Rebecca Seiferle is the celebrated author of four collections of poetry, including Wild Tongue, which received the 2008 Grub Street National Book Prize in Poetry; Bitters, awarded the Pushcart Prize; and The Music We Dance To, which won the 1998 Cecil Hemley Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her first book, The Ripped-Out Seam, won the Bogin Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Writers' Exchange Award from Poets & Writers, and the National Writers' Union Prize. Seiferle currently lives in Tucson, Arizona, where she teaches in the English and Fine Arts Department at the Art Center.
"With a bitter and withering irony and an eye for shocking beauty . . . Seiferle cuts straight to the emotionally honest kernel within family, spirit and myth."-Publishers Weekly
Poet Rebecca Seiferle once said that "one should always read a poem as if it was a matter of life and death." Seiferle's fourth book of poems, Wild Tongue, suggests a similar belief about writing poems.
The tongue is both voice and body, and Wild Tongue rages against these global bits, bridles, and palliatives that attempt to calm and control. Combining shocking beauty and compelling directness, Seiferle counterbalances divorce and domestic violence with newfound love and cathartic wit. Her poems, like cave drawings, are inspired by urgency and concern, working into the cracks and contours of truth and wound. "The human voice on the edge of extinction," she writes, "and on that edge, everything wild, unspoken, vital and living, begins to speak out."
Bitters" is an extended quarrel with God, driven by the desire to recover what is banished to the marginal and apocryphal. In her third collection Seiferle claims whatever originates in the earth as an emissary of the divine, whether it is a starving boy in a supermarket or the maggots thriving in the skin of a cat.
Even houseflies must have their angels.
it makes the skull hum. And if I swat them,
can they blame me? Like all good messengers,
they're just testing whether we are still alive.
By such means, the priest taught me, ""God creates.
All the living and the dead, just a nursery
for his hatching." "So when I found a trinity
of maggots in the abdominal wall
of a living kitten, though I had to pinch
them out, I could not blame them--Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, pale witnesses
of a homesick God, caught in the furnace
of the flesh, hoping to sprout wings."
Against the background and harsh light of the desert Southwest or withing the darkness of European history and religion, Seiferle has created a new kind of beauty: tragic, wise, open to every possibility. And just as the liquor of the title are colorful, earthy draughts of distilled spirits with an ancient medicinal history, so too are they a fitting metaphor for these darkly humorous and curative poems.
Rebecca Seiferle's "The Music We Dance To "was nominated for the Pulitzer prize and poems from the volume are included in "The Best American Poetry 2000." Her first book, "The Ripped-Out Seam "won the Bogin Memorial, the Writers' Exchange, and the Writers' Union PoetryPrize. Her translation of Cesar Vallejo's "Trilce "won the 1992 PenWest Translation Award.