26 May 2011

Joan Larkin on Woman-Stirred Radio

On Thursday, June 9th, at 4:15 pm (eastern), I'm thrilled to welcome poet and playwright, Joan Larkin to Woman-Stirred Radio. We'll be talking about her collection My Body : New and Selected Poems (Hanging Loose, 2007), as well as some new unpublished work slated for a new chapbook.

Larkin, who has taught at Brooklyn, Sarah Lawrence, Goddard, and New England Colleges, was Distinguished Visiting Poet at Columbia College, Chicago, and Wichita State University in Kansas. She was the publisher of Out & Out Books, a small 

As Julie R. Enszer points out in her review of Larkin's collection, My Body, Joan Larkin's "work as a poet extends well beyond the gay and lesbian community," and of great importance, "her work has been published and nurtured by the small presses in the gay and lesbian community over the past thirty years" (Enszer, 2007).

Larkin is a poet with a powerful voice of surety and raw veracity. She speaks from the center of her being in language that is lyric and ironic, offering the reader multi-dimensional tensions and primal female experience, as in "Native Tongue":

My first language was wet
and merging
My syllables were not distinct
from hers; our liquid interface
floated my small vowels
into the infradark
of her hold

my serious fish  face
my belly with its tendril
registering her depth
charges. (89)

Here, in the poem "Waste Not," Larkin excavates the trauma that batters the survivors of a beloved's death:

We're using every bit of your death.
We're making a vise of your mouth's clenching and loosening,
an engine of your labored breathing,
a furnace of your wide-open eyes.

We've reduced you to stock, fed you to the crowd,
banked the pearl of your last anger,
stored the honey of your last smile.

Nothing's left in your mirror,
nothing's floating on your high ceiling.
We're combing pockets, turning sleeves,
shaking out your bone and ash,
stripping you down to desire.

Your beloved has folded your house into his
I'm wading the swift river, balancing on stones. (59)

So please tune in Thursday, June 9th at 4:15 (eastern) for a fascinating discussion with Joan Larkin. Listen locally at 91.1 and 91.7 fm, or stream us live at WGDR.org.