Paula Gocker’s speakers ask questions, drawing from a mix of mythology and contemporary life, and the surreal in-between. In “Her,” the speaker “looks up” and “walked from his body to be on her own,” ravishing a new kind of hunger. In “Lamentation,” the speaker yearns for the night after thinking of biopsies, CT scans, world without contexts, wars, to “bring me/ breath, bring me seen and unseen/ a kind of new.” In “My Mother’s Birds,” Gocker masterfully looks at her desire to enable and help her mother in her loss of memory and sense of location, crafting a world wherein birds do not flail to the ground but will “take flight and no one/ will see them go.”
Paula Gocker comes from the edge of Lake Ontario, moved to California in the 1970s, worked in California Poets in the Schools, taught high school English. When she finished teaching, which she loved most days, she felt as though time cracked open and she could continue to read widely, write, hike. Her work has been published in The Massachusetts Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Pennsylvania Review, Southwest Review, The Women’s Review of Books among other publications. After years of encouraging her students’ writing and exploration of their minds, she is grateful for this time in her life to return to her own writing. She is the mother of two daughters, the grandmother of two grandsons who amaze her and make her glad. During this terrible time of pandemic, poetry has spoken deeply to the missing that she has felt and also has reminded her of the possible in us. That, too.