Featured Poet: Alice B. Fogel, Acworth
Alice B. Fogel’s book, Be That Empty, was #8 on the national poetry bestseller list in 2008. A recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, her work has appeared in the Best American Poetry series, and many other anthologies and journals. Currently on the faculty of Colby-Sawyer College, she also teaches privately and for other venues. Her new book, Strange Terrain: A Poetry Handbook for the Reluctant Reader, is a guide for readers, teachers, and others who want to be more comfortable and confident with poetry. She lives with solar and wind power in Acworth, NH, and is also a custom clothier specializing in “refashioning” clothes out of reprised materials (www.LyricCouture.com). Visit her there or at www.alicebfogel.com.
About “Variation 18: Baker”: "In my full-length project based on Bach’s Goldberg Variations, each poem speaks from a different being or state of being, on a related theme of spirit and embodiment. Bach uses a double 16-measure structure, each meant to be played twice; I use the same structure—2 16-line stanzas—with couplets to mimic the two-fold aspects of both the form and the content. For #18, a canon with overlapping, rising and falling “voices,” this baker from some past century, and his rising bread, came to me. I’m sure some bakers, then as now, are just plain business minded and not all that spiritual about getting up every morning to punch dough, but that’s why this one got the job."
Variation 18: Baker
Always daily in darkness deeper
than the former lit room of my dreams
I rise to predawn. By daybreak already
the bread side by side like cobblestones
baking in the great black womb,
its spirit scent ascending:
that sweetness that bitterness
absorbs and then sets free. Always already
the wheat in the field, hunger, rain.
The stalks in the bleeding
in the mill, chaff on the ground.
Grain ground until
all air’s banished, all spaces fill
with the lighter heavier
powder of flour:
Then once more in the solid
dough, pushing, breath-infused, inspired,
the yeast singing from the heart
always already wine-alive,
releasing, like some tiny muse being
compressed, so the more I press, the more
it rises up--soprano prayer
returning to God and soon to be
folded into well-oiled forms. And by day
always already I have swallowed
steaming the broken
wholeness of fresh-grown loaves,
the aboriginal substance a language selved
warm in my throat, another
expanded breast’s intake of air
firmed in the famished flesh.
from Interval: Poems Based upon Bach’s Goldberg Variations & the Predicament of Embodiment
Originally published in the Massachusetts Review