RECENT POEMS by Brendan Galvin

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Brendan Galvin is the author of seventeen collections of poems.The Air’s Accomplices, a collection of new poems, is available from LSU Press (2015). Habitat: New and Selected Poems 1965-2005 (LSU Press) was a finalist for the National Book Award.  Ocean Effects appeared in fall, 2007. His translation of Sophocles’ Women of Trachis appeared in the Penn Greek Drama Series in 1998. Whirl Is King appeared from LSU Press in 2008. His crime novel, Wash-a-shores, is available on Amazon Kindle.

His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA fellowships, the Sotheby Prize of the Arvon Foundation (England), the Iowa Poetry Prize, and Poetry’s Levinson Prize, as well as the first OB Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Charity Randall Citation from the International Poetry Forum, the Sewanee Review’s Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry, and the Boatwright Prize from Shenandoah.

He has been Wyndham Robertson Visiting Writer in Residence in the MA program at Hollins University, Coal Royalty Distinguished Writer in Residence in the MFA program at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, visiting writer at Connecticut College, and Whichard chairholder in the Humanities at East Carolina University.

PO Box 383 , Truro, MA 02666

Widower, two adult children

email: magnuscape@gmail.com

Judges’ Citation, National Book Awards Finalist, 2005:

Over the past four decades, in an era deeply suspicious of the relationship between language and external reality, Brendan Galvin has been quietly reminding us that the best poetry can deepen our understanding of the natural world and of each other. “You are tired of living when you’re tired of us,” he imagines a field of potatoes saying in one poem. And, indeed, if the earthy and local poems of this volume could speak in one voice, they would be making the same claim to past and future readers.I

NY Times Book Review:

Few living poets are as memorable in their descriptions of the goings-on in the non-man-manufactured world.

Atlantic Monthly:

Galvin has an exciting gift for finding the unexpected word that ptoves miraculously perfect in its setting.

mail

THIS TIME

Now you must learn to write your name

as in first grade, but other-handed,

and not with a pen like a dybbuk’s finger

and ink as if from a mudhole in the desk,

not with that rippy gray school paper

this time. If the rolls of practice cursive

recall barbed wire, this time

it’s not that kind of war. You’ve come

tottering out of a stroke on a skinny cane,

not fast but accurate, learning to walk

again, vestigial babytalk in your

“Don’t overload my washington machine,”

and “Pass me that cross hop bun.” When you

were a little girl coming home down

the hill one day from school, an American

wind snatched you. Remember how you

cried out Unten gesetzt mir! until it

relented and set you down further along

the sidewalk? You must fight this

fight, too. You will not have to escape

over the Alps into Italy this time.

 

 

YOU WERE A LEAF CLUMP IN THE CHERRY TREE,

yellowing early, caught in the netting

I swaddled the branches with

to keep birds like you off. How long

had you hung there, hours, a day,

upside down and silent as though

you’d given up? I must have passed

several times without seeing,

and finally, Dead I thought,

a young or female orchard oriole,

but a lift of the net started

the squalls, keeping you at it

and at the fingers of my work gloves,

your efficient bugsticker

even clamping the scissors

as I took you off the tree, wrapped

in a reticule of netting. It was almost

surgical, the way I worked

around the breast, and the tense feet

gripping strands, the closest

in years I’ve come to that dogfish

and cat I dissected in labs

when I intended to cure cancer.

Between panics you seemed

to understand I was freeing you,

trying to do no harm, snipping away

the layers that involved you, trying

to unbind those wings, your crucial

difference, but you dropped too soon

free-footed to the deck and under,

unreachable with a grandchild’s

plastic shovel, another good intention

gone quiet again and out of sight

as others you couldn’t join

flashed pumpkin and black, passing

through the afternoon for the south.

AN EVEL KNIEVEL ELEGY

We have all felt our parachutes

malfunctioning at a job interview

or cocktail party, with bystanders

reading the freefall on our faces,

and some of us have imagined

how it must have felt for you

above the Snake River Canyon

or the fountains outside Caesar’s

Palace, though a mental bungee

reversed our flops before we were

converted to sacks of poker chips and spent

a month or more in a coma. You were

our star-spangled Icarus, Evel,

while we dressed off the rack

for working lives among the common

asps and vipers, never jumping

the rattlers in what you and

the networks considered a sport.

Stunts, Evel. We loved their heights

and distances from our gray quotidian

so much we bought the kids three

hundred million dollars worth

of your wheels and getups. You were

our airborne Elvis, and rode

your rocket-powered bike through fire.

Whch we admired, though some,

annealing or annulled, knew that

they stand in fire all their lives,

and turned away, and didn’t applaud,

and would not suffer the loss

of your departure.

WALKING WILL SOLVE IT

Or so the Romans prescribed.

A half-mile down the Egg Island flats

the fridge can’t mumble

its imprecations at me, the bills, taxes

and toxins seem to be sloughing off,

all the home stuff that makes me feel

I’m a man up there on a steel span

over the river, painting each beam

with a small brush, doing it all alone.

Now I’m humming, recalling the lyrics

of old tunes I didn’t know I knew. I think of

Stevens largely pontificating to himself

all the way down Farmington Avenue

to the office, then Wordsworth and Coleridge

on gravel and scrubby paths, Frost

out walking the dark. With two dogs

I never walk alone, for they have things

to show me. Lefty may pick up a squid

so recently dead it is still that purply

fresh squid color, or a green crab

will be waving its wrenches around

in Magnus’s mandibles so I have to

talk him into dropping it.

Where tall spartina obscures

the marsh channels that drain and fill

with the tides, I have dreamed two men

walking on water for an instant, before their barge

rounded the bend and there were four, one poling,

one hanging onto the tiller, and two rowing,

seated in the bow before piled hay

and the haying machine. Ghosts of the Portuguese

farmers, and the dream boat for old age,

the Charon update. A windless, fetorless heat

like sepia filled the dream’s air, and swimming

behind those oarsmen a huge head like a gray seal’s–

the old horse whose name I’m somehow

certain is Joseph, out of harness, a halo of greenflies

and mosquitoes dissolving around his ears.

Back of the Egg Island dunes once,

a woman’s footprints, toes flawless, mild arch,

heel slender, going side-by-side with a set of paws

whose arrowhead shape and flat heel

meant coyote. Too early for bare feet,

she was pushing the season. Then a blue heron’s

tracks appeared beside hers, clean as

a Norse mapmaker’s sign for forest. Girl with Heron,

Girl and Coyote, as in a myth like the Boy and

the Dolphin. They walked all the way to the tideline,

but if reason kicks in it will say she was following

the previous meanders as I was following hers,

that I could never wake early enough

to watch her re-enter the sea.

But this morning, stranded in a pool

the river deposited, a small fish flashing back and forth

as though one of those times that puddle

would lead to the river’s freedom–

it brought me back to the man on the bridge,

who sooner or later has to begin again

where he started.

BOOKS OF POETRY

The Air’s Accomplices (Louisiana State University Press, 2015)

Whirl Is King: Poems from a Life List (Louisiana State University Press, 2008)

Ocean Effects (Louisiana State University Press, 2007).

Habitat: New and Selected Poems 1965-2005 (Louisiana State University

Press, 2005). Finalist, National Book Award; Honor Book, Massachusetts Book

Award in Poetry.

Place Keepers (Louisiana State University Press, 2003)

The Strength of a Named Thing (Louisiana State University Press, 1999).

Finalist’s Citation: PEN New England/ LL Winship Award.

Hotel Malabar (University of Iowa Press, 1998). Awarded the Iowa Poetry Prize

for 1997.

Sky and Island Light (Louisiana State University Press, 1997).

Saints in their Ox-Hide Boat (LSU Press, 1992). American Library Assn- Choice

Outstanding Academic Book, 1993.

Early Returns (Carnegie-Mellon University Press, 1992).

Great Blue: New and Selected Poems (University of Illinois Press, 1990).

Wampanoag Traveler (LSU Press, 1989).

Seals in the Inner Harbor (Carnegie Mellon UP, 1986).

Winter Oysters (University of Georgia Press, 1983). Short-listed for the Pulitzer

Prize.

Atlantic Flyway (U of Georgia Press, 1980).

The Minutes No One Owns (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1977).

No Time for Good Reasons (U of Pittsburgh Press, 1974).

POETRY CHAPBOOKS

Islands (Druid City Press, 1993), limited edition, hand-printed on handmade

paper at Center for Book Arts, U of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; Raising Irish Walls

(Ampersand Press, 1989); A Birder’s Dozen (Ampersand, 1984); The Salt Farm

(Fiddlehead Books, 1972); The Narrow Land (Northeastern University Press,

1971).

CRITICAL STUDY ON:

Outer Life: The Poetry of Brendan Galvin, edited by Martha Christina

(Ampersand Press, 1991). Essays on the poetry by George Garrett, Neal

Bowers, Peter Makuck, Philip Jason and Thomas Reiter, 40 poems and an

essay by Brendan Galvin, complete bibliography to 1990, interview with Galvin.

FILMS

Wrote narration for “Massachusetts Story,” a one-hour documentary on offshore

oil drilling on Georges Bank. Televised; shown at Museum of Modern Art, New

York; First Prize Documentary, New England Film Festival; three Emmy

nominations (1977-78).

Poem, “Today You Will Meet the Love of Your Life,” produced as poetry video by

Connecticut Public Television, aired on CPTV channels (1987-88).

POEMS IN PERIODICALS

Over 800 appearances in magazines, textbooks and anthologies: THE NEW

YORKER, POETRY, ATLANTIC, HARPER’S, NEW REPUBLIC, NATION,

KENYON REVIEW, PARIS REVIEW, GEORGIA REVIEW, GETTYSBURG

REVIEW, SEWANEE REVIEW, SOUTHERN REVIEW, SHENANDOAH, TRIQUARTERLY,

others.

POEMS IN ANTHOLOGIES AND TEXTBOOKS

Writing Poems, Creative Writer’s Handbook, The Poet’s Choice, The Forgotten

Language, Leaving the Bough, Explore Poetry, A Place Apart: A Cape Cod

Reader, Sutured Words, Working Classics, Vital Signs, A New Pleiade: Seven

American Poets, The Book of Irish-American Poetry, others.

Fiction: CRAZY HORSE, LAUREL REVIEW, THE FALCON. Novel: WASH-ASHORES

(Amazon ebook).

Critical Essays: GEORGIA REVIEW, PLOUGHSHARES, SHENANDOAH,

NORTHWEST REVIEW, CONCERNING POETRY, MASSACHUSETTS

STUDIES IN ENGLISH, TAR RIVER POETRY, Theodore Roethke (Harold

Bloom, editor); An Open World: Essays on Leslie Norris; Poetics: Essays on the

Art of Poetry; After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography.

Book Reviews: CHOICE, SOUTHERN REVIEW, PRAIRIE SCHOONER,

MIDWEST OUARTERLY, SEWANEE REVIEW, WASHINGTON REVIEW, TAR

RIVER POETRY, POET & CRITIC, POET LORE, SHENANDOAH, HOLLINS

CRITIC, others.

TRANSLATION

Sophocles’ Women of Trachis. Penn Greek Drama Series. U of Pennsylvania

Press, 1998.

EDUCATION

Ph.D., English (University of Massachusetts, 1970); MFA, Creative Writing

(Massachusetts, 1967); MA, English (Northeastern University, 1964); BS,

Natural Sciences (Boston College, 1960). Ph.D. Dissertation: ” ‘What the Grave

Says, The Nest Denies,’ Burkean Strategies in Theodore Roethke’s ‘Lost Son’

Poems.” Traces Kenneth Burke-Roethke friendship, provides in-depth reading

of the poems via Burke’s theories.

AWARDS

Boston College Arts Council, Alumni Arts Award, 2009; The Aiken Taylor Award

in Modern American Poetry ( the Sewanee Review) 2006; Finalist, National

Book Award, 2005; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship,

1988; O.B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize, Folger Shakespeare Library, 1991;

Sotheby Prize of the Arvon Foundation (Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney,

judges), 1988; Charity Randall Citation, International Poetry Forum, 1994;

Levinson Prize, Poetry , 1989; National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing

Fellowships, 1988, 1974; Outstanding Alumnus, American Association of Jesuit

Colleges and Universities, 1990; Award for Excellence in the Arts and

Humanities, Boston College Alumni Association, 1988; Connecticut State

University Research Grants,1996, 1994, 1992, 1988, 1985; Connecticut

Commission on the Arts Creative Writing Grants, 1984, 1981; Artists’

Foundation Creative Writing Grant, 1978; University Graduate Fellow in English,

U of Massachusetts, 1965-68.

TEACHING EXPERIENCE

Whichard Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities, East Carolina

University, Fall semester, 2002. Wyndham Robertson Writer in Residence,

Hollins University, Spring semester, 1999. Coal Royalty Visiting Chairholder in

Creative Writing, University of Alabama, Spring semester, 1993. 1969-l997:

Central Connecticut State University (Emeritus, 1997, Professor, 1980; tenured,

1973). 1975-76: Visiting Writer, Connecticut College. Director, Connecticut

Writers’ Conference, 1974-82. Oklahoma Arts Institute, Fall, 1997; Martha’s

Vineyard Writers’ Workshop, Summer, 1986. Poet-in-Residence, Western

Carolina University, April, 1990. Wesleyan University Writers’ Conference,

1977, 1978. Various poetry-in-the-schools projects, 1977-87. Asst. Prof. of

English, Slippery Rock State College, 1968-69. Teaching Fellow and Instructor

in English, Northeastern University, 1963-65.

SELECTED COURSES

Creative Writing (Poetry, Fiction, tutorials, graduate courses), Modern Poetry,

Modern Drama, Contemporary Literature, Modern Non-English Poetry (in

translation), Americans and the Environment, American Lit surveys, Remedial,

Freshman, and Advanced Composition, Intro to Poetry, Intro to Literature.

Thesis advising, advisor to student publications, Graduate Studies Committee,

Freshman-Sophomore Course Committee, Composition Committee.

MANUSCRIPT CONSULTANT

HarperCollins Publishers, Wesleyan University Press Poetry Series, Associated

Writing Programs Poetry Series, Louisiana State University Press, University of

Pittsburgh Press, University of Georgia Press, David McKay Co., Chowder

Review Chapbook Series, University of Missouri Press, University of Virginia

Press, Academy of American Poets Prize–U of Arkansas (judge), Emerson

College (judge): Ascent Poetry Prize, Connecticut Commission on the Arts

panels, others.

SELECTED READINGS, LECTURES, WRITING WORKSHOPS

Lamont Poetry Library, Harvard; Yale U;International Poetry Forum, Pittsburgh;

Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC; Wesleyan U; Boston College;

College of the Holy Cross; U of Maryland; US Naval Academy; Marshall U;

Providence College; Trinity College; U of Tulsa; East Carolina U; U of Alabama;

U of Georgia; U of Michigan; Colby College; Hollins College; Connecticut

College; Carnegie Mellon U; U of Virginia; Iowa State U; Kansas State U; U of

Illinois; Mississippi State U; Auburn U, others.

ONLINE

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