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Paula McLain

Paula McLain

Paula McLain received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996. Since then, she has been a resident at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the Ucross Foundation, and a recipient of fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her poems have appeared in The Bellingham Review, Quarterly West, Cream City Review, Third Coast, and Green Mountains Review. She teaches in the MFA Program in Poetry at New England College, and at John Carroll University, and lives in Cleveland.

www.paulamclain.net

Also by Paula McLain

 

 

Stumble, Gorgeous

Stumble, GorgeousStumble, Gorgeous

$14.00 paper | 57 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-930974-56-2
Publication Date: Oct. 2005
Buy: Amazon.com | spdbooks.org

A Green Rose Book

"Light-hearted, though wearing a heavy heart, Paula McLain tries her best to shake her cast of invisible fathers. It’s brave to interrogate and, Job-like, dispense of heaven to go on living in and of this world. Stumble, Gorgeous offers her most powerful and accomplished writing to date: the music sings metrically and in a range of sounds and voices; the syntax unfolds pleasure and difficulty in uneven doses and often surprises in its jangling turns. It’s hard to improve on lines of intelligence and grace like these: 'We learn to love by loving silhouette, / We learn to love as a kind of jangling / Prayer, vernacular cant to the floppy horizon, / The unhearing, unheard from hole at the center of.' One marvels at her playful openness, but more so at her passionate movement toward acceptance: 'Flushed, / breathing, making do.'"
        —Ira Sadoff

"For a mother to abandon her children is a desertion of mythic proportions. In these poems Paula McLain is able, somehow, to find what is archetypal in the ensuing devastation and rebuilding of a human being. We watch as she moves from the place where “the kingdom of memory is the kingdom of counting / on nothing” to one where she can, with her fingernails, 'scratch' self 'in a cradle of roots,' and finally arrive at 'how the mudbaby left in a field for the crows / To mother becomes a mother herself.” And she gets there with the rasp and backbone of our most basic music, music of the 'Lark and swale and rucksack; / the halt and the toppled; the rapt.'"
        —Jane Mead

Poem

Acrobats with Oranges

Above: canvas pulled into taffy. Below—
Smoke-white ponies, taffeta-collared bears,
Clowns and unicycles and cosmonauts
Trussed for the cannon.

My sister and I stand to one side and find
We’re children again, but better at it now.
We’ve stopped tugging at our lisle stockings,
The rub of over-starched plackets, our place
In the Pleiades of the ring. We don’t fidget.
We don’t forget our names when the spots
Come up, bathing us blind.

We’re given the same stakes nightly:
Six ripe oranges and gravity’s carousel. We’re given
Our dainty feet in Mary Janes, our manicured
Hands. We’re given beauty we can block and closet
After hours, preserving its use.

At show time, we’re something to see.
Our faces bud and blur behind quickened
Cargo. You might think sleight of hand
But it’s closer to skywriting what we do. We spell a wheel,
An egg, a climbing compass. We spell the world
And it spells back everything it knows.

Above, the tightrope flosses forever. Below,
The lion tamer’s grand mustache. Above,
Star-fizzle, startled moths, the asteroids of other lives
Careening. Below, air struck and plumbed,
Obvious with oranges.