Tag Archives: Poets

A Pulitzer Poet – Lisel Mueller

Thanks to Lu and Kelly for creating the Poetry Project and suggesting the theme of reading the Pulitzer Prize winning poets in August.  I have been reading poets who are new to me.   One of my favorites is  Lisel Mueller who won the Pulitzer in 1997 for the collection Alive Together.  I borrowed this book from my library but will be sure to add a copy to my poetry collection.

Mueller’s poetry very clear and direct, based in present time and yet deeply connected to the past.  She uses folk and fairy tales  in her poems, as well as everyday events.   Her poems tell stories, are often personal,  never heavy-handed and are filled with wonderful imagery.  I find her writing striking, deeply moving and quite beautiful.

Here are two poems from Alive Together:

Sometimes, When The Light

Sometimes, when the light strikes at odd angles
and pulls you back into childhood

and you are passing a crumbling mansion
completely hidden behind old willows

or an empty convent guarded by hemlocks
and giant firs  standing hip to hip,

you know again that behind that wall,
under the uncut hair of the willows

something secret is going on,
so marvelous and dangerous

that if you crawled through and saw,
you would die, or be happy forever.

Why We Tell Stories

For Linda Foster

I
Because we used to have leaves
and on damp days
our muscles feel a tug,
painful now, from when roots
pulled us into the ground

and because our children believe
they can fly, an instinct retained
from when the bones in our arms
were shaped like zithers and broke
neatly under their feathers

and because before we had lungs
we knew how far it was to the bottom
as we floated open-eyed
like painted scarves through the scenery
of dreams, and because we awakened

and learned to speak

2
We sat by the fire in our caves,
and because we were poor, we made up a tale
about a treasure mountain
that would open only for us

and because we were always defeated,
we invented impossible riddles
only we could solve,
monsters only we could kill,
women who could love no one else
and because we had survived
sisters and brothers, daughters and sons,
we discovered bones that rose
from the dark earth and sang
as white birds in the trees

3
Because the story of our life
becomes our life

Because each of us tells
the same story
but tells it differently

and none of us tells it
the same way twice

Because grandmothers looking like spiders
want to enchant the children
and grandfathers need to convince us
what happened happened because of them

and though we listen only
haphazardly, with one ear,
we will begin our story
with the word and

Lisel Mueller

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Filed under Authors, Poetry, Poetry Project, Pulitzer, Thoughts

The Poetry Project

Time for the Poetry Project, organized by Lu and Kelly.  August’s Poetry Project theme is Pulitzer Prize winning poetry.  Of course, you can read and post about any poetry you choose.  I’m planning on reading the work of several Pulitzer winning poets I’m not familiar with but would like to start off with one of my favorites, W.S. Merwin.

Thanks

By W.S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

Copied from Poets.org.

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Filed under Authors, Poetry Project