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Paulann Peterson

Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita, has seven full-length books of poetry, most recently One Small Sun, from Salmon Poetry in Ireland. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The New Republic, Prairie Schooner, Willow Springs, Calyx, and the Internet’s Poetry Daily. A Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she re-ceived the 2006 Holbrook Award from Oregon Literary Arts. In 2013 she was Willamette Writers’ Distinguished Northwest Writer. The Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds chose a poem from her book The Voluptuary as the lyric for a choral composition that’s now part of the repertoire of the Choir at Trinity College Cambridge.
This poem is the lyric of a choral piece created by Latvian composer, Eriks Esenvalds. The PSU Chamber Choir conducted by Ethan Sperry recorded “Translation” as one of the numbers on their latest CD. Listen to the recording →


Empty of words, not empty
of light, the moon’s face
awaits the touch of a pen.

Empty of ink, but not
of silver, that pale
slate that is the moon

waits for a sweep
of letters inscribed
in strokes deep as the dark

in which it floats.
Emptied of nothing, filled
with story, the moon becomes

a thin wafer melting
in the mouth, words
having found their tongue.

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