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Writers’ Workshop alum reads poetry

BY RYAN COLE | APRIL 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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Poet Michele Glazer began writing creatively when she was young and took a path toward poetry partly out of necessity.

“I’m a failed fiction writer,” she said. “I can’t sustain a narrative.”

By many measures, Glazer has had success as a poet, earning an M.F.A. from the Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, becoming the director of the M.F.A. program at Portland State University, and publishing three volumes of poetry.

She will return to Iowa City to read from her most recent release, 2010’s On Tact, & the Made Up World, at 7 p.m. today at Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St. Admission is free.

Prairie Lights co-owner Jan Weissmiller said Glazer’s writing encompasses philosophical, ideological, and existential subjects, but remains accessible.

“It’s for anybody who wants to experience the world, who wants to be spoken to directly,” Weissmiller said. “I think if you pay attention to it, it’s not difficult at all.”

Cole Swensen, a poetry professor in the Writers’ Workshop, said Glazer and her work are very well-known in contemporary poetry circles. Whereas some modern poets attempt to inform readers about social and political issues, Swensen said, Glazer’s poems present a new perspective.

“It’s a blend of precision and wildness at the same time,” she said.

Though the poems address a number of rich and complex topics, including politics, relationships, and death, Glazer said, her writing typically has its roots in language.

“Language is where it starts — with a line, a sentence, a feeling, or an idea,” the poet said. “It will have its way with you, and you should let it have its way with you.”

Glazer said poetry and meditation on language are ways of discovering meaning in life, and they help her remain attentive to the world. And though solitude is essential to writing, the poet said, she believes sharing creative works is important for both writers and for the community.

“I think people are hungry for poetry, art, music,” she said. “That’s how we express ourselves as human beings, in the most tender, chaotic, irrational, as well as rational, aspects of ourselves.”

In addition to Glazer’s contribution to Iowa City’s creative community, Swensen said, the poet’s visit will help students better understand life after graduate school and provide a model for success inside and outside of an academic setting.

“It’s so great to have graduates like [Glazer] doing such wonderful work and coming back,” Swensen said. “It’s a constant reminder to everyone that a two-year M.F.A. program is just the beginning.”

For Glazer, studying and later making a career out of poetry and writing were a continuation of her childhood passion.

“I wrote poems when I was a child, as most children do,” she said. “A lot of people stop, and some people don’t stop — some people keep doing it, and it becomes what they do.”

Excerpt:

> Worm, (to a rumor of lilies)

Digestive turned blue so the woman said.

Said, I write my own islands, and red, red.

Was urinary. Under the astigmatic lens
of her naked eye she followed the tracts.

Looking at worms for a long time she said
A worm in its lifetime moves short distances.

She knew to follow them. How?

There is the solace of repetition.
I like to think she came to worms the way one

comes for the first time to love,
because sight fails.


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