Mark Kraushaar on Struggle

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Our Spring 2010 issue includes the poems “Arthur” and “The Cat and the Fiddle” by Mark Kraushaar. The first poem mourns the slow loss of the speaker’s friend to anger, a revelation found during the pair’s walk. And the second deals with the common struggle of raising a child. An excerpt:

And how like these two to fish and say poems
at the wrong time completely.
Before the short drive to the lake,
before certain words at the stove,
they’d sat with the dad in the kitchen.
And couldn’t the boy just listen, for once?

Here, Kraushaar discusses how these poems arose from the all-too-common ‘struggle,’ framed with true and imaginary scenarios.


The poem “Arthur” was inspired by a friend, very unhappy, and very lonely and entirely unable to find a way out. Still, he lived very close by and became increasingly difficult to spend time with because he was so unwilling to change, or even try to change any of the circumstances he was grousing about. He would drop by and we would go for walks from time to time, and while it’s true he was unhappy with the actual specifics he described–which I reference in the poem–it occurred to me that all this was really, partly a way to give what is difficult for all of us a shape, a way to make it more comprehensible–though it clearly didn’t serve that purpose and wasn’t much help at all.

“The Cat and the Fiddle” is obviously more purely imaginary. Here too are two people struggling, but maybe coping marginally better than my friend. Anyway, I like to imagine their poetry’ recitation is a help.

Mark Kraushaar has new work appearing or forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, Missouri Review, and The Gettysburg Review, and has been included in The Best American Poetry. His full-length collection, Falling Brick Kills Local Man, published by University of Wisconsin Press in 2009, is the winner of the 2009 Felix Pollak Prize.

Read his poem “Twenty-something” at Beatrice, and “What It’s Like” at Poetry Daily.