Sunday, May 18, 2008

An Astonishing Poet You Should Know

I’d like to introduce you all to an amazing and little known poet, Talvikki Ansel. And yes, I did just interview her for my thesis, so perhaps I’m biased. Nevertheless, she is a poet whose work is worth knowing. Her first book, My Shining Archipelago, was published as winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1996. And her second book, Jetty, came out in 2003. Jetty is out of print but can—and should be—found used.

Almost all of Talvikki Ansel’s poems are in some way connected to the natural world—she has spent a significant amount of time working in gardens and cataloging birds for conservation efforts. This influence comes across in her work, which is laced with botanical terms and filled with experiences from the field.

Although her poetry stands strongly on it’s own, Ansel has often been compared to Elizabeth Bishop. They inhabit similar natural landscapes; have an affinity for odd and quirky images, and employ precision description. In one of Ansel’s more recent poems, “Valentine’s,” published in Poetry Magazine 2003, she writes, “I identified that weird / seed pod”… “Magenta capsule and four orange seeds”… “ ‘heart’s a-bustin’ with love’ it’s called” (12-13, 15, 16). This image seems an apt introduction to an astonishing poet.

Please follow these links to read further about Ansel and her work:
Review of Jetty in Blackbird.
Where Poetry Outgrows Hobby Status Artcle in the New York Times, written after Ansel won the Yale Series of Younger Poets.
First Sunday on Poetry A close look at one of Ansel’s poems from Jetty.
Orion Magazine, Poem: “Seed Savers”
Three Of Ansel’s Poems: “Tree List,” “Or Stay Again,” “Blue Collection”

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