Since 1996 Volume XXI

Forrest Gander

Forrest Gander Photo by Gaily Romero.

Born in the Mojave Desert as James Forrest Cockerille III, Forrest Gander grew up in Virginia where he and his two sisters were raised by their single mother, an elementary school teacher.[1] The four shared a two-room apartment in Annandale; Gander's estranged father ran The Mod Scene, a bar on Bleecker St. in Greenwich Village, NY. Because his father didn't pay child support, Gander's early life was financially stressful. With his mother and sisters, Gander began to travel extensively on summer road trips around the United States. The traveling, which never stopped, came to inform his interest in landscapes, languages, and cultures. Forrest and his two sisters, Karin and Lisa, were adopted by Walter J. Gander soon after Walter Gander's marriage to their mother, the former Ruth Clare Cockerille. Gander earned college degrees in geology, a subject referenced frequently in both his poems and essays, and in English literature. His work has been linked to ecopoetics and ecology. A writer in multiple genres, Gander is noted for his many collaborations with other artists. He is a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow and the recipient of fellowships from the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, The Whiting Foundation, and the Howard Foundation. In 2017, he was elected as a Chancellor to the Academy of American Poets.

He  taught at Providence College and at Harvard University before becoming the Adele Kellenberg Seaver Professor of Literary Arts and Comparative Literatures at Brown University in Rhode Island.




Not be known always 
by my wounds, I buried melancholy’s larva

And followed you.  I gathered myself
Like the dusk 
to the black tulips of your nipples.  (Tulips Tulips)
For seven days we locked the door
we scoured the room with bird’s blood.
And for a little while
In the hollow where your throat rose
From between your splendid clavicles  (Rose Rose),

Our only rival was music.
The piano of bone-whiteness.
Nor did the light subside.  But deepeningly
The rawness of the looking.
The quiver.



Knife on a Plate

If there is any relief from it, any slippage — though wait
while the phalanx of children streaks across the basketball court, bending
to pick up an eraser at the foul line, and rushes back
to the squealing, eruptive start.
                                                                        Colorful wicks
flickering in the afternoon. My boy
is on fire all summer and losing
his extravagant high voice.
Earth’s mantle scatters beneath him.
                                Look where he stands casually leashed
to the greyhound beside the hydrant, a royalty
of self-absorption, yanking the dog before she’s through,
                          yanking her into the literal present, an uplift
between intention and accomodation,
where hours have yet to be rendered
into days into weeks into months with names
like January and February scrawled into a Daytimer,
into circumscribed feelings.
                                                The fact of the tag turned-out
from the neck of his pajamas attaches itself to me like                                                                                                 
a burr. The audacious
originality of the ordinary
sometimes suggests an opening,
and to enter is to hear the measure
not of nostalgia but nearness — that fetching
lack of doubt and perspective, a world
                                                zoomed-in close
enough to count black ants
under dog-stunted spirea.
capillaries reknot in the eyes, before the dishrag
hanging from a ring on the cabinet door
under the sink is too badly sullied,
the brightest dark and the darkest dark
open huge their mouths. There is a disturbance like a kiss
through which cognition disappears.
As always, I am sitting in this silent room alone,
or I am reading to my son, propped against the headboard.
A donkey finds a magic pebble. 

And the boy knows there is no one world
we approach by approximations.
                Only choose and choose and choose
cracks over us. I jolt awake —
but no time has passed: I am turning the page
                                                with one hand. I am
fingering the boy’s unwashed hair.




© Copyright, 2011-2018, Forrest Gander.
All rights reserved.

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