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Eric Torgersen has published six books and chapbooks of poetry, two of fiction, and a full-length study of Rainer Maria Rilke and Paula Modersohn-Becker. He also translates German poetry, especially that of Rainer Maria Rilke and Nicolas Born. He was born in Huntington, New York. He has a BA in German Literature from Cornell University; after two years in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, he earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa. He retired in the spring of 2008 after 38 years of teaching writing at Central Michigan University. He lives in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan with his wife, the quilt artist Ann Kowaleski. He’s available for workshops and readings. (photo by Peggy Brisbane)
This is Eric Torgersen's latest collection of poems, Heart. Wood. , Word Press, 2012.
For a long time now Eric Torgersen has been searching for what James Wright called ‘the pure, clear word’ that might crystallize the the poem and its truths. This memorable collection charts Torgersen’s search—through old poems and new, through free forms and more structured rhythms—and shows just how close he has come. There are poems that show this poet’s typically humorous self-deprecation, and others that capture small but important narratives or telling images. But, best of all, there are also poems that stand unashamed before their tentative wisdom.
Torgersen's poems comfort us when we feel small, prod us when we feel adventurous, and urge us to look into ourselves to discover our own "mad poets of [our] youth" in the "pathless wood."
--Foster Neill in The Michigan Poet. Read the whole review and the rest of the September 2012 issue here.
Heart. Wood. can be purchased off the shelf at The Book Shelf in Mt. Pleasant, Horizon Books in Traverse City, and Brilliant Books in Traverse City . It can be ordered by most other local bookstores. Buy from your local bookstore first. If you can't:
Order from Barnes and Noble
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Modersohn-Becker Exhibition opens in New York
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Poem of the Month: February, 2016
There's never been a poet where I live,
but I grew up in the shade of Whitman's name:
born in West Hills—our hills—he would have walked
our paths along the crest. I walked Whitman Road,
crashed the Whitman Drive-In, stole a book
from the sci-fi rack at the Melville-Whitman Pharmacy,
even played lacrosse against Whitman High;
we lost three times, the guys from Halfway Hollow,
to studs with Whitman in white on their varsity jackets.
My mother tells a story about Thanksgiving,
back when kids went begging in rags and blackface:
how Carrie Wicks's sister said she got
an apple from Walt Whitman, right at his house,
an old man with a beard. The big kids laughed,
knowing the white-haired caretaker was no one.
I set no foot inside the Whitman House
or Leaves of Grass till after I went away,
but I'm better having grown up with the name,
the house and hills of a poet everyone knew,
a poet big enough in the mothers' stories
for a girl to believe he came to the door with a long
white beard and smiled and handed her an apple.
If a poet the size of Whitman named our few
square miles and a few in Jersey it's going to take
a lot more big ones to hand us all a welcome
sweet as a Thanksgiving apple from Walt Whitman,
white-haired care-taker, seed of mothers' stories,
Appleseed of our poetry: nourishment, shade.
From Heart. Wood. First appeared in Centennial Review, Fall 1987.
Click here for the Poem of the Month Archive: past Poems of the Month.
Click What's New for a list of recent, current and forthcoming publications.
Eric's essay "Writing the American Ghazal" appears in Able Muse, Summer 2015, along with a ghazal, "With You."
Eric's translation of Rilke's "Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes." appears online at Hermes Poetry. Scroll down to read it.
"I Will Die in Lake Superior" is reprinted at Flyover Country Review, a new site featuring Midwest writing.
A brief essay, "Reading for Otherness," appeared on the North American Review blog November 10, 2014.
Eric's review of Diane Radycki's Paula Modersohn-Becker: The First Modern Woman Artist appeared in Open Letters Monthly , September 2013. www.openlettersmonthly.com .
An interview with Eric appears on the Columbia Poetry Review blog in connection with publication of his ghazal "Broken" in CPR 26.
A short poem, "A Death," appears in The Diagram 12.6.
Eric's short essay "In Passing" is online at bioStories. Scroll down to read it.
"Not Literature" appears at the Pleiades website.
"What Is Your Earliest Memory? What Does It Mean?" appears at the Silver Birch Press website.
Full publication information on all of Eric Torgersen's books, with cover images and sample readings, can be found under Books.
All poems and translations on this site copyright © Eric Torgersen.