Nacida en 1939. Massachusetts, United States.
Poeta, ensayista, dramaturga y editora, Joan Larkin obtuvo una licenciatura en Swarthmore, una maestría en Inglés de la Universidad de Arizona, y un MFA en escritura teatral en el Brooklyn College.
Sin miedo, los poemas de Larkin exploran el alcoholismo, la sexualidad, y la pérdida. En el diario Los Angeles Times, David Ulin observó que los poemas de Larkin "replantean un territorio de incesante auto-examen, en el amor y la muerte, la familia y la sexualidad con una voz que es poco sentimental, implacable y de ojos claros [...] Esta es la poesía sin piedad, en el que la desesperación no conduce a la degradación, sino a un tipo de gracia ".
Housework (Out & Out Books, 1975) ISBN 0-918314-02-X
A Long Sound (Granite Press, 1986) ISBN 0-9614886-1-1
Cold River (Painted Leaf Press, 1997) ISBN 0-9651558-5-4
Sor Juana's Love Poems/ Poemas de Amor (in Spanish and English, Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, Joan Larkin, Jaime Manrique; Painted Leaf Press, 1997, ISBN 0-9651558-6-2, reprinted, University of Wisconsin Press, 2003) ISBN 0-299-18704-7
My Body: New and Selected Poems (Hanging Loose Press, 2007) ISBN 978-1-931236-74-4
If You Want What We Have: Sponsorship Meditations (Hazelden, 1998) ISBN 978-1-56838-192-3
Glad Day: Daily Meditations for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender People (Hazelden, 1998) ISBN 978-1-56838-189-3
Ella quiere una casa llena de tazas y fantasmas
de las lesbianas del siglo pasado; Yo quiero
un impecable apartamento, un ordenador rápido. Ella quiere un hogar
tres cuerdas de ceniza, un hacha; Yo quiero
un hornillo de gas limpio. Ella quiere una hilera de tarros:
avena, cilantro, aceite virgen;
No quiero guardar nada. Ella quiere frasquitos de perfume,
ropa de cama, de bebé, libros de recuerdos. Ella quiere las reuniones
de Wellesley. Yo quiero la reluciente tarima, la reflexión
del río. Ella quiere las gambas, el sudor y la sal;
Ella quiere chocolate. Yo quiero un raku,
de arroz cocinado al vapor. Ella quiere cabras,
pollitos, niñitos. Llantos y lactancia. Yo quiero
que el viento refrescante del río limpie las habitaciones.
Ella quiere cumpleaños, teatros, banderas, peonias.
Yo quiero palabras como láseres. Ella quiere la ternura
de una madre. El tacto anciano del río.
Yo quiero una mujer de ingenio rápido como una raposa.
Ella está en su ciudad, paseando
con el perro, escuchando el tañir de las campanas del viento, pensando
en los doce años de querer, aparte y a la vez.
Nos hemos besado todo el fin de semana; queremos
alejarnos cientos de millas e intentarlo de nuevo.
Traducción de Ana Gorría
She wants a house full of cups and the ghosts
of last century’s lesbians; I want a spotless
apartment, a fast computer. She wants a woodstove,
three cords of ash, an axe; I want
a clean gas flame. She wants a row of jars:
oats, coriander, thick green oil;
I want nothing to store. She wants pomanders,
linens, baby quilts, scrapbooks. She wants Wellesley
reunions. I want gleaming floorboards, the river’s
reflection. She wants shrimp and sweat and salt;
she wants chocolate. I want a raku bowl,
steam rising from rice. She wants goats,
chickens, children. Feeding and weeping. I want
wind from the river freshening cleared rooms.
She wants birthdays, theaters, flags, peonies.
I want words like lasers. She wants a mother’s
tenderness. Touch ancient as the river.
I want a woman’s wit swift as a fox.
She’s in her city, meeting
her deadline; I’m in my mill village out late
with the dog, listening to the pinging wind bells, thinking
of the twelve years of wanting, apart and together.
We’ve kissed all weekend; we want
to drive the hundred miles and try it again.
(de Cold River: Poems, Painted Leaf Press, 1997)
Seconal y vino Yo vivía en la calle,
dormía allá donde la noche me encontrase
siempre quiere más de ti,
quiere que bebas.
No importa si mueres.
Yo no importaba
Entonces llegó una noche en que no tenía nada,
subí a un tejado para suicidarme.
toma esta decisión,
Un largo sonido.
Wa.... el sonido de la vida
entró en mi cuerpo como una respiración
Me sostuvo. Era cálido,
una campana balanceándose en mi pecho,
una campana de emociones
brillando dentro de mí.
Luego el silencio. Paz.
Fue ahí que dejé el alcohol.
Después de una visión, tienes que hacerlo
para que la próxima pueda llegar a ti.
Quiero que tú conozcas esto
a veces creo que no lo conseguiré,
ayer las voces estaban cantando
suicídate .. esto
sigue y sigue, por años, después de las drogas.
Ahora mismo, estoy viva.
Cuando te parezca difícil de creer:
Traducción de Carmen Callejo
seconal and wine I lived on the street
I slept wherever night found me
abandoned buildings boxes always
it wants more from you
it wants you
it doesn’t mind if you die
I didn’t mind
there came a night I had nothing
I went on a roof to kill myself
I prayed first You
make the decision let me die
a long sound
Wa . . . the sound of life
entered my body like a breath
held me it was warm
a bell hung in my heart
a bell of feeling
glowed in me
then the silence peace
it was then I got sober
after a vision you have to do it
so the next one can come to you
I want you to know this
sometimes I think I won’t make it
yesterday voices were singing
kill yourself this
goes on for years after the drugs
right now I’m alive grateful
if you find it hard to believe
look at me
(de A Long Sound, Granite Press, Penobscot, Maine, 1986)
from My Body
When they cleaned you and gave you to me,
long legs and fingers, red glow
rising from creased flesh,
eyes already awake, gaze steady,
I shook for three days
in my knot of hospital sheets.
Tears came later—
cries, fears, fierce holding.
The ways you’d shake me off.
Your well of rage. Over and over
you bloomed in your separate knowledge.
Yesterday, you offered tender words.
I remembered gorging on teglach Fanny made,
thick knots of dough shining with honey.
I’m filled and wanting more—only to taste
that heavy gold on my tongue again.
I wasn’t the only drunk reaching
for Kleenex as short Arnold
on the foot-high platform
choked the wild sound
rising in his throat. He was filled
and pouring joy like anguish.
Tears drew light to his face.
Two hundred of us in the room
and none coughed or shuffled
or scraped a metal chair
as he said how he saw
clear sky spreading above him
and a thing like a lead band
that snapped and freed his chest.
I didn’t drift for once or argue
or make lists for later.
I let the hush wrap me,
felt how John was near me,
Steve across the big room.
I saw how Mary lifted her chin,
how Sybil suffered in her bloated flesh,
her unreadable lipstick smile.
For a moment all was as it should be.
Everyone in the room knew it.
I think so. It wasn’t some dream.
Harsh blues, heads nodding
amen—not even that. How
to explain it. I wish you’d been there.
I’m older than my father when he turned
bright gold and left his body with its used-up liver
in the Faulkner Hospital, Jamaica Plain. I don’t
believe in the afterlife, don’t know where he is
now his flesh has finished rotting from his long
bones in the Jewish Cemetery—he could be the only
convert under those rows and rows of headstones.
Once, washing dishes in a narrow kitchen
I heard him whistling behind me. My nape froze.
Nothing like this has happened since. But this morning
we were on a plane to Virginia together. I was 17,
pregnant and scared. Abortion was waiting,
my aunt’s guest bed soaked with blood, my mother
screaming—and he was saying Kids get into trouble—
I’m getting it now: this was forgiveness.
I think if he’d lived he’d have changed and grown
but what would he have made of my flood of words
after he’d said in a low voice as the plane
descended to Richmond in clean daylight
and the stewardess walked between the rows
in her neat skirt and tucked-in blouse
Don’t ever tell this to anyone.
from Cold River
We’re using every bit of your death.
We’re making a vise of your mouth’s clenching and loosening,
an engine of your labored breathing,
a furnace of your wide-open eyes.
We’ve reduced you to stock, fed you to the crowd,
banked the pearl of your last anger,
stored the honey of your last smile.
Nothing’s left in your mirror,
nothing’s floating on your high ceiling.
We’re combing pockets, turning sleeves,
shaking out bone and ash,
stripping you down to desire.
Your beloved has folded your house into his—
I’m wading the swift river, balancing on stones.
One who lifted his arms with joy, first time across the finish line
at the New York marathon, six months later a skeleton
falling from threshold to threshold, shit streaming from
one who walked with a stick, wore a well-cut suit to the opera,
to poetry readings, to mass, who wrote the best long poem
of his life at Roosevelt Hospital and read it on television,
one who went to 35 funerals in 12 months,
one who said I’m sick of all you AIDS widows,
one who lost both her sisters,
one who said I’m not sure that what he and I do is safe, but we’re
young, I don’t think we’ll get sick,
one who dying said They came for me in their boat, they want me
on it, and I told them Not tonight, I’m staying here with James,
one who went to Mexico for Laetrile,
one who went to California for Compound Q,
one who went to Germany for extract of Venus’ flytrap,
one who went to France for humane treatment,
one who chanted, holding hands in a circle,
one who ate vegetables, who looked in a mirror and said
I forgive you,
one who refused to see his mother,
one who refused to speak to his brother,
one who refused to let a priest enter his room,
one who did the best paintings of his life and went home from
his opening in a taxi with twenty kinds of flowers,
one who moved to San Francisco and lived two more years,
one who married his lover and died next day,
one who said I’m entirely filled with anger,
one who said I don’t have AIDS, I have something else,
one with night sweats, nausea, fever, who worked as a nurse,
one who kept on studying to be a priest,
one who kept on photographing famous women,
one who kept on writing vicious reviews,
one who kept going to AA meetings till he couldn’t walk,
one whose son came just once to the hospital,
one whose mother said This is God’s judgment,
one whose father held him when he was frightened,
one whose minister said Beth and her lover of twelve years were
devoted as Ruth and Naomi,
one whose clothes were thrown in the street, beautiful shirts and ties
a neighbor picked from the garbage and handed out at a party,
one who said This room is a fucking prison,
one who said They’re so nice to me here,
one who cut my hair and said My legs bother me,
one who couldn’t stand, who said I like those earrings,
one with a tube in his chest, who asked What are you eating?
one who said How’s your writing? Are you moving to the
mountains? who said I hope you get rich.
One who said Death is transition,
one who was doing new work, entirely filled with anger,
one who wanted to live till his birthday, and did.
from A Long Sound
I come from alcohol.
I was set down in it like a spark in gas.
I lay down dumb with it, I let it erase what it liked.
I played house with it, let it dress me, undress me.
I exulted, I excused.
I married it. And where it went, I went.
I gave birth to it.
I nursed, I plotted murder with it.
I laid its table, paid its promises.
I lived with it wherever it liked to live:
in the kitchen, under the bed, at the coin laundry,
out by the swings, in the back seat of the car,
at the trashed Thanksgiving table.
I sat with it in the blear of TV.
I sat where it glittered, carmine,
where it burned in a blunt glass,
where it stood in a glittering lineup on the bar.
I saw it in the dull mirror, making up my face,
in the weekend silence,
in the smashed dish, in the slammed car door,
in the dead husband, the love.
Alcohol in the torn journal.
Alcohol in the void mirror.
My generations are of alcohol
and all that I could ever hope to bear.
How can I tell you I’ve been
stealing. Stole from you.
Hid memories in my skin
of what we did, we do.
Your mouth, my sibling mouth
were printing histories
of children without milk,
predictions of a drought
and long winters in exile—
my poems all the heat, my smile
a code for hurt, a lie
I told you, learning how to spy.
How can I tell you I’ve been
spying. Looked at you
as you lay sleeping, blue
jacket by my bed, sin
our dead religion—there’s no sin
but shame, shame, for shame
I touched you; from your skin
I stole my photo, papers, name.
for M. W.
Through this window, thin rivers
glaze a steep roof. Rain: a church of rain,
a sky—opaque pearl,
branches gemmed with rain,
houses made of rain.
I am in the kitchen
killing flies against the cabinets
with a rolled-up magazine,
I live by insisting on my hatreds.
I hate these flies.
With a restless wounding buzz
they settle on the fruit,
the wall—again, again
invading my house of rain.
their feelers, like hard black hairs,
test the air, or my gaze.
I find I am praying
Stand still for me.
I’ll devil the life out of you.
The human swarm comes in
with wet leaves on their sticky boots.
they settle on me with their needs; I am not nice.
Outside, headlights of dark cars are winding the street.
The mirror over the sink will do me in.
At five o’clock, rain done with, in darkness
the houses gather. In the livingrooms
Batman bluely flickers; the children all shut up,
all but an angry baby or a husband.
The suburb is wreathed in wet leaves.
I forget what I wanted. Was it old music
laying gold-leaf on the evening?
lamplight sweetening the carpet
like honey from Crete: a dream of/door to Egypt?
Something to do with the life force.
December turns the sky to metal,
the leaves to gutter-paper.
Leak stopped, the bedroom ceiling starts to dry.
Its skin of paint is split and curling downward.
There is a fly in this house that will not die.