Barbara Ras, Jennifer K. Sweeney, & Melody S. Gee

Thursday, November 4, 2010, at 7:00pm, poets Barbara Ras, Jennifer K. Sweeney, and Melody S. Gee will read as part of the fourth season of the Collected Poets Series. ($2-5 suggested donation)


Barbara Ras


Barbara Ras is the author of the poetry collections Bite Every Sorrow (LSU Press, 1998), chosen by C. K. Williams to receive the 1997 Walt Whitman Award and also awarded the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, The Last Skin (Penguin 2010), and One Hidden Stuff (Penguin 2006). Ras has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Artist Foundation of San Antonio, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, TriQuarterly, American Scholar, Massachusetts Review, Orion, as well as many other magazines and anthologies.  She is the editor of a collection of short fiction in translation, Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (Whereabouts Press, 1994).

She has taught at writers’ conferences across the country and has been on the faculty of the M.F.A. Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Ras lives in San Antonio, where she directs Trinity University Press.


Jennifer K. Sweeney


Jennifer K. Sweeney’s second poetry collection, How to Live on Bread and Music, received the 2009 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of America Poets and the Perugia Press Prize. Her first book, Salt Memory, won the 2006 Main Street Rag Poetry Award. Her work has appeared widely including Poetry Daily and the forthcoming Pushcart Prize anthology. After living in San Francisco for twelve years, she currently lives and teaches in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with her husband, poet Chad Sweeney and their son, Liam.


Melody S. Gee


Melody S. Gee‘s first poetry collection, Each Crumbling House, won the 2010 Perugia Press Book Prize. Her poems and essays are published or forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Blackbird, Southern California Review, Crab Orchard Review, and other journals.

A Pushcart Prize nominee, winner of the Robert Watson Literary Prize for poetry, and a 2008 Kundiman Asian American Poetry Retreat fellow, she currently teaches writing at Southwestern Illinois College and lives in St. Louis.


SONG  by Barbara Ras

What if it’s really waves, only waves
making their restless peace on the broken shore,
the lull between them like a held breath
before it’s blown into air as music.
Haven’t I always missed the ocean, the way its salt
buoyed me up inside the wet, the air above warmer than the water below,
the liquid line between breathing and not, so innocent, so permeable.
Floating there, over the deep, untouchable bottom, out past the line
the waves made as they curl to hurl themselves on the sand,
I could be far from the rinky-dink, the hullabaloo, far even
from the headlongingness of water rushing forward
and sloshing back, like desire,
going nowhere.
Over and over the waves break on the gleaming sand
while a gull diving in and out
of the perfect again and again
draws a thread between the air and the water
sewing together their beautiful blues
as if to mend the wound of the world.

(Used by permission of Penguin. All rights reserved.)


COMFORT by Jennifer K. Sweeney

Suppose your mother had thorns
which she hid under baggy dresses
and you were just a child.
Would that explain the river between you?

Suppose during your birthday toast
there was a goldfish in your wine glass.
Would it be auspicious or foreboding?
And suppose tenderness is only a small thing

you could give, simple as a peppermint.
Would you wake with the dread you’ve felt for years?
Or would you remember to feed the lilies
because you’re human and they are alive?

(Used by permission of Perugia Press. All rights reserved.)


NEW VIOLETS by Melody S. Gee

…….Twenty new violets against
a white fence I call
…….ours. I know these curled,

hesitant lips, though we have
…….not been here long enough
to be overgrown with something

…….soft as violets.
We have only arrived
…….and gathered

no time. Their low faces
…….push through pickets
with a slow bursting

…….easy give. When we
gather softness, we must carry it
…….in fists.

(Used by permission of Perugia Press. All rights reserved.)


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