Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kelle Groom

Kelle Groom is a poet and memoirist. She is the author of three poetry collections: Five Kingdoms (Anhinga Press, 2010); Luckily (Anhinga, 2006); and Underwater City (University Press of Florida, 2004). Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry 2010, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, and Poetry, among others, and has received special mention in the Pushcart Prize 2010 and Best American Non-Required Reading 2007 anthologies.

Her new memoir is I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl.

Late last month I asked Groom what she was reading. Her reply:
Tomaz Salamun, A Ballad for Metka Krasovec

Denise Duhamel, Kinky

Kenneth Koch, New Addresses

Frank O’Hara, Lunch Poems

May Swenson, The Love Poems of May Swenson

I’ve been reading Tomaz Salamun and Denise Duhamel, for joy. My friend Janean and I were talking about alcoholism, and Janean said, “Barbie is bottoming out.” A quote from Denise Duhamel’s poem, “Barbie Joins a Twelve Step Program” in Kinky. Which sent me back to these thrilling, satiric poems featuring Barbie in many guises, i.e., “Beatnik Barbie”: “Talk about failure./ Barbie couldn’t snap.” Tomaz Salamun’s first complete single volume in English translation (by Michael Biggins) is A Ballad for Metka Krasovec. Everything is a surprise in Salamun’s poems: “Blue circles in the mouth - /garlic for the heart,/wind-blown ashes at the edges of a hexagram - / of years.” When I read these poems, I’m excited to be in the same world as him: “This time I washed my head./ But that doesn’t prevent/the cries of my overseas monsters./ I’m at work/On the way./I comfort them ALL” (from “the dance”). From the title poem: “Metka was sick and pale./I returned the blood to her face.” Salamun writes, “I’m here./My hands shine.” Duhamel and Salamun made me long for Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems and Kenneth Koch’s New Addresses too. Reading O’Hara and Koch made me so glad to be alive, I remembered the sweetness of May Swenson’s celebratory Love Poems, and returned to them as well: “In love are we made visible.”
View the trailer for I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl, and learn more about the book and author at Kelle Groom's website.

The Page 99 Test: I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl.

--Marshal Zeringue