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Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Poetry Show -- March 20, 2017 -- Cindy Hunter Morgan

This Weeks Poet: Cindy Hunter Morgan

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Cindy Hunter Morgan grew up in Michigan and states that although she has traveled widely, her roots are there. Her undergraduate degree is from Albion College in Michigan, and she also has a  Masters in Fine Arts from Lesley University in Massachusetts. Additionally, she studied for a time at the University of Stirling in Scotland. For a decade, she directed publicity for the Grand Rapids Symphony and, later, the Lansing Symphony Orchestra. She currently teaches creative writing and book arts at Michigan State University. She recently won the Moveen Prize, awarded by a foundation created by writer Thomas Lynch, which will allow her to spend a month in County Clare, Ireland, to focus on her writing. She has published two chapbooks: The Sultan, The Skater, The Bicycle Maker, winner of The Ledge 2011 Poetry Chapbook Award (Ledge Press, 2012), and Apple Season, chosen by Shane McCrae as the winner of the Mississippi Valley Poetry Competition. Her debut full length collection, Harborless, was just released this month by Wayne State University Press. The poems in Harborless are part historical and part imaginative renditions of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes. Cindy Hunter Morgan's connection to the Great Lakes runs deep. She spent summers swimming in Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and Lake Huron when she was growing up, and her great-grandfather sailed the lakes on a U.S. Corps of Engineers Tug. 

Answering a question about one of the poems in her first chapbook, she replied, "I hope this poem helps people travel outside of themselves and deeper into themselves. Of course, I hope that for all poems." That is a lofty, if paradoxical, goal for poetry. This week's featured poem is the final poem in her latest, just released collection, Harborless (Wayne State University Press, 2017), and is one of the few poems in the book that does not focus on a specific shipwreck. Instead, it addresses tragedy indirectly, by examining language. 

DECKHAND: WORD THEORY

All of those vocabulary tests in school
meant nothing. Everything
was indeterminate. Take collide
those two ll's parallel, but no, 
not parallel, that is the problem, 
parallel only in word, not world, 
not fog, not gale. In the lake, 
direct impact, violent crash. 
Hard c, moment of contact. 
ide, a chemical made up of two
or more elements, evidence
of a binary world, floating 
versus not floating. Ide, end 
of pride, end of aide.

Take sink, no, not the water basin
attached to a wall, porcelain noun. 
Not even the infinite infinitives, 
to descend, to weaken, to disappoint, 
to drill, to dig, to defeat. 
Those constructions can't get this right. 
Listen to the s, air going out
of an inflatable raft, think about
in, in water, in ice, reconnect
the s, sink comes after sin,
hear the k, hard sound, 
caw of gulls circling a wreck.