Tag Archives: Laura Jensen

“They are bad boats and they hate their anchors”

Objects. Simple, inanimate, quotidian, and when looked at with intimate focus, the subject of some of the works of art I love best.* So, for 2016’s monthly series*, the topic will be: objects. And I’m kicking it off with a look at Laura Jensen’s poem “Bad Boats” from her (out of print but find-able) collection of the same name. Continue reading

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Counting Sheep

In Laura Jensen’s poem “Sleep in the Heat” — which begins “I switch on the light” because of course one can’t sleep in the heat — the speaker says, after lovely insomniac descriptions of the clock, crickets, and dizzy dark,

I try to balance — one sheep fills me,
one is a shapeless chance,
one disobedience, one regard.
They feel I do not deserve them;
they are sleepy and kept up all night. Continue reading

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“The Sparrows of Iowa” — Laura Jensen

One of the many pleasures possible in poetry is seeing something you’ve seen your whole life in a new way. Such is one of the gifts of Laura Jensen’s  “The Sparrows of Iowa,” published in her amazing (and hard to get ahold of) 1977 book Bad Boats.  From the second of three stanzas:

[…] for the sparrows
of Iowa, listed as if no more exist.
They have long been with all of us,
chattering the bushes, ponderous,
and never been vermin. Their legs
are the dry bit you snip absently
from a houseplant — […]

How exactly perfect is that for a bird’s leg, “the dry bit you snip absently from a houseplant”! This is one of those poems that I won’t be able to avoid thinking of when I see a sparrow hopping about from now on.

Later on in the poem (which is three stanzas, 21 lines total), Continue reading


Beasley / Biespiel / Jensen / Friebert

A short look at: Bruce Beasley’s Theophobia  (2012), David Biespiel’s Wild Civility (2003), Laura Jensen’s Memory (1982) and Stuart Friebert’s Funeral Pie (1996).

One of the (oh so many) things that drives me nuts about statements like, “I don’t like poetry” or “I could just never get into poetry” is the underlying idea there that poetry is a single thing. It’s like saying, “I don’t like movies” or “I don’t like food.” Just because I can’t stand beets (I really can’t stand beets) doesn’t mean I’m going to write off all red foods, or all food. You could say a strawberry and a beet look sorta the same, couldn’t you? But the taste?

One of the things that struck me reading these four collections (all of which I like) is how vastly different their use of language is, what a nice spectrum of diction they represent. Friebert and Jensen all use very everyday vocabulary. In “Pocket Gopher,” Stuart Friebert writes, Continue reading

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