Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Muse: New South Dakota Poet Laureate

I want language to emerge as a fluid, shimmering, rapidly
 transforming, performative, and shape-shifting, jellyfish-like
 organism—material, living, fluid, sometimes opaque, 
sometimes transparent.*
~ Lee Ann Roripaugh

Lee Ann Roripaugh, editor of South Dakota Review, is South Dakota's newly named Poet Laureate. She succeeds David Allan Evans, who resigned after 12 years in the post. As a result of a change in state law after Evans's appointment, Roripaugh, whose father, Robert Roripaugh, was Poet Laureate of Wyoming from July 21, 1995 to 2003, will serve four years; her term, beginning July 1, 2015, concludes July 1, 2019.

Information about the state legislative changes appears in the headnotes preceding a profile of David Allen Evans; see my Monday Muse post of November 22, 2010. 

* * * * *
I definitely like to think of poetry as spoken song,
and I intuitively tend to render and hear lines
of poetry as musical phrases. . . .**

Poet, short story writer, and essayist Lee Ann Roripaugh has published four poetry collections: Dandarians (Milkweed Editions, 2014), On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry, Southern Illinois University Press, 2009), Year of the Snake (Southern Illinois University Press, 2004), and Beyond Heart Mountain (Viking/Penguin Books, 1999). 

In addition to her Japanese heritage and her life in the West, Roripaugh addresses in her poems themes of childhood, home, and place, especially as related to war, occupation, and internment (as at Heart Mountain in Wyoming); ostracism and its attendant shame; the tensions of East versus West; racism and mixed-race identity; memory; vulnerability; recovery and redemption; alienation and loneliness; knowledge and ignorance; loss and grief; metamorphosis and transformation. She  draws deeply on myths, ghost stories, Japanese fairy tales, and metaphor and simile.

Roripaug's lyrical, elegant, often intense work appears in free verse, in the form of prose, in monologues and narrative fragments, as persona poems, and in such Japanese forms as the tanka, haiku, haibun, kanshi, and zuihitsu. It may be long-lined, in couplets or tercets or alternating lengths, with or without stanza breaks. It is filled with colors of all kinds and gorgeous Japanese imagery—cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums, plum, goldfish, food such as seaweed and octopus, rice-paper lanterns, temple bells, the moon, kimonos, pearls—that frequently underscores pain and sense of loss, love and  remembrance. Her contrasts in detail and image associations can be startling.

Some excerpts:

Let me gather together a radiant cache
of jewel beetles for you—lapis lazuli blue
speckled with red and white; shimmering
green hammer-plated with yellow metal;
dapper copper pinstriping; a softly polished
celadon like glowing, apple-green jade; blue-
green lacquer lipsticked with an opalescent
hot-pink swirl; and the one that seem cast
in the lush, buttery luster of 24-carat gold. [. . .]
~ from 1st stanza of "Things I Would Do for You" in On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year

1. Like a Blown Fuse

Cold so cold you feel like a crime scene—flashbulbed open into
      a tremulous lesion policed by
bright yellow tape.

Reckless pinball and ricochet between a cracked, awful radiance
      and some stale, ash-stubbed
sorrow—smoky as the remise that skulks on the curb outside the bar
      around closing time
while you flirt inside with disquietude.
[. . . .]
~ from "Annealing" in Dandarians: Poems

There are nights I dream of goldfish,
and in my dreams they sing to me in
fluted, piercing sopranos like the Vienna 
Boys Choir. [. . .]
~ from 1st stanza of "Hope" in Year of the Snake

[. . .] leaf prints etched in black mold, like
the pattern of
a kimono found burned into
a woman after

Hiroshima, and it is almost
too beautiful,
too horrible for me to bear.
~ from Section II of "Song for an Approaching Rainy Season" in Beyond Heart Mountain

Poems by Roripaugh have appeared in many prestigious literary publications, including Anti-, coconut, Barn Owl ReviewThe Beloit Poetry Journal, Black Warrior ReviewCrab Orchard Review, diode, Eye to the Telescope, jubilatMichigan Quarterly Review, New England ReviewNo Tell Motel, North American Review, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, PhoebePlatte Valley Review, poetry crush, Poetry DailyPloughshares, Seneca Review, The Southern ReviewSugar House ReviewThe The, and Verse Daily.

Among the anthologies that include her poetry are American Identities: Contemporary Multicultural Voices (Middlebury, 1994), Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (University of Illinois Press, 2004), and Waltzing on Water: Poetry by Women (Laurel Leaf, 1989).

A second-generation Japanese-American and an English professor and director of creative writing at the University of South Dakota, Roripaugh's second collection Year of the Snake received the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in Poetry/Prose (2004); On the Cusp of a Danger Year was a finalist for Publishing Triangle's Audre Lorde Award (2005); and her debut collection, Beyond Heart Mountain, was a National Poetry Series selection (1998). 

The 2015 recipient of a Bunnell Street Arts Center Artist's Residency (Homer, Alaska), Roripaugh was awarded in 2011 a South Dakota Arts Council Artist's Fellowship Grant and, in 2005, the council's Individual Artist's Grant. Among her many other awards are the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award (2004), an Archibald Bush Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship (2003), and a Frederick Manfred Award for Best Creative Writing from the Western Literature Association (2001). She also has been awarded the Randall Jarrell International Poetry Prize (1995) and the Academy of American Poets Prize. Three times she received a College of Arts & Sciences Research Travel Award (2014, 2013, 2011). A number of her poems have been nominated for or awarded a Pushcart Prize.

In addition to a master's degree in creative writing, Roripaugh holds degrees in piano performance and music history.


Photo Credit: State of South Dakota

All Poetry Excerpts © Lee Ann Roripaugh

* Quoted from 2015 Heavy Feather Review Interview (See link below.)

** Quoted from Alex Linden's Interview for Superstition Review (See link below.)

South Dakota Governor's Office, "Gov. Daugaard Appoints Roripaugh as Poet Laureate", Press Release, July 1, 2015

"Gov. Appoints Vermillion Woman as South Dakota Poet Laureate", Keloland TV News Online, July 1, 2015

Sara Bertsch, "New Poet Laureate for South Dakota Announced", Sioux Falls Argus Leader, July 1, 2015

"Vermillion's Roripaugh Named SD Poet Laureate", Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, July 1, 2015

Other publications carrying briefs similar to or the same as those above: The Daily Republic; KDLT NewsKFSY ABC; and Rapid City Journal.

Lori Walsh, "South Dakota Has 'Vibrant' Talent in Poetry", Argus Leader, January 24, 2015

Lee Ann Roripaugh Poems Online: "Dream Carp", "Happy Hour", and "Transplanting", All at The Poetry Foundation; Selections from Dandarians at Milkweed Editions; "tsunami in love: kintsukuroi/golden joinery" at poetry crush; "Irezumi, or Tattoo You" at Milkweed Editions Blog; "Annealing", "Chasing the Dragon", "Hegemony, Anemone, Chalcedony, Persephone", "Hiroshima, Mon Amour", and "Things That Are Filled with Grace", All at diode; "hungry tsunami/tsunami as galactus", "tsunami's debris", and "origami of tsunami: a technical manual and glossary", All at diode; "The Desire for Space Travel Is a Metaphor for Escape", "Marvelous Things", and "Chambered Nautilus", All at coconut; "Dee Aster: Catastrophic Bloomings", "Inquiline", and "Unswallowing", All at Platte Valley Review; "ontology of tsunami" at Eye to the Telescope; "Daylight Savings Time: An Interrogatory" and "Imprint", Both at Connotation Press; Selections from "Ten Nights' Dreams (after Natsume Soseki)": "1. Georgia O'Keefe" and "2. Gem City: A Migraine Dream", "3. Rehab" and "4. Open It", "5. Biohazard" and "6. Garmonbozia", "7. B. Head" and "8. Book 'Em, Danno", "9. You're Going to Make Me Lonesome When You Go" and "10. Extinguish", All at No Tell Motel; "let freedom sing riot" at Delirious Hem (Audio Available); "Things I Would Do for You" at Beloit Poetry Journal; "Hope" at Verse Daily; "tsunami as misguided kwannon" at The The; "Loneliness", "The Woman Who Loves Insects", "Insect Postures", "Fish Wife", "Unswallowing", "Dream Carp", "Albino Squirrel", "Bioluminescence", "Hope", "Squalid Things", "Irezumi, or Tattoo You", and "Octopus in the Freezer", All in Digital Transcript of Lee Ann Roripaugh Reading at The University of North Dakota; "Dream Carp" at Genius; "Meditations in an Emergency" at Storm Cellar Quarterly; "NYC-ish Poem" at Running Brush Blog; "Nanking Cherry Jam" and "Antelope Jerky" at Project MUSE; "Kimiko Ozawa", "Jimmy Yamamoto", "Song for an Approaching Rainy Season", and "Peony Lover", All at Angelfire; "Albino Squirrel" at Melic Review;  "In the Streets. . ." at Asian American Writers' Workshop; "Shapeshifter Tsunami: A Scary Epithalamium" at burnt district: a journal of contemporary poetry; "Snow Country", "Loneliness", and "Nostalgia" from Under the Rock Umbrella: Contemporary American Poets 1951-1977 at GoogleBooks

Alyse Bensel, "Book Review: Dandarians by Lee Ann Rorpaugh", The Los Angeles Review

Heather Lang, "A Review of Dandarians by Lee Ann Roripaugh", The Literary Review

Sean Aden Lovelace, "Review of Beyond Heart Mountain" in Black Warrior Review, Vol. 26, No. 1, Fall/Winter 1999 at Angelfire

Heavy Feather, "Virtuosic Metaphors, Verbing Nouns, and Kaleidoscoping Adjectives: An Interview with Lee Ann Roripaugh", Heavy Feather Review, April 14, 2015 (In this interview, Roripaugh talks in particular about her techniques.)

Alex Linden, "Lee Ann Roripaugh" (Interview), Superstition Review, Issue 2 (Among the interesting facts that Roripaugh reveals: She wrote her first poem at about age 5 and took her first college course at 10.)

J.P. DancingBear, "Out of Our Minds with Guest Lee Ann Roripaugh" (Audio Interview), Out of Our Minds Radio Show, October 29, 2014

"Words on a Wire: Lee Ann Roripaugh" (Audio Interview), KTEP, October 5, 2014

Poetry Podcast, "Tony Trigilio with Lee Ann Roripaugh" (Radio Free Albion) at The Conversant, September 2014

Lee Ann Roripaugh on FaceBookTwitter, and Tumblr

On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year at GoogleBooks

Year of the Snake at GoogleBooks

Library of Congress, South Dakota Poet Laureate Page

Lee Ann Roripaugh, Third Annual Great Twin Cities Poetry Read, 2012, YouTube Video

Lee Ann Roripaug, Reading at Bunnel Street Arts Center, 2015, Vimeo Video

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