Black Lawrence Press
April 28, 2015

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Rachel Galvin

Welcome to National Poetry Month, 2015! We’re celebrating all month long. Each day we will bring you a poem we love–a selection from one of our published or forthcoming collections. Happy April!

Today’s featured poet is Rachel Galvin, author of Pulleys & Locomotion.

 

Pilgrim Road

Pulleys & Locomotion
I am chasing a bus on a Texas road named for the Virgin,
my dress like a poppy.

Some days it is this way: a father puts some fish
on his daughter’s plate because a woman

sitting on the curb looks up to see another woman
on a bicycle; in the Latvian fortune teller’s hallway,

someone plays drums while she reads the cards
and through the half-open door her husband

puts on a pair of pants, walks across the room,
tucking in his shirt. Soul is a flute, she says, touching

my chest. Fingers writing about fingers.
She with three children and one suitcase, where is the train,

the sandwiches and tea. There, a boy kisses a girl
goodbye and runs to join his lover, who swells

with waiting. Where did I misplace the story in my fist?
Narrow traffic lanes, past the train station steps covered

with squatters and dogs, past the sex shop,
its long mirrors, man smoking in the doorway,

Slavic crêpe-maker with his knowing eye
eating rapidly at lunchtime. A woman asks

How did I get here, looking at her watch again.
My heart turns over, a child sweating at night.

I’ve been looking for a word for days—not in the sand
in my slipper, not in the dream of losing a cat.

Thoughts you can slice your finger on—
a swarm of sirens wakes me after midnight,

someone in my bed. Arm in arm with myself
I leave the eighth floor, its enormous window,

the view of the Pantheon, and walk diagonally
through the city, following first this stranger, then that.

A zigzag of scooters, old men toss boules
amidst ponies and sycamores. In the public garden

girls traverse a cloth world in sock feet
while miniature boats spin toward each other.

At five a.m. a woman wakes her children
to see Paris’s first snow, quivers

of breath shot in the flickering air.
Later there will be constellations in their hair,

blessed children eating their breakfast with jam.
Go, she says. Pour your palmful of water

from one hand to the other. This morning
I peel off fresh dreams like stamps.

 

______________________________

Rachel has chosen to introduce “My Burning Hemisphere / Mi Hemisferio Ardiente,” by Urayoán Noel.

She says: Urayoán Noel’s work is a ludic, voracious, multilingual, pluri-national, hemispheric poetry that brings together Anglo-American Modernism with Latin American modernismo and Oulipo with Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Noel writes that the “crime of rhyme” is a way to make room—and “room” is a mobile space he is creating between U.S. American and Latin American literatures, cultures, and identities—but “room” is also the translation of the Italian term “stanza,” and I love how he uses bilingual puns to open new poetic spaces. I admire the mind-boggling, brilliant solutions he devises for problems he’s created in translating his verse from Spanish into English and vice versa—crafting not exactly equivalents but correspondences to his manic wordplay, as he brings over the phonics, the force, and the imagery from one language into the other. I’m excited to read his new book due out this spring, titled Buzzing Hemisphere/Rumor hemisférico, where this poem will appear.

______________________________

HeadshotforwebsiteRachel Galvin is the author of a collection of poems, Pulleys & Locomotion (Black Lawrence, 2009), and a chapbook, Zoetrope (Ediciones Chätaro, 2006). Her poems and translations appear Boston Review, Chicago Review, Colorado Review, Drunken Boat, McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, Octopus, PN Review, Poetry, and others. She has published translations from the French of Arthur Rimbaud and Oulipian writers Jacques Jouet, Jacques Bens, Olivier Salon, Paul Fournel; and the Spanish of César Vallejo and Oliverio Girondo. Her translation of Raymond Queneau’s Hitting the Streets was reviewed in The Times Literary Supplement and The Guardian (where it was paperback of the week), and the Boston Globe named it one of the best poetry books of 2013. Hitting the Streets was just awarded the Scott Moncrieff Prize for best literary translation from the French published in the UK in 2013. She is co-editor of Auden at Work, forthcoming this year (Palgrave) and her critical essays and reviews appear in Boston Review, Comparative Literature Studies, Jacket 2, Los Angeles Review of Books, MLN, Modernism/modernity, and Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas. Galvin holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Princeton University and has been a Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin, and an Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow at The Johns Hopkins University. She is currently an Andrew W. Mellon/NEH Long-Term Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago and will soon be an  assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Chicago

 

 

 

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