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

Singing the Mozart Requiem

Four poems from Singing the Mozart Requiem: “Endangered Species,” “On the Nature of Tact,” “Learning the Silence,” "Mussels”


Endangered Species

If I had been five minutes later, or ten,
earlier, or hadn’t gone down the lane for mail, the fields
of alfalfa ripe with robins, a fresh crop of grasshoppers

If the coyote flashing through one chance lift
of my head from a book, in broad daylight, hadn’t
gone the wrong way, detoured by one rabbit less

Or the bear whose track I found on my way back
fresh and unmistakable as a blinking red light,
had staked out in just the right place, I might

Never have seen the pause of wild turkeys under
the shelter of pines: aloof, the eternal
black robes of mourning; steady as county fair targets

One by one leisurely along
the edge of the field, the creek, up the hill into trees,
the edge of extinction, beyond

All powers of observation. Purposeful.
As if there were others to take their place.
As if all of us had all the time in the world.


On the Nature of Tact

Poor teacher, her new dress is ugly, the girl
sees clearly: polka dots, hundreds
of little white lies exposed

on black nylon, obvious as
the permanent smell she has
nowhere to hide from, who

will sit next to her? How could her mother
force on her curls like notebook
spirals, blackboard-stiff, her dignity

shorter by three
inches at least. How
could the teacher believe her own words

confidential as grade books, bending
close, “Why dear, your hair looks so nice.”
“Thank you, Miss Erickson. That’s a pretty new dress.”


Learning the Silence

“When Japanese arrange flowers, the space
between the flowers is considered,
the shape of space between.”
                                    --Ellen Bass

You’ve been here before, your ears insist,
though you know it’s not true,
there’s nothing to count on - no vague

perk of the coffee pot, faraway
lawnmowers measuring tolerance -
how much space between small irritations

you used to call quiet
consoling as traffic
vibrations rocking the cells of sleep.

Alert as zinnias, sea anemones
poised for the least touch, here
in this cabin remote on this mountain

your ears put out feelers, any
moment a message, your ears
hollow as shells are on call:

Pine cone on roof!
Hummingbird’s wings!
Nuthatch checking the bark for bugs!

And what comes in between:
silence
so sure of itself
nothing you do can
ignore it, escape it.
Whatever sound is next is yours.


Mussels

                   For Ralph

We’ve learned where the big ones grow,
to harvest not from the tops of rocks where shells
fill with sand

to follow the tide out to the farthest reefs we can reach
and still not get wet, where last time we found
giant anemones green-sheathed and dripping under

the overhangs like the cocks of horses, we laughed, or
elephants, having each come to the same conclusion,
fresh from bed and married long enough

to say such things to each other, again
to remember the summer we first discovered mussels
big as fists protecting Sisters Rocks.

Just married and ready for anything, even
mussels were game, black as obsidian, stubbornly
clinging to rocks, to each other, their shells

so tightly together we had to force them apart
with a knife, the meat
inside a leap of orange, poppy-bright; and when

three perch in a row took the hook you’d baited
tender as liver we said we must try them ourselves
someday, if they’re safe, which they weren’t

all the years we lived down south: red algae in summer
tides infiltrating our chance to experiment, food without precedent,
how would we know what to do?

Counting at last on friends who had been to Europe and now
are divorced, we waded waist deep to pick some,
scraping our knuckles raw on barnacles
none of us knowing to soak our catch two hours at least
to clean out the sand; the sand we took in with butter and lemon
cleaning our teeth for a week.

Now we can’t get our fill of them.
Weekend vacations you work to the last, cooking
one more batch to freeze for fritters or stew.

Now we harvest them easily, take the right tools, wear boots
we gave to each other for birthdays so we don’t have
to remember to watch out for waves

to feel barnacles unavoidably crushed underfoot
like graveyards of dentures waves have exposed, although
sometimes now I find myself

passing over the biggest, maybe because
they’ve already survived the reach of starfish,
blindly prowling on thousands of white-tipped canes,

or they’ve grown extra barnacles,
limpets, snails, baby anemones,
rock crabs hiding behind. As thought

age after all counts for something
and I’ve grown more tender-hearted,
wanting you not to know about the cluster

I found today, for the first
time in years having taken time off from job
and housework and child care, sleeping so late

my feet got wet on the incoming tide, unexpectedly
talking aloud, saying look at that one, bigger even
than Sisters Rocks: a kind of language

marriage encourages, private as memories of mussels,
anachronistic as finding I miss you
picking mussels to take home to you

not the ones you’d pick if you could but fresh
as any yong lover’s bouquet and far more edible,
more than enough to last us at least a week.