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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Poet hopes book is ‘magic lantern’

    Writers have muses. Spring Ulmer’s is Walter Benjamin, a German philosopher and Marxist literary critic who first appeared in Ulmer’s latest book of poems, “”Benjamin’s Spectacles,”” while Ulmer was looking for form in her poetry.

    “”Benjamin’s Spectacles”” was chosen as Kore Press’s 2007 First Book Winner. Ulmer said she began the work never expecting it to be published but “”with the idea in mind that if my book reached the hand of one person who needed it and (it) somehow saved them,”” she would be happy. In fact, she began writing after the War on Terror began.

    I would like to follow my parents’ peasant footsteps and live rurally again.

    Spring Ulmer, poet

    “”I turned to poetry to place me and simultaneously give me a voice that was not didactic, but heartfelt, with which to protest,”” Ulmer said.

    “”Benjamin’s Spectacles”” seems to be about dealing with and understanding loss, as well as Walter Benjamin’s philosophies, the present war on terror, identity and the constant search for meaning in a chaotic world. In Ulmer’s whimsical poems, the reader gets a sense that the author is trying to do more than write a book of poems for entertainment alone.

    “”I would like it, however, in any case to be a pebble, some small offering one can carry with one, a magic lantern that sheds strange light on a strange time,”” Ulmer said.

    As much as she would like her poems to jumpstart social movements or make people read more

    carefully, Ulmer said she is aware her book might not have that exact impact on its readers. What Ulmer does want readers to take away is “”the freedom to imagine hope in hopelessness; permission to look for agency and revelation in texts; ideas about the complexity of identity; a feeling the tragic can teach compassion.””

    Spring Ulmer grew up in rural Vermont without electricity. After receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the Cooper Union School of Art and her Bachelor of Fine Arts in poetry here at the UA, Ulmer said she has tried to aid the world by teaching English and photography to refugees, migrant children and juvenile detainees.

    But even with her accomplishments, Ulmer describes herself as a “”hermit”” and also says that one day, “”I would like to follow my parents’ peasant footsteps and live rurally again.””

    Ulmer will be reading in the Other Voices Women’s Reading Series tomorrow at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave. The free reading starts at 7 p.m. and is followed by an open-mic session.

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