Carolyn Creedon

Poet, editor, and, as she says, fifteen-year veteran of the waitress wars, Carolyn Creedon was born in Newport News and completed her BA as an Ada Comstock Scholar at Smith College. She then went on to earn an M.A. at Washington University and an MFA at the University of Virginia, where she was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize. Creedon’s astonishing debut collection, Wet, was chosen by Edward Hirsch as winner of the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and published by Kent State University Press in 2012. Hirsch called the book “fiery and fervent,” writing that he was moved by the way that Creedon treats experience as sacred: “She won’t look away from difficult truths. She writes frankly about her own frustrations, longings, and heartbreaks, but also recognizes the suffering of others-their secret grievances and griefs.”

Wet is a red-hot blast of truth, full of wildly various poems that are carefully cooked, yet manage to be slyly and earnestly raw. In her author’s statement for The Best of the Best American Poetry, Creedon notes that she likes words “at least as much for their rich gushes and droughts, their sounds, as for their meaning.” Indeed, Harold Bloom has called her “a kind of legitimate granddaughter of the sublime Walt Whitman” and Eleanor Wilner has praised her for “defying us to separate the sacred from the profane, myths from the mundane, intellect from appetite.” Wilner continues, “Language itself moves with a fluid energy, a breathtaking emotional velocity and formal dexterity, hot-wired by humor, fueled by hunger, cadence after cadence, as Creedon piles on the similes till the whole world wears her kind of trouble, her wild and brilliant apprehension.”

Creedon’s work has been featured in the anthologies Best New Poets (2009, edited by Kim Addonizio), You Drive Me Crazy: Love Poems for Real Life (2005, edited by Mary D. Esselman and Elizabeth Ash Vélez), and The Best of the Best American Poetry: 1988-1997 (1998, edited by Harold Bloom). She has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2010 she won the Alehouse Happy Hour Poetry Prize. Her poems have been published in The Massachusetts Review, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Yale Review, Rattle, American Poetry Review, and other journals. She lives in Charlottesville with her husband and her dog.

Poetry Center Reading:

Fall 2013 (with Laurie Ann Guerrero)

Wet

I want to leak all over the world,

the wet and tilted wheel, to squat on its axis

and spit my slippery fish, red and gasping

on the asphalt, under the streetlight. I want my life

streaked down my leg, to rain my seed on the ground

like a wine’s sooty dregs. I want you to see that I am who

I say I am, an unsavory woman with her seasons undone. I want to lay

you, on a bed without a towel, without a curtain, without a good enough

reason. I want to wear a white dress stained with certain possibility,

like an autograph,

like a river ripe with spawn, like a signpost, like a season,

like a dam come all undone.

From WET (Kent State University Press, 2012)

First Communion

Mother when I was so small I was still

you (only with big eyes)

you brought your fragile claws down

over the dinner wine

over the pastel ladies home journal tablecloth

over your husband’s disciplinary roar

onto the sullen crystal dish.

Burgundy ran sideways

down through the curtains down through the floor

and over us the gentle Lenten palm leaves rocked

green above the door. Daddy drove.

The emergency room door looked tiny from the parking lot.

I would never fit into it and I didn’t. I stayed where I was

the way little girls do, behind the crystal windowpane

of the station wagon waiting and tracing my name in the dew.

When you came out, all cotton fragile corners and dark smudges,

you had four wire ribbons

in your wrist, one for each year I was born.

I wanted to climb back into you.

Later you lay in another room

with the door open, flooded, silent

under daddy’s big legs,

and I crawled myself

under the green fronds

into the kitchen’s glassy secret mess

into high sweet sacrament that stank of blood and wine

and I cut myself on a piece of your shining eye.

From WET (Kent State University Press, 2012)

Medusa’s Love Song

It used to be that I longed for my family.

Two half sisters so close they split an eye

and shared it like two halves of a jagged

crystal egg, but neither ever held it up

to glance at me. The townsfolk turned to

face the walls on hearing my heavy feet,

my hissing hair. Once, so desperate, so crazy, so

needing for someone to look at me, I grabbed

an old man’s cheeks and stared. He

cracked in two like a marble baby.

Only in dreams did the people meet my gaze.

I began to sleep all day. In truth,

I was lonely. So grateful when he

finally came for me; when he sheared me

away from my shoulders like a prize, like

a dowry, and flew on feathered toes

with me. I felt, for once, treasured. And he,

so proud, placed me up front, right on his shield,

like a rocket’s tip, like a locket, like a ruby, like

somebody’s beautiful baby rocking fiercely

in the armor of his arms. Now I ride him

like a worn-in saddle, like a silver dolphin

driving face-first into a sea of clouds.

He wears me like a candy necklace, like a wreath

of lily, like the skin of yes this is my true face, and

the snakes stream like lovers furling behind me.

He sees through his shield; he sees through me.

I cry when he cuts his soles on the stars, and

his blood and my tears land and make small horses.

From WET (Kent State University Press, 2012)