Poet and young-adult novelist, Ron Koertge, grew up in an agricultural area in an old mining town in Illinois, just across the Mississippi from St. Louis, Missouri. Koertge says there he “learned to drive a tractor and buck hay bales, which are clearly useful skills in Los Angeles.”  He received a BA from the University of Illinois and an MA from the University of Arizona. Koertge’s honors include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a California Arts Council grant, and inclusion in numerous anthologies such as Best American Poetry, Poetry 180, and Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” column. Koertge’s young-adult fiction has won awards from the American Library Association and PEN.  Koertge writes poetry marked by irreverent yet compassionate humor and a range of personas and voices. He has published numerous collections of poetry, including ghazal collection Indigo (2009), Fever (2006), and Making Love to Roget’s Wife (1997). His novels and novels-in-verse for young readers include Shakespeare Bats Cleanup (2006), The Brimstone Journals (2004), and Stoner & Spaz (2004). Koertge has been a faculty member for more than 35 years at Pasadena City College. Billy Collins has said of Koertge that he is “the wisest, most entertaining wiseguy in American poetry.”

 

Cinderella's Diary 

I miss my stepmother. What a thing to say
but it's true. The prince is so boring: four
hours to dress and then the cheering throngs.
Again. The page who holds the door is cute
enough to eat. Where is he once Mr. Charming
kisses my forehead goodnight?

Every morning I gaze out a casement window
at the hunters, dark men with blood on their
boots who joke and mount, their black
      trousers
straining, rough beards, callused hands, selfish,
abrupt ...

Oh, dear diary—I am lost in ever after:
Those insufferable birds, someone in every
room with a lute, the queen calling me to look
at another painting of her son, this time 
holding the transparent slipper I wish
I'd never seen.

from Fever, ( Red Hen Press, 2006)

 

Burning the Book

The anthology of love poems I bought
for a quarter is brittle, anyway, and comes
apart when I read it.

One at a time, I throw pages on the fire
and watch smoke make its way up
and out.

I’m almost to the index when I hear
a murmuring in the street. My neighbors
are watching it snow.

I put on my blue jacket and join them.
The children stand with their mouths
open.

I can see nouns—longing, rapture, bliss
land on every tongue, then disappear. 

from The Ogre's Wife, ( Red Hen Press, 2013)

 

First Grade

Until then, every forest
had wolves in it, we thought
it would be fun to wear snowshoes
all the time, and we could talk to water.

So who is this woman with the gray
breath calling out names and pointing
to the little desks we will occupy
for the rest of our lives?

from Making Love to Roget's Wife,  (University of Arkansas Press, 1997)

 

 

Ronald Koertge

 

 

2013 Ronald Koertge


 

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