Jorie Graham

De Amerikaanse dichteres Jorie Graham werd geboren op 9 mei 1950 in New York geboren als dochter van Curtis Bill Pepper, een oorlogscorrespondent en het hoofd van het bureau Rome voor Newsweek en de beeldhouwester Beverly Stoll Pepper. Zij groeide op in Rome. Graham studeerde filosofie aan de Sorbonne, maar werd er weggestuurd omdat zij deelnam aan de studentenprotesten. Zij voltooide haar bacheloropleiding aan de Universiteit van New York en raakte in die tijd geïnteresseerd in poëzie. Nadat ze als secretaresse gewerkt had behaalde zij haar Master of Fine Arts in de beroemde Iowa Writers Workshop aan de Universiteit van Iowa. Graham werkte jarenlang bij de Iowa Writers Workshop en kreeg in 1999 een aanstelling aan Harvard University. Graham volgde Nobelprijswinnaar en dichter Seamus Heaney op als Boylston hoogleraar aan de afdeling Engels en Amerikaanse letterkunde en taal van Harvard. Zij was de eerste vrouw die deze positie veroverde. Graham is tweemaal gescheiden en trouwde in 2000 voor de derde keer, ditmaal met dichter en schilder Peter M. Sacks, een collega in Harvard. Jorie Graham publiceerde talrijke poëziebundels, waaronder “The End of Beauty”, “The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994” en “PLAC E”. Zij heeft ook twee anthologieën, “Earth Took of Earth: 100 Great Poems of the English Language” (1996) en “The Best American Poetry” (1990) gepubliceerd. Graham ontving veel prijzen zoals de Whiting Award (1985), de John D. en Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship, een Ingram Merrill Fellowship, en The Morton Dauwen Zabel Award van The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. “The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994” won de Pulitzerprijs voor Poëzie 1996. Voor haar bundel “P L A C E” ontving zij in 2012 Forward Poetry Prize. Zij was de eerste Amerikaanse vrouw die deze zeer prestigieuze Britse poëzieprijs won.


Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl
themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the
way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re-
entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a
visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by
minutest fractions the water’s downdrafts and upswirls, the
dockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there where
they hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst into
itself (it has those layers), a real current though mostly
invisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing
motion that forces change—
this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody gets
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. More and more by
each glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself,
also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of something
at sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift through
in the wind, I look in and say take this, this is
what I have saved, take this, hurry. And if I listen
now? Listen, I was not saying anything. It was only
something I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go.
I cannot of course come back. Not to this. Never.
It is a ghost posed on my lips. Here: never.


Over and Over Stitch

Late in the season the world digs in, the fat blossoms
hold still for just a moment longer.
Nothing looks satisfied,
but there is no real reason to move on much further:
this isn’t a bad place;
why not pretend

we wished for it?
The bushes have learned to live with their haunches.
The hydrangea is resigned
to its pale and inconclusive utterances.
Towards the end of the season
it is not bad

to have the body. To have experienced joy
as the mere lifting of hunger
is not to have known it
less. The tobacco leaves
don’t mind being removed
to the long racks—all uses are astounding

to the used.
There are moments in our lives which, threaded, give us heaven—
noon, for instance, or all the single victories
of gravity, or the kudzu vine,
most delicate of manias,
which has pressed its luck

this far this season.
It shines a gloating green.
Its edges darken with impatience, a kind of wind.
Nothing again will ever be this easy, lives
being snatched up like dropped stitches, the dry stalks of daylilies
marking a stillness we can’t keep.

Jorie Graham (New York, 9 mei 1950)