Deborah Bogen

Poet and Novelist

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Chosen by Helene Cordona for the 2017 Jacar Press Poetry Book Award, "Free Fall" contains a suite of poems chosen by Jericho Brown for the 2016 New Letters Poetry Prize.
"What we have in Deborah Bogen's Let Me Open You a Swan is sublime poetry, the rare gift of a terrifying look into the shaping of a warrior poet and her work. " Michelle Mitchell-Foust "In Bogen, suffering cannot be transcended, and yet, while tribulation is fiercely present, it brings to the world an ironic and stubborn luster, a glint, a scintilla of light. "Let Me Open You a Swan" is a vibrant and wholly original work." Lynn Emanuel
Landscape With Silos was a National Poetry Series Finalist and Winner of the 2005 XJ Kennedy Poetry Prize

"Deb Bogen writes poetry that is naked and necessary, unadorned and political, intelligent and genereous. The book brims with intelligence." ---Carol Frost
Living by the Children's Cemetery was Winner of the 2002 ByLine Press Chapbook Competition

Judge Edward Hirsch commented that the book "provides a profound answer to the poet's own call for 'someting sinister, something/ fragile, something Bessie Smith/ could sing.'"

Living by the Children’s Cemetery

Living by the Children’s Cemetery provides a profound answer to the poet’s own call for 'something sinister, something fragile, something Bessie Smith/​ could sing.'-- Edward Hirsch

Living by the Children’s Cemetery

For weeks I’ve ignored a presence,
and faceless blue breath on the cellar windows.
But tonight beyond the yard,
moon-stained crosses quiver like
delicate antennae.
Before I climb into bed,
I press a hand to the window and feel the cold.

The moon’s stuck
in a milk bottle and ancient horse tack
hangs on the porch where my grandfather drank
while upstairs Edith screamed my mother
into this world.
Textbooks say I was there too,
         an incipient presence,
and I want to name that,
what that was. I want to name it
like the stones in the cemetery want to name
Where did we learn to surrender our children
to priests who bless them,
who lift them high
amid incense and smoke and take them
to meet the Holy of Holies.

Ants come out of the earth,
long coded helixes that carry away
what’s been lost in the dark.
They try to help me understand the cemetery’s work,
         how we must give up
what we cannot mend or keep.
Still, it hurts
like a fist clenched too long.
We must learn to lie flat,
to enter their darkness
with our hearts and our useless wings

Standing by these small graves in Garrison,
North Dakota
I want some kind of wisdom.
         And you do too,
you at the kitchen sink in Sioux Falls,
South Dakota,
in Billings, Montana and Caspar,
Wyoming. And you, up late in Vermont
and you in the black hills of Tennessee.
How do we accept the soil
that fills their mouths?
How do we ever go inside again?

Learning Italian

All of our friends are learning Italian.
They have no plan, no particular plan

to go to Italy, just a vague hope
like when I laid me down to sleep

and aimed at heaven. We’re at an age
when people travel, so many

places to go, France is attractive,
or Poland or if you came back

from China with a baby that would count.
Even riding a bicycle to and fro

in the cool shade, a booked tucked
under your arm, French or Polish

or Chinese is something, but most
of our friends have chosen Italian

which they practice diligently
at lunchtables where only Italian

may be spoken, "The weather is fine."
or "Please call the porter." In the evening,

on porches, they still practice,
"When is the train for Milan?"


I am looking for opportunities to read from Landscape with Silos. Let me hear from you! Dbbogen@​