Ellen Bryant Voigt
Biography of Ellen Bryant Voigt
Ellen Bryant Voigt (born 1943) is an American poet. She has published six collections of poetry and a collection of craft essays. Her poetry collection Shadow of Heaven (2002) was a finalist for the National Book Award and Kyrie (1995) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her poetry has been published in several national publications. She served as the Poet Laureate of Vermont for four years and in 2003 was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Voigt grew up in Virginia, graduated from Converse College, and received an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. She has taught at M.I.T. and Goddard College where in 1976 she developed and directed the nation's first low-residency M.F.A. in Creative Writing program. Since 1981 she has taught in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.
She resides in Cabot, Vermont.
Ellen Bryant Voigt's Works:
Claiming Kin (1976)
The Forces of Plenty (1983)
The Lotus Flowers: Poems (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1987)
Two Trees (1992)
The Flexible Lyric (essays) (2001)
Shadow of Heaven (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2002)
Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007)
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Ellen Bryant Voigt Poems
Whenever my mother, who taught small children forty years, asked a question, she already knew the answer.
Up there on the mountain road, the fireworks blistered and subsided, for once at eye level: spatter of light like water flicked from the fingers; the brief emergent pattern; and after the afterimage bled
A Marriage Poem
Morning: the caged baby sustains his fragile sleep. The house is a husk against weather. Nothing stirs—inside, outside.
At The Movie: Virginia, 1956
This is how it was: they had their own churches, their own schools, schoolbuses, football teams, bands and majorettes, separate restaurants, in all the public places
To weep unbidden, to wake at night in order to weep, to wait for the whisker on the face
The fingers lie in the lap, separate, lonely, as in the field the separate blades of grass shrivel or grow tall.
The Last Class
Put this in your notebooks: All verse is occasional verse. In March, trying to get home, distracted
Landscape, Dense with Trees
When you move away, you see how much depends on the pace of the days—how much depended on the haze we waded through
The Last Class
Put this in your notebooks:
All verse is occasional verse.
In March, trying to get home, distracted
and impatient at Gate 5 in the Greyhound station,
I saw a drunk man bothering a woman.
A poem depends on its detail
but the woman had her back to me,
and the man was just another drunk,
black in this case, familiar, dirty.