Barbara Crooker


The art of blurbing isn't hard to master.
Pick three quick phrases, fill them in with quotes,
so full of compliments, they're thick as plaster.

So what if all of this just seems like bluster?
Don't try to separate the sheep from goats.
The art of blurbing isn't hard to master.

"No ideal reader lets this book go past her."
Use adjectives like luminous but note
the compliments have strata, layers, plaster.

A clever tone, some irony for good measure
will cover up the fact that it's all bloat.
The art of blurbing isn't hard to master.

Your own true thoughts? They're open to conjecture.
Keep going, build your sentences by rote.
So slap those compliments sky high, go faster.

Just keep on going, like a telecaster
who believes in every word he ever wrote.
The art of blurbing is not hard to master,
the compliments so thick (it's cracked!) like plaster.


A seagull scythed the leaden sky:
bone-white, foam white, the wings so sharp
I looked for the hole, the slice they'd cut,
exposing what might be beyond the clouds,
some Renaissance-glorious dream of heaven?

But nothing appeared, no flash of white
robes, no haloes' sparking glow, no harps,
nothing but sheet metal: pewter sea, the scut
of clouds, just Thomas Hardy's neutral tones. Loud
cries of gulls: mine, mine, grabbing what's forbidden.

When a woman shuffles day-old bread, throws it high
so some can catch it on the wing, others carp
fiercely about what they've missed, put
their razor beaks close to her eyes, and crowd
out the weakest of the flock. She's seventy

if she's a day, old coat, ragged scarf, tiny.
Not someone you'd ever notice, just a sharp-
beaked sparrow, ordinary, plain. She's here daily, out
in every kind of weather: spitting rain, threatening clouds,
distant thunder, or like today, the thin sun

streaming down, pouring shafts of light
that look as solid as threads, warp
and woof from some great loom. Put
away your this-can't-be-possible thoughts, your doubts,
see the feathers flare from her back. This glimpse we're given.


Barbara Crooker's work has appeared in magazines such as Yankee, The Christian Science Monitor, Highlights for Children, and The Journal of American Medicine (JAMA). She is the recipient of the 2006 Ekphrastic Poetry Award from Rosebud, the 2004 WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the 2003 Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships, and has been a twenty-four time nominee for the Pushcart Prize. Radiance, her first full-length book, won the 2005 Word Press First Book competition and was a finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; her new book, Line Dance is just out from Word Press.


Mary Kathryn Arnold
Barbara Crooker
Josephine Jacobsen
Elizabeth M. Johnson
Athena Kildegaard
April Lindner
Ann Michael
Joyce Wilson

Meredith Bergmann: My work has always seemed cut out for me. I give myself assignments or I take commissions to find challenges to make heroic work in which the themes must be expressed with beauty and with irony. Light touches on dark subjects help me break away what's monolithic or opaque. No thing, for me, embodies mystery, gives life to clay, or conveys narrative enduringly as can the human form. Loving to sculpt and to manipulate ideas, I'm happiest when I can give new meaning to old urges, or can warm a concept into art that's worth its weight.
32 Poems
The Academy of American Poets
The Atlantic
The Christian Science Monitor
The Cortland Review
Favorite Poem Project
The Frost Place
The Iowa Review
Light Quarterly
Modern American Poetry
The Poem Tree
Poetry Daily
Poetry Society of America
Poets House
Raintown Review
String Poet
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Verse Daily
Women's Poetry Listserv
The Yale Review

Bread Loaf
Poetry by the Sea


Barefoot Muse Press
David Robert Books
David R. Godine Press
Graywolf Press
Headmistress Press
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Louisiana State University Press
Northwestern Univ Press
Ohio Univ Press
Persea Books
Red Hen Press
Texas Tech Univ Press
Tupelo Press
Univ of Akron Press
Univ of Arkansas Press
Univ of Illinois Press
Univ of Iowa Press
Waywiser Press
White Violet Press

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