Choosing a best poet is about as objective as choosing a best color. (FYI: It's blue!) Julia Gordon-Bramer, however, offers far more to her readers than just "second verse, same as the first." She's been working words since the mid-1990s, when she ran a local alternative-rock magazine called Night Times. That stint morphed into writing advertising copy, which led to a business trip in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001. Seeing the Twin Towers implode made Gordon-Bramer take her own life goals more seriously, so she enrolled in the University of Missouri-St. Louis' masters of fine arts program in creative writing. She has been producing, studying and critiquing poetry ever since. These closing lines from "Turkey Vulture," published in the Arkansas Review, show her stuff: "From a distance, an unsteady/rocking tilt in flight; your cool dihedral/circling. More than once,/I'd made the grave/mistake: I'd thought you/were beautiful." But the current focus of Gordon-Bramer's impassioned brain is Sylvia Plath, whose work she fell for while in grad school. Reading the restored version of Ariel, she was struck by how closely each poem seemed to depict an element of one of the successive trumps of the tarot (which Gordon-Bramer has used for fortune-telling for years). She now has a book contract with the Stephen F. Austin State University Press for a title called Fixed Stars Govern a Life: Decoding Sylvia Plath, due next spring.
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