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Alexandria Peary

Alexandria Peary was born in Dover, New Hampshire, and grew up in in central Maine. She received a BA from Colby College; MFAs from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and a PhD from the University of New Hampshire. Peary is the author of four volumes of poetry, including Control Bird Alt Delete (University of Iowa 2014), winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize, and Lid to the Shadow (Slope Editions, 2011), recipient of the Slope Editions Book Prize. Peary is also the author of a collection of creative writing pedagogy co-edited with the poet Tom C. Hunley, Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century. Peary teaches at Salem State University and is the poet laureate of New Hampshire.

Read about Alexandria Peary’s 2020 Poets Laureate Fellowship project.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

The Water Draft (Spuyten Duyvil, 2019)
Control Bird Alt Delete (University of Iowa, 2014)
Lid to the Shadow (Slope Editions, 2011)
Fall Foliage Called Bathers & Dancers (Backwaters Press, 2008)

Pedagogy

Prolific Moment: Theory and Practice of Mindfulness for Writing (Routledge, 2018)
Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century (Southern Illinois University Press, 2015), co-authored with Tom C. Hunley.

By This Poet

3

The Egyptian Tomb of Emily Dickinson

The author reading in her grave is an orange dotted line
then a red continuous line, a house light & more head lights,
above that, a row of (etc.), what a car alarm looks like:
4 signs repeated together: a cherry, a pineapple, cloud, raindrop &
then brief yellow dashes moving like birds, “To be continued.”
The red line lies above the orange line at 75 mph
on the mountains on the last page—while a crow goes
from behind, deleting the orange dotted line—each dash
worth 5 points, cherry and pineapple 10 points, the glow-in-the-dark
haystacks & speeding garbage truck, 50—through
to the underlined parts of the room where I write.
The red line lies above the orange line at 75 mph
on the mountains on the last page in the dark morning.
She reads and reads in this large building in a room
in western Massachusetts—in this primitive dark
a fish skeleton goes by. The walls are decorated with
repetitions, electronic and natural sounds, someone coughing,
an alarm clock going off. A large gloomy ballroom
with an answering machine, & then a black mental swimming pool
ended by three dots.

The Gift

Like a spittle of aluminum, a crest of fear
in a long-faced mirror, like water rushing over a box,
like a dried sentence flying in the air,
like being shown a picture of a perforated wave,
like a mark that appears on each moment,
like knowing a man is in the box,
ingot of man, and the water is shiny, highly intuitive.

Like a mote dripping with silver,
a cataract painted with lead, a sentence of gleam,
and the sky speed up, cloudy, obscure, occluded, unheard of
using a cat’s eye for a planet,
like the water now almost reaching
the help desk across the marble floor
of the enormous lobby of the hospital.
The sculpture, a prototype, donated by the major
auto-pharmaceutical industries, Spanish moss fills the ceiling
in the car port, vaults rush past picking up no one
and souls like aphids stream the stalk of the escalator.

In this gift—a sheen, a shining—wrapped around
a grid of major research hospitals in one block,
on an acre with a drop-away floor,
the mesh bow, car-sized, is heavier than it looks.
Shreds of people, the day torn off, and the incinerator is working.
Oh, dollop of man. Replica of Rodin’s thinker from the gift shop,
I spot that, neon yellow teddy bear inside leaves of cellophane
for the sick child, I spot that. A man is inside the box
of cascading water. He is always wrapped in the present
moment. By now, the silvery water runs over the lines /
of this poem. I feel like shaking for the jet, the cross inside the box.
We are all headed home.

The water draft,

lotuses on blotches of water
coins in water, water on water 
water about water, at the bottom
are coins to get to the bottom of
pastel sound, words written about water
circular words circular words

dashboard figures in lotus position
patron saints, consorts, goddesses
on the surface of pink    of green
music, reggae and gospel  hip-hop
canals of classical and Latin jazz
though in a water garden, H2O music

tuning forks of lotus roots dangle
into a pond of piano, to rooms of silt,
the rooms at bottom toss up silt
watery Times New Roman font
it starts to rain, rain drops on the surface
circular sentences circular sentences

the pink pianissimo starts up
the green largo, the pond of sound
with “brief brush strokes like commas”
notes across water    like black lily pads
dis- and un- in a water garden,
dissonances against the harmony

x x x x x x x x x x x
where the lotuses knocked out
the water lilies

words circular words circular
water about written words, sound pastel
water about water, water on water
water of blotches as sound reverses,
passing under the white footbridge
moves to the left, moves to the left,

before banks of irises, before endowed benches
for Monet’s beloved Camille, for Satie’s girlfriend Suzanne
Valadon, and the lotuses who notarize
Death Certificates, Marriage Certificates,
in mobiles of notes recognize the sound as
Gymnopédies and change color like mood rings

In reverse sound, a bright story is told
differently, the notes of happiness put in reverse
walk backwards, across the water
and a non-indigenous emotional species grows on the surface
of sluggish channels of long ā and short ŏ,
millefiori of past and present

I prefer hand-tinted poems

Would you care to have this pond
immediately silk-screened
onto your chest
replacing the Rainbow Brite
Murky Dismal T-Shirt
you’re currently wearing
above rows of friendship pins?