Black Lawrence Press
June 26, 2017

Welcome, Maureen Seaton!

During the month of June, we are celebrating the authors that came to us during our last open reading period. Today we bring you Maureen Seaton, author of the poetry collection Fisher, which is due out in September of 2018.

The Author

 

Version 5Maureen Seaton has authored nineteen poetry collections, both solo and collaborative— most recently, Caprice: Collected, Uncollected, and New Collaborations (with Denise Duhamel, Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). Her awards include the Iowa Poetry Prize and Lambda Literary Award (both for Furious Cooking (U. of Iowa Press, 1996)), the Audre Lorde Award (for Venus Examines Her Breast (Carnegie Mellon UP, 2004)), an NEA fellowship, and two Pushcart Prizes. Her memoir, Sex Talks to Girls (U. of Wisconsin Press, 2008), also garnered a “Lammy.” Seaton is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Miami, Florida.

 

 

On writing Fisher

The poems in Fisher were culled from dozens of uncollected poems written over a twenty-five year period—since the death of the book’s protagonist by suicide in the early nineties. I’d published a handful of pieces, in which I’d tried to untangle a relationship, in previous collections, but I wanted this rare man to have a book all to himself. My process was born out of grief, of course, and the poems rose up whenever I would allow myself to feel it. Fisher is a clear-eyed look at both a complex love and the short life of a man who was happiest in water, fly rod in hand.

 

 

Excerpt

Chelsea/Suicide

In every myth there is a secret. Like the time I went looking for my childhood around the next bend in the Palisades and missed it, or the time teeth were discovered in my favorite uncle’s yard and he disclaimed ownership and sang falsettos.

I went to a meeting on 28th Street. The guy next to me had eyes exactly like yours, corpuscles hardening inside blue irises. He stood too close when he told me I would die if I didn’t ease up on myself. I thought he was right but I wanted him to step back so I didn’t have to see inside his liver, which was sodden, like mine, with tinges of red, white, and rosé.

He talked to himself in the middle of the room, the way he would talk to anyone who used hyperbole. He said: I tried suicide but it didn’t work. When he stuck out his hand I shook it.

I walked with him down 8th and we parted at 21st. I thought of all the times I’d dozed in my car near the river, how cops would come to my window and tap, telling me it wasn’t safe for a woman in the middle of the day in a car by the river in a world like this one.

Now there’s snow in Chelsea and my soul leaps in something I’ve heard described as bliss. You’re never far in winter, I realize, and here is the secret: If you’d lived you’d be asleep beside me now, bent around me like an aura, keeping me safer than I ever thought I had the right to be.

——-previously published in Columbia Poetry Review & Best American Poetry——-

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Radical

What do I know of a band named Bomb
or an armed hitchhiker on Rt. 9?

Form often follows substance or else
it holds it up to a light that flickers

when you tap it. Stop tapping, okay?
You look nothing like my father, who died

last April, although he’s formless now
as jello or paint or war, a holy

mass of arteries and calcified chakras.
I’ve got a few tricks (smokes or

mirrors) up the sleeve of this shifty coat
of arms we live beneath: our film de guerre.

Of all the masked faces I’ve seen, yours
takes the trophy for night maneuvers

now that you’re lobbing potatoes (I say)
or tomatoes (you say), trading salvation

for love. Pick a savior. Can’t? I could never
sleep with a terrorist. I’d rather hike

the entire length of the Hudson or skip
baths like they did in the old days. Still

there’s something gorgeous in your minefield.
I adore the way your face explodes in fractals.

——-previously published in jubilat——-

 

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