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Rose McLarney 2016 Dartmouth Poet in Residence at The Frost Place
Rose McLarney
2016 Dartmouth Poet in Residence at The Frost Place

2016 Dartmouth Poet in Residence Rose McLarney

Meet Rose McLarney

Rose McLarney has published two collections of poems, Its Day Being Gone (Penguin Books, 2014) and The Always Broken Plates of Mountains (Four Way Books, 2012).  Its Day Being Gone is the 2013 National Poetry Series winner. Rose has been awarded fellowships by the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and Warren Wilson College, and won the Fellowship of Southern Writers’ New Writing Award for Poetry and Alligator Juniper’s 2011 National Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in publications including The Kenyon Review, Orion, Slate, New England Review, Missouri Review, and dozens of other journals. Rose earned her MFA from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers and has taught at Warren Wilson, among other institutions. Currently, she is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Auburn University and Poetry Editor of The Southern Humanities Review.

On Being Named the 2016 Dartmouth Poet in Residence

“As a poet concerned with environment, working while looking out at the landscape Frost chose will inspire the articulation of my own ideas about the land on which we live, and on which we leave our ruins, and bring focus to my poems. Meanwhile, interactions with other writers and readers through The Frost Place and Dartmouth’s programs will, as shared love of literature does, wonderfully widen my view.”

Plans for the Residency

“At The Frost Place, I will continue my work on series of poems about animals’ symbolic roles in art and as indicators of change in ecosystems, and about water, which is part of a large and troubled system but also flows in smaller tributaries counter to prevailing currents.  I will also explore future directions for my writing, which aims to go beyond lamenting degradation and disaster to record and add to what’s good in our world. Frost’s poetry— the tributes to brooks (though gone dry) he loved for what they were, the songs he crafted for diminished things—will be a great guide for my efforts.”

Two Poems by Rose McLarney

  • Facing North

    How articulate, the eyes
    of silent animals when I chose
    to shoot the sick goat. All day,
    the dogs would not look at me, not
    let me touch them, legs folding away from
    the level to which I had lowered my hand.

    And the chickens ran,
    following their crazed paths,
    every which way, but every way
    away from me. The goat
    looked as if she were running
    as she lay, after, legs kicking.

    But don’t chickens always run
    like that? And this is no new
    remorse. The light has always
    been leaving my narrow,
    north section. Place of the long
    history of short days.

    It’s the frost that stays. More mornings
    than not here, no sun is enough
    to undo the frost. I should have given
    her southerly pasture. I should have
    gone in another direction.

    But consider where goats live
    the world over. They browse
    on woody brush. On rock, on cliffs.
    In deserts, harsh habitat. They choose
    cursed land. Who chooses goats?

    I chose goats. I liked the bone shapes
    in their eyes, the strange, slit pupils
    they turned to me, chewing the corners
    of my heavy coat. I wanted to live here,
    on an old hardscrabble farm.

    In this era, when there is no need
    to farm, who is drawn to have livestock,
    which die so much? Piss and blood
    pour out of the back of a shot body.
    But it’s piss and blood keeping them
    alive too. Cleaning the stalls, cleaning
    the wounds common to animals so curious.

    She worked herself through fences,
    under walls. She worked her head into my
    pockets. Worked her way in
    to every opening.

    What’s different about a dead body
    is what comes from the other end,
    a great cursive scrawl of steam
    from the mouth. It is the last word,
    soundless, without the stop and start
    of syllables, definitive.

    What comes from the mouth
    blows away. Didn’t I say
    I was done with livestock last winter
    when the calf froze to the ground, then to
    death because it couldn’t move?

    When I ripped it loose, the intestines,
    threaded through crow-torn holes
    in its belly, clung to the grass and shattered.
    I said those were my ties to the place.
    They were too cold to bleed. A quick job
    to clean up and bury, I claimed.

    I said I would never use animals
    as the figures for my sorrows again.
    But when the goat dropped shot,
    the bread I’d brought to get her
    to put her head down still in her teeth,
    the chickens pecked at it.

    I’m still here. I can’t stay away
    from the hard images. Bread
    taken from her mouth even then.

  • The Model Walks Away From a Job

    Tonight, when the trainload of coal, trailing ash
    from the power plant, passed, I had no mournfulness left
    for the suffering caused by the energy my lights
    spend. Like the film images of the clouds that form
    when the mountains are blown apart–how they pulse,
    fill the screen, obscure everything–that’s how blurred
    my mind was by the thought of what I wanted: another
    whiskey. New boots. Possessions in numbers. To turn
    and go back down the street to where the painter
    who is not my husband but looks at me so long
    holds his brush suspended above a palette of reds.
    So much desire, and to desire goodness is no escape.
    I will always end questioning what I’ve chosen,
    regretting some greed. Or regretting that I slept cold
    while the bulbs I left on burned into another day
    when I would take nothing of what I wanted in my arms,
    risk nothing that would bring color to my cheeks.