Arielle Greenberg reads ‘I’m Not Saying Your Mother is a Vampire’

Watch Arielle Greenberg read her poem “I’m Not Saying Your Mother is a Vampire” at the 2015 AWP Conference and Bookfair in Minneapolis. The text of the poem is below.

I’m Not Saying Your Mother is a Vampire

Dear Wayne–
It has recently come to my attention that your mother and my mother
are living in the same town with its sunny name
that always makes me think of Buffy and the hellmouth town in California
where she and those vampires all live.
My mother and your mother live in a hellmouth of vampyres
in Northern California, among the plastics and the plastiques doncha know.
My mother at least is not so sunny as her town name implies. Yours?
My mother and your mother
Your mother works in gender at Stanford.
My mother works in gender at Stanford, too:
her work is lying back while they take out tiny pieces
of her body, which is a woman’s body, and put them in a jar,
then blast her woman’s body with chemicals to keep it preserved.
So far it’s working. Some might say too well.
Maybe your mother would like to go to that department and have a peek?
My mother has an illusion she is really at the center of The Struggle
and I’m sure would tell your mother a thing or two
even though your mother comes by it all honestly and mine does not.
That’s the way she is, my mother.
If my mother met your mother she would probably piss her off.
My mother punched your mother
My mother never socked me but we nevertheless have not spoken
for three years one month and thirty days and I don’t know if we will again
before she finally dies even though she has yet to die
even though she is someone you could legitimately say is “dying.”
It’s frankly a little creepy.
I don’t know: I’m in Chicago, far from all that,
and you’re in New York, Wayne,
and there are our mothers in Northern California
full of blood that rightfully belongs to us.
I’m just speaking for myself here.

Arielle Greenberg is the author of three poetry collections, including “Slice,” “My Kafka Century” and “Given.” Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies including two editions of “Best American Poetry” and “Legitimate Dangers.” With Rachel Zucker, Greenberg also co-authored a hybrid nonfiction book entitled “Home/Birth: A Poemic” and co-edited “Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections,” a poetry anthology of personal essays by young female poets on their living female mentors. Greenberg has co-edited three other anthologies: “Starting Today: Poems from Obama’s First 100 Days,” “Gurlesque” and an anthology of contemporary poetry aimed at teenage girls. She has a regular column on trends in contemporary innovative poetics in the “American Poetry Review.” She lives in rural Maine with her family.

This video was filmed at the AWP Conference & Bookfair. Special thanks to the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.