EL PASO — In a casita lined with windows looking out over the high desert landscape of Taos, New Mexico, eyes filled with space and light, poet Leslie Ullman’s mind cleared.
“I found myself sketching out poems that questioned the sovereignty of the mind, sometimes making fun of it, sometimes sympathizing with its limitations and treadmill existence, and often turning it into a character.”
These verses of clarity found themselves collected in Ullman’s latest book, Progress on the Subject of Immensity, probing inner and outer spaces, questioning conventional notions of “knowledge.”
Ullman is scheduled to read from her new book at UTEP’s Rubin Center Thursday, April 24 at 7 p.m. She is professor emerita of creative writing at the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) and currently teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Ullman says that content with not finding answers, the poems instead linger, with calm alertness, in the realm of speculation.
“This spirit of inquiry nudged subsequent poems into larger questions—an exploration of spaces inside us as well as outside us: the rhythms of seasons, the earth suspended in its matrix of space, the life of the body, the limitations of conventional Western religion, the nature of desire, and the pleasures—often the sensuous pleasures—of inquiry itself.”
As she wrote, she considered how “…in our youth we are naturally inclined to drive forward with all the powers of mind and body that we can muster—something that we continue to do as we build lives, families, and careers.” But she recognized that at some point, ambition—that willed effort—ceases to work.
Ullman is the author of three poetry collections and her poems, reviews and craft essays have been published in a number of magazines and literary journals. Awards include the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, the Iowa Poetry Prize, and two NEA Creative Writing Fellowships.
Progress on the Subject of Immensity, part of the Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series, is available at bookstores or directly from the University of New Mexico Press. To order, please call 800.249.7737 or visit www.unmpress.com.