lauren camp

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Woman as writer. As artist. As daughter. As history-seeker. With future. Woman as partner, lover, hiker.

As an adult, I've never been conventional. Never followed the clear and logical path. For a dozen years, I made textile art on themes ranging from jazz to the female body. During that visual phase, I began producing and hosting shows for public radio. Meanwhile, I started to move my hands deeper into writing again, this time, exploring through poems themes of dislocation, jazz (yes, again!), landscape, memory, treachery and trust. Everything began to come together: sound and silence, visual composition and patterns, and language.

I have written three books, always pushing into my own mysteries and other people's truths to understand them. These days, I write as a form of activism and a demand to acknowledge what I don't want to disappear. You can read a few poems below, and many more on my website.


FIGURE AND GROUND
(first published in Heron Tree
)

I try to understand the small outside I let in that year: 
artichoke, orchid, what was beautifully composed. I admired
every sentence he spoke and the valleys of grape. I dreamt
the calligraphy and claws of black ravens, 
the disrobing all afternoon. I kept the entire map
without conscience or question as if following
where it led and where it scattered in distance. 
None of us knew the path was untraceable. 
We waited to start over, repeating Nothing to lose, nothing
to lose. We carried our shadows; nothing more. 
And nothing more difficult. But let’s begin with the end,
and its unspoken vinegar skin of apology, its unit of meaning.

 

 

 

A WOMAN OF VALOR
(from One Hundred Hungers, Tupelo Press)

Her grandmother never looked up from her apron of cooking. Never spoke of the sifting of self, the thick shape of the kibbeh or the blood- juice of beets in her palm. She just set down the plates and retreated as her family ate, relentless and satis ed, the slow-simmered foundation of food. An elaborate matrix of tastes surrounded the lamb’s tongue braised in tomato, the liver on crackers, the cleft of crushed cumin in a crust of butter-drenched rice. When we thanked her, she shrugged in the temple of exposure, and nodded, ruffled, into the carpet.

Where we sat, under the wide eye of evening, its dimples and smother, her tender thin voice spiced the room. She backed into the kitchen, past steps to the basement and pantry, toward pan-piles and oils, the last of the khakha everyone loved. Into the simple room and its burble of dishwater, where she inhaled every strong scent of everything seared sizzled stewed and when she looked up through ordered panes of the window over the sink what she saw was a dull shade of self in a small shore of stars.