Karin Gottshall & Joan Larkin

Thursday, March 6, 2014, at 7:00 pm, poets Karin Gottshall and Joan Larkin will continue the seventh season of the Collected Poets Series. Mocha Maya’s Coffee House, 47 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA. ($2-5 suggested donation)


Karin Gottshall

Karin Gottshall‘s first book, Crocus, was published by Fordham University Press in 2007. Her second collection, The River Won’t Hold You, won the 2014 OSU Press/The Journal Wheeler Prize for Poetry, and will be published later this year. She is also the author of three small press chapbooks. Her poems and stories have appeared in online and print journals including Drunken Boat, FIELD, Gettysburg Review, Memorious, and Blackbird. She lives in Vermont and teaches poetry writing at Middlebury College.

Joan Larkin [photo by John Masterson]

Joan Larkin [photo by John Masterson]

Joan Larkin‘s new poetry collection, Blue Hanuman, is forthcoming in Spring 2014 from Hanging Loose Press. Her previous work includes My Body: New and Selected Poems, recipient of the Audre Lorde Award, Legs Tipped with Small Claws, an Argos Books chapbook, Sor Juana’s Love Poems, translated with Jaime Manrique, A Long Sound, and Housework. Her collection Cold River, recipient of the Lambda Award for poetry, was the basis for her play The AIDS Passion, produced at the Huntingdon Theater in Boston.

Her honors include the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award and the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is currently the Grace Hazard Conkling Writer in Residence at Smith College.


EARTHQUAKE / Karin Gottshall

When I tell you my childhood was wasted
at sea, you should bear in mind
I may be an unreliable narrator.

When I say I spent a year
in military school, disguised as a boy,
be skeptical—though in fact I did.

Each morning we polished our boots
to an oily sheen and ran through the spruce
woods with empty guns. When I tell you

I love white wine, it’s the plain truth.
As is the fact that my mother
was a painter and my father a cellist—

or a physicist. I get the two confused.
I get confused about the relative
weight of my loneliness: it seems so heavy,

but where is it? Did you know I survived
shipwreck? That I was marooned
and lived a long time on the island? Surely

that explains this hook-shaped scar,
my love of salt. I ask for no help
with these burdens. The earthquake rocked,

rocked the building’s foundation
and the bedposts swayed
like masts. We set off from port. All my lies

are like that: they travel
so far over the horizon, then finally
come back: my sea-weary, long lost kin.

(First published in Memorious. Used by permission of the author.)


BLUE HANUMAN / Joan Larkin

A four-armed flutist took me
to the blue avatar: stone blue
monkey, whiskers silver,
broken beads silver––paint
dashed by the artist on cheap paper.
Bought for a few annas, God
kneels, looks left. Intense concentration.
His ink hands rip open his chest,
pull skin aside like a velvet curtain––
Rama and Sita alive at his core.
And what devotion shall my flesh
show, and my broken-open breast?
His blueblack tail flicks upward,
its dark tip a paintbrush loaded blue.

(from Blue Hanuman, Hanging Loose Press 2014)