Literature 12-29-2009

mnLIT presents: Kirsten Dierking

This week's mnLIT winner, "Half Asleep" by Kirsten Dierking, was selected as a 2009 What Light poem by Joyce Sidman.


Half Asleep

Someone is walking with you in their arms
the way you haven’t been carried, swaying,

since you were a child. No whispers, not a wisp
of where it is you might be going, it could be

your spouse stepping over the fairy-tale
of your new marriage, it might be a fireman

lifting you out of your burning house.
The bones of your neck arch beautifully

backward, throat open to anyone’s judgment,
as you wane into the warm shoulder

of this great undemanding light-weightedness,
as if the way you really are could be easily

embraced and hardly a burden to anyone.


Juror comments: Poet Joyce Sidman selected this piece for the 2009 cycle of mnLIT/What Light, and she says, “I loved this wisp of a poem, which evokes a kind of childhood weightlessness — to be made of light and carried by someone who cherishes your flame — but also a very adult moment when all the world’s artifice drops away. The language is masterful and nuanced (‘as you wane into the warm shoulder’), and the stanzas proceed with a measured grace (‘no whispers, not a wisp / of where you might be going’). The central, almost romantic image is a powerful one (the arched, vulnerable throat), and the ending is superb and profound.”

About her work, Dierking writes: “As a writer, I try to say something honest, and I try to say it in an accessible way with the best language I can muster. As a reader, poetry has been at various times in my life a great comfort, a source of insight, an entertainment, and a companion in the struggle to make sense of the world. It has made my life more meaningful. My value for this art form as a reader is what keeps me working hard to try to write something meaningful myself.”               

About the poet: Kirsten Dierking is the author of two books of poetry, Northern Oracle (Spout Press, 2007) and One Red Eye (Holy Cow! Press, 2001). Her writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Water~Stone, Poetry East, and To Sing Along the Way: Minnesota Women Poets from Pre-Territorial Days to the Present. She is the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant for literature, a Loft Literary Center Career Initiative Grant, a SASE/Jerome Grant, and a writing residency at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts. She teaches humanities courses at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. 

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