April Poetry Month (Day 3): Susan Firer #npm15 #wppoets

[April Poetry Month 2015 Table of Contents]

FirerSHeadshotSUSAN FIRER’S most recent book is Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People: New & Selected Poems 1979-2007.  Her previous books have been awarded the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize, the Posner Award, and the Backwaters Prize. She is a recipient of a Milwaukee County Artist Fellowship, a Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship, the Lorine Niedecker Award, and in 2009 she was given the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Distinguished Alumnus Award.  In 2015, she was awarded a NEA Creative Writing Fellowship.  She has poems in numerous anthologies, including Best American Poetry; Visiting Dr. Williams: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of William Carlos Williams (University of Iowa Press); The Cento: A Collection of Collage Poems (Red Hen Press); and The Book of Irish American Poetry: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present (University of Notre Dame Press).  Her poems have appeared in many journals, such as Chicago Review, jubilat, Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, New American Writing, and others.  Her poem “Call Me Pier” is included in the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Everywhere series and is available for viewing at the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Everywhere website.  Her poems “The Beautiful Pain of Too Much” and “Call Me Pier,” have been choreographed by Janet Lilly and  performed at St. Mark’s in the Bowery, New York City, and at the 2010 Milwaukee Lakefront Festival of the Arts.  From 2008-2014, she edited the Shepherd Express online poetry column.  From 2008-2010, she was Poet Laureate of the City of Milwaukee.   She is Adjunct Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

Nervous Catechism    

“Catechism – a form of questions followed by answers to be memorized”

Q. 1. Who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral?
The architect with the name of a bird, Sir Christopher Wren, designed St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Q. 2. Is Godward a true direction?
Godward is a true direction.

Q. 3. Which star in the Milky Way is an alien star?
Arcturus is the alien star.

Q. 4. Which way is Godward?
One should never ask another to direct them Godward.

Q. 5. What is progress?
Progress is that which should be interrogated.

Q. 6. How is a word a church?
Trick Question! A word isn’t a church.
A word is part banditti, part shadow,  part shim.

Q. 7. What is the celestial sphere?
“The celestial sphere is an imaginary sphere of gigantic (infinite?) radius of which the observer is the center and on which all celestial objects are considered to lie.”  For example, the poem is a celestial sphere.

Q. 8. What is revelation?
The red-vented bulbul is revelation.

The Dog Stars

light night.
35-below wind-
chill cold. Umlauts
turn into snow.
Waves play Wagner.
I raise a pyx
where within I
keep one blue
robin’s egg.
How can we
throw away beauty?
The Canada geese
night in snow nests.
January’s cold language
on fire. (Sometimes
only language remembers
a place’s origin: Conca d’Oro,
Cape Cod, Silver Spring
etc.) Language is
an ancient, articulate
memory.  In a never mind,
on the steam-
fog horizon,
a transport
covered with Arctic
sea smoke passes
a composite of ghost
ships. Glistered
ice veils every January
vision.  For a minute
we are disguised
as human. Between
the stars and the body,
lake canoes, needle snow,
lake trees’ shadows
crisscross tightrope
plate ice.

[April Poetry Month 2015 Table of Contents]