Spring Ulmer grew up in Vermont. She attended The Cooper Union School of Art, worked as a photojournalist and reporter in eastern Kentucky, and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from the University of Arizona. Ulmer’s honors include grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the Andrea Frank Foundation. In 1998, she was an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts. She recently returned from Rwanda where she helped build a school for orphans of the 1994 genocide. She lives in Iowa City. Her manuscript, Benjamin's Spectacles, was chosen by Sonia Sanchez for the Kore Press First Book Award 2007.

"Walter Benjamin had the heart of a poet, and always served the imagination first. Spring Ulmer finds him there, in the imagination, and recognizes him as another being of language--of angels and demons. This is poetry from the world Benjamin left behind, with all its unspeakable delights and terrors, conspiracies and heartbreaks--'thimblefuls of relation' and 'inner conversations' among a host of 'disoriented survivors.' This is poetry 'unhanging itself,' unburying itself into being."

--David Levi Strauss

Order Benjamin's Spectacles


Letters to the Dead

Fresh figs on the counter—

Fellini’s 8 ½

What happens after betrayal?

I don’t want to hold a man’s hand—

The hunger it spruces—

That flying green—

A beetle shell—

A wish not to be windexed—

These excommunications—

Thimblefuls of relation—

Inner conversation—

Hopkins’ letters to the dead—

Heart-shaped leaves outside my kitchen window tremble—

How it disturbs me—

Knocking food off my fork—

Like a hair shirt—

A man withholding love—

Is this all he can give—

Am I ungrateful?

Gesammelte Briefe, Passagen-Werk, Berliner Chronik, Illuminationen

The order of books on my table—

Smell of old pages—

The hunger-striker undoes his stitched lips—

Poetry unhanging itself—