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Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson was born in Menlo Park, California in 1974, the middle child of a gregarious Irish-American woman and a dry-witted half-Swede. She attended Stanford University and did graduate work in the department of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University, completing a dissertation on Emily Dickinson and selflessness. She has published poems and prose in several journals and was a 2009-2010 Radcliffe Institute Fellow. At Deep Springs, in rural Inyo County, California, Peterson is the Robert B. Aird Chair of Humanities and the only full-time humanities instructor.

 

 

 

This One Tree

This One TreeThis One Tree

$14.00 paper | 98 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-930974-61-6
Publication Date: March 2006
Buy: Amazon.com | spdbooks.org

Winner of the 2005 New Issues Poetry Prize
Judge, William Olsen

“In This One Tree, I find what might very well be the salvation of our distracted, disbanded American soul: an imperative, unempirical Gaze. Peterson commends and then commands Vision in her every word, beginning with her first ones—‘Be on the lookout.’ And what I find most wonderful of all is that, here, Vision goes forward to atonement and a new name in ‘sweet alyssum’ for us all.”
         —Donald Revell

"By looking at the world on behalf of the world, [This One Tree] offers its poetry up as a self-portrait of the world. And with what new powers of description, powers that balance all the warring senses of this currently discredited activity of poetry by committing to the genius of place, of the scribe, and of ‘scribble,’ or language itself. And with what visual command sponsored by what insistent powers of hearing, the senses at their beginning again as they, too, always were and always will be."
         —William Olsen, from the foreword

"In This One Tree, I find what might very well be the salvation of our distracted, disbanded American soul: an imperative, unempirical Gaze. Peterson commends and then commands Vision in her every word, beginning with her first ones—‘Be on the lookout.’ And what I find most wonderful of all is that, here, Vision goes forward to atonement and a new name in ‘sweet alyssum’ for us all."
         —Donald Revell

"No one is going to not-know what these poems intend, what they state, and why they exist. They have the rigor of Oppen and a serious eye-level attention to pieces and parts of the chosen subject that give them an analogical edge over pure description. They bring heart and soul back to the poet writing them."
         —Fanny Howe

"Not Some Trees—rather, This One Tree. The wonder of Katie Peterson’s first book is that a person who knows and is persuaded by the glamorous claims on behalf of waves and fields—and all the great poetry those claims have sponsored these last several decades—has chosen instead to write about life as a particular affair, an affair of particulars. What that means is, she writes poems, not as byproducts of a ‘poetics’ or a ‘project’ but as the result of great linguistic brilliance summoned by the hunger to make art. This is a polemical book, as the title suggests: its great poems (‘At The Very Beginning’ among a dozen or so others) suggest that one need be every bit as intelligent, cunning, strange and heartbroken as this to write lyric poetry."
         —Dan Chiasson


Poem

The Conversation

Rain-soaked, the mottled bark
of the flowering pear darkened
past its texture’s vanishing.
My confessions always provoke
someone else’s confessions.
Why do you stand in the kitchen

if you don’t want to talk?
The changing light of morning
goes back and forth
as if it had already been
one whole mixed-up day.
Pear leaves tracked in

and out. The conversation
continues between windows.
Pear leaves shed around the house.
I thought by earning the world
I might have myself.
I thought you were listening.

Growth for this one tree meant
staying still. Still means
what it did then. Hardened
into a random texture
from the inside out and as we speak.
As if I could speak my heart.