Keetje Kuipers has a unique way of "writing" poems: She goes for a walk without pen and paper (although she has, at least once, resorted to grabbing an advertising flyer from a mailbox and using a laundromat pen). Kuipers says walking creates a cadence that shapes language in her mind so, most of the time, she has a finished poem by the time she gets home.
The Write Question is pleased to present Keetje Kuipers, a poet whose first collection has won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Tune in Thursday evening, August 12, at 6:30 (Yellowstone Public Radio) or 7:30 (Montana Public Radio) to hear Kuipers talk about and read a few of the poems in her new collection, Beautiful in the Mouth. You can also listen online.
Why I Live West of the Rockies, by Keetje Kuipers
When I said I didn't want to live in
Pennsylvania, I meant it. The house out-
side Philadelphia rotting each limb
that's lost its use, your mother's soldered pout
as she hand over the china, wrinkled
hills of leafless trees spreading a browned gown,
the sparse lights of the Ivy Leagues sprinkled
on the horizon, academe gone down
like a fast ship on fire -- You could never
understand why I won't go back. Like all
shadows, our history's carved by weather-
bent sun. Against us, all the seasons. Fall,
then winter shortening our lives with bone
white snow, the home it will find over stone.
“I was immediately struck by the boldness of imagination, the strange cadences, and wild music of these poems. We should be glad that young poets like Keetje Kuipers are making their voices heard not by tearing up the old language but by making the old language new.”
— Thomas Lux