The Norwegian Writer’s Climate Campaign is honored to say that the American poet Jorie Graham wrote the following two poems for us. In them is steeped the bittersweet grief that comes from loving a world that may soon pass, from holding a fig plucked from a tree that now must only exist in the past. With complex accuracy, these poems demonstrate the deep psychic burden of climate change by asking the hard questions: How might we love a world that may soon die at our hands? And how can we enjoy the taste even of the sweetest fruit laced as it is now with bitterness and grief?
About her work, James Longenbach wrote in the New York Times: “For 30 years Jorie Graham has engaged the whole human contraption—intellectual, global, domestic, apocalyptic—rather than the narrow emotional slice of it most often reserved for poems. She thinks of the poet not as a recorder but as a constructor of experience. Like Rilke or Yeats, she imagines the hermetic poet as a public figure, someone who addresses the most urgent philosophical and political issues of the time simply by writing poems.”
Critic Calvin Bedient has noted that Graham is, “never less than in dialogue with everything. She is the world champion at shot-putting the great questions. It hardly matters what the title is: the subject itself is always ‘the outermost question being asked me by the World today.’ What counts is the hope in the questioning itself, not the answers.” In these two poems, she’s asking some very important and difficult questions, and we hope you’ll spend time with them and allow their interrogations to open within you.
You can read the poems here:
Jorie Graham was born in New York City in 1950, and is the author of numerous collections of poetry, most recently From the New World (a selected published by Ecco in 2016), Sea Change (Ecco, 2008), Never (2002), and The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994, which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
Her many honors include a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She has taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is currently the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University. In 2017 Graham recieved The Wallace Stevens Award. She served as a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets from 1997 to 2003.