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Poem by kari edwards

The American poet kari edwards (above) died too young, late in 2006. I had been in email contact with her a few months before then, and would have featured her work at some point between then and now. Her writing is necessary reading for anyone who wants to think through the connection between language, poetry, and a cluster of issues relating to gender, identity, aesthetics and politics. kari edwards grew up in Westfield, New York. In college and graduate school she studied art and creativity. She received a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from Washington University in Missouri (1982) and became an artist and teacher, teaching for many years at Denver University in the art department. In 1995 she returned to school at Naropa University in Colorado for a Master’s degree in contemplative psychology (1998). After finishing that degree, kari continued on in the Poetics and Writing department for another Master’s of Fine Arts degree in poetics (2000). Throughout her writing career she held various jobs in the mental health profession.

kari edwards (1954-2006) was a poet, artist and gender activist. edwards won one of Small Press Traffic’s book of the year awards (2004), and was a recipient of New Langton Art’s Bay Area Award in literature (2002). edwards is the author of obedience (Factory School, 2005); iduna (O Books, 2003), a day in the life of p. (subpress collective, 2002), a diary of lies -Belladonna #27 (Belladonna Books, 2002), and post/(pink) (Scarlet Press, 2000). edwards’ work can also be found in Scribner’s The Best American Poetry edited by Lyn Hejinian (Scribner, 2004), Civil Disobediences: Poetics and Politics in Action (Coffee House Press, 2004), Biting the Error: Writers Explore Narrative (Coach House, Toronto, 2004), Bisexuality and Transgenderism: InterSEXions of the Others (Hawoth Press, 2004), Experimental Theology, Public Text 0.2 (Seattle Research Institute, 2003) and many other places. edward’s work has also been published in numerous journals and zines.

Eyewear here features a poem of hers, below, from her unpublished manuscript, "Bharat Jiva". Fran Blau, who has kindly granted permission for the appearance of the work here says that kari had described the manuscript as "a long poem (110 pages). It is a dialogue/document of nine months in India, exploring an intersection of Eastern and Western political and philosophical perspectives in a time of war and globalization."

Something driven by intelligence

I can not begin to know
producing difference by deferring
second third person construction
in the first third person narrative
promising surrender to the dead
acknowledging, I am an unknown participant
something maybe, something blind
consuming scarcity
producing hunger
constructing gender
breathing markers
making someone a thing
scapegoat instance
another perfect occasion
construct of a common sense sentence
out of many different bank accounts
apparently to produce
a final outcome
illumination legible
newspaper flyspeck
on the edge of an abstract noun
sliding affirmation
speaking of poverty
in an industrial word
where the lakes, rivers and oceans
are no longer lakes, rivers and oceans
but mud covered hunger living in bodies

poem by kari edwards
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