Biography of Rebecca Wolff
Rebecca Wolff (born 1967 New York City) is a poet, fiction writer, and the editor and creator of both Fence Magazine and Fence Books.
Wolff received her MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, where she was a student editor of the Iowa Review.
She created Fence Magazine in 1998, with an editorial staff including Jonathan Lethem, Frances Richard, Caroline Crumpacker, and Matthew Rohrer, and Fence Books in 2001. Fence is now headquartered at the University at Albany, where Wolff is a fellow at the New York State Writers Institute.
She was married from 2002 until 2012 to the novelist Ira Sher. She lives in Hudson, New York with their children Asher Wolff and Margot Sher.
Rebecca Wolff Poems
Experiment in Divination: Voice and Char...
There is a curiosity that knows I know deathless ceiling of unknowing
Use Objects: Boise Art Museum 2009
I just want to touch everything hanging from the walls and the ceiling I've never felt this way before—Ruth Duckworth—is she really still living? The card says so. What do I want to look at a bunch of quilts hanging on the wall for? I am almost done with this guileless pose exhaust one's self in several poses currently standing and looking my ass off at doll quilts 1863 in a glass box everything darker just the general tenor of life —darker the fabrics, candlelight, eyes shut at sundown The "sunshine and shadow pattern" made with tiny stitches a whole lot of sense Unbelievable— that human intelligence— now so dulled— could have flamed so bright as to stitch this square with a ladies' fan with a velvet boot this a tilted teacup. And then I went to see Bright Star and wept more in the dark for that recaptured affect peering at poems, by candlelight, when night was dark.
I front because I can I front because I care: the secret to fronting you must never stop to think gleaming rows pristine abundance the saucy daughter of the devil, fra diavolo I'm not using metaphor: I can't get over how much I love this product design, and the conceit of the product (which is delicious, btw): superfruits, from different continents. That impulse to make things look pretty and sell more in the agrarian landscape unprecedented divisions of labor—friendly old hippies unfriendly young hippies—I feed six people and then I stop. That soup sells and this soup obviously doesn't sell as much. And I trust people to make good choices so I don't have to impale them on the tines of my pitchfork. Or otherwise govern them. Why do you need so much government, if you don't like government why do you insist upon making these bad choices.
Mamma didn't raise no fools
He died before we could honor him correctly. Candied impulse through the brain. Your will subverted that's a tree, a treatment, a genealogy. Oddly enough if I need something someone is sure to give it to me. To supply me with it. Oddly enough, it's not about cutting slack but about positive reinforcement Detergent in the sense that it is emergent deterrent where the nascent meets the latent I put my tongue in the path dug up some chestnuts. "We'll keep looking for a place for you inside of nature" I can't remember how I died. Writing something down at the time the grave had been disturbed. Next thing you know, I'm making an entry in my diary: No use letting it get cold.
Half a day is dead already- a lady with a baby in the shady graveyard promenade not quite the idea but the first idea to be impressed so firmly- Grace to be born in the bisected quadrangle stones propped insensible but all in relation to the babe. Babe what suckles babe what grows comfortable with thieves in a fertile bed of unsaid slice of eponymous grafted to the reef Hold my hand in the undergrowth waist high at your leisure cheerful child of melancholy and displeasure. Soft in the lap you grow hard at the breast- Oh under- and aboveground we go to relieve us. Camphor and cambric by the hand not by halves, one turn more will take us back to where we rest. Baby is not baby when she wears her oblong freshet I will take her home to rest.
Visions of Never Being Heard from Again
I stopped by to see you but you were not home marshland the pure vision my ancient lives all risen up and rising shudder in my bed to come up against a living religion; they get offended so easily; blow up your hundred-foot Buddha no problem. Entire mountainside. Presumably it's an improvement on whatever came before on what was here before ancestral crypt your daddy built; a grassy hill; a patchwork quilt; inadequately warming.
I'd like a lidless Vicodin. Oblivion. Countless sensation of him leaving the room. Come back soon. It occurred to me fait accompli. Clinamen. Phantom limb. Black cat sleeping (you used to be next to me) next to me dreams our lost telepathy.
You are perfect for me
because you're psychic no one else could understand me the way you do and I say Drink Me I say it to you silently but it calls forth in me the water for you the water you asked for
One thing I'm not doing in my poems: reporting on anything that really happened. When I say I'm from New York, Glaswegians say, "Oh, I love Woody Allen." They cannot construe how large a state can be. I just happen to actually be from Manhattan. How impractical, to imagine that a structure like a government would be responsive to the needs of such a lot of people. Held like in a holding pen. In the early 1990s I saw a yellow Indian drunk in a tattoo parlor in Seattle. He literally said he could literally see right through me. If he said it figuratively I took it literally. A lot of people in America do not want regulation from the government. In principle: our forefathers, our persecution. Ideally we wouldn't need industries and individual actions to be regulated. We wouldn't even need laws. People, including people who run corporations or work for them, would just behave responsibly. Corporations would take the responsibility of personhood seriously. My mother cannot be trusted to restrict me from buying R-rated videogames at the porn store. My mother struggled to love me—the firstborn had been so tractable—she still struggles to love me—can she be commanded to love me? Now I see what those commandments are about. There must be a God. Objectively we could expect that our family members would go out of their way to behave toward us with extra care, concern, and with love. Sometimes there is a harsh disjunction between what objective perception would suggest to us we might expect and what really takes place, or "occurs," within the framework of what we call "our lives." I really saw the other day for the first time that my mother did not naturally take to me—I am not much like her. It would take an effort for her to understand what matters to me. (Her love will come around.) My own daughter is quite different from me—I think—it's hard to tell, she is only five years old. But she looks different—takes after her father, as I took after mine—and so far her concerns are not my own. She loves pink. I hate pink. (My love moves faster.) Where would that moral activity come from, to behave responsibly toward others? Not to overcharge, not to seek loopholes, not to dominate, not to oppress. Does anyone consciously oppress? I guess some spousal abuse comes from the pure urge to dominate, and the ire that results when that domination is resisted, or thwarted . . . But is it a pure urge or is it coming from an inscribed narrative of gendered hierarchy? Like a man wearing a wife-beater has been told too many times that his wife is supposed to listen to him and obey him. Now if he can be told by the government that "My Strength Is Not for Hurting," a local billboard campaign, maybe that will ring in his ears when he lifts his fist. If the government doesn't do it, who will do it? The church used to do it, and still does. The one time I went to church, with my mother, in Tennessee, when we were at a family reunion and the whole family had certain activities, and one of them was "church on Sunday," I was brought to tears by the simple goodness of the message that the pastor, or reverend —minister?—this was a Methodist church—was preaching. It was Father's Day, actually, and he talked about how fathers ought to make sure to spend time with their kids. Turn off the TV, he said, and spend some time with your kids. I was crying because I am not used to an experience of shared instruction in goodness. It was very moving to be in a room with real people all receiving the same instruction.
Let's go out and buy something. In the sun. No, let's stay home and make something, the sun floods the room. It could be green, on paper. It could be money. That's the way to create new matter. That's how I detach boats from moorings—my boat, my mooring— the harbor shallow in low tide skiff propelled over buffeting sands flats on sheer puissance.
there are some things up there uptown I want to see I want to see I'm going to look at that and see I want to go up and see that show. That show I went to see, I went to see. There are some things up there uptown I want to look at that and see. I'm going to see what I look. What I look at, when I look, vessel, I stood to see. I went to stand to look to see. Venturing further I went outside myself to look at that wall. It fed! There was a box inside that was not blank, I saw it. It was really different from an aura, the thing had colors, the thing was talking to itself. And spoke to me, not incidentally.
Careening over the highway in my lightweight Japanese Death Star buffeted by the great and powerful winds icy winds of winter warming cold air with hot air under it accordion pleats of natural disaster my disaster in the past if you were to say to me or to rage at me in a poem about America I would charge you a great failure to even use the word. It is banality this land is suffering because poets— their great cohort— I look twice to save lives.
And when I say poem
I mean this thing I want to write and no other You will not be so clever as to resurrect the feathered the tatty wings of a costumed angel in my dining room tatty spatial realm room where I exist and look at things and eat them and float nine inches above the floor and no one else need know and no other poet will do The poet will do what the poet will do and mime or maim the poet meme—in fancy venue or classroom or focus group the wings of the poet relax and warm and shed and oracular shit out the window in a pile by the side of the road and the commitment of the poet to engage, subvert, refract, or remand is safe in my vagina at last where it belongs
Am I Special
I can play songs in my head Yes I can perfectly replicate (the) full-on orchestral every note (when the lights / do down / in the city) yet I cannot compose, for example and though when I was young I believed that the fullness meant I could recreate the sounds I heard in my head with my mouth I learned through painful iteration painfully unsatisfactory shameful the rendition so partial almost unrelated the qualities are: note tone scale register vocality musicality incapacity painfully shy of representation is there anyone? who is a record player
And when I say poem
I mean this thing
I want to write and no other
You will not be so clever
as to resurrect the feathered
the tatty wings of a costumed