Black Lawrence Press
November 23, 2016

Welcome, Ruth Williams!

This month we are featuring the poets and writers who have signed with us in the past six months—all writers who submitted work during one of our two annual open reading periods.

Today we bring you Ruth Williams, whose poetry collection Flatlands will be published in April of 2018.

 

034-3The Author

Ruth Williams is the author of Conveyance (Dancing Girl Press, 2012). Her poetry has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, jubilat, Pleiades and Third Coast among others. She has also published creative nonfiction in DIAGRAM and South Loop Review as well as scholarly work on women’s writing and feminism in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, The Journal of Popular Culture,  and College Literature.  Ruth holds a Ph.D. in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Cincinnati; currently, she is an Assistant Professor of English at William Jewell College.

 

 

 

Excerpt

Radial Plain

As she lay with her eyes closed, she had again, more vividly than for many years, the old illusion of her girlhood, of being lifted and carried lightly by someone very strong […] She knew at last for whom it was she had waited, and where he would carry her.

Willa Cather, O Pioneers!

In my 13th year, hanging
the laundry, the white sheets
were like blowsy dresses
and my heartache

was a new
nostalgia, the plains
the leavening,

grasses a long cry,
the hair of my later years
growing before me.

How I spent that summer
like Cather, wanting
the strong arms

of another coming
round me, knowing
that this too was a foretaste

of what it meant to be flattened,
to love like the dirt,
hard, packed,

how fertile then
not to know what
I would become.

Originally Published in Zone 3, Volume 31, No. 2, Fall 2016.

 

Jackalope

The prairie
demands décollage.

In strips,
tear the grass away

to a light hare. The horns,
a shadow branch

that oscillates
in a mythic drowse.

The hair
around each bone

moves lightly
as if bewitching.

Touch it,
and now you’re outlined,

torn into
shape. Oh, yes—

you’re being
found.

 

Dumbfounded

No need for driving rain
to wash you. I prefer messes,
I consoled myself.

There wasn’t anything
true about that.

I only wanted to write
like a shirt turned inside out, tags
gone cryptic upside down.

To create a vague sense
of discomfort.
A rock in the shoe, a piece of floss
stuck between teeth.

Like driving around
the city of your birth
but out where
all the new shops went in.

A set of cul-de-sacs
to destroy you.

Like a tonic,
a talisman, you repeat:
keep your palm
on the left-hand side.

No matter the maze, that’s how
you’ll find your way out.

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