscapes (Fence Books, 2007); The Opening Question (Fence Books, 2004), winner of the 2004 Fence Modern Poets Prize; and Bliss to Fill (Subpress Collective, 2000).

by this poet

poem
I find ways to keep a sense of peace
but it is not always easy; for example,
I can't keep my questions tempered.
What kind of sun expounds its rays
upon the hills but then mutes
like an ordinary bulb, small
and self-contained?
Moreover, what moon filters
the blistering whiteness of
snow so that it can only be
poem
Clatter into the window this late night.  
We were flabbergasted, tired
of the newly-minted drunks and meth-kids
with squeals for fists.

We live downtown, 
exposed to the alley. 

Nothing dangerous, and we were not alarmed. 
But still, every sound turns us into pins on points,

a sleep