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Karen Volkman

In 1967, Karen Volkman was born in Miami, Florida. She was educated at New College, Syracuse University, and the University of Houston.

She is the author of Whereso (BOA Editions, 2016); Nomina (BOA Editions, 2008); Spar (University of Iowa Press, 2002), winner of the James Laughlin Award and the Iowa Poetry Prize, and Crash’s Law (W. W. Norton, 1998), which was selected for the National Poetry Series by Heather McHugh.

She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Society of America, The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Akademie Schloss Solitude. She teaches in the MFA writing program at the University of Montana in Missoula.


Bibliography

Whereso (BOA Editions, 2016)
Nomina (BOA Editions, 2008)
Spar (University of Iowa Press, 2002)
Crash’s Law (W. W. Norton, 1998)

Karen Volkman

By This Poet

5

A Light Says Why

   A light says why. From all the poor prying. Again we attain a more 
regal posture--small bird accompanying slips between our whim. 
Where will we flicker, loose as two feathers from a wren's back? Gone, 
do not brood for all the hands that miss you. They hardly hold. Don't 
wait, one who thought a dark eye could save you, like night with its black 
paws curled and gone to sleep. There are only two names to remember, 
Loss and Pleasure, crossed in this field like no man's borrowed light. Call 
the far-sighted foxes to the launching. Call the small deer scattered in 
the back brush, swift as flit. Contingency has arms and hands and wasted 
faces. And a body, shrunk and scurvy, built to burn.

Sonnet [Nothing was ever what it claimed to be,]

Nothing was ever what it claimed to be,
the earth, blue egg, in its seeping shell
dispensing damage like a hollow hell
inchling weeping for a minor sea

ticking its tidelets, x and y and z.
The blue beneficence we call and spell
and call blue heaven, the whiteblue well
of constant water, deepening a thee,

a thou and who, touching every what—
and in the or, a shudder in the cut—
and that you are, blue mirror, only stare

bluest blankness, whether in the where,
sheen that bleeds blue beauty we are taught
drowns and booms and vowels.  I will not.

Sonnet [Laughing below, the unimagined room]

Laughing below, the unimagined room
in unimagined mouths, a turning mood
speaking itself the way a fulling should
overspilling into something's dome,

some moment's edging over into bloom.
What is a happening but conscious cloud
seeking its edge in a wound or word
pellucidity describing term

as boundary, body, violated bourne
no sounding center, circumscription turn.
Mother of mirrors, angel of the acts,

do all the sighing breathing clicking wilds
summon the same blue breadth the sense subtracts,
the star suborning in its ruptured fields.

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