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University of Montana
If I were a young poet looking to apply to an MFA program, one of the places most attractive to me would be the Creative Writing Program at the University of Montana, and not only because Missoula is so convincingly beautiful.
Cutbank, the literary magazine at U of Montana, has become a dependable and delightful place to pick up on conversations in American poetry. Besides Greg Pape, the poet who has been in the Creative Writing Program the longest and who writes crafted, conventional but exacting poems that often particularize his experience in rural landscapes, there is Bob Baker (in English) who teaches philosophy and writes about contemporary poetics. And then there are three terrific younger lyric poets, Prageeta Sharma, Joanna Klink, and Karen Volkman.
Volkman’s newest book, Nomina, (BOA, 2008) is a tour de force exploration of the sonnet. At once formal and innovative, baroque and emotive, each poem ignites the next. Within the intensely musical structures of the poems, the richness of Volkman’s lexicon and the novelty of her syntax are thrilling.
Sharma’s most recent book, Infamous Landscapes (Fence, 2007), splashes a contagious, nervous, urban energy onto fragmented meditations on gender, intimate relationships, control, and cultural conflict. The poems in this collection are characterized by quick-shifting implicative associations and swooping changes of register.
Joanna Klink’s Circadian (Penguin, 2007) might be considered an eco-poetics in as much as Klink renders porous the borders between the world and the self. Although the book is made of distinct poems, rhizomatic words and themes run through the collection, giving it the power of a long lyric meditation.