Judith Roche

Nominated by Jack Straw Productions

Judith Roche is the author of three collections of poetry, the most recent of which, Wisdom of the Body, won an American Book Award, She has edited a number of poetry anthologies and has worked in collaboration with visual artists on several public art projects which are installed in the Northwest area, including an installation about salmon at the Chittenden Locks. She is Literary Arts Director Emeritus for One Reel, and teaches poetry workshops throughout the country. She was Distinguished Northwest Writer in Residence at Seattle University in 2007 and is a Fellow in the Black Earth Institute.

Jack Straw Productions is a multidisciplinary audio arts center that fosters the communication of art, ideas, and information to diverse audiences through audio media.

They nominated Judith because: “We are honored to nominate Judith Roche. In addition to being an exceptional poet, Judith is dedicated to helping writers and students find their voice and express their thoughts through the medium of poetry. Judith has expanded the role and vitality of the literary arts in Seattle through her many years as literary manager at One Reel, her public art projects which bring writing into diverse settings, and her strong commitment to education for both youth and adults. Her passion crosses many communities, from youth in prisons, to immigrant youth, to professional writers, making her a perfect Poet Populist.”

Statement

Poetry’s unique mission is to make truth, beauty and goodness. I’ve worked for poetry, as a poet, an arts programmer at One Reel, a teacher in the schools, hospitals and prisons, and into Public Art installations. I believe in poetry's unique ability to bring people closer to their own truth, to find the deep goodness in themselves beyond whatever distractions they live with. Being Poet Populist would offer a larger arena, with other poets, through a series of readings, to make poetry more visible in Seattle, at women's shelters, senior centers, youth centers, others, bringing poetry deeper into the polis.

Poem

The Angels

are not like the Saints.

They do not discriminate
but come to everyone.

Their eyes burn green fire
but their kisses are icy.

They can play rough when we get caught
in the heavy crosswinds that swirl about their wings.

They are not above artifice
and sometimes appear in disguise:

a mask of smeared lipstick, gypsy
bangles, or an old man’s coat.

Now and again they carelessly give us gifts:
an unexpected hobbyhorse, a day’s free baby-sitting,

a poke in the eye with a stick,
or sudden slant of light on water.

And we are grateful, once we figure out how
to move within their state of complex blessings.

They work within great wheels and circles,
turning light to dark and back again.

They do not obey the laws of gravity
but laugh a lot and arise at will

to hover like vast hummingbirds
when we require attention.

What they want of us is the mysterious secret
we unravel and reweave

down to dark and back again.

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