Marie Lundquist


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On March 28, the Unterberg Poetry Center welcomed Adam Zagajewski as the curator of this year’s Tenth Muse evening. A long-standing Poetry Center tradition and a forum for emerging voices, The Tenth Muse features distinguished writers presenting the work of poets at different stages of their careers. Over the last 25 years, established poets such as Lucille Clifton, Billy Collins, Robert Creeley and Kay Ryan have served as curators, with Charles Bernstein, Anne Carson, Forrest Gander and Marie Howe featured as readers.

As his first poet, Zagajewski chose Marie Lundquist, who read in Swedish, her native language, with Malena Mörling offering translations into English. In his introduction, Zagajewski noted the delicate nature of her work: they have “the purity of the still-lifes of great masters. But in them, we hear the world tremble.”

The video above features Lundquist reading from her most recent collection, The Book of the Dead.

Lundquist opened with a poem dedicated to the Polish author Witold Gombrowicz, excerpted here:

The dead always outnumber
the living
and if life no longer feels like life
I nonetheless have their
bones and teeth
to write with
I am not capable of
the rebellion required
for me to inherit
the all-wise cloak of the child
and the sensitivity for hands
with which you searched for a language
that continually escaped you
Your death is arrogance
and humility
Every day it summons me
to life