Two Poets in Our Midst
By now I hope everyone has read Kathi Wolfe's column this month, paying just tribute to Karren Alenier and her book, "The Steiny Road to Operadom: The Making of American Operas." I've known Karren for more than fifteen years now, and it's been a wonderful and invigorating process to see how her fascination with the life and work of Gertrude Stein led first to a series of poems about Stein, then to her opera, "Gertrude Stein Invents a Jump Early On," and finally to her immersion in the world of new American opera that has made her a leading authority on the subject. Besides "The Steiny Road to Operadom," I recommend checking out Karren's books of poetry, especially "Looking for Divine Transportation." To read Karren's work is to introduce yourself to a witty, quirky and sagacious observer of life and art.
Kathi Wolfe is too modest to boast about herself, but she too is an excellent poet. Her own fascination with the life and work of another great American woman writer--Helen Keller--led her to write a chapbook of Keller poems, "Helen Takes the Stage." The chapbook was one of six finalists in this year's Pudding House contest--out of a field of 750--and will be published by that press sometime in 2008. Wolfe rips the cloak of sanctity we've draped over Keller, revealing her as a woman of fierce loves and hates, a scholar and thinker, a connoisseur of hot dogs and good scotch. These poignant, profound and often laugh-out-loud funny poems give us Keller as a flesh-and-blood woman, and stand as a work of bold advocacy not only for Keller, but for the differently abled everywhere.