The Bird Catcher

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 1999-12-01
  • Publisher: Knopf
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In 1998, Marie Ponsot was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, confirming the praise that has been bestowed on her by critics and peers--among them Eavan Boland and Carolyn Kizer (who are quoted on the back of the book jacket) and Amy Clampitt, who had this to say of Ponsot's last book: "She is marvelously attuned to the visual and to the audible. She is no less precisely a geographer of the interior life, above all the experience of being a woman."

Author Biography

Marie Ponsot's first book of poems was <b>True Minds</b>; later books are <b>Admit Impediment</b> and <b>The Green Dark.</b> She is a native New Yorker who has enjoyed teaching in graduate programs at Queens College, Beijing United University, the Poetry Center of the YMHA, and Columbia University. Among her awards are a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing grant, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize, and the Shaughnessy Medal of the Modern Language Association.

Table of Contents

To the Muse of Doorways Edges Vergesp. 3
"I've Been Around: It Gets Me Nowhere"p. 7
Restoring My Housep. 9
"Trois Petits Tours et Puis..."p. 11
Old Mama Saturdayp. 12
Northampton Stylep. 13
Incomparable Assumptionsp. 14
The Title's Lastp. 16
Gradualp. 17
One Is Onep. 18
Pourriture Noblep. 19
For My Old Self, At Notre-Damep. 21
The Borderp. 25
Separate, In the Swimp. 27
The Story After the Storyp. 29
Living Roomp. 31
After the Pastoralp. 32
Autumn Clean-upp. 33
Roundstone Covep. 34
Non-Vegetarianp. 35
Unpluggedp. 36
Betterp. 37
Reminderp. 38
We Are Imaginedp. 39
The Split Image of Attentionp. 43
Reading a Large Serving Dishp. 44
Skimming Raw Folk Materialp. 45
Analysisp. 46
Birthdayp. 47
Endoxa, or, Reputable Opinionsp. 49
Around a Beautiful Theoryp. 50
Two Questionsp. 54
A Determined Presentp. 57
Movers and Shakersp. 58
In Favor of Good Dreamsp. 59
Pre-Textp. 60
For Djuna Barnes as Julie Ryderp. 61
Taking Thoughtp. 62
Explorers Cry Out Unheardp. 65
Winterp. 66
All Wetp. 67
Snap Shotsp. 69
Underbutterp. 71
Persephone, Packingp. 72
Festival of Breadp. 74
Full Moon, Unstressed Measuresp. 75
Oceansp. 78
Foreign Correspondentp. 79
Against the Dark, New Poets Risep. 81
What the Worn Rhymes Foundp. 82
Climbing in Big Bend National Parkp. 83
Evenp. 84
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.


From Part One
("Saturday's Child Must Work for a Living.")

"I'm moving from Grief Street.
Taxes are high here
though the mortgage's cheap.

The house is well built.
With stuff to protect, that
mattered to me,
the security.

These things that I mind,
you know, aren't mine.
I mind minding them.
They weigh on my mind.

I don't mind them well.
I haven't got the knack
of kindly minding.
I say Take them back
but you never do.

When I throw them out
it may frighten you
and maybe me too.

it will empty me
too emptily

and keep me here
asleep, at sea
under the guilt quilt,
under the you tree."


Evening falls. Someone's playing a dulcimer
Northampton-style, on the porch out back.
Its voice touches and parts the air of summer,

as if it swam to time us down a river
where we dive and leave a single track
as evening falls. Someone's playing a dulcimer

that lets us wash our mix of dreams together.
Delicate, tacit, we engage in our act;
its voice touches and parts the air of summer.

When we disentangle you are not with her
I am not with him. Redress calls for tact.
Evening falls. Someone's playing a dulcimer

still. A small breeze rises and the leaves stir
as uneasy as we, while the woods go black;
its voice touches and parts the air of summer

and lets darkness enter us; our strings go slack
though the player keeps up his plangent attack.
Evening falls. Someone's playing a dulcimer;
its voice touches and parts the air of summer.

Excerpted from The Bird Catcher by Marie Ponsot
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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