"Joyce Sutphen's first collection reveals a poet of place whose assured, straightforward style seems sprung from the Minnesota farmlands where she was raised."—Publishers Weekly
Awarded the 1994 Barnard New Women Poets Prize, these poems are alive with motion, poems in the act of transformation even as the words fly onto the page. While rooted in the Midwest, the poems extend far beyond the homegrown, moving from the sudden disaster of "Tornado Warning" to sweeping landscapes of the American West to London, where in gentler tones she confronts Sylvia Plath. Sutphen's voice is refreshing throughout, capturing emotion with swift imagistic strokes.
Joyce Sutphen teaches literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota.
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.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.
The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.
The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rain
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,
and smoke going
upward, always up.