In an interview with Brooke Horvath for Denver Quarterly, Marianne Boruch noted, “both poetry and the essay come from the same impulse—to think about something and at the same time, see it closely, carefully, and enact it.” As a poet, essayist, and memoirist, Boruch deftly expresses the simultaneity of thought and sight by unspooling a moment phrase by phrase. She enacts an individual’s apprehension of the world with all its doubts and curiosities intact.
He was touched or he touched or
she did and was, or they were
and would. Or the room could, its
three doors, two windows or
the house on a slant touching,
touched by the drift down street.
(from ‘He was touched, or he touched, or’)
Marianne Boruch is a superb observer. Her lyric poems shake an ordinary moment from its shell, separating strands of thought and habit with a gaze at once wry, self-conscious, and unblinking. The everyday language of her poems frequently goes back on itself, to revise or expand, as each additional moment of attention questions or confirms what came before. “Like Elizabeth Bishop, Boruch refuses to see more than there is in things,” writes Michael Robbins in Poetry, “but her patience, her willingness to wait for the film of familiarity to slip, allows her to see what is there with a jeweler’s sense of facet and flaw.”
They redid King Tut splendid,
once stone-huge as this
yet his wife’s feet
tiny, the only thing of her now
low, next to him. A few toes, some of the rest,
a bit of ankle, that’s it
in the shade of her husband’s looming.
(from ‘Little Wife’)
Boruch grew up in Chicago and received a BS from the University of Illinois and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including The Book of Hours (2011); Grace, Fallen from (2008); and Poems New & Selected (2004), which was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Her essay collections include In the Blue Pharmacy: Essays on Poetry and Other Transformations (2005) and Poetry’s Old Air (1995). Her memoir, The Glimpse Traveler, was published in 2011.
Boruch has taught at Purdue University since the inception of their MFA program. She also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College. Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, two Pushcart Prizes, and the Terrence Des Pres Prize for Poetry.
The Book of Hours, Copper Canyon Press, Portownsend, WA, 2011
The Glimpse Traveler (memoir), Indiana University Press, Bloomington, IN, 2011
Grace, Fallen from, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT, 2008
Ghost and Oar (chapbook), Red Dragonfly Press, Northfield, MN, 2007
In the Blue Pharmacy (essays), Trinity University Press, Oberlin, OH, 2005
Poems: New & Selected, Oberlin College Press, Oberlin, OH, 2004
A Stick That Breaks and Breaks, Oberlin College Press, Oberlin, OH, 1997
Poetry's Old Air (essays), Univ. of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI, 1995
Moss Burning, Oberlin College Press, Oberlin, OH, 1993
Descendant, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT, 1989
View from the Gazebo, Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT, 1985
Indiana University Press blog, Author Interview: Marianne Boruch (The Glimpse Traveler)
Poetry Daily, Heavy Lifting by Marianne Boruch, originally appeared in The American Poetry Review, September/October 2006
Poetry Foundation, Birdsong, face it, some male machine audio recording
Poetry Foundation, It includes the butterfly and the rat, the shit audio recording
Poetry Magazine, More Thinking and Less Streaming, Michael Robbins reviews Boruch’s Grace, Fallen from
Poetry Magazine Podcast, ‘All This Havoc’ audio recording
Poetry Magazine Podcast, ‘Our Birds, Our Selves’ audio recording