Sunday, September 8, 2013

Presenting Lisa Coffman

 Lisa Coffman grew up in East Tennessee and currently 
lives on California’s Central Coast—two locales that inspire 
and color her work. She has received fellowships for her poetry
from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pew Charitable
Trusts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Bucknell 
University’s Stadler Center for Poetry. Her first collection of 
poetry, Likely, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from 
Kent State University Press. Her work has appeared in numerous 
literary magazines and anthologies, including Myrrh, Mothwing,
Smoke: Erotic PoemsListen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia;
A Fine Excess: Fifty Years of the Beloit Poetry Journal; and the 
forthcoming Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee.
An excerpt from her nonfiction manuscript in progress, “No 
Business, Tennessee,” received the 2010 Ingrid Reti Nonfiction
Prize. She teaches at the California State Polytechnic University
in San Luis Obispo and lives in nearby Los Osos with her husband
Joe and daughter Jenna.

Learning the Butterfly
I like that it is violent.
I like its indiscretion
of noise in the low, tiled room.
I like being a new animal,
shoulders first breaking the water,
jaws closing as I go down.
It is a metaphor for my life
since there is never any balance:
either my bones are pulling me under
or my body, at the last, like a wing beat
is throwing me free of the water.
The instructor says, go slowly,
but my double dolphin kicks are my trumpets
I'm the gold car in the parade of triumph,
I'm the train and its oncoming scream—
I like the other side
and being reduced
to the husking noises of breathing,
then to lift out and pad away, light,
elaborate as an open cage.

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