Monday, July 9, 2012

Poetry Monday: Joyce Carol Oates

Super prolific New Jersey author Joyce Carol Oates has published over 50 novels, young adult fiction, novellas, essays, and over 10 volumes of poetry to name just a few of the genres that she has worked in. She has lived in Princeton, which I'm visiting today, since 1978, and is a professor in the Humanities with the Program in Creative Writing. Though she's better known for her novels (isn't that always the way), it's her poetry I'd like to feature today. The following poem comes from Anonymous Sins & Other Poems, published by Louisiana State University Press in 1969.  This poem is a very powerful one for me, partly because it fits perfectly into the novel I'm currently working on, as my protagonist is a professor, and the chapter I'm at has her writing on the blackboard with a room full of motes. This is not an easy poem, but it's full of light and dark, the learning process, the human condition, the nature of life. .

Like This…So This

Teaching mathematics on the blackboard
deepens the curse of prophecy:
everything willed will happen
The room is filled with motes
hard as gold that must
willful light that cannot not
So my eyes must narrow
at the sight
of you
So improbably beasts
headed stiffly by human heads
or the human-headed bull
or the horse cursed with a spike
in its forehead
of ivory
wander listless among
barns and coops and pens
their tracks in the tame snow
wandering heavily homeward they
butt with their monster
or human heads
the doors of ordinary enclosures
cursed they rub their heads
against the ordinary

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