Alexandria Peary

Alexandria PearyAlexandria Peary holds an MFA from the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, and a second MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is currently pursuing her doctorate. Her work has received the Joseph Langland Award from the Academy of American Poets, and the Mudfish Prize. She directs and teaches in a college writing program in New Hampshire, where she lives with her husband and two children.

Books by Alexandria Peary for the Backwaters Press

Fall Foliage Called Bathers & Dancers Fall Foliage Called Bathers & Dancers by Alexandria Peary

Author: Alexandria Peary
Format: Paperback, 91 pages
ISBN: 9780981693651
Published: September 2008

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Critical Praise for Fall Foliage Called Bathers & Dancers

Alexandria Peary’s poems fulfill Kenneth Koch’s ideal-they give comfort and excitement at the same time. For comfort: “Please, I want to be more gentle with life.” For excitement: “this basement bar where the Nam vets/ gathering around the pool table/ step back with muskets, in the Civil War.” Or “help yourself to the student loans.” Batty juxtapositions thrive in “the electronic beach.” The reader is deeply chilled by the prose poem “The Old Fear”: “He took the head off the woman not from the village.” Yet most poems offer generous contentment and euphoria outweighing stress; in a wedding poem, “metal chairs” are “rented from the song of songs.” “Lunch on the Grass” is hugely funny and alluring. Fall Foliage Called Bathers & Dancers is dreamy, brainy, apparently effortless, and suitably nutty.
Caroline Knox

“My poems are often dreams; my dreams are poems,” Alexandria Peary tells us in her marvelous first book. These poems describe a world resembling our own, beneath which she finds endless off-kilter surprise and beauty. “Outside,” she writes in one startling moment, “the driftwood struggled like arms & legs” and, later, a recorded voice “looks just like a piece of tinfoil lying in the sun / in which you could go swimming.” I’ve long admired Alexandria Peary’s intelligence, her evocative skills, and her gift for discovering in the everyday such dreamlike, frequently frightening, moments.
Kevin Prufer

Alexandria Peary’s lucid poems work like some combination of 3-D and X-ray glasses, deepening experience and allowing the reader to see a world that is intensely, sensuously, alive and very real, while allowing us also to view its construction. In her first collection, Fall Foliage Called Bathers & Dancers, we get the message and see that it is and is not the medium we watch in action. Word and thing uneasily overlap and oppose each other-energizing vision, and making of the intermittencies of the heart a dynamic process requiring and rewarding attention. Peary is one of those wonderful writers who know how to stay, as de Kooning put it, “on the edge of something.” Fall Foliage Called Bathers & Dancers is an astonishing and marvelous book!
Laura Mullen

Poems from Fall Foliage Called Bathers & Dancers

Mile-Long Balcony

The letters of the topiary blended together
right in front of me. A green sentence
that I didn’t have time to fully read,
so I can’t provide it to you. No space between
this moment and the next, and I had been alone for hours
so no one else to report it. The sentence
was in plain little clay pots at the end of a stone balcony
at the start of an immense mowed field, scalloped land combed
the grass arranged in waves. It was just the beginning of something
I couldn’t put into words. In all caps
like green sentinels blocking the view of something behind them.
Like whatever you think will be said to you
at the end of your life. The pots became much smaller
too small it was a tight fit for each plant
each with different patterns of cracks and nicks as interesting as
the frescos in the empty house behind me. Young couples
with dabs of rouge on their olive and gold laughter.
The buzzing heat. Hot smell of hay and alone as looking
down into the immense swimming pool drained of water.
The balcony was stone and felt a mile long.
And despite that they weren’t given enough nurturance
these plants grew and grew, and the rustling in the dusk
was loud, overpowering. At one point, the sentinels were in the shape
of three birds of prey, perched, heads nearly tucked under
their wings, more like sculpture of giant sleeping birds.
Then three large trees, maples and an oak,
standing at dusk at the end of a farmer’s field
with the authority of things left
standing when all else has been cleared
and above me was a blue dome glittery
with the residue of a thousand ongoing conversations
from the day although all day I had been utterly alone.

The Egyptian Tomb of Emily Dickinson

The author reading in her grave is an orange dotted line
then a red continuous line, a house light & more head lights,
above that, a row of (etc.), what a car alarm looks like:
4 signs repeated together: a cherry, a pineapple, cloud, raindrop &
then brief yellow dashes moving like birds, “To be continued.”
The red line lies above the orange line at 75 mph
on the mountains on the last page—while a crow goes
from behind, deleting the orange dotted line—each dash
worth 5 points, cherry and pineapple 10 points, the glow-in-the-dark
haystacks & speeding garbage truck, 50—through
to the underlined parts of the room where I write.
The red line lies above the orange line at 75 mph
on the mountains on the last page in the dark morning.
She reads and reads in this large building in a room
in western Massachusetts—in this primitive dark
a fish skeleton goes by. The walls are decorated with
repetitions, electronic and natural sounds, someone coughing,
an alarm clock going off. A large gloomy ballroom
with an answering machine, & then a black mental swimming pool
ended by three dots.

The White Building

Indent 5 spaces
Below the capital moon yellow A, Times 10 font,
is my apartment;


17 Memorization Way
three ionic I’s
with the yellow high lighter window x
underlined by flower pots
the pink e’s, the white slow a’s
in impatiens and petunias

–                              –
–      WELCOME       –
–                              –

So now you’ve reached Part two.
I’m glad you came through the perforation!
You see me, behind the x, a figure of sound
twelve lines up, at my desk
with the street lamp of a reading lamp
and read what I am just writing;
“What I am / is.”
During the blue & white checks of daytime
this courtyard fills with erasing doves,
even spaces, odd geraniums.
I look out my window & often see
like a rock wall of occurrences in New England
as I eat fried suns & doodles
in a sunny-side-up breakfast nook with cornflakes & milk curtains.
Don’t you see yet?
I am somewhat lonely without you
5 squares in my apartment.
Look: a plastic TV.,
plastic couch,
the off/on,
plastic microwave with instructions in French,
the mossy, shagged, long-haired pet,
sticker fruit
& if I say something is here, it is!
Occasionally, a sonnet on the floor.
Sit down & have some cherry coke flavored air
from a goblet lined with motes
or the icon of an apple
or the general sense of the tutti-frutti that hangs about the kitchen.
The canary is a dot in space that signs.
There’s this sign written in thread above the door
and it says: Enjoy, Guest,
but please make yourself at home,
and please now leave some object from your present
—whatever you see when your eyes stop seeing me—
(hand, dog, coffee mug)
or your autograph
& copy the thing & leave it on my chair

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  1. […] of Iowa Press in 2014. Her other books include Lid to the Shadow (2010 Slope Editions), Fall Foliage Called Bathers & Dancers (2008 Backwaters) and Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century (co-edited with […]

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