Catherine Barnett


Catherine Barnett (1960-present) was born in Washington D.C. and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her BA from Princeton University and her MFA from Warren Wilson College. She is the author of Human Hours, The Game of Boxes, and Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced, has taught at taught at Princeton University, The New School, and Barnard College, and currently teaches at New York University and Hunter College. Source


Mostly I’d like to feel a little less, know a little more.


Knots are on the top of my list of what I want to know.


Who was it who taught me to burn the end of the cord 


to keep it from fraying?


Not the man who called my life a debacle, 


a word whose sound I love.


In a debacle things are unleashed.


Roots of words are like knots I think when I read the dictionary.


I read other books, sure. Recently I learned how trees communicate, 


the way they send sugar through their roots to the trees that are ailing. 


They don’t use words, but they can be said to love. 


They might lean in one direction to leave a little extra light for another tree.


And I admire the way they grow right through fences, nothing


stops them, it’s called inosculation: to unite by openings, to connect 


or join so as to become or make continuous, from osculare


to provide with a mouth, from osculum, little mouth.


Sometimes when I’m alone I go outside with my big little mouth


and speak to the trees as if I were a birch among birches. 





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Ars Poetica


Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


the absence of a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so…) between phrases and within a sentence


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line


An inversion of typical syntax (word order).


a situation that seems to contradict itself


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”