DORA MALECH

Dreaming in New Zealand

I love this tongue as mine (is mine) 
and would all were as I am wont 
to hear here: sex, a quest, great grail, 
for I hear seeks, with no sweat spent 
to search that isn’t sweet, as every 
beck and call’s both song and beak
with which to hold our tune. Winter
wears her well-earned warrior’s clothes,
a season wearing thinner, wetter, 
colder, but still and ever green, here—
she’d not leave her leaves, not shed 
what’s hers though the southerly 
tried and tries to whistle them away.
And since this is my comedy 
of ears, in one and in the other’s 
fate’s to trip again, I’ll claim:
the body is both bread and breed,
as words well said are planted seed
and grow so where we tread is treed,
where each line read remains the reed 
on which the note is played when pressed
to lips, mouth, self-ordained as priest, 
weds wed to we’d and weed and so 
with word grown one forever as even 
the dead remain in deed, wound round
and round in these wet sheets of wind.

Dora Malech convened one of the MA Writing for the Page workshops at Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters in 2007.  She is very happy and grateful that Best New Zealand Poems is willing to consider her an honorary New Zealander (she currently lives in the American Midwest in Iowa City).  Malech earned her BA degree in Fine Arts from Yale University, where she was the recipient of a Frederick M. Clapp Poetry Fellowship.  She earned her MFA degree in Poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was the recipient of a Truman Capote Fellowship, a Teaching-Writing Fellowship, and a Glenn Schaeffer Poetry Award.  Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous publications, including PoetryThe New YorkerSportDenver QuarterlyAmerican Letters & Commentary, and The Yale Review.  In 2007, her poems were anthologized in Best New Poets 2007: 50 Poems from Emerging Writers and Kaupapa: New Zealand Poets, Global Issues.  Her work was recently accepted for the forthcoming Yale Anthology of Younger American Poets as well.

Malech comments: ‘I know I’m not the only writer or artist who takes pleasure in “happy accidents”—the typo that ends up being more interesting than the word that was actually intended or the clumsy splash of paint that ends up being just what the composition was missing.  The poem “Dreaming in New Zealand” came from a series of these happy accidents:  a persistent mis-hearing of a vowel sound that my American ear pronounces slightly differently from some New Zealand tongues.  These “mis-hearings” began to take on a life of their own in my imagination, as their rhymes made a kind of reason, and their sounds made a kind of sense.’

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Links

Best New Poets 2007: 50 Poems From Emerging Poets
Poetry Foundation author profile