Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Poetry Pop Up: Nancy Naomi Carlson

         A summer community in Connecticut, founded by Jewish firefighters

The lake is not what I most remember, 
     opaque between water lilies whose stems
would tug at the oars my father dipped
     into surface glaze, stirring up algae and flies—
nor the outcrop of rock, my mother standing watch
     as our boat sprang leaks on its way from the shore—
but the mountain itself enclosing the lake,
     a presence, embrace that made our Studebaker’s engine
strain in different keys as gears were changed,
     so even, eyes shut, I could guess how close we were
to the top. While my father hammered his chisel 
     into the same stone on which our summer house was built,
I’d chip away mica found in the woods,
     or strip sassafras bark with my nails, then chew 
its fragrant pulp. I’d pull Queen Anne’s lace
     by the roots, just for its mock-carrot smell, balance
on fallen trees and tunnel through hulls,
     singing, or magnify sun on a single brown leaf.

(First published by The Missouri Review Online)

Nancy Naomi Carlson/Photo by Seth Carlson
Nancy Naomi Carlson has received grants from the NEA, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, and has authored three books of poetry and four books of translations, including Hammer with No Master (Tupelo Press, 2016), translations of René Char, which was a finalist for the  CLMP Firecracker Poetry Award, and The Nomads, My Brothers, Go Out to Drink from the Big Dipper (Seagull Books, 2015), translations of Djiboutian poet Abdourahman Waberi, which was a finalist for the Best Translated Book Award. Her work has appeared in such journals as APRBoulevardThe Georgia Review, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner. Seagull Books will publish her co-translation of The Dancing Other, a novel by Suzanne Dracius, from Martinique, this fall, Naming the Dawn by Abdourahman Waberi next spring, and her second full-length collection of non-translated poems in fall 2018. For more information, please visit www.nancynaomicarlson.com.

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