June 17, 2010

Kathleen Fraser

Kathleen Fraser [USA]

Kathleen Fraser was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1935. After graduating in English Literature, 1959, from Occidental College (California), Kathleen Fraser went to New York City to work as an editorial associate for Mademoiselle magazine, pursuing her poetic studies with Stanly Kunitz at The 92nd St. Y "Poetry Center" and, briefly, with Robert Lowell and Kenneth Koch at The New School. At this time, she began to meet a number of New York poets associated with Black Mountain, The Objectivists and the New York School. Among these poets, those to have most important influence on her work were Frank O'Hara, Barbara Guest and George Oppen. She later counted the works of Lorine Niedecker, Charles Olson and Basil Bunting as having a serious impact on her poetics. In 1964 she won the Frank O'Hara Poetry Prize and the American Academy's "Discovery Award". Other writing fellowships have included two NEA Poetry grants, in 1971 and 1978, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry in 1981.

After seven years as a journalist - writing and editing - and the publication of her first book, Change of Address (1968), Fraser was invited to teach as a poet-in-residence for two years at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, where her university teaching career began. She taught, subsequently, in contemporary literature and writing programs at Reed College and at San Francisco State University where she remained as a Professor of Creative Writing through 1992. In her early years at SFSU, Fraser directed The Poetry Center and founded the American Poetry Archives.

From 1983-1991, Fraser published and edited HOW(ever), a journal focused on innovative writing by contemporary women and "erased" or neglected texts by Anglo/American modernist women writers, together with associate editors Frances Jaffer, Beverly Dahlen and Susan Gevirtz and contributing editors Carolyn Burke and Rachel Blau DuPlessis. Fraser has just completed a manuscript of essays –Translating the Unspeakable—on those American poets and poetics having a particular impact on her own writing and thinking.

She has published twelve volumes of poems and two children's books, including What I Want (1974), Magritte Series (1977), New Shoes (1978), Each Next, narratives (1980), Something (even human voices) in the foreground, a lake (1984), Notes Preceding Trust (1987) , When New Time Folds Up (1993) and WING (1995). Her most recent collection, il cuore : the heart - New & Selected Poems ( 1970-1995), was published by Wesleyan University Press in the Fall of 1997. Fraser splits her time between San Francisco and Rome where she lives with her husband, the philosopher/playwright Arthur Bierman, from March through June. She has lectured and given readings at a number of Italian universities and has translated Lampi e acqua, a book-length serial poem by Maria Obino (excerpts published in AVEC), and a selection of poems by Toni Maraini, Daniela Attanasi, Sara Zanghi and Giovanna Sandri (published in Thirteenth Moon, "Italian Women Writers" issue).


Change of Address and Other Poems (San Francisco: Kayak, 1966); Little Notes to You, From Lucas Street: Poems, 1970-1971 (Urbana, Illinois: Penumbra Press, 1972); What I Want (New York: Harper & Row, 1973); Magritte Series (Willits, California: Tuumba Press, 1977); New Shoes (New York: Harper & Row, 1978); Each Next: Narratives (Berkeley, California: The Figures, 1980); Something (Even Human Voices) in the Foreground, a Lake (Berkeley, California: Kelsey St. Press, 1984); Notes Preceding Trust (Santa Monica, California: Lapis Press, 1987); Boundayr (Santa Monica, California: Lapis Press, 1988); When New Time Folds Up (Minneapolis: Chax Press, 1993); Il cuore = the heart: Selected Poems, 1970-1995 (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 1997); Banners: Tokyo (Ellsworth, Maine: Backwoods Broadsides, 1998); 20th Century (San Francisco: A+bend Press, 2000); H I dde violeth I dde violet (Vancouver: Nomadas, 2003); Discrete Categories Forced Into Coupling (Berkeley, California: Apogee Press, 2004)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

your back to me, inside the black suit

Your back to me inside the black suit, inside your back and shoulders fitted in sleeves
marked with chalk at the insets. After this discovery, appearing to be exactly identical in
intensity to every other part of the backdrop, a person leaning against it as if you

assigned one full day in which necessity plays its part. Necessary to have a private
pink human in the cosmic field: brown window shades delivering glimpses, propelling
through to you. (Delete the anxiety of someone's chewing on a word before opening its

pronoun.) What did you mean in the series of inked life stages littering the lower half
of a uniformly lined page? Delivering her cool waters rowing through your own personal
throat? No need to obscure when a cough can be heard in almost any room -

your precedent for going away. Away there is nothing ready for use that has not been
preparing itself.

Reprinted from Verdue, no. 7 (April 2005). Copyright ©2005 by Kathleen Fraser.

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