Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Laura Jensen's Poetry

Kevin Prufer is reminding us of several neglected poets over at Good Times.

First up in his list is Laura Jensen, an amazingly interesting, wildly original poet, whose three books demand republication. One, Memory, has been reissued this year by Carnegie Mellon.

Bad Boats (ECCO, 1977), a book everyone should have, is still, apparently available from several used bookstores. You can find it through

Here’s a poem from Bad Boats, which shows, along with the title poem Prufer quotes, some of her unique power. As Mark Strand wrote, from the back cover, "[Jensen's poems] are charged with an eerie energy that compels our attention continuously."

The Red Dog

You know that he is going to die
as soon as I tell you
he is standing beside me
his hair in spikes and dripping
from his body. He turns his head.
Canadian geese
all of them floating along the shore.
The red dog is swimming for them
only his head shows now
they flap into a curve and move
farther along the bay.
You know that he is going to die
this is the time for it
while there is a way to vanish
while the geese are moving off
to be their hard sounds
as their bodies leave the water.


At 9/06/2006 1:52 PM, Blogger Eduardo C. Corral said...

Norman Dubie, one of my teachers, always told me to read Laura Jensen. Sadly, I never took his advice. But I will pick up one of her books next time I see one in a bookstore.

At 7/02/2008 10:03 AM, Blogger Jay said...

Hi John, I completely agree about Laura Jensen! My teacher Linda Bierds made sure we read her work in the so-so anthology she taught -- the Longman Contemporary American Poetry 2nd ed -- and after the class I picked up a used copy of her book Memory at Open Books in Seattle a few years ago. It's one of my favorite books of poetry. "Mouse," "Lipstick," "Patchouli," "Kitchen," all live in photocopies on my wall.

At 1/21/2009 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

completely agree with you and those who added comments. jensen's work stays. she read last week at an open mic in tacoma, wonderful short poem.
all three books worth finding and keeping. thanks for your mentioning her. kjm

At 12/14/2011 9:57 AM, Blogger sandrasimonds said...

She has been a huge influence for me. Agree--a truly original voice. Bad Boats is a fantastic book.

At 12/14/2011 11:29 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I agree. It's a shame she's not better known.

At 11/24/2013 7:06 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

Good post and happy to see Jensen recognized. However, there is a line missing from the poem. After "this is the time for it,/" should be, "this is the best time for it".


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