Friday, January 20, 2012

Julie Buchsbaum To Read at Raven Bookstore

Julie Buchsbaum is a 2011 National Poetry Series Award winner for her forthcoming book The Apothecary's Heir (Penguin). She will be reading at the Big Tent –Raven Books series Thursday night Jan. 26, 7 pm—not to be missed.  I first met her at the University of Kansas when she was presenting research techniques to a class of mine, pro bono, in her role as KU Humanities Librarian. She was witty, able to calibrate to a wide range of Indigenous students, and clear. I got to know her further in the Ronald Johnson study group last summer in Topeka/Lawrence. She has an amazing clarity, as this poem shows:


Flutes in Tunisia

The purple mosque casts
a shadow of green
quite far from where we are
or want to be.

Telephone wires
encircle a pole
like electrocuted snakes.
Still we are drawing the pall

over a love
short-circuited long ago.
We should admit that now
we’ll never know

why flutes in Tunisia
do not sound the same
as they sound here,
though arsonous flames

consume as quickly
leaves that look like they
were dipped in blood.
As if there were a way

to attune a man’s
sleeping tympanum
to thunder and the pules
of wind while from

a fragrant monticule
where once his sultan frowned,
he observes the cloistered
circle of a sleeping town

and lights that fibrillate dimly
in the skin of night.
Even his minions were
unnerved by fright

as waves collapsed at the prow
like torn fans
and corsairs hooted
on the Mediterranean.
I admire the images in this and the way they are pulled into a skein of syntax, always the tension held exactly right.  The long comparison of failed love to a variety of sinister images is unforgettable.
Buchsbaum also is the author of the poetry collections Slowly, Slowly, Horses (Ausable Press, 2001), and A Little Night Comes (Del Sol Press, 2005). Her poems have appeared in many journals, including The Iowa Review, Verse, Conduit, Denver Quarterly, and Harvard Review. Her degrees are an MFA from Iowa Writers Workshop, Masters of Library & Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh, and PhD in Literature from the University of Missouri. She is the Humanities Librarian for English, Philosophy, and Classics at the University of Kansas.