Biography of Joyce Sutphen
Joyce Sutphen (born 1949) is an American poet, currently serving as Minnesota's Poet Laureate. She is the state's second laureate, appointed by Governor Mark Dayton in August, 2011. Sutphen also serves as a professor of English at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.
Sutphen was raised in Saint Joseph, Minnesota and currently resides in the city of Chaska. She holds degrees from the University of Minnesota including her Ph.D. in Renaissance Drama.
Her first book of poetry, Straight Out of View (Beacon Press, 1995), won the Barnard New Women's Poets Prize. Her second, Coming Back to the Body (Holy Cow! Press, 2000), was a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award, and her third, Naming the Stars (2004), also from Holy Cow! Press, won the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry.
In 2005, Red Dragonfly Press published a fine press edition of Fourteen Sonnets. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, Water~Stone, Hayden's Ferry, Shenandoah, Luna.
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Joyce Sutphen Poems
The second half of my life will be black to the white rind of the old and fading moon. The second half of my life will be water over the cracked floor of these desert years.
Naming The Stars
This present tragedy will eventually turn into myth, and in the mist of that later telling the bell tolling now will be a symbol, or, at least,
Living in the Body
Body is something you need in order to stay on this planet and you only get one. And no matter which one you get, it will not be satisfactory. It will not be beautiful
How to Listen
Tilt your head slightly to one side and lift your eyebrows expectantly. Ask questions. Delve into the subject at hand or let things come randomly. Don't expect answers.
What am I to you now that you are no longer what you used to be to me? Who are we to each other now that there is no us, now that what we once
At the Moment
Suddenly, I stopped thinking about Love, after so many years of only that, after thinking that nothing else mattered.
Talking, we begin to find the way into our hearts, we who knew no words, words being a rare commodity
Older, Younger, Both
I feel older, younger, both at once. Every time I win, I lose. Every time I count, I forget and must begin again.
I'll know the names of all of the birds and flowers, and not only that, I'll tell you the name of the piano player I'm hearing right now on the kitchen
I like it when they get together and talk in voices that sound like apple trees and grape vines,
It was homemade and primitive, like pulling a tooth with a string and a slamming door, like taking out an appendix by kerosene light
A Kind of Villanelle
I will have been walking away: no matter what direction I intended, at that moment, I will have been walking
The image that haunts me is not beautiful. I do not think it will open into a field of wildflowers; I doubt that it will take wing suddenly, startling us into admiration.
I have forgotten the words, and therefore I shall not conceive of a mysterious salvation, I shall not become a tall lily and bloom
The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
whatever color I please.