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Graham, Jorie

Entry updated 28 August 2023. Tagged: Author.

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(1950-    ) US academic and poet, active from the mid 1970s, in various positions at Harvard University from 1999; recipient of many recognitions, including the Pulitzer Prize, though expectedly no Rhysling Award. Her early work tends not to explore regions of the fantastic, literal or metaphorical, though the linked poems of dramatic transition assembled as Swarm (coll 2000) include mythological figures in vulnerable transit. Her poetry has increased in scope and structural ambition in the twenty-first century, her work in later volumes growing both more vividly personal as well as world-facing.

A cusp poem like "Cryo" (January 2017 Prac Crit), assembled with earlier work in Fast (coll 2017), encompasses rhetorics from the deep past of the English language through cites ranging from Julian of Norwich (1342-after 1416) up to utterances generated by something like a Brain in a Box; all mounting angularly to a "marital" conjoining of anticipated medical death and the deathwards pulse of the broken planet. Runaway (coll 2020 chap) also contains poems whose wounded clarity even more specifically address the End of the World through Climate Change and Ecological rape, a focus intensified and made literal in To 2040 (coll 2023), some of whose contents are definably sf. It may be said that in the expanded "tool kit" (her term) of her later work the first person singular – "I am not what I asked for" – may be that of her own voice, or that of Homo sapiens both now and Posthuman, or that of an AI adjuring us from an appalled Near Future: "the blossoming exit-wound keeps hissing sing". [JC]

Jorie Graham

born New York: 9 May 1950

works (highly selected)

  • Swarm: Poems (New York: Ecco Press, 2000) [poetry: coll: hb/Cynthia Krupat from Giotto]
  • Fast (New York: Ecco, 2017) [poetry: coll: chap: hb/Sara Wood]
  • Runaway (New York: Ecco, 2020) [poetry: coll: chap: hb/Sara Wood]
  • To 2040 (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 2023) [poetry: coll: hb/Gopa & Ted2, Inc]


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