Bibliography

Jarman, Mark. "The Grammar of Glamour: The Poetry of

Jorie Graham." New England Review 14.4 (1992): 251-261. Spiegelman, Willard. "Jorie Graham's 'New Way of Looking.'" Salmagundi 120 (fall 1998): 244-275.

Vendler, Helen. "Jorie Graham: The Nameless and the Material." In The Given and the Made. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995.

Barbara Fischer

GREGER, DEBORA (1949- ) Debora Greger's cosmopolitan poetry offers lively explorations of the human-made inheritance from the past, especially the history of art—painting, sculpture, tapestry, literature. Yet she treats, as well, such equally intentional but less often celebrated cultural icons as a gift shop in the cellar of the John Keats house, Holiday Inns, and the nuclear research facility at Hanford, Washington, where her father worked. Her poetry is richly and often wittily allusive, descended from the modernism of Ezra pound and T. S. eliot, and reminiscent of the style of James MERRILL, whom Greger admired. Occasionally her language may seem overwrought, but far more often her excellent ear provides great pleasure. The complex syntax and rhythms characteristic of her poems enforce their meditative pace. The regularity of her unrhymed stanzas—her most frequent pattern, whether couplets, tercets, or quatrains—provides strong formal structure, with or without regular meter.

Born in Walsenberg, Colorado, Greger was raised mostly in Richland, Washington. She has published six volumes of poems, the first, Movable Islands, in 1980. She has received a number of fellowships and in 1987 won the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets.

Greger's poems confront the boundary between the world humans have made and the world of raw matter that precedes us. She reminds us that we live in the former, the world of interpretation, no matter how we may long for plain and direct experience. Moments of fully realized direct experience may be "movable island[s] of joy" ("Crossing the Plains" [1980]), but if we speak of them at all, the experience recedes into a frame of interpretation and arrangement. Fictions, history, memory—these are the forms we give to our experience almost instantaneously. All too quickly, as in "Queen of a Small Country" (1986), it is "as if the present / were already being told in another person." These "perfected" narratives become equivalent to landscape and architecture: They are the places where we live.

Gregers work suggests indeed that these shaping acts of fiction-making may be what best defines and sustains us. One way of making that point is to allude to Scheherazade, the character in the Arabian Nights; who staves off her own murder by enthralling a tyrant with stories, an act figuratively represented in the title poem of Greger's third book, The 1002nd Night (1990). She does it another way in "A Return to Earth" (1996) by representing the grandeur and precariousness of all human making in the boundary city of Venice, "a city afloat on a promise of nothing / from an unforgiving sea." Humans have their own ways of creating—in her volume God (2001), an ironic deity has retired to Florida and muses upon (and is amused by) our parallel or substitute creations—and Greger's poetry both questions and celebrates them.

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