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About this poet

Born in Washington, D.C. in 1969, Cate Marvin was raised as the only child of a C.I.A. intelligence analyst and an editor for the Crime Prevention Council. After graduating from Marlboro College, she received an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston and an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She went on to earn her PhD in English and comparative literature from the University of Cincinnati.

Marvin's first book, World's Tallest Disaster (Sarabande Books, 2001), won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry. Her second collection, Fragment of the Head of a Queen, was published by Sarabande Books in 2007. She also co-edited Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century (Sarabande Books, 2006).

A review of Marvin's work in Publishers Weekly referred to her as a "postmodern Plath," noting: "Marvin can make you laugh at crying and cry at laughing, yet few works so rife with satire ever took the human condition more seriously...Even at its most composed, it flashes with temper, merging the metaphysical and the dramatic, and arriving at unpredictable resolutions."

In addition to the Kathryn A. Morton Prize, Marvin's honors include the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, the Whiting Award, and a NYFA Gregory Millard Fellowship. She teaches at the College of Staten Island in New York.

A Windmill Makes A Statement

Cate Marvin, 1969
You think I like to stand all day, all night,
all any kind of light, to be subject only
to wind? You are right. If seasons undo
me, you are my season. And you are the light
making off with its reflection as my stainless
steel fins spin.

		On lawns, on lawns we stand,
we windmills make a statement. We turn air,
churn air, turning always on waiting for your
season. There is no lover more lover than the air.
You care, you care as you twist my arms
round, till my songs become popsicle

and I wing out radiants of light all across
suburban lawns. You are right, the churning
is for you, for you are right, no one but you
I spin for all night, all day, restless for your

sight to pass across the lawn, tease grasses,
because I so like how you lay above me,
how I hovered beneath you, and we learned
some other way to say: There you are.

You strip the cut, splice it to strips, you mill
the wind, you scissor the air into ecstasy until
all lawns shimmer with your bluest energy.

From Fragment of the Head of a Queen by Cate Marvin. Copyright © 2007 by Cate Marvin. Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books. All rights reserved.

From Fragment of the Head of a Queen by Cate Marvin. Copyright © 2007 by Cate Marvin. Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books. All rights reserved.

Cate Marvin

Cate Marvin

Marvin's first book, World's Tallest Disaster (Sarabande Books, 2001), won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry

by this poet

poem
Spokes, spooks: your tinsel hair weaves the wheel
that streams through my dreams of battle. Another
apocalypse, and your weird blondeness cycling in
and out of the march: down in a bunker, we hunker,
can hear the boots from miles off clop. We tend to
our flowers in the meantime. And in the meantime, 
a daughter
poem
Here's my head, in a dank corner of the yard.
I lied it off and so off it rolled.
It wasn't unbelieving that caused it
To drop off my neck and lull down a slope.
Perhaps it had a mind of its own, wanted
to leave me for a little while.

Or it was scared and detached itself
from the stalk of my neck as a lizard's
poem
You are like a war novel, entirely lacking
female characters, except for an occasional 
letter that makes one of the men cry. 

        I am like a table 
        that eats its own legs off
        because it’s fallen 
        in love with the floor.

My frantic hand can’t find where my leg
went. You can play