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A new CU professor gave a reading of her poetry Monday evening at Old Main.
Ruth Kocher, an author of three books of poetry who has had poems published in numerous journals including Ploughshares, the African American Review and Antioch, is the newest professor in the English department’s creative writing program.
Jeffrey DeShell, another professor in the creative writing program, introduced her.
“What I like about Kocher’s poetry is that it is poetry of the senses: dark, sweet, luscious and earthy,” he said. “The objects of exchange and desire are palpable, fleshy – there not in a simple or unsophisticated way, but brilliantly, lucidly. Her work is a work of eloquent presence.”
Kocher then took the stage, standing at a podium with a red crushed-velvet curtain draped behind her, and began to read.
The first six poems came from a manuscript she is currently refining for publication called “From the First Gods.” Among these was a poem, “Defense,” that utilizes the game of chess, a game that was part of her youth growing up in the projects in southwest Pennsylvania. Another poem, “Continual,” was about artist Lee Krasner, wife of famed painter Jackson Pollock.
Chris Moore, a senior creative writing major at CU, said, “Beyond the words, there is a quality to her voice which transcended the words themselves. They expressed a degree of musicality that is not commonly found in modern poets.”
Kocher finished her reading with six poems she calls “gigans.” These are of a form that she created consisting of 16 lines using refrains that occur in seven stanzas. She named this form after her favorite Godzilla movie monster, the gigan. She said the monster was made up of leftover parts. Each gigan is titled with a number; 59, for example, tells of a bee that stung her this summer. Kocher is allergic to bees.
“She has very well-spoken poetry which made me concentrate on her words rather than her voice,” said Emily Carl, a CU freshman art history major.
“If I could eat poetry, I would,” said Kocher. “Poetry is a great mode of transformation, transference and song.”
Kocher most recently taught literature and writing at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. Prior to teaching in St. Louis, she earned both her MFA and PhD at Arizona State University.
Her first impression of CU is that it is beautiful and the students are bright. Kocher looks forward to learning the landscape of the poetry community here in Boulder.
“There is such a range of emotion in writing,” she said. “Once I’ve written a poem, I feel fear that I might not be able to write a poem again.”
“Mediation on Breathing” from Kocher’s book, “One Girl Babylon”
When we love words, words catch fire.