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Ruth Ellen Kocher

Ruth Ellen Kocher

Ruth Ellen Kocher is the author of One Girl Babylon, When the Moon Knows You’re Wandering, winner of the Green Rose Prize in Poetry; and Desdemona’s Fire, winner of the Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in various journals, including Ploughshares, Crab Orchard Review, Clackamas Literary Review, The Missouri Review, African American Review, The Gettysburg Review, and Antioch, among others. She lives in St. Louis, and teaches literature and writing at the University of Colorado.

Also by Ruth Ellen Kocher

www.ruthellenkocher.com

 

One Girl Babylon

One Girl Babylon

One Girl Babylon

$14.00 paper | 73 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-930974-33-3
Publication Date: Fall 2003
Buy: Amazon.com | spdbooks.org

A Green Rose Selection

"This versatile poet blinks at nothing under the stars. Speaking and singing in the many voices and key signatures of poetry, our primal human language, Ruth Ellen Kocher shines and sheds visible and audible light. And to darkness and ignorance, light is still spiritual Kryptonite.”
—Al Young


One Girl Babylon takes us from the great human luxury of a moment in which we ‘know her hips / walk on water’ to the unmitigated and also human corruption of ‘the indifference of urban seasons,’ delivering us to ourselves—humans weary from understanding, weary from understanding that is so close but which we keep from each other in so many ways, in so many words. The speaker in these poems wears us out and is worn out—we reach to each other, and this is the fine sensibility of these poems: we reach and almost save each other. That is their moment. Reader and speaker, we are ready to work, but too late. The work of the salvation shown to us here is not in doing, but in undoing what has been done. We serve these poems best by listening, as they have listened to us.”
—Alberto Rios

Praise for Desdemona's Fire:

"At the heart of these stunning poems is a precise and imaginative examination of the thin line that separates beauty and terror, wisdom and madness, tolerance and hatred."
––Bruce Weigl

“At a time when the self-congratulating forces of darkness and greed strut and stomp across the world stage, along comes Ruth Ellen Kocher. ‘The Life the Heart Leaves’—one of many tantalizing selections—could well have been the title of this moving collection. Unpredictable in voice and tone, these tender, tough poems narrate, educate, commemorate, celebrate and vibrate. ‘The woman I have become is speaking through my mouth,’ Kocher sings. ‘She says, God-forsaken / African violets are blooming / all over my bathroom as the city / rises, as the fields lead to the city, / as the alleys sulk with their black / eyes and their hurt smiles / and the city comforts them saying / I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Never again.’ This versatile poet blinks at nothing under the stars. Speaking and singing in the many voices and key signatures of poetry, our primal human language, Ruth Ellen Kocher shines and sheds visible and audible light. And to darkness and ignorance, light is still spiritual Kryptonite.”
—Al Young

Poem

Vicinity


       —for K.E.Q.

After church, the neighborhood returns to its failing.
The lights come on. Children retreat to their rooms.
In my driveway, ants continue to make good

of the cactus wren’s dead flight while deaf Jim waters
the arbor vitae. The old widow next door to him
checks her car again and looks at my house,
knowing blackness is up to no good,
in her trunk, maybe, or at her roses when
she’s sleeping. Wave hello and pass,

wave hello and pass her mint-green house,
ill decision, another decade’s color scheme
gone wrong, even in the awnings striped white.
The girl who knew me a decade earlier was right.

I am more black when I’m barefoot.
I am more black when I walk down the street,
carrying my shoes like I just don’t care.