Ingrid Wendt--Poet/Teacher/Editor

To order any of the following books, please click on the titles and, again, below the cover images.

1. Poetry
"These poems, full of feeling, reward the reader with their musicality and wit. ... The first and last poems are capstones of a rich collection. -- Maxine Kumin
"There is such a bounty of startling grace and wisdom in Ingrid Wendt's new book, that the reader can only be stunned by, and grateful for, this abundance." --Maurya Simon
"These poems, shaped by tender and exacting labor, have the heft of hewn stone and the lift of blown glass."
-Marilyn Krysl
"This is wonderful poetry--moving and unforgettable.
-Janet McCann
"Ingrid Wendt has a powerful, womanly feel for the intertwinings of love, pleasure, grief."
-Alicia Ostriker
Selected by William Stafford for the New Poets of America Series, BOA Editions
2. Magazine Articles
Read Ingrid Wendt's article published in the March, 2011, online newsletter of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)
3. Teaching guide
Now in its 5th printing, this teaching guide for grades K-college has been adopted by teachers and school districts nationwide and abroad.
4. Anthology/Textbook
“An important contribution to the resurrection of the lost history of women in the arts.”
-Publishers Weekly
5. Anthology
“... confirms Oregon’s place as a powerful outpost in Northwest literature.”
-Paul Pintarich, The Oregonian

Blow the Candle Out

Below, excerpts of two poems from Blow the Candle Out:
“Learning the Mother Tongue” and “Questions of Mercy”


from “Learning the Mother Tongue” (a poem in 17 parts)

1.

It's wicked, I know, but sometimes I can't help feeling just
the tiniest glee when my good German friend, whose English tongue
has mastered the footwork of all Swan Lake ballet, stumbles over
the English translation of wenn, saying "if" when she really means
"when," and vice versa,
while I, good German American, keep
clumping along: learning the word Kopfsalat, for example ("head
lettuce"), so proud of myself: first time in the land of all four
grandparents, shopping for salad, asking the produce clerk "Haben Sie
ein Kopf, bitte?" "Ja, natürlich," she answers. "Und Sie?"


            **********

    4.

    Always the question: Did our Illinois family speak German at home?
    During the war years in which I was born? Let’s qualify:

    Father born 1902 in Chile. Mother, 1911, in Michigan. There, that does it.
    Except for the shadow. (Fit in. Fit in. What else is there to know?)

              **********

      5.

      And still, "Mach schnell!" (when I was too slow).
      "Strewwelpeter!" (my hair was a mess).
      "Dreh dich rum," my mother would say in her Schwabian mother's

      tongue, never, of course, outside of the family, never
      translating: sporadic spices her tongue dished out without
      one of us questioning. Look!

      In this textbook, the recipes: words with real
      meanings attached. “Make quick!” “Naughty
      child from Heinrich Hoffmann’s pen!” It’s not

      after all, just
      family oddness, not
      baby talk. Look at

      this middle-aged tongue abandon its teetering. This
      fabulous, sturdy new foot!

                              (More)
              ###


      from“Questions of Mercy” (a poem in 16 parts)

      2.  What is wrong with this picture?


      Here are the famous Medieval cathedrals,
      stone on stone on stone, just
      as history books show them to be.
      Here is the new stained glass by Chagall.

      Here, unobtrusive, the flat-faced, modern
      city apartments, their uniform
      windows that open two ways. As always,
      the ancient clock on the village town hall.

      Here are the temples, the synagogues, gold
      domes shining--modern, the architects'
      vision, preserving what's old.
      Here are the guards, outside of the walls.

      Here is the Romerplatz, Fachwerked again,
      beguiling, surrounding the central fountain,
      cups and glasses clinking; in winter
      the Christmas market, hot Glühwein, bright stalls.

      Here, the new bright clusters of poppies:
      every village roof-tile, a blossom.
      Winding streets, their floods of geraniums.
      Each house with its fresh, whitewashed wall.

      Here, wide-open, the fields for Sunday
      walks, year-round, so green, the forests
      so carefully tended, the vineyards.
      Nowhere, nowhere, did anyone fall.

      Here are the camps, open to tourists.
      Green wreaths on the train station wall.
      The names of those who took those trains.
      The attempts to remember them all.

      Here, the monuments.
      There, the monuments.
      Everywhere, the open acknowledgment.
      What other absence dares sit on my heart?

                **********

        3.

        How dare I write this poem?

                  **********


          4.
                                                 "Saatfrüchte sollen nicht vermahlen werden"

          Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


          Father of Jürgen, lost
          wherever your submarine went down:
          your son has become an architect, working his way
          up, from stage one. If only you could see his own home,
          angled just so, so the sun, precisely at noon, will shine
          through one small window: high, high, just under the roof.

          Father of Olivia, lost
          who knows where: your daughter's
          a teacher, she can't forget finding, when she
          was twenty, your photo, your Wehrmacht uniform (so it
          was true!), your parents, insisting the ending was wrong.
          When she can, she asks poets and Jews to speak at her school.

          Father of Volker (professor of
          Geography): he learned at twelve you fell
          with the SS in Hungary. Every Sunday the family
          dinner: the East German question, your absence everyone
          skirted around. He's taken a photo of where you fell, a flower.
          He speaks this line from a poem: What we seek for has no place.

          Fathers whose names must not be spoken
          Fathers we don't know how to mourn
          Fathers who may not be in Heaven
          Fathers who didn't come home

          Father who did, who lived,
          for your son's first six years, behind bars
          of a Russian prison camp, your son--named for your
          best friend shot down over England--your son has become
          a pastor, the father of four, a concert organist. Big man.
          Jolly man. All his life he has hated his name.


          5.

          And here is my betrayal, my shame:

          Last summer, in Norway, nearly
          everyone I met was delighted: "Ingrid,
          that's a Norwegian name!"

          “Yes,” at first I said, “it is.
          But really, I'm German, I'm named for
          Ingeborg, my German-Chilean cousin.”

          “Yes,” I learned
          to say. “Ingrid is
          a Norwegian name.”


          6.

          How does memory exist without blame?

                                  (More)

                      ###


          This book can be ordered from: http:/​/​library.stmarytx.edu/​pgpress/​ingrid_wendt.html