Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda

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In the Poet's Spotlight for May 2007:  Peter Klappert
This month's Spotlight also features the poems of Bianca Diaz, one of Klappert's outstanding poetry students.

Peter Klappert is the author of six collections of poetry and an audio cassette, and his poems have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies. His most recent collection, Chokecherries: New and Selected Poems, 1966-1999 (Orchises, 2000) brings together selections from four of Klappert's previous collections: Lugging Vegetables to Nantucket, winner of the 1971 Yale Younger Poets Award; Circular Stairs, Distress in the Mirrors, lyric explorations of the shadow or psychological double; and his widely admired, 200-page study of Parisian life in the penumbra of World War II, The Idiot Princess of the Last Dynasty, parts of which first appeared as Non Sequitur O'Connor. In addition, the book includes a substantial selection from a new book-length sequence set at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (1978), Scattering Carl. Due to format considerations, Chokecherries omits ‘52 Pick-Up: Scenes from THE CONSPIRACY, an experimental poem in the form of a documentary film script in two columns. A new collection, How I Stopped Writing Poetry and Other Poems is forthcoming.

             Klappert's essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including AWP Chronicle, Lambda Book Report, The Gettysburg Review, and The Southern Review. In addition to the Yale Series, his awards include two National Endowment for the Arts grants, an Ingram Merrill Foundation grant, and resident fellowships at Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, La Fondation Karolyi, VCCA, and The Millay Colony for the Arts. Klappert has been Briggs-Copeland Lecturer at Harvard, Writer-in-Residence at William and Mary, and has also taught a Rollins College and New College in Florida. Since 1978, he has taught at George Mason University, where he helped create the M.F.A. Program and where he has received the Faculty Member of the Year Award of the Alumni Association and the Distinguished Faculty Award of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Index of Klappert's Poems: Scroll down or click on Poem Title


Bianca Diaz was born and raised in Miami, FL.  She earned a BA in English at Florida International University and an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University, where she studied under Peter Klappert.  While at George Mason, Bianca won the Mary Roberts Rinehart Poetry Award and taught Composition and Literature.  After graduating, she taught English and Creative Writing to high school students.  Her poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Fourteen Hills, Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Stream, Borderlands: The Texas Poetry Review, Ellipsis, Good Foot, and other journals, as well as in the anthology Unexpected Harvest.  She now lives in Milwaukee with her husband, the poet and chef Josh Stefanko, and their dog, Orion.  She is working on her first book of poems.

Index of Diaz's Poems: click on first Poem Title and scroll down

Poems of Peter Klappert (below)  © copyright Peter Klappert, All rights reserved.



            "He is very young and no one

             will want to harm him."

                     – Lao farmer, refugee in Savannakhet


Through a kingdom of spirits in air

through an army in shadows


       if the road through the jungle is muddy


                                                 the small boy

walking back to Dong Hene, to the clear

familial light


       if the flame trees are blooming

       if he sleeps for a night in a wat


                         in that land below language

to find his father's cattle

                                        stops now

for tea, or a basket of glutinous rice,

or stops only to look at his feet


       if the water jar has been broken

       if a river is rising


                                                     and starts

again walking


       if he finds the five buffalo


                         now back to Savanne

from his village unsettled in ashes

a place


       if the T-28s remain grounded

       if rifles doze in the sun


                 in the mind of his father, who would

were it safe, walk back himself


       if his ancestral spirits are there

       and are kind


                                                  with his son

to Dong Hene where he farms in the past


       if he is very young and no one will

       want to harm him


through a forest of soldiers.


Back to Klappert's Index

A Sentimental Journey &c. &c.



France, Tom Jefferson once wrote,

is every man's second country.

And Goethe, who wanted to live like God in France.

And Bernhardt, amending the Kaiser's toast

at Potsdam, raised a glass

"To all of France!"


The French built Paris for the world.

That was Emerson's opinion.

Even the Holy Roman Prussian

was heard to burble at Eugénie

"What marvelous things you have done

since I was last here!"

                                   Or as Miss Stein is fond of saying

Paris France from 1900 to 1939

where everybody had to be to be free.

Or as Miss Stein is fond of saying

Paris is where the Twentieth Century was.


But the Peaceable Kingdom failed.

We thought we could live

without moral braces, that we could stand up

full length outside ourselves.


                                                 They order,

said Laurence Sterne, this matter better in France.

"Where is France?" asked Clemenceau.

Besides, said Laurence Sterne,

a Frenchman can do everything.

"What became of the French?" asked Clemenceau.

In all his 800 articles on l'Affaire Dreyfus:

"Where are the honest men in this country?"

And he was answered,

                                    "They are frightened, or in hiding."


The Republican Calendar failed,

and this has failed.  The price, the price

of all discredited ideas,

will be a young body of dead talent

and another generation that doesn't know how to live.


Well, said von Hindenberg,

we've had to go often to France

with all these wars 

                             --"Mehrmals nach Frankreich

gehen wir, mit allen diesen Kriegen."

Back to Klappert's Index

Bright Moments Lakeside


A derelict, half-hidden boat house,

rusty pump house, and a long flat causeway dam

rampant with summer grasses.  Cowpads,

a few crows lifting off them as you walk.


Bright moments lakeside: flickers, wrens,

chicka-dee-dee-dees (they like to hang out

with titmice).  A bullfrog--two frogs--leap

from the duckweed. (I don't see any ducks.)


Color coming awake--yellow, orchid,

magenta--in cinquefoil, smartweed, false

strawberry, dianthus or Deptford pink,

alfalfa or cow vetch (such confusion

in the common names!). Two or three           

kinds of clover, two or three kinds of bees.

A cedar and scruffy shrubs crowd

the low barbed wire fence along the dam.

Back toward the boathouse, pickerel weed

rising up out of the shallows

floats its purple-blue flowers on emerald clouds.


No one much sees this, I guess.  Only

the locals who come in pick-ups

across the fields at evening, who climb

up here with cigarettes, chips and six-packs


to wait for bass and bream.  And the cows.

The hull says Arkansas Traveler.  Dented

and camouflage peeling and two seats broken,

an old aluminum boat nuzzles the dam.

A dark green board and a coffee can

soak in the bilge, dragonflies ride the gunwales.

Oar locks, but no oars.

                                       A jump-rope painter.

Back to Klappert's Index



Thirty feet from my windows,

an old kennel-wire fence

thickly grown over with honeysuckle,

poison ivy, and wild roses

just beginning to open

into the loose sort of droopy garlands

an aesthetic young farmer

might drape around Elsie

or Dobbin.


                   Where the wire ends

and the knotted up, spiraling vines

paw toward more light, six slim

grey trunks of chokecherry

feather into leaves and

clusters or blossoming fronds

that lift and fall with the breeze

like diminutive mare's tails

—each separate flower a rose,

each separate flower

three-eighths of an inch of

white disk, radiant

about a head of yellow-gold stamens.


Beyond the chokecherries

and a rutted road, beyond

locust posts and barbed wire,

a deepening pasture lights up

with  ranunculus, "little frogs"

for some reason, lights up

—in fact—with buttercups

as clouds move sunlight around.


And beyond them, veiled

and perhaps faintly blue

in the distance, broadly

lit by the same shifting light,

four rounded green mountains,

on the nearest and tallest of which

someone has built a white silo

and low barn—or more likely

some kind of radar station

that talks all night to darkness,

some kind of early warning,

perhaps an observatory.



just happy to stand here

and hold my vote close,

white-blinded and stupidly

gazing into random galaxies

and minor constellations, starbursts

of yellow-haired stamens

in white corollas.


Back to Klappert's Index

Sharing the Spotlight: Poems of Bianca Diaz (below) © copyright Bianca Diaz, All rights reserved.

September For Beginners


            The dead aren’t the problem. The dead

            can look after themselves.”   —Ali Smith



Cranes pipe up, the song in their throats

like a stuttering siren.  The arrival

of a thunderstorm’s gust front has them

jittery as poodles. 


I know this kind of sky:

gleamless, submarine gray, quiet.

The watchword is grief.  This grief

is mystic, revelatory, shoves me—face

smashed up against a window—

into the present.


This sky needs green.  Algae green. 

Frog song green.  Jungle green.  Machetes

are beautiful dumb things rising, falling,

slicing fronds and weeds, the occasional

spider web.  Mallard green.  Unripe

plantain green.  Chlorophyll green. 


But this grief remains, becomes my relative;

a strange uncle with gaudy medallions nestled

in the center of his chest, the posture of a well-meaning

terrorist, gloomy seaweed eyes about to leak.

Back to Diaz's Index

In Cuba, Everything Is Implied                                                             



When ballet companies arrive

at the capital, clusters of parrots rise

from sugarcane stalks.  This is

the country with the most

available light: light of halved

oranges, light of river fish

glinting in their element like

harmonica reeds, light of

egret wingspans.


Sea walls inch their way skyward

when women with strollers saunter

near the edge—babies have been

known to become confused, errant,

ponder escape.


After a birth, names begin

to be spoken; names like

Oreste, Segundo, Porfirio, Isidra.

Names that take a moment to say.


Make eye contact with fishermen,

it is a lost art. 


If someone

asks you what year it is,

tell them there are black horses

emerging from the shore in pairs,

making a sound like something

being wrought in a forge.  They

will bow their heads, imagine

wet haunches twitching awake

and believe you.

Back to Diaz's Index

Aubade at The Underwater Hotel



What light has done to their room:


            Pale lady bug stuck like

            a sequin on the curtain


            Red sea shells on the bedspread

            washed out to a desperate pink—

            little pepto bismol caplets


            Bright white towels double

            as surrender flags


The pool is shaped like a locket.


They steal shampoo bottles & soap disks,

cradle them inside a shower cap—thin fishbowl.


Relentless now, morning has spread

to the nightstand, the room a stopwatch

at 45.


There are many ways to mourn a thing.

Dolphins leap beside boats bringing

in the dead & stranded, for instance.


The pair now tear

strands of wallpaper

off, stuff the jagged

pieces into their

suitcases; boxes expert

at regret.

Back to Diaz's Index

Dear People,



I have had some trouble

pronouncing your names

and the names of your pets.

My favorite is Facunda.

We should have coffee sometime,

or cheese and guava paste.

Either way.

You feared we’d turn out

like God-knows-what,

speaking English and marrying

late.  You were right.

Please forgive us.

It will happen again and again.

Write soon.  And tell us

about the promised land.

Is it true everyone

wears a corsage?


Back to Diaz's Index

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