National Poetry Month Spotlight: Marcela Sulak
In Praise of the Keiffer Pear
You could bust your lip on it,
skimming its vast misshapen surface
for a bump you could plunge your teeth into.
Unburnished, yellow-brown as the front yards of August.
Drunk, the wasps would back out of it singing cells.
Ours was a shoot off grandpa’s tree, specially bred
to endure. His pears made a satisfying clunk
in the coffee cans he raised on headless mops
among the highest branches. There was nothing
like that grainy crunch. The ones we couldn’t get
in time we gave to our slobbering cow.
In the spring the tree’s white flowers
fell and rusted at our feet. Somehow
that made us happy.
(Poem first published in the South East Review.)
A: The balcony of my apartment in Tel Aviv. I can see the windows of all my neighbors’ apartments from it, and a small park and library beyond, where a herd of wild rabbits somehow survives among all the street cats. We’re moving tomorrow to an even nicer balcony that looks out on a beautiful Bauhaus neighborhood in South Tel Aviv. I hope this place will be good, too.
Q: Do you remember the first poem you read that really blew your mind?
A: In our small town library I came upon a book of Russian poets, and felt shaken by Anna Akhmatova’s “There’s a Secret Border in Human Closeness.” I was in sixth grade.
Q: What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you in the last 12 months?
A: I moved to Israel from Washington, DC, twelve months ago this April, with my daughter Amalia (who is now 4). I’m directing the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University.
Marcela Sulak’s poetry includes Immigrant (Black Lawrence Press, 2010) and Of All The Things That Don’t Exist, I Love You Best (Finishing Line Press, 2008). She’s translated three collections of poetry from the Czech Republic and Congo-Zaire, and she currently directs the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, where she is a senior lecturer in American Literature.