Rare high meadow of which I might dream


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November 2011

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See our disclaimer. Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream is a book haunted by the afterlife of medieval theology and literature yet grounded in distinctly modern quandaries of desire.

With fluency, intelligence, and deeply felt emotional acuity, Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream navigates the heady intersection of obsessive love and searing loss. She is political in the best sense. A dazzling, brave, and surprising first book. Specifications Series Title Phoenix Poets. Customer Reviews.


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I had a small portrait of T. Eliot smoking a cigarette on my desk, framed in mauve, taken when he was with Lloyds Bank and doing the most important writing of his life. A lot of the brokers thought this 80 year old photograph was actually me, or my father. I don't think that I will ever get over the feeling of looking out the window of a flying airplane.

It isn't so much that it's shocking—which of course it is, if you think about it. Part ant colony, part lit-up window of a stranger's house, the earth, arrayed and displayed 30, feet below, scintillates.


  • A Conversation with Poet Connie Voisine - Northwest Arts Review (podcast) | Listen Notes!
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  • It rivets. It also examines the absurdity of our daily lives, the excitement that we can reap from the weirdest cultural prizes Three strikes! After my previous books, featuring poems that included everything even one kitchen sink , I'd been trying to write shorter, slightly more focused if still meditative, poems. However, what I'd come up with—poems I thought of as "single-gestured," most of which were under fifteen lines long—seemed too tidy, at best, and in any case unsatisfying.

    Liu Xia b. She worked as an editor and then a civil servant for the Beijing tax bureau until she quit the job in Liu Xia started writing poetry in and has continued to this day. She met Liu Xiaobo in the s at a literary gathering and married him when he was imprisoned in so that she could visit him in prison legally as she explained. He was detained without trial from May to February , then sentenced to three-year imprisonment from October to October , and finally given an eleven-year term in December Liu Xia herself has been under house arrest since Probably "Single page drawing" began in , when an acquaintance introduced me to Cy Twombly's paintings and prints.

    Not that I began writing the poem then. I began to draft this poem when I lived in New York, after one of many times someone stopped me and asked for directions. The draft began as a conversation between me and an "offstage" character.

    Poetry Matters: An Interview with Connie Voisine by Caroline LeBlanc

    Almost a monologue, but not quite. What drove me to the page is that I felt helplessly pleasant when asked for assistance. The sensation was awful on some level. I look like a nice, unthreatening person. And I am. Yet something about that is slightly intolerable. I kept writing to try to understand why. It has to do with power—power is at play in this poem.

    I am far from being a power-hungry person, but where is the line between helpfulness and manipulation? That question seemed the burning center of the writing.

    Connie Voisine & Kara Candito

    At the same time I learned gray foxes sleep in trees, in dens as much as 30 feet from the ground. Motherhood created an urgent narrative situation in me: I had to write about my life. I wrote fast—it felt fast—and under the ardent sign of motherhood I chased subjects I'd glossed or abstracted or left out of previous poems. My sentence was the sizzling rope connected to the stick of dynamite under the door in a cartoon—out of time, out of time. My dad is not a poetry reader. He reads nonfiction mostly. He's a Timothy Egan and Malcolm Gladwell fan, to name two. When I was an adolescent, I wanted to become a ballerina.

    I practiced with more dedication than I knew I possessed. Some nights I dream I can still dance the way I could at my best. I did "come upon the body of a whale" on a trip to Block Island off the coast of Rhode Island in the middle of winter. There is nothing I love more than an island in winter.

    It is the only time you can have a whole beach to yourself.

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    To me it is heaven. I grew up on an island, so perhaps that is why I feel so strongly about this. I got obsessed with China. I used to live in Beijing, population 21 million. When I arrived I didn't speak Chinese, didn't understand it, and the city was alarmingly, indigestibly verbal. If not for a small group of expats who welcomed me into their world and gave me some sense of regularity I wouldn't have lasted long.

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    I work at a big state university: cement parking structures, orange construction mesh, scuffed stairwells that lead to halls where the clocks tell different times. Near campus there's a bubble tea place run by a friendly Asian couple. One day someone taped a piece of college-ruled paper to the wall with the question, "How Do You Feel?

    When I think of this poem, I think of Math. I wrote this poem after reading it. I wrote "[taking away taking everything away]" in response to an assignment I gave my graduate students at NYU. I was teaching a course I called "Terms of Engagement. The first mode we considered was ekphrastic. It is used in Japan to refer to the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    I began this series of poems later into my writing of this collection, which centers around J. Robert Oppenheimer, known as the father of the atomic bomb. A translation, whatever else it might be, is an attempt to recreate an experience. The tricky question is, whose experience? Do you try to make Rilke sound slightly archaic to reproduce the experience that a modern German might have of the original, or do you try to find an equivalent for the experience that a German-speaking contemporary of Rilke might have had?

    I wrote "The Descent of Man" after a long layoff from writing—or, to be more accurate, from trying to write, which is largely what I do. Poems written after a long layoff in my case usually turn out baroque, or more baroque than ones that are the result of working habitually. Not writing can be writing, too, but if it isn't the internal pressure that builds up in a real layoff, the fancy ideas that come from reading too much, and the overreaching resulting from all the built-up energies spilling over can create artifacts that are supersaturated, conceptually overdetermined.

    Our primary aim was to create translations that sound like his poems—that bring his music into harmony with the 21st century. My childhood was built atop an apple orchard. Or rather, my childhood home was constructed on what used to be a former orchard. A single crab apple tree in our backyard remains. My friend Katie and I both of us six years old were digging in the backyard when we discovered a buried trash heap that must have been quite old.

    I wrote the first draft of this poem in a third floor studio apartment in Mexico City. An aging architect owned the building, and his office stood adjacent to the three-story home, an office comprised of glass. His own Philip Johnson's glass house. In the summer of , when I wrote this poem, I had moved across the country to Western Massachusetts for poetry school.

    My friend was at work when a visitor to the building began to cough up blood.

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