Corrinne Clegg Hales
Corrinne Clegg Hales grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, earned her BA and MA at the
University of Utah and her PhD at SUNY-Binghamton in New York State. Among other jobs, she
has worked as a motel clerk and housekeeper, a political pollster, a Polaroid camera
demonstrator, and has taught at various colleges and universities including the University
of Utah, SUNY-Binghamton, Ithaca College, and the University of Oregon. She is the author
of two books, Separate Escapes, winner of the Richard Snyder Poetry Prize, Ashland
Poetry Press, 2002, and Underground, Ahsahta Press, 1986; and two chapbooks, Out
of This Place, March Street Press, 2001, and January Fire, Devils
Millhopper Press. Awards include two NEA Fellowship Grants and the River Styx
International Poetry Prize for 2000. Her poems have appeared in Nimrod, The
North American Review, The Southern Review, Mississippi Review, Ploughshares, Notre Dame
Review, River Styx, The Hudson Review, and elsewhere, and she currently lives in
Fresno, CA, where she teaches creative writing and American literature and coordinates the
MFA program at California State University, Fresno.
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I think of a poem as a light in the hand, a full spectrum light that pokes into corners and ceilings, and noses into tight cracks and under the furniture, even under the boards of the floor, and the best poems are the most relentless lamps, both wide angle and focused, unlimited in their ability to foster examination, to help us see.
It also seems to me that poetry is one of the waysperhaps even the most effective waythat humans can talk deeply and honestly with each other. Its a way of seeking knowledge, meaning, truth; a way of discovering what it might mean to live in the world together as human creatures, and maybe even a way of discovering how to do it a little better. So, at risk of sounding unfashionable, I will say that I believe a poems first errand is communication. I dont mean simple verbal clarity or accessibility, though I value those qualities highly; I mean an attempt to connect with others in a complex and significant way. The reader must be respected, and the reader must be invited inthough not necessarily through the most obvious doorway.
Certainly one of the most difficult and urgent things about being human is the need to communicate accurately and profoundly with one another, and poetry is where we often come closest to accomplishing that. The poems I find most powerful are those that push language and imagination to the point where they simultaneously access the trinity of intellect, emotion and sensuality, creating something like an intersection of revelation.
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