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  • Hours Tue-Fri 11-8pm, Sat-Sun 12-5pm, Closed Mon
Event Calendar
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performances
October 22

Alternating Currents Live: Tom Rainey & Devin Drobka Percussion Duo

readings & workshops
October 25

Poetry Reading: Stephen Anderson & Erik Richardson

readings & workshops
October 26

Urban Echo Poets

special events
November 3

Join us on Friday, November 3rd for our 37th Annual Anniversary Gala!

 

Archived readings & workshops
Sep 26 Saturday, September 26
5:30pm, RECEPTION & PROGRAM: $80 INDIVIDUAL | $150 COUPLE; PROGRAM ONLY: $25 ADVANCE | $30 DOOR

 

 

Joan Kane is the author of The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife and Hyperboreal. She has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry from AWP, the USA Projects Creative Vision Award, an American Book Award, the Alaska Literary Award, and fellowships from the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, Alaska Arts and Cultures Foundation, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the School for Advanced Research, and Alaska Pacific University.

Kane graduated from Harvard College, where she was a Harvard National Scholar, and Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where she was the recipient of a graduate Writing Fellowship. Inupiaq with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, she raises her children in Anchorage, Alaska, and is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. New work will appear in POETRY Magazine and The Best American Poetry 2015.


 

Rote

 

It could have been yesterday,

Trying to learn a pattern of water

On water or a road I thought

Prophesied and never found.

 

Against the backdrop of valley

I lost the flock as it flew past

For no known reason at all,

A sudden and small consolation.

 

I saw skins hung on rain-wet willows.

I could not fix in mind or memory

The terrible road or where it led.

Perhaps it was sleep moving

 

Against me, its round hill

Swelling against a flat landscape.

Iris of eye gives evidence of the sea

Growing larger, an obscured sky.

 

Casts over, scatters and rains.

Of a day that will not want to end,

Tomorrow shall be longer.

 

 

Withdraw

 

To the south of those who live south of us—

I will visit unknown men, hunt up the invisible

Behind the women.

 

It is both a bluster and a promise,

The day immature, blunt in its newness.

I do not know what steals me

 

Above the spines of mountains.

I trespass to hear the sound of the sea,

Its resemblance to a summit of wind.

 

Child, I pare off. The swallows

Have disappeared into their banks

And emerged as wolves. Expect

 

A bird of beak and tooth, the steep

Fetch, the sigh of new-formed ice.

 

 

The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife

 

Black birds luster in sleep above a rough

Sea, and he is all suspension from a length

Of rope before descending to snap ten

Long necks, one after another. Cormorants

 

In death are just lustrous: swollen from day’s

Plunging, distended with fish. He wants

To own his weighty bounty upwards,

But she in cunning cuts his cord and turns

 

To the other in her husband’s falling.

Implausible travels from a scar of rock,

And a return that needs no telling.

Is it her failing: the cormorant hunter’s wife

 

Feels no ill will all winter until the spring,

When, in a glutton’s plumpness with her black

Hair lustered, he buries her beneath a sum of stones

And himself plunges with the downdrafts under.

 

 

Variations on an Admonition

 

I have played with the skulls of seals

And feigned them to be children.

 

I will tell you of the black spot

Constantly before me—

 

I had tried hard to make land,

But the coast has altogether vanished.

 

I ask you keep your eyes shut

Until the sound of the swarm

 

Above has passed, that you mind not

A certain brightness. After all,

 

I have whittled you into life-size—

I will divide you into many men

 

With time for me to gather

The bones of all sorts of animals

 

And stir life into them.

 

 

Late Successional

 

You ask

 

to lead me to me

to lead you next

 

to colors all wet:

bark saturated brown,

brown-green

 

where lichen scurries up the trunk

of a tree that needs it.

 

You make me wonder about thirst,

the way things work together.

Boughs once empty fill with birds

 

in rapid flickering flight until beat, wingbeat,

winged threat: a magpie I try to wish away.

 

I ask, do not disappear.

That is no kind of apology

and I have never been a forgiver.

 

The green part of me never leaves

however I find that it remains with you.

However I find it in you

 

you must remember I am not a soft woman.

You’ll seek the mother in me

but expect to see splinters,

rolled margins.

 

Together we have never been so alone,

like ladders, like messengers with another

answer. The ink-stained hand holds

 

heartache no longer. It’s been set

and pressed down, mapped & scattered.

 


Made possible with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts.