Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New to Me Wednesday: Peggy Shumaker

In my continuing effort to share a poet each week that is "new to me," I bring you this week's new-to-me poet, Peggy Shumaker.

The poem "Night Dive" came to my attention for the first time recently via Ted Kooser's page, American Life in Poetry. Shumaker lives in Alaska, and that certainly is evident in many of her poems. Like this one for example:

"Night Dive"

Plankton rise toward the full moon
spread thin on Wakaya’s surface.
Manta rays’ great curls of jaw
scoop backward somersaults of ocean
in through painted caves of their mouths, out
through sliced gills. Red sea fans
pulse. The leopard shark
lounges on a smooth ramp of sand,
skin jeweled with small hangers-on.
Pyramid fish point the way to the surface.

Read the rest here.

I think there is a richness to her language and her word choice that is beyond anything I've read recently. Each image is vivid in my mind. Each setting is exquisitely described. As in "The Story of Light..."

Think of the woman who first touched fire
to a hollow stone filled with seal oil,
how she fiddled with fuel and flame
until blue shadows before and after her
filled her house, crowded
the underground, then
fled like sky-captains
chasing the aurora’s whale tale
green beyond the earth’s curve.

I think you see what I mean. Read the rest of the poem here.

If these two were right up your alley, you're all but certain to enjoy the litany-esque qualities of "What to Count On" (not to mention the ironic fact that it's about things you can't count on AND it has a terrific ending), or "Oatmeal" or the equally amazing "The Oldest Music."

1 comment:

  1. These are gorgeous! I esp. love:

    Soft corals unfurl rainbow polyps, thousands
    of mouths held open to night.
    Currents’ communion—giant clams
    slam shut wavy jaws,

    Thanks for introducing me to Shumaker. I love the vividness of her images.