Literature 9-10-2007

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Terri Ford

"What Light: This Week's Poem," sponsored by Magers and Quinn Booksellers, brings you a poem every week by a Minnesota poet, selected by a panel of writers and publishers. Look for our anthology, “What Light,” at Magers and Quinn in Uptown or on line.

terri ford

Poem with Toxic Amphibian

No one’s called, no one knocks — check, check,
what I want. Want. Hothouse flower in rain
in ruin of nightgown.
I was asked
to a party. Say yes to the party. Snail cloaked
in oatmeal.
Get up. Put on some lipstick. Wash!
Hedgehog in the slough of fust. My friend asks
me, What can you give yourself? How much more

will you take away? Blue horse thrumming. The soul
rends through. Tadpoles in the school to which

I am true. Nearly a year since the best friend passed,
the one who loved frogdom and all frog song.
Some tribes in the tropics use the poison
of the poison dart frog: convulsant, nerve
poison. Unbearable sorrow. Some doctors cull frogs
for their painkiller poison. The nurse told
the best friend, If this chemo got
on my shoe, I would have to throw
out my shoe. First year

hard year. O European
fire-bellied toad {bombina bombina}
: you are not alone

in this world.


Miss Ford is lucky. She is made entirely of mangoes with a melting Popsicle center. Her public regularly asks her the following questions: How do you spell that? What are you, 12? You wore that to work? What is your real hair color? Little-known facts: She once applied for a job at Slender World. She once made a friend laugh so hard that her tampon fell out. A former Poet Laureate once wrote a sentence in Miss Ford’s evaluation that began, “Now that Ford is no longer promiscuously exclamatory. . .” I’m reading Alex Lemon’s Mosquito and Amy Sedaris’s I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence.


Miss Terri Ford attended the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College lo, back in the 50s. Since then she’s received numerous grants and awards, including a Kentucky Arts Council fellowship and an Ohio Arts Council fellowship. She was the Ohio Arts Council writer in residence at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts during the summer of 2000. Her first book of poems, Why the Ships Are She, was published by Four Way Books in 2001 and she was a fellow at Bread Loaf that same year. Miss Ford’s second book, Hams Beneath the Firmament, is forthcoming in 2007 with the re-issue of her first book; she is exceedingly pleased to be appearing as a boxed set. Her poems always appear in Forklift, Ohio because Matt Hart filches them first. Her work has also appeared in Ploughshares, Agni, Conduit and numerous other publications, including the anthologies Poetry Daily: The Best from the World’s Most Popular Poetry Website (Sourcebooks, 2003), Four Way Reader #2 (Four Way, 2002) and The Beach Book (Sarabande Books, 1999). She was profiled in June of 2004 in the Minneapolis newspaper City Pages as one of five Minnesota poets who might be the state Poet Laureate if Minnesota had one (). She currently lives in triumph in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she hopes to change at least the lipstick on the face of Minnesota poetry.