Saturday, February 19, 2000

Dorianne Laux

Dorianne Laux, born in 1952 in Augusta, Maine, is of Irish, French and Algonquin Indian heritage. She began writing seriously in her early twenties, after her daughter was born. As a single mother, she worked as a housecleaner, gas station manager, TV Guide salesperson, cook in a sanitarium, and doughnut holer. She returned to school to earn a BA in English from Mills College in 1988 and for six years she worked in the Poets in the Schools program in Berkeley and Oakland. Eventually, she moved to Eugene to teach at the University of Oregon and is currently Associate Professor and Director of the University’s Program in Creative Writing.

Dorianne has published two collections of poetry, Awake and What We Carry, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She also co-wrote The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry which was chosen as an alternative selection by the Book of the Month Club, Quality Paperbacks and Writer's Digest. Her poem, "The Shipfitter's Wife" was chosen by Robert Bly for inclusion in The Best American Poetry 1999. Her work can also be heard on National Public Radio's "The Writer's Almanac" hosted by Garrison Keillor.

Her third book, Music in the Morning, is scheduled for publication this year. Presently she is at work on a libretto with composer Wally Brill. As for honors, Dorianne won a Pushcart Prize for Poetry and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the National Endowment for the Arts.

When asked about the confessional nature of her poetry during C.K. Tower’s interview on the Perihelion website, Dorianne replied, "I am often afraid of how much I love my daughter, how much I trust my husband, how helpless I am in the midst of my own hatred and anger, how terrified I am of death. And so, I watch for the stories that will tell these feelings and thoughts, and sometimes it's not the whole story but merely an image: a boat moored to a dock, the gesture a stranger made before walking into a room. Then I confess what that meant to me using the many and varied resistances of poetry. As soon as you begin to pay as much attention to the language as to what you are trying to say, you've set a challenge for yourself that denies the simplicity of confession."

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