Gail Mazur: Massachusetts Poet in the Spotlight

 Highlighted by Blacksmith House Poetry Series

Gail MazurGail Mazur, who founded the Blacksmith House Poetry Series in Cambridge, is the author of 6 collections of poems, including They Can’t Take That Away from Me, a finalist for the National Book Award, Zeppo’s First Wife, winner of the Massachusetts Book Prize and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and Figures in a Landscape. Mazur is Distinguished Writer in Residence in the graduate program of Emerson College. She serves on the Summer Program and Writing Committees of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown where she also teaches poetry workshops. Her poems are widely anthologized, including in Favorite Poem anthologies and several baseball poetry anthologies!

Poetic Profession

“What I want to do with every poem I am working on: to go where I haven’t gone before. Of course, that ‘place’ I’m driving toward may be new only to me, but it IS new to me. When I’m lost in a poem, I’m happiest, and ‘lostness’ is also apt to lead me—anyone—on a trip to an unfamiliar place, to discovery. Revision is often a wandering trip of intuitive leaps, not only a ‘re-working.’ Living in the work, what a life!”   -Gail Mazur

FORBIDDEN CITY

Asleep until noon, I’m dreaming
we’ve been granted another year.

You’re here with me, healthy.
Then, half-awake, the half-truth—

this is our last day. Life’s leaking
away again, and this time, we know it.

Dear body, I hold you, pleading,
Don’t leave! but I understand you

can’t say anything. Who are we?
Are we fictional? We don’t look

like our pictures, don’t look like
anyone I know. Daylight

flickers through a bamboo grove,
we approach the Forbidden City,

looking together for the Hall
of Fulfilling Original Wishes.

Time is the treasure, you tell me,
and the past is its hiding place.

I instruct our fictional children,
The past is the treasure, time

is its hiding place. If we told him
how much we love him, how much

we miss him, he could stay.
But now you’ve taken me back

to Luoyang, to the Garden of Solitary Joy,
over a thousand years old—

I wake, I hold your hand, you let me go.

 

 

Blacksmith HouseFounded in 1973, the award-winning Blacksmith House Poetry Series brings established and emerging writers of poetry and fiction to Harvard Square. The series is sponsored by the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and holds readings at the Blacksmith House, site of the village smithy and spreading chestnut tree of Longfellow’s 1839 poem “The Village Blacksmith.

spotlightMassachusetts Poet in the Spotlight is a monthly installment from Mass Poetry. Each month we shine the spotlight on a poet affiliated with, and nominated by, one of our poetry partners.

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