To Write Or Not To Write

As we close out April as National Poetry Month (a month set aside to praise and acknowledging poetry’s niche in our society), we’d like to take a moment to recognize a wonderful poet who is part of the UI community.

Alexandra Teague is an assistant professor of poetry at UI.  She was born in Fort Worth, Texas and has since lived, wrote, and taught in several other states.  Her poems have been published in several journals as well as Best New Poets 2008 and Best American Poetry 2009.

Alexandra’s first book of poetry, Mortal Geography, won the 2009 Lexi Rudnitsky Prize and 2010 California Book Award.  Some examples of her work can be found on her website and many of her books can be bought at Book People or through Amazon.

Alexandra is a talented artist and has directed her talents into teaching others. It’s amazing to think about the opportunities the University of Idaho presents to its students. We are surrounded by inspiring people throughout this entire institution.

National Poetry Month can be celebrated in many different ways, but I encourage you to read some of Alexandra Teague’s work because it is truly great. Another good way to celebrate the beautiful art of poetry is to write your own work. You may ignite a hidden passion.


Adjectives of Order

By Alexandra Teague

That summer, she had a student who was obsessed
with the order of adjectives. A soldier in the South
Vietnamese army, he had been taken prisoner when

Saigon fell. He wanted to know why the order
could not be altered. The sweltering city streets shook
with rockets and helicopters. The city sweltering

streets. On the dusty brown field of the chalkboard,
she wrote: The mothertook warm homemade bread
from the oven
City is essential to streets as homemade

is essential to bread. He copied this down, but
he wanted to know if his brothers were lost before
older, if he worked security at a twenty-story modern

downtown bank or downtown twenty-story modern.
When he first arrived, he did not know enough English
to order a sandwich. He asked her to explain each part

of Lovelybig rectangular old red English Catholic
leather Bible. 
Evaluation before size. Age before color.
Nationality before religion. Time before length. Adding

and, one could determine if two adjectives were equal.
After Saigon fell, he had survived nine long years
of torture. Nine and long. He knew no other way to say this.


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