Sunday, June 26, 2005

Eloise Klein Healy Awarded

Just found this notice while googling Healy: "PEN Center USA and Poet Eloise Klein Healy to Receive Antioch University's First Annual Horace Mann Awards."

Mann was the first president of Antioch University in 1852. Eloise Klein Healy founded the MFA in Creative Writing at Antioch's Los Angeles campus. This is the such first low residency program in the western U.S. according to the press release. A short bio on Healy is at the PoetryIdiots site.

My knowledge of Healy isn't deep. It's based originally on her posts from the WOMPO list serv a year or so ago. I recognize her book, Artemis in Echo Park, her EcoArts enterprise and her affiliation with Antioch. Artemis and another newer collection of Healy's, Passing, were both finalists in The Lambda Book Award in Poetry.

I've read some of her poetry online, meaning to buy the
Artemis book but besieged with other priorities which prevented this. I found more of Healy's poems at this issue of Poetry, which together knit a poignant tribute to Lynda Hull. One of those poems, Postcard, is a series of memory tales, visions of hypothesis and reality, written in language that touches and swerves and finally just crashes against me. She makes the death of a loved one a true thing, knowing how it is a reverberating slap, where pain comes again in belated irony and in clairvoyance, and finally with a slam hard as a closed door.

I love these final verses of Postcard.


Skinny saint, I would have put some meat on your bones
if you had slept with me.
But you were my guardian angel
and not anywhere near available for lust,
not anywhere near available for me
since I didn't need saving,
just revising.

My belated epitaph comes down to
this shambles of intention.
I have a postcard from you that set elegy in motion,
and it keeps tumbling like a mantra of remembrance
or a cajoling spell for more words,
more poems as deep and lush as trumpet bells,
poems to love for their sheen and tactile intelligence,
chiaroscuro in language your meter.


Come to your senses, I say. She is dead,
and I place that foreign feeling squarely in front of me
like a postcard of a room in which the chair of an artist
painted by another artist sits empty.

Published in Cedar Press Review (January, 2000)
© All Copyright, Eloise Klein Healy.

Now I come back to that press release and the quote it contains from Horace Mann: "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."

How could a poet achieve such a monumental thing? I dust off an old recollection - something about paradigms and quantum change - and draw a conclusion. A person can write one poem. Another individual reads the poem. That poem and its reader become symbiotically joined. That's how. That's what Healy does in

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