WE AREN'T WHO WE ARE
and this world isn't either
by Christine Korfhage
Foreword by Liz Rosenberg
Whitman showed us what a glorious mess it is to be human, Korfhage extends the journey. . . . Her poetry is quirky, colloquial, feminine, as many-eyed as the fly on the wall. We Aren’t Who We Are is as fast-paced and dramatic as any novel. Korfhage divides it not into seven parts but seven “chapters.” It tells the story of a life. How wonderful it is that she sounds like no one else! The poems are unabashedly autobiographical . . . Her language is deliberately colloquial, like the marvelous poets Marie Howe and Sharon Olds. It is elegant and achingly honest . . . always forging her own way. —Liz Rosenberg
We Aren’t Who We Are, claims Christine Korfhage in her rich, substantial first collection. This may be the only claim in the book I’d dispute, at least with regard to its author: though the voice here reports on a vast and potentially bewildering array of joy and loss and love and heartbreak and suffering and release and rootedness and dispersal—for all of that, the speaker seems somehow to have remained rock-solid. I scarcely mean that these are merely stoical writings; Korfhage is too passionate for such a stance. Rather . . . they display a genuinely grown-up sensibility. Praise be to the poet for such a model! —Sydney Lea
Christine Korfhage’s golden poems . . . use memory and obsession for her poetry the way Vermeer employed a camera obscura for his painting. She examines spiritual and psychological conditions through the lens of passionate living. But because her poems act as a camera obscura, it is an upside-down lens. Korfhage’s poems invert the brilliant specifics of experience into meaning, bringing the dross of mere accuracy into the light of profundity, and making a true art of candor. —Molly Peacock
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CHRISTINE KORFHAGE was born in Albany, NY and grew up overseas. A former artisan and juried member of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, she began writing poetry at age 49. Returning to school after three decades, in 1999 she received her B.A. from Vermont College’s Adult Degree Program where she was awarded a Fellowship for Excellence in Creative Writing. She received her M.F.A. from Bennington College in 2001. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Chiron Review, Connecticut River Review, Nimrod International Review, Paterson Literary Review, Pearl, Red Rock Review and The Spoon River Poetry Review. A mother and grandmother, Christine lives in New Hampshire.
In those days, after putting the baby
down for a nap, I’d tidy up.
And when there was no toy out of place,
no dish unwashed, no speck of dust
on the white kitchen counter or floor,
no smudge on the piano, no fingerprints
on the windows, glass topped-tables,
or patio doors, I’d stare at the phone,
Sometimes I’d open the drawer under it,
take out the Yellow Pages,
and look up “psychiatrist.”
Once or twice I started to dial.
But the thought of exposing
so much disarray would send me
outdoors, past tubs filled with jasmine
to the lounge chair by the pool overlooking
the dock with the gleaming white boat
tied up to it. And whoever happened
to sail by, notice the scent of jasmine,
and glance up, would see me sitting there,
tanned and pretty in my straw hat
and bikini, sipping iced tea with ice cubes
made of lemonade and sprigs of mint,
looking perfectly happy.