Knute Skinner

Knute Skinner has been a regular reader at the White House Poetry Revival sessions.  

     Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he has taught at the University of Iowa and at Western Washington University, where he was a Professor of English. Now retired from teaching, he lives in Killaspuglonane, County Clare, Ireland  with his spouse, Edna Faye Kiel. 

His collected edition, Fifty Years, Poems 1957-2007  (Salmon Poetry,2007)a collection of fifty years of published work, saw its beginnings in 1957 with serial publication and continued through thirteen books. His collection The Other Shoe won the 2004-2005 Pavement Saw Press chapbook award. A memoir, Help Me to a Getaway, (Salmon Poetry, 2010) was released in March of that year. In 2011, a limited  edition of his poems, translated to Italian by Roberto Nassi, was published by Damocle Edizioni, Chioggia, Italy. 

 His latest collection, Concerned  Attentions, was launched in September 2013.



The planet that we plant upon
rolls through its orbit of the sun,
bending our grass upon the breeze.
While far away the galaxies
in a decelerating pace
reach for the outer edge of space.
Imagine in that final sky
(“Give me deceleration; I
will give you mass and curvature.”)
at journey’s end a far-flung star
of an unnumbered magnitude
Mount Palomar has never viewed.
In that expanded universe
the furthest star will be the first,
poised at the end of everywhere,
on the edge of nothing, like a prayer, 
to turn from nothing and retrace,
pulsating through the curve of space.
So many billion light years since
the particle horizon densed,
conceive the universe defined
within the orbit of the mind,
and somewhere in the measured mass
of everything, imagine grass.

But as I sit
And look, within my thoughts I conjure up
Unending space the other side of it . . . .
- Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), "The Infinite"

Your lonely hill was dear to you, as was
The hedge which masked your view of the horizon.

I read your words here in my home in Clare
And look out on a hill that is dear to me,
A gradual rise of meadow, rich with grass,
Divided part way up by an old stone wall,
Half fallen here and there, beset with briars.
A solitary boulder, left behind
When the field was cleared for grazing, interrupts,
Whitely, the green that rises toward the sky;
And at the top green shrubs show in their shapes
The tireless action of the Atlantic wind.
And as I sit, viewing this scene, I know
That I occupy the other side of your hill
And the other side of time, such as it is.
(For Edna)
Waiting is the possibility of something.
I’m waiting for the sun to set,
and I’m waiting for the sun to rise.
Both things are possible.
I’m waiting for better weather.
That too.
Waiting is the possibility of something.
But is anyone waiting for a banker 
to say, “I’m sorry”?
Is anyone waiting for the government
to embrace the poor?
Waiting is the possibility of something.
I’ll wait with you at the bus stop.
I’ll wait with you for the paint to dry.
I’ll wait with you at the checkout counter.
If you were not here, Love,
I’d wait for you always.
What they said:-

He has poems that, for sheer beauty, take your head off.
- John Gardner on A Close Sky over Killaspuglonane
If you want to know how real poetry reads,
buy this book, read it, and keept it.
- Leonard Blackstone (on Selected Poems)
In a time when many poets cannot resist the grand gesture, Skinner's art is the achievement of presence in the places we go to: in field, kitchen, bar, dictionary, anecdote, joke, love bower.
- James Liddy (on Learning to Spell "Zucchim")
This is a stunning collection, full of mystery, cross-purposes, weird and tragic characters, and should be read from start to finish.
- Aidan Murphy (on The Bears & Other Poems)
It's worth whatever stretches might be required to put it into your personal library.
- Joseph Green (on Stretches)