Inextricable Fusion: The Poetry of Patricia Goedicke


Patricia Goedicke published 13 books of poetry from 1968-2009 and taught Creative Writing at The University of Montana from 1981-2003.  Goedicke's works often weave together a broad range of images and themes.  For example, in her review of As Earth Begins to End, Robin Becker writes, "[Goedicke's] genius, in this book, becomes her language for linking individual sorrow to the sorrows of the environment, of globalization, of science and politics."

This exhibit draws from Patricia Goedicke's literary manuscripts at The University of Montana, Missoula.  It is intended to illustrate Goedicke's approach to poetry as teacher, writer, and critic.





The online exhibit was created by Steven Bingo. Special thanks to Deirdre McNamer, Connie Poten, Lois Welch, Sandra Alcosser, Melissa Kwasny, Casey Charles, and Rob Schlegel whose insight into Patricia Goedicke's life provided invaluable context for my work on the exhibit and the collection. Thanks also to Prageeta Sharma and The University of Montana Creative Writing program for their support of the Patricia Goedicke and Leonard Wallace Robinson Papers. Thanks finally to those who gave their permission to incorporate their works into this exhibit: Pia Boyer and Helen Vendler.



Patricia Goedicke's 2003 commencement address to The University of Montana is presented as a launching point for her thoughts and work as a poet. In it, Goedicke states that the imagination arises out of the "intextricable fusion" of body and mind. It is through the imagination, Goedicke argues, that we can begin to find common understandings in spite of the fact that we are separate individuals with our own unique perspective of the world around us. The negotiation of duality that Goedicke displays in her speech is indicative of much of her work and understanding of poetry.

Goedicke According to Goedicke

This section contains samples of lecture notes, reading notes, and essays by Goedicke revealing her understanding of her work and her craft. Many of these notes were created toward the end of Goedicke's career and reveal a writer reflecting upon decades of experience.

The Outer Banks

This section contains early drafts of "The Outer Banks," which Goedicke drafted in the wake of the Robert Kennedy assassination.  The poem, which references a specific historical context, also is haunted with a personal sense of loss. The drafts shown in this section illustrate the coupling of the personal and political.

This Music Has Holes in It

"This Music Has Holes in It" appears in Goedicke's last book of poems The Baseball Field at Night. As the title suggests, the poem is marked by gaps, both visually within the poem's text and aurally within the music of the poem. Not only does the poem examine the general relationship between presence and absence, but also the dependence of meaning upon what is said and what is left unsaid.

As Earth Begins to End

In 2000, Goedicke's 12th book of poems, As Earth Begins to End, was named to Booklist's Top 10 Books of the Year. This section outlines the development of this work, the process of drawing individual poems into a cohesive manuscript.

For All the Sad Rain

Like many other poems, "For All the Sad Rain" arises from a complicated question regarding meaning and solace in the face of a world filled with pain. Characteristic of Goedicke's style, "For All the Sad Rain" addresses its central question through an intensity of music and imagery.

A Short Biography

This section provides a brief overview of Goedicke's life.