Poem by Kathryn Maris

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Kathryn Maris as this week's featured poet.

Maris is an American poet based in London. She was educated at Columbia University and Boston University and has held fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and Yaddo. Her poems have appeared in American journals including Poetry and Ploughshares; in the British magazines Magma and Poetry London; on websites such as Slate, Verse Daily, and Poetry Daily; and in two anthologies.

She regularly publishes essays and reviews in British and American periodicals and recently edited, with Maurice Riordan, a British and Irish poetry supplement for the American magazine Agni. She has just published her first collection, The Book of Jobs, which was launched in London on Auden's centenary birthday, a few days ago.

I think this is a very fine debut collection (from Four Way Books, see link below), which emphasizes Maris's wit and sense of argumentative, stylish flow. Poems dash forward, double back, often pivoting on words, or phrases, reconsidered, revealed to be duplicitous, or delicious, in many-meanings. In this way, urban, and personal, anxieties, and reflections on identity, are not only explored but displayed, in language both profound and pleasingly resurfaced. So, the language of the quotidian (jobs, the markets, houses) is inflected by the language of deeper or simply different aspects (love, fear, desire). These are artful, striking, often absurdist poems that think, linger, surprise and disturb. I recommend the collection highly. The poem below is from the collection, and I think displays many of the virtues I have praised, above.

The End of Envy

The end of envy
Is a staircase in midair.

From there,
There is nothing to want,

But there is wind to love.
I miss what the wind bent,

But I’m used to the bare world.

When I was sentenced to the stairs
For eternity, I didn’t know

I would climb them pregnant,
Or ill, or with the aim of soothing a cry

That would reappear
As soon as I was at the bottom.

In a way I am happy here on the stairs,
For the end of envy

Is the end of desire, the end of the edifice,
But not of elevation.

poem by Kathryn Maris; reprinted from The Book of Jobs with permission from the author.

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