Excerpt from

On a Line from Valery (The Gulf War)

      Tout le ciel vert se meurt
      Le dernier arbre brûle.


The whole green sky is dying. The last tree flares
With a great burst of supernatural rose
Under a canopy of poisonous airs.

Could we imagine our return to prayers
To end in time before time's final throes,
The green sky dying as the last tree flares?


Carolyn Kizer at the Academy of American Poets

Paris Review interview with Carolyn Kizer

Well, I think if there’s a major theme in my work, once we get past the love and loss of the early days, it is the impact of character upon character, how people rub against one another and alter one another. A poem of mine called “Twelve O’Clock,” which was published in The Paris Review, was based on that principle of Heisenberg’s that you can’t look at a subatomic particle without altering it. Equally, you cannot meet someone for a moment, or even cast eyes on someone in the street, without changing. That is my subject.

As for James, he is the master of timing. If I may go from the sublime to the ridiculous, so was Jack Benny. And Arturo Toscanini, with whom I was saturated as a young girl. It’s that significant pause, that caesura, the time-out to breathe, which is why we need to hear poetry as well as see it on the page. Because we don’t get the full sense of its music if we just look at it. It’s always a revelation to hear a poet read his or her work.


"The Erotic Philosophers"